The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 15, 2013

Van Buren schools welcomes new superintendent

KEOSAUQUA — Dr. Pam Ewell has been named Van Buren Community School District’s superintendent.

Ewell is currently Mount Vernon superintendent, a position she has held since 2009. Ewell graduated from Iowa State University in 1982 and received her Ph.D. from Iowa State in 2004. She previously taught at Pella, Newton and Central College and served as principal at Twin Cedars, Saydel and Grinnell.

She said she is excited about the opportunity to be Van Buren Community Superintendent.

“I’ll be spending time looking at the pieces of what is excellent about the district and seeing what we can do to make it even better. Look at the strengths and also take care of the small things. Our most important asset is our youth.”

She said it’s been the smaller, not large districts that have been the innovators in education, mostly because they are nimble enough to react to the needs of their district.

One of the things she prided herself on was the effort to make Mount Vernon a school of choice.

“When parents are selecting a community to live in, they are looking at safe communities, the interest the communities have in education. I believe parents want a strong curriculum and have schools teaching their children at being successful at living in society. They want teachers they can communicate with and they want to be informed and want their children to enjoy school.”

The hardest part of her job at Mount Vernon was dealing with three student suicides within one year, she said.

“We tried to be very sensitive to the families who were dealing with this tragedy. It was an explosion in their face,” she said. “We also had to deal with it professionally.”

Ewell said the thing she wanted to accomplish was “building resiliency among the youth. Give them a healthy trust in adults and work to handle the stresses they have in their lives, understanding that childhood mental health issues are different from adults.

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