Peters named best in midwest


staff report

Speech teacher Gary Peters is in rare territory.

Peters was recently nominated by the Indiana High School Forensics Association (IHSFA),  and was named the  IHSFA Educator of the Year for 2021-2022He also was nominated for this award last year.

This time around, Peters completed paperwork for the next step which is the current award: The Outstanding Speech, Debate, and Theatre Educator Award for the Great Lakes section 4 (representing the Great Lake States- Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin).

“I will be honored along with other state and sectional winners for this national honor,” Peters said.

The award is based on 1) Overall contributions 2) years of service both curricular and co-curricular  3) organization and continuance of a program 4) significant and on-going contribution to the field, and 5) contributions to the profession both in and out of the state.

I love the natural emotions and the human appeals for theater, speech, and debate. I love that students get a chance to tell their stories.”

— Gary Peters

Peters has taught speech for 27 years and has been at Ben Davis since 2014. He attended the Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts in Gary, IN for grades 6-12 where he was a theater major and also participated in speech.

“It is an honor to be recognized by my peers in the speech, debate, and theater community,” Peters said. “I have spent many years directing plays, producing fashion shows, coaching speech and debate, and being involved in our professional development as a presenter or participant.

“I love the natural emotions and the human appeals for theater, speech, and debate. I love that students get a chance to tell their stories. From this opportunity I am pleased to make an impact on the lives of young adults.

This award was directly from the IHSFA Board of Directors, so this was not student driven. However, upon being honored in 2020 Top 5 National Educator of the Year as quoted in the ROSTRUM in April of 2020, a BD student, Justina Oluwayomi said, ” He believes in the possibilities of creating a leader out of anyone and everyone. He is not only welcoming, but he is also understanding and very helpful”.

“I do not believe there is a secret to teaching,” Peters said. “Our profession needs more than ever souls who empathize and visualize the positives in children especially the Generation Z’s. As we educate, we must elevate the Gen Z’s to be better responsible citizens. We educators have the power to make this happen.”

Peters enjoys his profession.

“I am an educator who adjusts to the status quo; as times change, I adapt,” he said. “Yet I believe in the basics for rhetoric (reading, writing, and speaking). I am firm yet fair in my expectations. Excellence is a by-product of experience.”