CASPER, Wyo. — Election season is underway, and Oil City News has sent a list of questions to all candidates who have filed to run for a seat on the Natrona County School District Board of Trustees.
These questions are designed to give our readers a better understanding of the people behind the names on the ballot. Below, get to know Darren Hopman, who is running for election to one of four seats available on the Natrona County School District Board of Trustees:
1. Who are you? (Name, where you’re from, employment, hobbies, etc.)
My name is Darren Hopman. My wife and I moved our family to Casper in 2007, after finishing our Masters Degrees in Hays, Kansas. I was born in Texas and my family moved to Colorado when I was 12. I graduated from Rye High School in Rye, Colorado, and spent the next four-plus years in the United States Air Force. I have an MBA in Business Management and Finance. I have worked in the financial services world and in other management and sales roles. For the last six years I have worked as a business coach. I love helping organizations create profitable businesses with great company cultures. My certification as an organizational development coach assists me in helping business owners throughout the United States. My family loves the Casper, Wyoming, area. Our five children have been very active in the Natrona County School District over the last 15 years. Things I like to do are spending time with my family, leatherworking, and sometimes I grab that old guitar out and strum a little. When I get the chance I like to go fishing. I once hit a 465-yard tee shot on a golf course in Kansas!
2. Why have you decided to run for the NCSD Board of Trustees and what do you hope to accomplish should you be elected?
I look to find opportunities to serve in the communities I live in. I ran for Natrona County Commissioner in 2010. I enjoyed the process. Education has played an important role in my life and I feel strongly that it is where I need to contribute now. I am confident that my experience with helping businesses be more fiscally responsible and helping to create organizations with company cultures that allow all who are impacted by that organization to thrive will help me contribute to the cause of the school board.
3. How do you plan on accomplishing your goals?
My main goal is to first find ways to maximize the resources of the Natrona County School District to improve upon the great work that has already been done, to create a learning environment worthy of all the children. I hope to become a resource for parents and educators so we can all work more closely together for the children.
4. What experience do you have that qualifies you to serve as a trustee?
I currently serve on the board of directors for the Reach 4A Star Riding Academy as Vice-President. Over the years I have opportunities to work with the youth in various roles. As a Seminary Teacher for high school students, as a head Wrestling coach at the high school level, and as a football coach. I also spent some time as a substitute teacher. Also, my experience as a business coach and with my Certificate of Organizational Development Coach (CODC) will serve me well as a trustee.
5. Do you feel you could be a good steward with taxpayer dollars? Why or why not?
This is a definite yes! In my time of being a personal financial advisor, where my primary concern was helping people be more financially responsible, to my time as a business coach, where I help business owners be more financially responsible by creating profitable organizations. I have had other opportunities to be a steward over resources provided by others for the good of people involved in the organization.
6. On the issue of transparency, where do you stand on ensuring all public business is conducted openly and in a manner that encourages public attendance?
Transparency is tantamount in any endeavor that includes responsibility for the well-being of others. In this case those are the children of our community and all of the NCSD educators and staff. Transparency builds trust and trust always allows us to get more accomplished.
7. Are you familiar with the work of the school board in recent years? Are you pleased with what you have seen or are there problems you see that you think need to be addressed?
I have strived to be familiar with the work of the school board. I hope to learn more and be a greater part of it. I would not say that I am pleased or displeased. Let me explain. The last few years with the pandemic have been difficult on us all. The school board has had to make some very difficult decisions. One thing I am interested in diving into is the use of resources throughout the district. I would like to ensure that missed opportunities are reduced as much as possible.
8. Should you be elected, or reelected, do you plan on seeking any major policy changes? If yes, what would those changes be? If no, why not?
Should I be elected, I currently do not plan to seek any major policy changes under current conditions. I am aware that there are possible changes on the horizon, especially with the economy, that may require changes for the school district. A question in this regard was asked in the recent Forum at the library. I will say here that under extreme financial situations, I would want to investigate the use of a four-day school week. In what I have seen so far, the four-day school week brings monetary savings, a boost in morale for both students and educators, and some school districts claim an improvement in student test scores.
9. Is there anything the above questions didn’t ask that you would like to comment on?
One additional concern I would like to share briefly. We have an alarming national trend of Educators, Special Educators, Speech Language Pathologists, and many others in important roles in education who are on the verge of leaving. Yes, it is impacting Natrona County. This will have a direct impact on our children’s education. We need to create a learning culture that doesn’t make educators feel like they have to stay, but truly a place they want to be!
I would greatly appreciate your vote on November 8!
NOTE: All candidates who filed to run for a seat on the NCSD Board of Trustees were sent questionnaires at the same time and Oil City News will publish responses in the order they are received. Candidate responses are only edited for clarity and style.