WG Superintendent to be inducted into Hall of Fame

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West Grand Superintendent Darrin Peppard will be a Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame inductee
Jostens Renaissance is a program to create positive school climate and culture through respect, rewards, reinforcement and recognition.

Dr. Peppard explains Jostens Renaissance is a philosophy of choosing what you value and respect and then highlighting and recognizing the positive behaviours.

Induction into the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame is the highest honor that an educator can receive from Jostens Renaissance. The Hall of Fame recognizes educators whose efforts have not only made a significant impact within their schools, but also in the larger regional and/or national Renaissance community.

“It is a pretty amazing honor,” said Dr. Peppard who was also a Jostens Renaissance Educator of the Year. “It is exciting. I am having a hard time putting words to it.”

Dr. Peppard is being recognized for his work to promote positive culture and climate in schools for the past 13 years. He is among one of five volunteer coaches with Jostens Renaissance who help schools across the country to cultivate a positive school climate. When he coaches, he is often called upon regarding how to overcome obstacles, namely individuals resistant to changes.

“Any time you make a change there are obstacles,” says Dr. Peppard who says it takes three to five years to build good, strong culture. In his second year at West Grand, he comments, “We have had some obstacles to overcome here, but West Grand is amazing and unique in its receptiveness to change in culture.”

One of the first changes at West Grand was the introduction of the term staffulty to include both staff and faculty. The merging of the two words indicates the importance of custodial staff, cafeteria staff, and others in the school, not just faculty.

This same philosophy extends to students. “It is easy to recognize athletes,” he says, “we need to spread the same spotlight on academics and other activities.”

He expands, “Everyone has something special that they bring to the table, and everybody has a special story. It is about doing everything we can to tell that story.”

Dr. Peppard notes once a District identifies their story, it also identifies what it values. The next step is determining if the District reinforces and reflects its values. Dr. Peppard has lead the staffulty in a visionary process to determine its story.
“It is hard work, but it the right work,” said Dr. Peppard of the District’s clearer focus of excellence in leadership, excellence in learning, and excellence in engagement.

Dr. Peppard leads the cheers for #WeAreWestGrand and works to tell the stories of our students and staffulty through his YouTube show the ‘We Are West Grand Talk Show’. On the show he features students and staffulty sharing their stories related to school projects, activities and athletics, and other West Grand related topics. More notably he has championed an Early Childhood Education Center for his staffulty who need daycare.

According to Dr. Peppard this reflects the District’s clearer focus on leadership, “We could have waited for someone to solve our childcare needs, but we chose to be leaders in our community collectively and make this happen. To me, that is community changing work and excellence in leadership and excellence in engagement. We are engaging in the needs of our community, and is leading to a lot of learning… This is a huge culture piece and says to our teachers we value you to the extent we are creating this so we don’t lose you.”

Those values are becoming more evident as teachers work to include more authentic learning opportunities for students through project-based learning. Student projects this year have made a big impact on their schools and the community while further engaging students in owning their learning.

Another important value is honoring student voice. This has been seen over the course of this year through a student centered business opening at West Grand HS (The Mustang Market), the addition of a vending machine as part of two students making a presentation, and the district considering development of an outdoor classroom space, presented to leadership by a 4th grade student.

This summer he will be recognized at the Jostens National Conference in July. Giving a nod to the importance of student involvement in positive school culture, Dr. Peppard will once again take a team of five teachers and eight high school students with him to Orlando, Florida.

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