West Grand superintendent nationally recognized for promoting positive school culture

Darrin Peppard to be inducted into Josten's Renaissance Hall of Fame in July

Superintendent Darrin Peppard (left) will be inducted in to the Josten's Renaissance Hall of Fame at the national conference in July. Last year, the district took six students and eight faculty to the national conference (pictured here).
Courtesy photo

As the end of the school year rapidly approaches, so too does the end of West Grand School District’s successful first year implementing the Josten’s Renaissance Education program, which will culminate in Superintendent Darrin Peppard receiving national recognition for his efforts.

This July, Peppard will join an exclusive group of educators when he is inducted into the Josten’s Renaissance Hall of Fame at the national conference in Orlando.

“Having done positive culture work as a principal and now as a superintendent and seeing it begin to take off in this district is super exciting,” he said. “Now that this honor comes my way, I’m still struggling to put words to it honestly.”

The Renaissance program aims to build and promote positive school culture and climate by identifying values and recognizing students and “staffulty” when they exemplify them.

To kick off the program, the school district began highlighting good deeds, thoughtful ideas and positive actions on morning announcements, social media and in the West Grand talk show and Peppard’s weekly columns in a local newsletter.

“We understand that importance of the things that get the sunshine are the things that are going to grow and that us being able to do that truly makes a difference,” he said.

One of the main reasons why Peppard, who has been involved with the program for 15 years, implemented the Renaissance program in the district is his firm belief that a positive and supportive culture leads to more successful students and staffulty.

“You’re never going to get the maximum benefit from (school programs or curriculum) if you don’t have a culture and climate that enables success to happen,” he said. “By building a really strong, positive culture, we see our staffulty comfortable taking risk. (…) The more the culture supports and rewards that, the more risk we’re going to see that ultimately is going to lead to better student learning.”

Since one goal of the program is to promote the district’s values by recognizing those that demonstrate them, it also helps to reward students for their accomplishments outside of grades and athletics.

“It’s about having that balance in recognition,” he said. “We have probably 500 people in our district between our adults and our students and that’s 500 pretty amazing stories but not everyone of them is a football player or a wrestler.”

As one of five Renaissance coaches in the country, Peppard has utilized the program as a teacher, principal and, now, as superintendent.

He said his current role is to provide support to the staffulty as they implement the program and to model different parts of the program, including staffulty recognition and bigger events, such as the Celebration of Excellence.

So far, Peppard is excited by the amount of support the program has received in the district and he’s looking forward to expanding the program next year.

“These things are starting to snowball, in a good way,” he said. “As a district we know what we value, but now, how do we take that and really drill it down to what we recognize, reward and reinforce. And it’s one thing for us to know, but now I want us to take that next step to make it clear to anyone from the outside.”

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