Brandon Simmelink was picked out of a group of about two dozen applicants who applied for open principal job at Hesston Middle School.
The Great Bend native knew he wanted to become an educator since he was in second grade.
"I was fortunate to have an outstanding teach, which is what led me toward a career in education," he said.
He attended school in Valley Center before graduating from J.I. Case High School in Racine, Wisconsin. He earned his bachelor's degree in elementary education at Bethany College, where he lettered in track. He has spent the past six years as assistant principal and activities director at McPherson Middle School.
"He had good experiences that we felt like fit well to the system we have here in Hesston," said Superintendent Ben Proctor.
Simmelink was one of four applicants who was interviewed by three different groups of interviewers. Proctor, curriculum consultant Darla Smith and two school board members formed one leadership team. The two other groups were included the middle school's building leadership team and an administrative team comprised of middle school Principal Alisa Krehbiel, high school Principal Ty Rhodes and Clint Stoppel, activities director and assistant principal.
"We were pleased with the overall quality and especially of our finalists," Proctor said.
Proctor said the interview process had been a common practice for job applicants to USD 460.
"It's probably more extensive than what a lot of districts do, but it's worked well for us."
Simmelink said Hesston was a desirable district in which to work.
"The community has a reputation for having high standards and strong support, thus creating great schools, great programs, great teachers and great students," he said.
He and wife Lisa, an elementary music teacher, have two children, ages 9 and 6. He enjoys golfing, hunting, being outdoors and reading a good book. Most of his time, however, is spent attending children's activities and being with his family. The Simmelinks recently returned from a trip to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and Las Vegas.
Simmelink said he would be spending the next couple of weeks learning the processes that are in place at the middle school, getting to know the staff and hopefully starting to meet some students. His first official day is Aug. 3.
"Hesston Middle School is a great school, so I hope to be able to start meeting with our building leadership team to begin to look at what we can do to continue to build upon the great foundation that is already in place," he said.
Proctor said all four finalists had positive attributes, as did others who weren't granted interviews. He said he looked for qualities that will make the district better.
"You get some really new ideas when you bring in people," he said. "We want new ideas. That's how you get better. That's the ultimate goal."