But there is an important distinction to be made between the educational process in places large and small.
“I think Marion is the size of school district where you can get to know all the kids and become involved in the community and know the parents,” he said. “And that makes it easier, I think, to provide the things needed for a good education.”
Between the extremes, Piper has rung up 22 years of experience across Kansas. He started as a physical education teacher at Hill City in 1975.
Three years later, Piper went to Cherokee, where he coached and taught until moving to Louisburg in 1982. From there he went to Hartford, where he took on his first administrative job as assistant principal in 1993.
Piper became head principal in 1995 and continued in that role until 2003, when he and wife Erma moved to Stanton County.
In 2005, Erma Piper became a librarian in the Alma school system and Piper took a job at the special education cooperative in Wamego, working as a transition coordinator until this year.
Beginning at Cherokee, Piper coached basketball and assisted with football and track.
“Sports has always been an interest of mine, and it provides another avenue for students in the educational process,” he said. “It’s very important.
“Not just athletics, but all the extra-curricular activities, whether it be the band and vocal music or forensics—they’re all an important part of the educational process for students.”
Combining his interests with his occupation has become something of a habit.
“For me, you try to attend the activities your school has going on, whether they be athletics or arts, to show your students that you’re interested in their whole educational process,” he said.
“That takes up a lot of your time, and your school becomes the main part of your life,” he went on. “That’s particularly true when your wife is also in education.”
Piper said the location of the job appealed to him from the start of the application process.
“My wife is originally from Durham, so we knew some of the positive things that are happening in the Marion school district,” he added.
“We like the area of the state, and I’ve known Mr. (Lee) Leiker and know the type of individual he is as a superintendent. So we decided to apply and see what happens.
“I think the school system here—based on the things I’ve read about it, and after looking at the state assessment—I think things have been going very well,” he said.
Based on that starting point, Piper sees his work as both maintenance and construction.
“I think the job in Marion is to maintain what we have, and to find areas to improve,” he said. “I don’t know of any areas to improve right off, but you always try to continue to make improvements—with the building projects that are going on, I think the board and the district are doing just that.”
Erma Piper has been hired to be librarian for the district.
“Marion is a good fit for us,” he said.