Getting to Know Peyton

Jeff Parcell 2019-09-6

The staff at NTHS Headquarters is bubbling over with excitement as we wait for our new Executive Director, Peyton Holland, to join our team in October. We’re looking forward to getting know him a bit better as he leads our organization into continued success in the future.

But while we’re waiting for him to officially join us, we thought it might be fun to get his answers on a few short “ice breaker” questions that will help us learn a little more about our new leader… And we definitely wanted to share them with you!

What first interested you in Career and Technical Education, and how long have you been working in CTE? 

CTE has been a part of my life as long as I can remember; not in the traditional sense of sitting in a classroom, but in growing up and learning from a dad who could run, fix, and build anything he wanted to. Being raised on the family farm and at the family sawmill, I learned the value of skill very early in life.  I had a strong desire to be like my dad, able to build my future with my own two hands. That’s what led me to take a masonry class in high school which eventually got me involved in SkillsUSA and changed my life.  I took a variety of CTE courses, from computer applications to agriculture that continued to reaffirm the importance of learning skill.  I was given the opportunity to be involved in Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO’s) that took me across the state and country and opened up a whole new world for me.  I never imagined the impact that CTSO’s and CTE would have on me at the time, but I can honestly say I am who I am today because of CTE.

As a result, I have spent my entire professional career working in CTE in some shape or fashion. Even when I was working in industry as a marketing coordinator, I was closely engaged with CTSO’s and CTE training. Formally, I have been engaged in CTE for 20 years.  Over that 20 years, I have worked with a variety of CTSO’s, schools, associations and companies to create awareness for CTE, develop students, an connect education and industry together.  For the last 10 years I have had the honor of serving SkillsUSA North Carolina as a State Director.

I am thrilled to be joining NTHS where helping celebrate and empower students in CTE is part of our organization’s mission!

What personal or professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is being selected to do a TEDx talk.

When I submitted my application, I wasn’t sure that I had much of a chance being selected.  I wanted to challenge the status quo of education which has said, “The only path to success is a four year degree.” That one-size-fits-all approach has led us to where we are in this country: a growing gap between the jobs that are available and the skills needed to do those jobs.  This is what we know as the skills gap. I chose to tell the story of the power of Career and Technical Education to change lives, as it has mine. To my surprise, I was chosen and embarked upon one of the most challenging and rewarding development processes I have ever experienced.

(Click here to see Peyton’s Tedx Talk.)

How long have you and Kara been married, and how did you meet?

Kara and I have been married for 5 years. We met over a decade ago when I stopped by Pittsboro Feed to buy a hanging basket for my mom for Mother’s Day. Her family owned the store and she happened to be the girl working behind the counter that day. I knew I had to talk to her. After walking around the store awkwardly for some time, checking out random horse supplies (I didn’t own a horse) and looking at every flower there, I finally found my inroad to saying something to her. She happened to be wearing an Future Farmers of America (FFA) shirt. I had been in the FFA in high school. I knew we had something in common now! So. I awkwardly asked her what she did in the FFA. Come to find out, she had been a national competitor and even served as a state officer. I had done the same in SkillsUSA! We hit it off and spent the entire summer hanging out together. We knew we had something special. Then…I moved to France to work on my master’s degree. We lost touch for several years, when one day we reconnected and it was just like picking up where we left off. Within 3 months we were engaged and in 6 months we said, “I do”.

Who would win a fight between Batman and Spiderman?

While I am a big fan of both superheroes (particularly Spider-Man’s wit and humor), Batman was my first favorite superhero as a kid.  While many other superheroes have access to incredible superpowers, Batman had to rely on his ingenuity and creativity to develop the tools and equipment that would allow him to tackle the mean streets of Gotham.   While his powers may not be on the level of Spider-Man, his ability to think, strategize, and innovate allows him to use the abilities and tools he has to make the greatest impact, which gives him a strong competitive edge.  Not to mention, Batman has recently teamed up with my favorite superheroes of all time, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so naturally that makes him the best!

 What inspires you?

There are so many places, people, and moments in life that inspire me on a daily basis, it would difficult to name them all.  There are a few that jump to mind right away.

My parents are a constant inspiration.  My dad’s ability to create and innovate has always astounded me.  From building businesses to building the home I grew up in, he has shown me that the combination of knowledge, skill, and imagination can empower you to do incredible things in life.  My mother has left such a tremendous imprint on my life in showing me what it means to lead with care and compassion.

Anytime I have the opportunity, I enjoy being outside.  Whether is a hike in the mountains, a walk by the lake, or just sitting on the porch, it grounds me in my faith and reminds me of how blessed we are to have so much to explore around us.

Any pets?

We have 2 cats, 5 chickens and 3 ducks. Zazzles is our first cat. She is about 5 years old and is the queen of our house. Old Kitty (very original name, I know) showed at our house about 8 months ago and decided he wanted to adopt us. He is somewhere between 14-16, with about 3 teeth, and is a sweet, grumpy old man.

What are your hobbies, and what do you like to do in your free time?

I have a lot of random hobbies that I enjoy when I get the chance. I love being outside and hiking, be it a national park or just through the woods in the back yard.

I love playing basketball as often as possible. For the last several years, a group of childhood friends and I would meet at 5 a.m. in the morning to play a couple of times a week before work.

Tinkering, doing wood work or just working on projects around the house is very therapeutic for me.

Music moves me. I’m not very good at making music of my own, so I really enjoy listening to it whenever I have the chance, especially live.

Over the last few years, I have also reconnected with a passion of mine from when I was a kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s ok, you can laugh. About 3 years ago, I had the chance to meet the co-creator of TMNT and have developed a great relationship with his team and an amazing group of fans that are passionate about the art of comics and telling stories.

I am always up for a good adventure as well.  Whether it is trying to find the best ice cream shop in town or hopping on a plane and going somewhere I’ve never been before, I love exploring new places, trying new activities, and (most of all), trying new food wherever I go.

When the zombie apocalypse hits, what’s the first thing you’ll do?

I am heading to my wife’s family pet supply store and hunkering down.  The shelf life of cat and dog food is a lot longer than the food at the grocery store.  I’ve never eaten dog or cat food, but some of it does look pretty tasty when I read the labels.  Savory chicken in gravy with carrots and peas.  That sounds like Sunday lunch to me!