At the special meeting Monday, July 30, the Braham Area School Board approved hiring Jeffrey Eklund as the new elementary school principal.
“It’s very exciting. It’s a great community with great people. It’s a great school district to be in,” Eklund said. “There’s a lot of exciting things happening in the Braham school district.”
The Principal Selection Committee—three elementary teachers, high school principal Justin Sawyer, activities director Tim Malone, one board representative and Superintendent Greg Winter—recommended Eklund for the full-time elementary principal position, stating he “has the attributes needed to lead our elementary school.”
Superintendent Greg Winter said Eklund brings to the position a record of directing positive leadership, strong work ethic and experience in Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s), which the district incorporated to improve teaching methods.
“Mr. Eklund grew up in and knows the community,” Winter said. “He is very well known within the community and very well respected. His leadership and experience in other schools throughout the state will allow him to incorporate those skills and talents into an already very successful elementary program.”
Jeffrey Eklund is the son of School Board Member Steve Eklund. He and the other board members unanimously voted to approve the hire, but Steve Eklund said as a family member he was not involved in the hiring process.
“His home is here, he loves the community and he’ll work hard,” Steve Eklund said. “I think he’ll bring listening skills, honesty, hard work and he has a real passion for what he does.”
Eklund was not involved in the selection of candidates, interview process or the recommendation committee, Superintendent Winter said.
The phases of hiring were followed through with volunteers from the school district who wanted to be involved in the process.
“I can understand the concern that some may have in the general public when hiring a direct relative,” Winter said. “However, in this case, the concern would be unwarranted. According to state statute, all board members must vote on the hiring of an employee who is related to a board member unless there is a direct economic interest. The vote also has to be unanimous, which it was in this case.”
Jeffrey Eklund grew up in Braham, graduating from Braham Area High School in 1995.
From there, he earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Bethel University in St. Paul, his master’s degree in applied kinesiology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and his specialist degree for administration from Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Eklund has 12 years of teaching experience, the past 10 years with Parkview Center School in Roseville, Minn., where he taught K-8 physical education.
He said he’s excited to be back in Braham. He and his family moved north from Shoreview because they wanted to raise their kids—twin boys aged 4 and a daughter who just turned 1—in Braham. They’ve been living in Stanchfield the past three years.
Eklund’s contract began Tuesday, July 31. Before the new school year starts, he’s getting to know staff and the curriculum at Braham Elementary School. His initial goals, Eklund said, are to keep improving the teaching and learning in the district.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the staff and getting to know the kids,” he said. “It’s a great staff and I just want to help support them be the best teachers they possibly can and help continue to create a safe learning environment for the kids and give them the tools they need to be life-long learners.”