Darren McKay, new physical education director at Idyllwild School. Photo by Marshall Smith

Note: Seven new teachers have joined the Idyllwild School faculty. The Town Crier will profile them over the next few weeks.


“I’m pretty much a kid at heart,” said Wisconsin native and new Idyllwild School Athletic Director Darren McKay. “So, it’s easy for me t identify with the kids. I feed off their energy.”

Affable, outgoing, and as you might expect, a sports enthusiast, McKay is very enthusiastic about having his first gym from which to run a physical education program. He came directly from college in Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin, Whitewater) to his first teaching assignment at Ramona Elementary School in Hemet, which had no gym.

While looking over the large, well-fitted Idyllwild School gymnasium, McKay said he was really looking forward to the yearlong sports education opportunities the indoor gymnasium would provide.

Growing up a mile from the University of Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, McKay is a committed UW football fan. “The start of college football season is a time I look forward to,” he said. Asked what sports he played at college he said he was pretty much an intramural guy, with flag football and softball as his games of choice. He still plays but not as much as he’d like, citing some sports injuries.

When asked how the culture at Idyllwild School seems different from that at Ramona, McKay noted first that Idyllwild is much smaller and allows more connection with individual students. He also noted the students’ obvious closeness here. “You can tell they’ve been together for a long time,” he said. “They also have a lot of mutual respect. It’s great to watch how they treat each other.”

His main goal in crafting and running Idyllwild School’s PE program is to give the kids as many opportunities to be successful as he could. “Even with the ones who don’t want to do sports, I want to show them the benefits of exercise, find out what they like and go with it and have them be happy and active.”

As a common thread of conversation from the teachers new to Idyllwild School this year, McKay also cites the camaraderie among teachers and administration. “The staff is good, good sense of humor,” McKay said. “When you’ve got that, you can get anything done.”

Previous Athletic Director Holly Guntermann has been a mentor teacher for him, McKay said. He plans to continue her emphasis on keeping all kids active and involved. He also plans to continue Guntermann’s long-standing support of the annual Idyllwild 5 and 10K Run and Fitness Walk. The June event raises money for the Idyllwild School’s PE program.

“Holly is coming up to fill me in,” McKay said. “I’ve got some learning to do, but we’ll support it.”

McKay is married and lives in San Jacinto with four dogs and a tortoise.