CHURDAN - Rob Olsen, Okoboji Elementary principal, will be the new superintendent of Paton-Churdan and Glidden-Ralston school districts starting in July with the 2013-14 school year.
"It feels great. I'm very excited," Olsen said. "It's a great opportunity with two wonderful school districts."
Olsen graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with majors in elementary education and middle school education. He started his teaching career in Illinois, where he received his master's degree in leadership from Illinois State University.
When Olsen returned to Iowa, he finished his specialist degree in superintendency at UNI. He has been principal of Okoboji Elementary School for 13 years.
Olsen said his favorite part of being an educator is the kids.
"I really enjoy being around the kids and the things they do, being involved in their activities," he said. "I love being in the hallways, in the classrooms, watching performances, whether the kids are on stage or in different activities they might be involved in."
Olsen appreciates equally the efforts of the teaching staff.
"I really enjoy seeing the work teachers can do when they come together and work together to have a positive impact on education," he said.
As superintendent, Olsen will oversee the budget and finances for the two school districts and provide "a vision for the future of education in both districts, which already have excellent traditions and expectations."
"We'll continue to do those things," he said. "One of the most important things I think a superintendent can do is continue to build good relationships with people and work together to do what's best for kids."
Olsen said he will not begin by making changes, but by acclimating himself to the position and getting to know others.
"I'll start my time as superintendent at both school districts by meeting people and building relationships," he said, "and be a good learner and good listener in the way things are currently being done, looking for ways to continue the great things that are happening and continue with those successes and also making sure we keep up with the changes that occur in education."
One such educational change is the increasing use of technology in the classroom. Also, the likelihood of state educational reforms.
"Glidden-Ralston is going to a one-to-one environment next year for all of their students, so that will be something to continue to move forward with. I have a lot of experience with that in the current district I'm in, so that will be good," he said. "Also, as we know, in the state of Iowa there's different educational reform efforts that are currently being discussed in the Legislature."
Olsen said he is excited to begin his new position.
"I'm in a great opportunity in the next few months to do some transitioning," he said, "and I will be participating in some of the school board meetings that will be happening here in the next few months and getting to know people, starting to meet folks along the way before I officially begin."