Eric Peterson has been named principal of the West Contra Costa Unified School District’s (WCCUSD) new Mandarin language school that is set to open in August.
Peterson currently serves as the WCCUSD Director of Special Education. Before that, he was the principal at Dover Elementary School in San Pablo.
He is an award-winning educator with “a long history with the Mandarin language” and has experience building and sustaining bilingual programs, according to Superintendent Matthew Duffy.
In 2011, Peterson was honored in a White House ceremony as a National Board Certified Teacher and is active in several professional organizations, including the California Association for Bilingual Education, the district said.
“This is a great opportunity for our students to learn the world’s most spoken language, Mandarin, and at the same time develop proficiency in English,” Peterson said in a district statement.
The West County Mandarin School will launch with three kindergarten classes in the Richmond Heights neighborhood on the Serra Adult School Campus at 6028 Ralston Ave. Additional grades will be added in subsequent years. Ninety-percent of instruction will take place in Mandarin. Even so, no student needs to speak Mandarin in order to attend, unlike dual immersion programs.
Peterson has already begun in his role as principal of the school. He is recruiting families to oversee the transformation of the Serra campus back into an elementary school. The campus will feature kindergarten rooms, playground equipment, and food facilities.
The school is open to all WCCUSD families with 50 percent of the seats reserved for low-income, English language learners, and foster students, according to the district. Students from outside the district boundaries can apply for vacant seats.
A sliding scale cost for school programs and childcare until 6 p.m. will be offered as well as free and reduced lunches for qualifying students.