On this episode of Tackling Tech Podcast, powered by Dyknow, Brett McGrath talks with Darrin Peppard, a Superintendent in Colorado. His book, “Road to Awesome,” is about becoming a school leader who focuses on student’s triumphs, instead of focusing on discipline and what students are doing wrong. Unlike most leaders, Darrin despises strategic plans; rather, he likes to create a vision that everyone in the school can get on board with.

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Don’t have time to listen to the episode? Here’s a peek at what’s inside…


Going back to school in the age of COVID-19

As a Superintendent, Darrin has had to shift his role multiple times to fit the needs of his school. He explains that last week, his school faculty needed an instructional leader, and in that role, he was able to provide and lead training and making sure that protocols were in place to get students back in school.

This week, he shared that his role has shifted from an instructional leader to an inspirational leader. He shared that this week his job is to be the person who is inspiring others and helping them get their minds focused on what’s really important right now. What is important to his team right now is getting students in the building, helping them feel safe socially, emotionally, and mentally, and also helping adult staff feel the same way. 

The impact of the Spring semester on going back to school

Darrin shared that reflecting on the past semester is one of the most important things that educators can do when going back to school. He suggests that we do this from two perspectives. 

1. Look back and be proud of ourselves. Darrin explained that his school was able to flip from brick and mortar, face-to-face instruction to remote instruction in 2 days. They are a smaller district, but he believes that their faculty should take a lot of pride in that work.

2. Think about and realize that we have to set “normal” aside. Normal doesn’t exist anymore. Even when we do get to “normal,” we will never get back to how it was on March 12 when everything shut down. Darrin believes that we should not ever go back to the “normal” that was in place before COVID-19. The world, and specifically K-12 education, were hit hard by the pandemic and Darrin believes that to look back and want to return to normal would be taking a step backwards.

6 Elements of Good Leadership

As a Superintendent, Darrin has extensive experience being a leader and working with other leaders. Doing this has enabled him to understand the true elements that make a good leader and the elements that specifically make him a good leader in his school. 

1. Be clear about what you value

2. Build a great culture in your community

3. Empower students

4. Empower teachers

5. Tell your story

6. Coach everybody

Road to Awesome

After he became a Superintendent, Darrin wrote his book Road to Awesome to help other educators understand to make the most out of their leadership style and spark cultural change in their schools and districts.

These 6 elements of leadership are the core of what the book contains. It’s told from a story perspective, like a collection of stories from Darrin’s experiences, and the final chapter gives the reader a chance to examine their own priorities.

With this book, Darrin doesn’t want anybody to think that these three things are a magic potion. Darrin knows what is important to him and what he values, he leads from that place. He wants people who read this book to understand what is important to them and if that is where they are leading from. “You can’t be an authentic leader when you don’t marry values and leadership.”


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