Joe Przyperhart has been the Director of Programs at Vermont Adult Learning for the past 5 years. Prior to that, he was a Regional Director for several years.
As the Director of Programs, Joe works across all regions to make sure the programs are running smoothly. This includes a lot of coordination and making sure that everyone understands the programs in place and what needs to be happening. He also works directly with the Regional Directors in all seven counties and helps support them in implementing programs. Joe explained that when deciding what programs to implement, a lot of it is influenced by grant requirements as well as the needs and environment of different regions.
Joe earned his undergraduate degree in Physics with a Pre-Med orientation from the College of the Holy Cross. After being waitlisted for medical school, Joe decided to change career paths and spent a lot of time as an outdoor educator. After finding a passion for education, Joe got a teaching certificate in Math but did not enjoy the bureaucracy and discipline in a regular classroom and returned to environmental education. During this time, he started working with more at-risk populations. After earning a Master’s Degree in Environmental Biology at Antioch University New England he taught math and science at community college for several years. , eventually leading to his job at VAL.
When asked what he particularly enjoys about his work at VAL, he said that the people at the organization are the “common denominator.” He expressed how amazing the staff is and that they work as a real team. Additionally, although he does not get to work directly with them nowadays, he truly loves to interact with students when he gets the chance. He says that seeing them move on in their lives and accomplish what they want is what “truly keeps him going.” Joe also explained that, as someone who likes to do problem-solving, he enjoys the nature of his job which, most definitely, requires a lot of problem-solving.
For Joe, he admitted that he struggles with a work-life balance, especially during COVID-19, as the job can be intense and the work hours can be long. However, he believes that work-life balance means taking time for some of the things he enjoys, particularly “unplugging” every now and then for a weekend and taking time to be outdoors.
The first words that came to Joe’s mind when answering why VAL’s work matters were: “VAL gives people opportunity.” He explained that it opens people up to reaching their goals and becoming the people they want to be. VAL allows people to contribute in ways that they want to, but may have not had the resources to do beforehand. It gives those who were unable to find success in a traditional education system the chance to be successful again, or for the first time. Joe expressed that, although the work is challenging, it is really rewarding to see when students finally receive their diplomas.
This article was written by Rebecca Shames, Development & Communications Intern