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Settling in to a new district: B-E's new superintendent 'so excited to be here'

Don Peschel is the new superintendent for the Brandon-Evansville School District. He worked 27 years in the Sauk Centre School District, where he graduated in 1985. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

Don Peschel has worked in education for nearly 30 years, spending the majority of those years in his hometown of Sauk Centre.

But Peschel now has a new school district to call home — the Brandon-Evansville School District — and has taken on the role of superintendent.

Officially hired as of July 1, Peschel has been on the job for about two months and said last week that first impressions go a long way.

"The staff is very motivated and dedicated and I am so excited to be here," he said. "The educational opportunities are top-notch. I sensed that the very first day."

Unique situation

When Peschel applied for the position, he recognized the unique challenges facing the district with its aging buildings and last fall's failed referendum.

"I was aware of the situation, but we'll get through it," he said. "We have hired ICS (a consulting firm) to help us through the process."

For him personally, Peschel said he wants to see where everyone is at — the staff, students, community members — and get input from them to find out what they feel are the district's biggest needs. He also wants to work with school board members to hear what they have to say about facility needs and challenges.

"I want to get an overall assessment from all of the stakeholders," he said.

But, first and foremost, Peschel's main goal is to not only get acclimated to a new school district, but also his new role.

Peschel taught elementary school in Browerville and Sauk Centre. Since 2012, he has been the dean of students for both the elementary school and high school in Sauk Centre, as well as the school's community education director.

As a superintendent, he said there is a big learning curve with challenges and opportunities exclusive to his role. One change will be working with the Minnesota Department of Education and its deadlines for various projects.

Accessibility is key

In his first few weeks on the job, one of is priorities was to make himself accessible to staff members, who he said offered him a warm welcome.

"The people here — staff, board members, residents — have been so supportive and great resources for me as I settle in," said Peschel.

He has plans to review the current curriculum and make sure it aligns with state standards, and wants to make sure technology is being integrated at all grade levels.

Currently, the school district is fully staffed and ready to go for the 2018-2019 school year. This year there are nine new staff members.

He is looking forward to working with staff, students and parents in the Brandon-Evansville district and hopes to continue the tradition of providing great education to the students that he said the district is known for.

"I am excited to watch the students compete athletically and take part in academic activities," he said. "And I want to provide the best education for the students in this district.

Peschel shared a little fun fact about himself in that he "absolutely loves" watching reruns of old television shows such as "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," "The Carol Burnett Show" and "The Dean Martin Show."

"That's pure comedy," he said. Then, with a half-sheepish grin, he admitted that he will often turn those shows on instead of watching the Minnesota Vikings.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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