One of the myriad of reasons why several Westchester schools voted to join an educational reform movement for autonomy within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) earlier this year was to have the flexibility to include more creative academic opportunities for their children.
Buoyed by recent Academic Performance Index (API) scores that showed a steady increase in six of the seven Westchester schools, parents, teachers and school administrators are now considering implementing what many feel is an innovative classroom framework that has the potential to further enhance student learning.
The concept is called the Peters Procedures, and its creator, Genevieve Peters, has a proven track record with her academic blueprint, which she began marketing in 1999.
A former Long Beach Unified School District middle school teacher, Peters has been involved in education for 18 years and her educational program has earned her an award from the Long Beach Rotary Club.
Peters sees her academic creation as the foundation for establishing a creative learning environment in the classroom.
“What Microsoft is to operating systems,” she said in a recent interview,” the Peters Procedures are to the school culture.”
The author of this new academic philosophy has presented her program to the Venice-Marina Rotary Club, the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce and three schools in Westchester.
Karen Long, the principal at Westport Heights Elementary School, thinks highly of the Peters Procedures and has agreed to consider making it a part of the students’ everyday educational experience.
“We think that it could add to our school culture and enhance our academic performance,” Long told The Argonaut. “The procedures can add to a common language in the school.”
The principles of the Peters Procedures are based on imparting manners, academic focus and a sense of personal responsibility to each student.
“When I was teaching, it was so surprising to see how many students who were unprepared with these core foundations to be unable to study, focus or concentrate,” Peters recalled. “I wanted to create a system where teachers could reinforce these skills and values on a daily basis.”
The presentation at the LAX Coastal Area Chamber was well received, said Pat Lyon, the chamber’s education chair.
“She presents an enlightened way to learning new principles for learning,” Lyon said. “She brings [learning] back to a very practical level.”
The classroom framework is taught to the students on a daily basis.
“It is completely integrated into the students’ day,” Peters explained. “Everyone who has contact with the students is trained in implementing the framework.”
Long and her teachers saw Peters’ presentation this month and came away very impressed.
“My teachers are very interested in it,” the Westport Heights principal said.
Westport Heights is hoping to raise the necessary funds to begin to eventually install the Peters Procedures.
“We’re looking for community assistance to implement this program,” said Long.
Lyon feels that it would be a good investment for any school or school district.
“I think that it is a very valuable product, and I hope that everyone views it that way,” she said.
Ann Wexler, a Westchester parent who has seen the Peters Procedures in action at the Global Education Academy in Los Angeles, also spoke very highly of how well the students seem to respond to it.
“I’m a big fan,” she said. “I think that it’s wonderful, and I would like to see it in all of our schools.”
Currently, five out of the seven Westchester schools have voted to join the iDesign Division (formerly the Innovation Division) of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which will be responsible for assisting the schools with the transition to autonomy within the district.
“There was a very nice atmosphere on the campus [at the Global Education Academy] and the students were very engaged in what they were doing,” said Wexler. “One of the things that I really liked was, one of the parents at the school mentioned that the kids were taking the Peters Procedures home with them and sharing them with their siblings, which I think is so wonderful.”
The Peters Procedures was successfully test-piloted at Juvenile State Prison in Chino and at a school for severely emotionally and mentally disturbed children in a state-accredited, nonpublic school.
Kentwood Elementary School and the ninth-grade academy at Westchester High School are also very interested in bringing the Peters Procedures to their schools.
“Once you get the students set up for success, it creates an environment where teachers can also shine,” said Peters.
While students are held to a high standard regarding their grades and their behavior, teachers and administrators are also more accountable to the students and themselves under the Peters Procedures.
“The accountability of teachers comes into play when there is success in one area and not another,” Peters said.
Siobhan Long, a teacher in Long Beach Unified School, where Peters formerly worked, endorsed the Peters Procedures on Peters’ Web site.
“The Peters Procedures provides a framework to build a healthy classroom atmosphere. It also facilitates the development of social skills and fosters teamwork,” Long wrote. “As a [substitute] teacher, I witness lots of disrespect and apathy.
“To be in a Peters Procedures classroom where students are genuinely polite, respectful and focused is a win-win situation.”
Peters will give another presentation in Westchester Thursday, October 2nd, for the Westchester/ Playa del Rey Education Foundation, which has been at the forefront of the autonomy movement in Westchester. The foundation is planning to raise funds to assist Westchester schools that wish to bring Peters’ creation into their school.
“The goal is to create individual thinkers, critical thinkers and creative minds,” Peters concluded in an Argonaut interview. “My vision is to help children turn into outstanding human beings, and to create a model program not only for LAUSD, but for the entire nation.”