Jess Peregoy is a CTE teacher, a coach, a parent and a former student
When Greene County Technical Education Center Principal Dr. Michael Ormsmith announced in March his intention to leave Greene County in order to become a school superintendent in South Dakota, the Greene County School Board knew it would have some rather large shoes to fill. Last month, the school system announced the appointment of Jess Peregoy as the new director of Career and Technical Education (CTE).
Peregoy has served the GCPS community for the past nine years as a CTE teacher in both the middle and high schools, during which time she was recognized for her innovative teaching practices, inclusive culture building and immersive use of technology in the educational setting, according to a press release. She has also served on multiple leadership committees and represented GCPS in professional capacities throughout the commonwealth.
“Peregoy’s dedication and passion for CTE makes her the ideal candidate for this role,” according to the release. “She consistently incorporates new and creative learning experiences into her classroom in an effort to keep her students engaged and excited to learn. She is a strong proponent for project-based learning and assessment, activities that encourage creativity and collaboration opportunities for students. Her approach to teaching maximizes students’ success. … She has always possessed an innate ability to forge strong connections with her colleagues, enabling collaboration on projects that enhance our students’ learning experiences.”
During her time at William Monroe, Peregoy has gratefully accepted every challenge that has come her way, whether it was coaching the esports team, helping to put together the yearbook or serving as coach for the high school robotics team.
“I definitely have kept myself pretty busy,” she laughed. “It goes down to having that servant’s heart, I guess—you want to show up for the people you care about in every capacity and avenue that you possibly can, so if I have skills or experiences that can help in any situation, I want to apply those. I’m not the type of person that just wants to coast; I really enjoy being challenged and I enjoy being able to help in areas where help is needed.”
Even if she’s not sure she could build herself a robot from scratch, whenever there’s a need, Peregoy looks for ways to help fill it to the best of her ability. A background in video games and technology helped her connect with the esports players; graphic design and page layout skills from her classes helped with yearbook; and I.T. fundamentals and coding helped her understand the basics of robotics.
“When I looked at this position … I felt like this is an area where I can step in and do some good and serve in a way that I haven’t been able to serve yet before,” she said. “It’ll challenge me personally and professionally and help me grow. But beyond my individual self, I feel like I have the mindset where I want to serve those who I’m leading—I want to show up for them and support them and find any way that I possibly can to help them be successful and create relationships and meaningful pathways for our students. I’m excited to get the opportunity to do that.”
A native of Greene County, Peregoy graduated from William Monroe High School in 2004. During her time at WMHS, she participated in several CTE courses.
“I think the cool thing about taking a position like this is that I have the perspective coming form not just CTE, but this CTE program in this county,” she said. “I was a CTE student when I was coming through here as a high school student and then I taught it. I’m also a parent to students who have taken CTE courses. … I’m really thankful to have all those different experiences and opportunities to look at this from a different lens.”
As a former student, Peregoy has had to build new relationships with those who have known her the longest.
“Being homegrown is a benefit and a challenge—some of the people that you communicate with on a daily basis, they taught you when you were in high school and they know you as the student version of yourself,” she said. “Sometimes that’s an amazing thing and I’m proud of it, but also it can be a challenge, too, because you’re changing the relationship that you have with people.”
One of Peregoy’s greatest joys has been serving as the women’s head basketball coach at the high school. She led the team to a championship in 2017 and was also instrumental in leading the Medford League for special education athletes.
“In both my classroom and at a basketball game, I just really have enjoyed having the opportunity to bring people together,” she said. “It’s not the sport and it’s not the subject in the classroom—it’s the opportunity to take something that you’re passionate about and use it as a tool to bring people together. We had an opportunity, especially in the basketball realm, to really bring an entire community together.”
Peregoy said she feels like teaching and coaching helped her to grow into a community leader.
“Without those experiences, I don’t think that I would be the right person for this job, because I think what needs to happen in any kind of leadership role is a unity and a bringing together of people and a generation of excitement and passion,” she said. “Trying to apply some of that passion for engaging young adults in their educational experiences, creating opportunities for them to grow and learn—that, I look forward to more than anything else.”
Peregoy also holds a bachelor’s degree from Randolph-Macon College and worked in the broadcasting and marketing industry before earning her teaching licensure credentials from Mary Baldwin College. This past year, she earned her Master of Educational Leadership degree with an endorsement in Administration and Supervision from James Madison University.
Peregoy said she is grateful that she was able to be there for her basketball team through the past year of cancellations of games and practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As I was growing in education and growing in coaching and just personally and professionally, I knew that at some point in my career … I was going to want to take a step in this direction,” she said. “I also know that if I look those young ladies in the eye and I tell them, I need you to stretch yourself; I need you to grow; I need you to go out of your comfort zone; I need you to take these lessons that we learn in basketball and in the classroom and apply them outside of your educational realm—I say that to them daily—so if I’m going to say that to you, then in this situation I have got to make sure that I set the proper example.”
School policy says that administrators cannot also serve as coaches, so this move was a difficult decision for Peregoy, who admits that many tears have been shed.
“It is protocol that once you’re an administrator you can no longer coach athletically and do extracurriculars in that way,” she explained. “We say all the time, you can’t touch anything with half your heart. In order for me to properly serve in the way that I need to serve, I need to put my whole heart into this, and that means that I’ve got to let basketball go because I wouldn’t be able to put my whole heart into that either.”
As the majority of students return to full-time in-person learning this fall, Peregoy said she looks forward to helping welcome back students who may not have been in a typical classroom in more than a full year.
“I’m really looking forward to providing, as an entire school division, an experience that’s warm and welcoming and mindful of—emotionally—where these kids are at,” she said. “I think that it’s going to be incredibly important for all of us to be really empathetic, to be present and just to be excited and happy to see the kids again.”
As part of the Educational Leadership program at JMU, Peregoy had the opportunity to serve as administrator of the middle school’s summer school program, where she shadowed the current administrators and sat in on interviews. She graduated from the program in 2020. She also wanted to thank Dr. Ormsmith, the administrators at the high school and division leaders for supporting her and assisting in the transition.
“I strongly believe Ms. Peregoy will transition wonderfully into her new role in the division,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Andrea Whitmarsh. “When I think about teachers who constantly go above and beyond to incorporate innovative practices in the classroom, Jess is among the top in our division. Her genuine care and consideration for our students, our schools and our community are undisputed. I cannot wait to see all the phenomenal things she has planned for our CTE program (and) I am confident she is going to hit the ground running.”