Shirley Peterson


  • EdD, University of Southern California, Educational Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction
  • MA. San Diego State University, Physical Education
  • BS, Geroge Williams College, Health, Physical Education and Biological Sciences

Shirley Peterson, Ed.D., has been an educator for thirty-eight years, serving as an administrator in a large urban school district for twenty-four.  She served as a high school administrator for eighteen years.  During two high school principalships - one in a suburban setting and the other an inner city school – she achieved success by focusing on classroom instruction and support programs for under-performing students, resulting in lower dropout rates and increased numbers of students going to four-year colleges.  Notable work as a high school principal includes leading the development, with assistance of consultants and site teachers, of a reading program now known as “Second Chance”; and securing a site grant from the National Science Foundation of $1.2 Million for the purpose of integrating technology into all curricular areas to support the improvement of instruction and student achievement.

From 1998 to 2003 she served as a member of a district team that led the implementation of a balanced literacy program in all of its schools, K-12.  Her latest work included leading district high school reform initiatives built on the guiding principles of Instructional Leadership, Academic Rigor and Personalization.  Another focus of the reform effort was the development of small high schools.  She presently works for the San Diego Unified School District as an interim administrator and coach for new principals. 

During 2003-2005 she worked as a consultant with the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership.  Her work there concentrated on coaching principals to improve their instructional leadership leading their schools to increased academic achievement for students.

In 2006 she joined the University of San Diego [USD] as a part time professor in the School of Leadership and Educational Sciences.  She also serves as a supervisor for aspiring administrators in USD’s Educational Leadership Development Academy.

Dr. Peterson possesses working and application knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and professional development.  She is an expert in directing the development and implementation of district-wide policies and procedures to support site programs and their operational needs.  She is experienced at coaching principals in the development of strong instructional leadership with attention to analyzing instruction to determine teachers’ strengths and needs followed up by individual to total staff professional development.  Her coaching includes guiding principals to plan and focus resources to accomplish academic goals.  She is knowledgeable of current research and national educational trends.

Research interests include improving student achievement thorough increased teacher effectiveness and the principal's role in improving student achievement.