MT. VERNON — Teachers and administrators have to create the right conditions for success in order to sustain it over the long term, said Stephen Peters, CEO of The Peters Group.
Peters, an author and veteran educator, was the keynote speaker Friday at the 34th Annual Mt. Vernon Conference at Mt. Vernon Township High School.
Over the course of his 90-minute presentation, he spoke of the importance of teachers “personalizing” their approach to education, and how every student should be treated equally regardless of their appearance or background.
“I truly believe as a teacher myself that the level of quality that we deliver to other people’s children should equal the level of quality that we expect delivered to our children by teachers,” Peters said. “We have to be able to see promise in all of our children.”
Friday was the last day of the Mt. Vernon Conference, which brought over 1,500 educators to the MVTHS campus from across the state.
The two-day educational in-service featured instructional workshops on a variety of issues, including Common Core Standards, evaluation systems, and technology.
Peters’ keynote speech Friday morning was introduced by Ron Daniels, Regional Superintendent of Schools of Hamilton-Jefferson Counties.
Daniels spoke of the many challenges now facing educators, including evaluation and curriculum changes, higher-stake testing, less funding, and many others.
The conference, Daniels said, should help teachers get “re-inspired” so they can take that positive energy back to their classrooms.
“It’s my privilege to be part of this endeavor,” Daniels said.
Peters covered a great deal of ground in his lively, fast-moving speech. Not only did he talk about educational strategies, but he also provided humorous anecdotes from his own life to illustrate his points.
Peters has over 32 years of educational experience, having worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director of secondary education. Several of the schools he presided over achieved National and State Blue-Ribbon distinction.
He is also the founder of the Gentlemen’s Club mentoring program, which was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
With his keynote address, Peters said he wanted to inspire teachers and instill pride, but also show them the differences between today’s students and those in the past.
“We have schools that are improving, but the key is to improve and sustain,” Peters said. “You do that by having dynamic school leaders and great teachers, because good is no longer good enough for this new generation.”
Peters discussed five major influences on students and how the order of those influences has changed over the years.
In the 1950s, the order of influences was: “home, school, church, peers, and TV.” Now, the order is: “TV/media, peers, church, school, and home,” Peters said.
This change has put added pressure on educators, many of whom have to act as parents as well as teachers, Peters said.
“Home and school has to be a partnership,” he said.
But despite increasing difficulties, teachers should feel extremely proud about what they do, Peters said.
“I want you to feel a sense of pride,” Peters said. “We belong to the greatest profession that ever was and ever will be.”