March 3, 2021
Fort Couch assistant principal named Outstanding Administrator
Erin Peterson, Fort Couch Middle School assistant principal, was recently recognized with the Leonard R. Ference Outstanding Administrator Award from the Pennsylvania Association of Middle Level Educators (PAMLE).
According to the association’s website, the award, established in 2004, honors “administrators who value, understand and support middle level education practices that promote powerful learning for young adolescents.”
Mrs. Peterson was nominated for the award by Joe DeMar, Fort Couch Middle School principal, with letters of support from Kate Ruth, middle school English/language arts curriculum leader and reading specialist at Fort Couch, and Catherine Deep, a Fort Couch Middle School parent.
“In her eighth year as Fort Couch assistant principal, Mrs. Peterson has transformed the position into an integral part of the school’s success,” Mr. DeMar said. “She has taken the traditional role of an assistant principal and morphed the position into one that embodies authentic leadership. One that builds trust with the staff and provides opportunities for the students.”
Mrs. Peterson joined the Fort Couch staff in 2006. She has served as an English/language arts (ELA) teacher, reading specialist, curriculum leader for middle school ELA, and Professional Learning Community facilitator before ascending to her current role as assistant principal in 2013.
This year marks her 21st year working with middle school students, who she describes as creative, enthusiastic and fun.
“The most rewarding part of my role is partnering with staff, students and families to care for students and help them find success.” Mrs. Peterson said. “I am privileged to work alongside an incredible staff, wonderful students and supportive families who make every day fulfilling.”
According to Mrs. Ruth, Mrs. Peterson’s ability to recognize the balance between quality curriculum, engaging learning experiences, and student needs have enhanced the experience for Fort Couch students.
“She has an authentic pulse on what is happening in classrooms. She understands the importance of engaging students and meeting their individual needs; she has used her administrative role to support the piloting of various curriculum and assessments,” Mrs. Ruth said. “Thanks to her leadership, all content areas have made significant curricular changes over the past years to improve student learning and performance.”
Mrs. Peterson consistently demonstrates support, compassion and care for students in her daily interactions with others.
“This is shown in her speaking to students by name, ensuring students are fed, helping provide students with ways to deescalate when in crisis, and helping her staff keep students’ mental health needs at the forefront,” Mrs. Ruth said. “She is a champion for all kids in all situations.”
In-school clubs at Fort Couch Middle School are organized by Mrs. Peterson – an effort that is appreciated by parents, including Mrs. Deep.
“Mrs. Peterson spends countless hours balancing student preference, friendships, school social circles, and teacher availability. She recognizes the importance of the extra-curricular moment, when a student can share a common interest with peers and a trusted adult,” she said. “Due to her efforts, our school clubs create a stronger school community where students feel safe and seen. At the end of each school day Mrs. Erin Peterson goes home a hero to those in our community because of the opportunities, dedication and support she provides to our children.”
A graduate of Grove City College, Mrs. Peterson holds a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education. She earned her master’s degree in education for reading and language arts from Duquesne University, where she is currently pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership.
A resident of Upper St. Clair, Mrs. Peterson and her husband, Shane, have two school-aged children – James and Katherine.
PAMLE is the leading advocate for middle level education in Pennsylvania, promoting and enhancing the role of middle level education by promoting best instructional practices for young adolescents. Learn more at www.pamle.org.