Friends honor Peterman

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; Funny, loving, inspiring, honest and dependable are ways people described long-time Concordia parish school faculty member and superintendent Lester &uot;Pete&uot; Peterman &045;their friend, father, colleague and boss.

Peterman began the post of superintendent four and a half years ago after 27 years serving in the Concordia Parish School System as teacher, counselor, principal, supervisor of curriculum and instruction, assistant superintendent and then to the top position &045; superintendent &045; before announcing his retirement Friday, officially taking affect Monday.

The retirement celebration included a speech by Peterman and Sheriff Randy Maxwell. There was cake, punch, food and lots of friends and friendly conversation.

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Peterman said he was humbled by all the people that attended.

&uot;It was just a blessing to me to see everyone that came and be able to share my retirement with them,&uot; Peterman said.

He also said it would be hard to not be on the job every day, following his daily routine. But learning and students are what he will miss most.

&uot;I enjoyed most of all being in the schools and seeing the learning process take place with the children and teachers,&uot; he said.

While Peterman told the crowd how much he would miss it, many in the crowd said they will miss him.

&uot;To see all these people come by and express their emotions makes me feel good,&uot; son Nick Peterson said. &uot;This is what he’s worked his whole life for.&uot;

Delnora Cook, who works in the maintenance department of the central office, has worked with Peterman since 1994 when Peterman served as principal of Ridgecrest Elementary.

Cook talked about Peterman’s sense of humor and how he would always give everyone a good joke to laugh at. But Cook also said Peterman loved his teachers and his students.

&uot;It was just like a family when he came to Ridgecrest,&uot; Cook said.

Also, Peterman’s character stands out.

&uot;He’s a loving man, a man of honor, a man of wisdom and first, a man of God,&uot; Cook said.

And the stories of Peterman abound.

His son, Nick, said he would always go with his dad wherever he went and can remember going to many school functions with his dad, many that Peterman did not have to attend but would always go to.

Nick remembered one time when his dad rode a truck full of crawfish back into a crawfish field to tell a student who was working there what he had made on his ACT and explained what that meant.

&uot;At the time we never realized, we were just going with dad,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s the kinda thing he did.&uot;

Peterman said it was time for him to step down and his son mirrored that thought.&uot;I think he’s made it to the point where he’s accomplished all he can accomplish,&uot; Nick Peterson said.

Peterman sees it a little differently.

&uot;We had a lot more goals, but we’re very satisfied with what we accomplished,&uot; he said.

He added he is sure the board will be able to carry on and accomplish those that he leaves behind.

Linda Spinks, retired assistant principal of Ferriday Lower Elementary School worked with Peterman for 32 years, beginning when he was working at Monterey.

She credits him with many positives in the school district such as improving test scores and leading the district forward on the No Child Left Behind act.

&uot;He’s brought unity and harmony to the school district,&uot; Spinks said.

Spinks’ vivid memory of Peterman was when he would get to where he could not take the high school students anymore (at Monterey) and would come to her classroom door, where she taught first graders. He would sit in her rocking chair, and she would leave him with the children to read to them.

&uot;He would have his fix,&uot; Spinks said. &uot;He loved the little kids. He loved children and that is what made him so great.&uot;

A surprise to Peterman, a scholarship was set up in his name.

&uot;I was humbled by the starting of a scholarship fund, that something like that would happen,&uot; he said.

No interim or replacement has been named but many always will remember the outgoing superintendent &045; Dr. Pete.

&uot;It’s gonna be difficult to fill his shoes,&uot; Spinks said.