Sylvia Peters has been an active volunteer in numerous organizations, including the Knoxville Botanic Garden and Arboretum Board of Trustees, LINKS, Incorporated Knoxville, TN Chapter, One Hundred Black Women, Knoxville, TN Chapter, Helen Ross McNabb Board, Knoxville Museum of Art Guild Board, Chancellor's Associates The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Museum of Art Board (KMA), and The Episcopal Church of the Ascension: Becoming Beloved Community. Her volunteer activities are as follows:
Served as KMA Guild President, 2014-2016.
Serves as a member of the KMA Board for several terms during the past twenty-seven years.
Helped to organize and present development workshops for the Knoxville, TN Chapter of 100 Black Women.
Planned, and implemented an Ecumenical Sunrise Easter Service at Knoxville Botanical Gardens.
As a member of the KMA Guild Peters chaired several fundraising events and initiated innovative activities, such as Pottery With A Purpose, Motor Cycles in the Museum, and Gathering Light: The Delaney Project.
Organized a group of citizens to bring an exhibit of paintings by Beauford Delaney from Paris, France, to Knoxville, TN.
Mrs. Peters traveled to Paris in February 2016 with a delegation from the KMA to attend a Paris exhibit and returned with the Beauford Delaney initiative for Knoxville in her heart.
Mrs. Peters' professional history includes being a nationally recognized educator and Chicago Public Schools principal who relocated to Knoxville to be a Founding Partner of the Edison Project, started by Chris Whittle. She has received numerous awards for her education activities, including speaking to audiences in forty-three states, Mexico, and Canada; planning three White House Character Education Conferences; working with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to get legislation passed to fund character education programs in forty-three states; and helping to launch The Character Education Partnership in Washington DC and serving as its president for two years. Mrs. Peters served as the Education Director of the Enterprise Foundation and led implementation of community collaborative initiatives in Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. The Annenberg Foundation provided millions of dollars to support her education work in these communities.
Peters graduated from National College, Evanston, IL, and received a Master's degree from Roosevelt University in Administration and Supervision. Peters served as a dean of Teach for America at the University of Southern California and managed the teaching and learning activities for more than two hundred education students and ten professional educators while continuing to serve as the principal of a Chicago pre-kg through grade 8 elementary school. Mrs. Peters has served on several National Boards, including Modern Red Schoolhouse, Nashville, TN; Character Education Partnership, Washington, DC; Communitarian Network, Washington DC; The Character Counts Coalition, Los Angeles, CA; American Craft Council, Minneapolis, MN, and New York, NY. She has also received several awards and honors, including Hometown Heroes, Hometown Federal Bank, Knoxville, TN; Whitman Leadership Award for Outstanding Principals: Chicago, Il; Women's Colleges of America Award, Washington DC; Distinguished Educator Award; Modern Red Schoolhouse, Orlando, FL; 2016 Tribute to Women; Award in the Arts and Education, YWCA, Knoxville, TN.
Peters and her husband, Jan a retired mathematics teacher have lived in Knoxville for thirty years. Jan has supported Sylvia in her many activities, but during his professional career he tutored students in mathematics and fixed their bicycles free of charge for years. He baked cookies and served them with cold milk to children while they sat on the Peters’ front porch waiting for their parents to come home from work. When they moved to Knoxville, Jan continued to quietly interact with children who just needed someone to notice them. The Peters continue to serve the Knoxville community well, giving their time, energy and expertise to consul and enrich the lives of many. They’ve been married 54 years and are travelers, art collectors and dedicated residents of Knoxville, TN. Throughout her days Sylvia has been called a “visionary” person who sees, hears, and feels what others cannot. She’s had the courage to fail, learn and move on to the next project, to understand that neither success, or failure are permanent, and to know that GOD is large and in charge.