Award nomination recognizes leadership efforts of Cardinal superintendent

Cardinal School District has come a long way in a short time, and now superintendent Joel Pederson will be recognized for leading the district to the place it is now.

The Ottumwa Leadership Academy nominated its former academy participant for the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award and Pederson found out in November that he is a finalist in the education category. While Pederson attributes the district's successes to his staff and administration, it's clear he's had something to do with it as well, with graduation rates at its highest in school history and a supportive culture evident between the staff of every building.

In the three years he's been superintendent, Pederson said he's most proud of those rising graduation rates, as well as the infrastructure improvements, such as the district's new safe room currently under construction, and the continued emphasis on developing good relationships between the community, students, staff and teachers. He said being nominated for the award was an honor.

"I really felt humbled too because my goal is really to help people grow and as a leader, you have that opportunity to help people grow and get them to become leaders themselves," Pederson said. "That's my main focus as I work as a leader."

And this is just the start. In the future, Pederson said he would like to keep improving student achievement and continue an emphasis on readying Cardinal graduates for a college education.

The winner of the award will be announced in February 2014 and will receive $25,000.