The International Reading Association recently teamed with the American Reading Company to host noted author and educator Stephen G. Peters in a seminar for school administrators in Newark, Delaware.
American Reading Company (ARC) Senior Policy Advisor Quality Quinn welcomed the group of teachers, principals, and superintendents from regional school districts to the University of Delaware John M. Clayton Conference Center, noting that she was “thrilled to bring IRA, ARC, and Stephen Peters from The Peters Group together for this professional development event.” She also introduced Jesse Hileman, who is the ARC contact for the Philadelphia/Delaware region.
IRA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post followed by praising the notable education researchers selected for ARC’s academic advisory board, including Stephen Peters, Richard Allington, Pedro Noguera, Alma Flor Ada, and Isabelle Campoy. She continued to explain the importance of practical, researched-based professional development for school administrators and teachers.
IRA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post
Stephen G. Peters
Over his 32 years in education, Stephen G. Peters has been a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and director of secondary education. Most of his experiences have been in schools that made significant growth in short periods of time thus, resulting in both National and State Blue-Ribbon distinction. Stephen is founder of the nationally recognized Gentlemen’s & Ladies Club programs, which provide options for thousands of at-risk and honor students throughout the United States. He has appeared on Oprah, has presented at dozens of conferences, and has met with countless school districts. Stephen and The Peters Group have recently partnered with American Reading Company (ARC) to reach as many educators as possible.
“Stephen Peters’ unrelenting determination to transform school cultures is inspiring. We are grateful for the opportunity to work collaboratively with Stephen and our district partners to establish the necessary conditions for transformational programs that achieve measured results,” ARC Founder and CEO Jane Hileman said in a statement announcing the partnership.
A charismatic speaker with a wealth of practical advice learned in the field, Peters is the author of Do You Know Enough About Me To Teach Me? (The Peters Group, 2006). The book focuses on the differences between children’s lives today and when their teachers were in school and what schools can do to help them learn. His mottos “Do Something” and “No Child Left Out” are calls to change school culture so that all students rise to higher expectations.
“We are no longer raising children; we are raising young adults. And our children are confused,” he pointed out. His data showed that main influences on children changed from parents and school in the 1950s to peers and TV/media in the 2000s.
What Schools Can Do
Peters attributes much of his success, along with the 172 college offers he received due to his basketball prowess and his high GPA, to the support he received from his teachers, school leadership, and family as a young person.
“My teacher thought I was smarter than I was, so I was,” he noted. “No one rises to low expectations.”
His goal is to help school administrators change school culture by improving the conditions of their school environment. He helps them create “Challenge to Achieve” plans that are three goals on two pages—much shorter than many current plans schools have developed. His plans are based on three steps: 1. Capture (find out who the children are), 2. Inspire (dress for success, obtain community support, build relationships, model good behavior), and 3. Teach.
Dr. Andrea Givens supported Peters’ points with recent research in the field of literacy education and an overview of American Reading Company’s services for educators.
“Common Core isn’t going anywhere,” she said, indicating that the Standards are here to stay amidst some states’ recent resistance to adopting them. She explained that the CCSS identifies three shifts in literacy education: 1. Nonfiction texts, 2. Evidence from texts (both literacy and informational texts), and 3. Complex texts with academic language.
She quoted David Coleman, who said that a student needs to learn to “read like a detective [and] write like an investigative reporter.”
Givens discussed Response Through Intervention (RTI) in depth, explaining that research shows that if teachers and administrators work to strengthen instruction for Tier 1, then Tiers 2 and 3 succeed more. Givens is one of the experts who supports American Reading Association teaching tools by visiting schools across the country to conduct professional development for staff and hands-on training in classrooms. She has been across the country showing instructors how to use ARC’s many products, including the Independent Reading Level Assessment Framework (IRLA) reading system, which corresponds to the Standards.
Overall, her main point was that “teachers need to model, model, model so [their students] can follow, follow, follow.”
Partnering for Literacy
Peters stated that he was proud to “partner with ARC and lend his voice to IRA.”
“All highly successful people are avid readers,” he said. “Reading is a life-changer, a game-changer.”