I am Head of St. George’s Independent School in Memphis, Tennessee. Before coming to St. George’s, I was Head of Upper School at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. I have also served as Upper School Director at Hawken School in Cleveland, Ohio and as Assistant Head for Academic Affairs at Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina. Twitter @jrosspeters. Instagram JRP100
As for the name of the blog…
After years spent wishing I was a prodigy of some sort—a world-class tennis player or perhaps a musician as comfortable with a guitar as most people are with silverware, I have discovered that I am a generalist. To be honest I was quite slow to own this truth, for the evidence was in and was in front of me for a very long time. When in my mid-twenties I became Director of a boys camp in the mountains of North Carolina, I had already held virtually every job in the camp short of owning the place. I had been a counselor, Senior Counselor, and Head Counselor, and I had taught tennis, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, orienteering, riflery, skeet shooting, white water canoeing, and…wait for it…I had even taught a few overly enthusiastic nine year old boys how to tie-dye cheap white t-shirts (it was no small mess!). I also drove the bus, and I was in charge of the Fourth of July fireworks (amazingly enough, I have all my fingers and no visible burn scars). Hence, my work was “all over the map.”
My generalist tendencies followed me into my career in education though it is easy to identify common denominators—my love of reading, my devotion to my students, my desire to seek out the best teachers and learn from them, and, most powerfully, my ambition to help the school where I work become better. From my first year as a teacher, I have enjoyed being the one who said “yes” when the question began with, “Would anybody be willing to…?” or “Does anyone know how to…?” even when, though I might have been “willing,” I may not have known yet exactly “how to.”
To me, a generalist is “all over the map” but that in no way means he or she is aimless. Instead “generalist” refers to a person who has interests in many areas and purposefully seeks connections and meaning from the intersection of those interests. For instance, my love for folk pottery grew out a recognition that a great piece of folk pottery is an emblem of timelessness and authenticity–two ideas that have driven my love for great literature.