I was born into a family of educators, grew up on a boarding school campus, and graduated from Nichols School in Buffalo, New York. I did my undergraduate study at Yale and earned a master’s in English from Brown. I began my career as a teacher and development officer at The Gow School, which my grandfather founded in 1926 as the world’s first college preparatory school for students with dyslexia.
From there I moved eastward to Providence Country Day School, Fessenden School, and most recently Beaver Country Day School. I’ve served on the staff of the New England New Teacher Seminar and consulted for the Commission on Accreditation of the National Association of Independent Schools. I was a founding board member of the Independent Curriculum Group, of which I am now Executive Director.
My experience is “old school.” I’ve been a teacher, a coach, an advisor; I’ve run dormitories, proctored study halls, and chaired committees. I’ve been an athletic director, a department chair, a college counselor, a dean of faculty, an academic dean, and a trustee. Along the way I’ve been a faculty brat, a faculty spouse, and an independent school parent.
An exciting future lies ahead, and schools and teachers have to keep up, which means that old-school values have to merge with cutting-edge ideas and practice. Effective educators and great schools need to be paying close attention and eagerly embracing change if they are to fulfill their missions and their destinies.
My life’s work has been, is, and will be to help every independent school deliver the best possible educational experience to every student based on the fullest expression of its mission.
I have spoken and presented on school issues to a variety of audiences, including eleven National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conferences since 2001; keynoted the Association of Independent Maryland Schools Tech Directors’ Retreat; served as faculty at the Folio Collaborative Summer Institute; presented at multiple Independent Curriculum Group workshops and seminars; shared ideas on “The New Progressivism” at the Progressive Education Network national conference; and talked to the Heads and Board Chairs Conference of the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools, the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education Assembly for Jewish Day School Education, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges about recruiting, hiring, and training great teachers.
I’ve also addressed and worked with faculties at many independent schools on topics including curriculum change, change management, teacher evaluation, schedule change, differentiated learning, professional culture, and the cultural impact and promise of technology.
You can see a sample of some of my writings (and order a book or two if you’d like) below, and of course you can check out my blogs: Not Your Father’s School, “Independent Schools, Common Perspectives” at Education Week, and The Interested Child. I’ve also guest blogged for The Association of Boarding Schools, the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals, EdSocialMedia, and the blog at Howard Gardner’s The Good Project.
What Is A School? A Philosophical and Practical Guide For Independent School Leaders, Trustees, and Friends (Publish Green, 2011)
Purchase What Is A School? from Amazon as an eBook for the Kindle. Also available for the Nook and other e-readers and reader apps.
What Is A School? is a series of meditations on the nature and purpose of independent schools. Written for anyone who leads a school or thinks deeply about their purpose and future, What Is A School? explores the human aspirations behind the existence of any school to provide new perspectives on governance and strategic thinking.
Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide (coauthored with Carol Cheney) (National Association of Independent Schools, 2010)
Purchase and download Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide
Messaging and Branding is a short, intensive course for leaders and strategic marketers in communicating schools’ identities, values, and messages. Including exercises that can help focus messaging and understanding of opportunities, Messaging and Branding is not just about talking about identities and ideals—it’s about living them.
The Intentional Teacher: Forging a Great Career in the Independent School Classroom (Avocus Publishing, 2009 )
Purchase The Intentional Teacher
Written for aspiring, novice, and veteran teachers alike, The Intentional Teacher takes readers through a career, offering observations, advice, and specific tools to make teaching more effective and more satisfying. Based on 35 years of experience, The Intentional Teacher comes from the heart and soul of a happy teacher.
The Watery Realm (WoodenBoat Books, 2006)
Purchase The Watery Realm
The Watery Realm muses on the ways in which being around, in, and on bodies of water can open the minds of children (and adults, too!) to wonder and possibility. From flying over coastline to strolling on a beach to watching boats in a storm, The Watery Realm explores the deepest, most humbling, and most captivating kinds of learning.
An Admirable Faculty: Recruiting, Hiring, Training, And Retaining Teachers In Independent Schools (National Association of Independent Schools, 2005)
Purchase An Admirable Faculty
An Admirable Faculty presents best practices in recruiting, hiring, teacher orientation, and creating vibrant professional cultures that offering teachers daily satisfaction and ongoing growth. An Admirable Faculty sets out a process through which schools can set be assured of engaged, top-quality teaching.
SOME OF PETER’S CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS ON SLIDESHARE: CLICK HERE
A SAMPLER OF PETER’S OTHER WRITINGS ON EDUCATION
“How can you tell a story true to your firm?” Professional Services Marketing, ImageSeven (Australia) (1 March 2016)
“My Challenge to Schools,” Not Your Father’s School blog (26 August 2015)
“Explaining Innovative Practice at Your School,” EdSocialMedia (20 July 2014)
“Professional Growth? Teacher Evaluation? Caveman Simple! How the Folio Collaborative Is Redefining Professional Cultures,” Independent School magazine (Fall 2013)
“An Experience of ‘Yes’: Independent Schools Begin to Explore and Exploit the Power of Design Thinking,” Independent School magazine (Spring 2012)
“Student Performance: Data-informed Decision-making Models and Resources: An Introduction and Guide for Independent Schools” for the National Association of Independent Schools Commission on Accreditation (2011)
“Harry Potter and the Accreditor’s Nightmare: Spells, Standards, and School Quality in an Era of Change” Independent School magazine (Summer 2011)
“Missions, Mantras, and Meaning: What Should Missions Statements Do?” Independent School magazine (Fall 2009)
“Alive and Well: What It Takes to Thrive in Hard Times” for the National Association of Independent Schools Financially Sustainable Schools project (2009)
“The New Progressivism Is Here” Education Week “Commentary” (29 April 2008)
“What Do Teachers Want? Strategies for Keeping Your Best Teachers Happy and Growing” HaYidion (Winter 2008)
“Creating Family Stories Leads Students to a Richer Understanding of U.S. History” with Alice Davino, Harvard Education Letter (March/April 1996)