What is Your Road-Less-Traveled?

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by Brian Mori

Wise educators know there’s no one path to success, nor will the destination look the same for any two people.

A new book by West Grand Superintendent of Schools Darrin Peppard, Ed.D., invites readers to look at leadership from the perspective of a modern teacher.

“It’s about those lightbulb moments when you see success in somebody’s eyes,” he said.

“When they overcome obstacles they didn’t believe they could, it’s fulfilling.” Peppard, 51, has been an educator for well over two decades, though originally he wanted to be a physical therapist.

“(Teaching) was about the farthest thing from my mind,” he said of his days in college. “A friend asked me if I would help coach a kids’ basketball team; that same week I changed my major.”

Originally from Casper, Wyoming, Peppard and his wife Jessica moved to Grand County a little over three years ago.

After they settled, he began writing his 207-page, semi-auto-biography, The Road to Awesome. It was published in summer 2020.
“There was a lot of start and stop,” he said. “In many ways, it’s a collection of stories from 25 years of education experience.”
Peppard said the title of his book was inspired by a child’s interpretation of Robert Frost’s timeless poem,

“The Road Not Taken.”

“Everybody has their own road to awesome,” he elaborated. “(The Title) was really a no-brainer.” Peppard has taught – usually science – and coached team sports in his home state and also in northern Arizona.

He added that he felt fortunate to grow as an administrator during a shift in education culture.“In the beginning it was all about catching what people did wrong,” he explained. “We started focusing on what people did right, and that was the road to awesome.”

Peppard said he believes the tactic of emphasizing individualized success is transferrable across all types of leadership roles, and throughout just about any organizational enviornment.

“Everyone, child and adult, wants to feel like they’re part of something special,” he said. “They want to feel that they’re valued, seen, and loved. Leadership is about relationships.”

Peppard said education has evolved more than most people realize.

“We had incredible teachers then and now, that’s not different,” he clarified. “But the amount of research around what works, and the ways to integrate technology with good teaching, is better.”

Peppard was adamant that there is no one-size-fits-all solution in education. “

In West Grand we are doing everything we can right now to do right by our kids and our community,” he said.
“(Leadership) is not about making a decision for one particular group, or the loudest voice, it’s about understanding the whole scope of the entire community.”

Peppard is also on the Grand County Higher Education Board of Directors.

He was frank about what it was like to be an educational leader in 2020.

“This has been, by far, the most challenging year in my career,” he said. “I understand the struggles that everybody is having.”

When not navigating the hallways of West Grand, Peppard enjoys golfing or exploring outdoors with his wife.

“We love Grand County,” he said. “We will never hit every trail because there are so many.”

As for the links, Peppard said that he has played every golf course in the area but is partial to Pole Creek.

“It’s such a beautiful course,” he said. “It’s challenging but not daunting, and has incredible views.”

Peppard is also working on a children’s book which will contain many of the same themes of leadership.

He and Jessica have a daughter about to graduate college out of state.

The Road to Awesome is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, or via Peppard’s website: darrinmpeppard.com.