Home   :   About Us   :   What's New   :   Arts Calendar   :   The Hub   :   Contact Us   :   Foundation

The Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Awards

Dr. Terry K. Peterson

2015 Lifetime Achievement Award


Terry PetersonDr. Terry Peterson of Kiawah Island, S.C., is an education policy expert with a Ph.D. in education statistics and a former chemistry teacher - not an arts educator – who chose to continually identify the value of the arts in education for all students, long before the arts were seen as an education asset by most government leaders and policy makers. Working inside the state and federal policy arenas, Peterson has had a unique vantage point and opportunity to influence education ideas, policies and funding for all aspects of pre-K-12 education, higher education, afterschool and summer learning. As Governor Riley’s education director, Peterson worked to add requirements and funding for Artistically Gifted and Talented Programs in the S.C. Education Improvement Act, worked to establish the Joint Legislative Committee on Cultural Affairs, and assisted in the establishment of the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts.   In the 1980s he played a critical role in initiatives such as establishing the S.C. Arts Alliance, the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Partnership with the S.C. Arts Commission, the S.C. Department of Education, and Winthrop University (which helped establish South Carolina as a national leader in arts education and continues today). As executive director of the S.C. Education Partnership, he worked to add the ABC Plan to the Target 2000 Education Reform Legislation, which led to an arts-in-education grant program at the state Department of Education.


As chief education policy advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Peterson worked with President Clinton to add the arts to the National Education Goals, establishing the arts as a national education priority and opening the door for the arts to qualify for new funding. Today the arts are still included as a core subject. In 1994 Peterson worked with Secretary Riley and Jane Alexander, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to create the Goals 2000 Arts Education Task Force, modeled on the successful ABC effort in South Carolina. It brought together national education and arts education organizations and continues today as the National Arts Education Partnership (AEP). Twenty years later AEP’s research and policy work has had a lasting impact on advancing arts education across the nation.


Peterson continues to bring national attention to the important role the arts play in afterschool and summer learning, as well as during the school day, as the current chairman of the National Afterschool Alliance and director of the Afterschool and Community Learning Network. He is the College of Charleston School of Education’s Senior Fellow for Pre-K to 16 Improvement and Partnerships. In 2013 he edited a groundbreaking compendium of afterschool and summer learning research “Expanding Minds and Opportunities,” that includes significant arts in education research. As a result of this publication, he has had the opportunity to speak at national and state conferences across the country and advise legislative committees in more than two dozen states on afterschool and general education policy – always advocating the important role of arts. Peterson has served as advisor to leaders in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Mongolia, Northern Ireland and China. He has also been nationally recognized on numerous occasions for his accomplishments in education.


Back home in South Carolina, Peterson has recently been instrumental in the tri-county community planning process that created “Engaging Creative Minds” in Charleston to actively engage children in learning through the arts. He now serves on their advisory board.


Dr. Terry Peterson’s extraordinary leadership and focus on arts education has brought great benefits to the students, teachers and schools of S.C. and the nation.