Peterman seeks top parish school post

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 18, 1999

VIDALIA,&160;La. – To hear Lester &uot;Pete&uot; Peterman tell it, for a long time he did not want to serve in an administrative position. &uot;For about 20 years, I&160;didn’t want to,&uot;&160;said Peterman, Concordia Parish’s interim school superintendent. &uot;My children were young then. I&160;would rather spend the time with them, and I wasn’t after the money.&uot;

But when former Superintendent James Lee’s contract was not renewed June 30, the school board voted for Assistant Superintendent Peterman to fill the district’s top position until the district hired a new leader.

And now Peterman is seeking the superintendent’s post, along with a U.S. Navy trainer from New Orleans and the Monroe schools’ assistant superintendent of human resources.

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&uot;It was something I&160;prayed hard about and felt led to do,&uot; said Peterman, sitting behind a desk covered with stacks of papers that already, as interim superintendent, he must read and sign. &uot;And other people encouraged me to do it.&uot;

Peterman, usually a man of few words, said that for now he will not comment on what he sees as the main issues the district must address or on how he would address those issues as head of the district.

To do so before he interviews with the school board’s search committee later this week, he said, would be &uot;presumptuous.&uot;

But in recent months, he has spoken about the big issues faced by the district and others around the nation, such as raising test scores and tightening security.

To boost sagging scores, teams of educators will go into each school with low scores to help instructors find new ways to teach students the skills needed to be successful on the Iowa and LEAP standardized tests.

The district is also drawing up school-specific and district-wide security plans, has put two-way radios in the hands of school officials and is working on installing two-way intercoms in classrooms.

What Peterman will talk about is the variety of positions he has held in the district in the last 27 years.

After graduating from Mississippi State and teaching in a handful of other systems from West Point, Miss., to New Orleans, he took a job as a seventh-grade science teacher in Ferriday.

He then moved on to serve as an eighth-grade physical education teacher and coach in Ferriday, a counselor at Monterey High, and principal at Ridgecrest Elementary and Monterey High.

Then, at the district’s central office in Vidalia, he served as supervisor of curriculum and instruction and, finally, assistant superintendent.

&uot;It’s hard to say what gives one candidate the advantage, … but familiarity with the system will help,&uot;&160;Peterman said.

But Peterman said that, even if he does not end up as the district’s leader, he will still work to perform to the best of his ability as assistant superintendent.

&uot;I felt obligated to try for this position because of my training and experience and because I&160;felt led to do it,&uot; he said. &uot;But we have a good school system, and whoever is chosen will have a good job. And if I don’t get it, I’ll know that position is not what God had in store for me.&uot;