Several women from across the United States and the world came to Atlanta this week to get certified in etiquette training from a Sandy Springs etiquette school.

The school, formally called The American School of Protocol, was founded by Peggy Newfield in 1980. Newfield was previously a teacher in the Atlanta Public Schools system before leaving to start her school.

“So many points of etiquette are totally unknown today because when we see something over and over, we think it is totally the way it should be,” she said.

Newfield began giving etiquette training courses in 2002. Since then she has taught adults from more than 700 U.S. cities and 50 countries. They travel long distances because Newfield has a program they all believe in.

“The fact that you are actually working with children (is great),” said Kathryn Haynes, who came all the way from Sydney, Australia, after looking at dozens of schools in both England and America. “I couldn’t find any other school that did that.”

Newfield’s certificate training program is five days long. In that period, the teachers being trained were taught proper correspondence methods, giving fluent speeches with no “ums or filler words,” taught dining skills and were given CPR training. Following the training, they all take an exam.

While more intensive and expensive than the training they can receive online, the women in Newfield’s certification course find her class is exceptional.

“It is beyond what I was expecting,” said Joy Spears, who already teaches etiquette to youth and adults in New York. “Peggy is very detailed. … We go into everything from engaging the children in the type of stationery you should use to making sure the parents are aware of everything you are doing.”

As these women go through their training, they also get hands-on experience with teaching children. They meet the children on the first day and then watch and aid Newfield as she walks the children through the proper way to eat, write thank-you notes and engage others in conversation.

Each day of the course, the children sit through three- or four-course meals. Newfield believes it is important to teach the children through action rather than relying on lectures and readings alone.

“Anybody can read anything out of a book,” Newfield said. “But when they have hands on practice, that makes it become a reality.”

The adults going through the certification training watch Newfield as she teaches the proper way to hold utensils to children for both the continental and American eating styles.                            

“Pick up the knife with your left hand and I want you to make a fence,” Newfield said to the children. She uses a fence analogy to show how the knife should never move when they are putting food on their fork.

When the children start to practice themselves, the adults give one-on-one help. After each meal, the adults take the children and help them with the assignment Newfield gives them. On the third day, the assignment is writing thank-you notes. After Newfield explains the writing process for the notes, the children sit with the educators and work on the notes before bringing them back to Newfield to look over.

This hands-on training for the adults through meals and the various assignments gives the adults more experience than they might find online.

“It is much different learning the theory versus learning both the theory and practice,” said Spears. “(The course) has been very worthwhile.”

Spears is not the only one who shares this sentiment. Sara Vizcarrondo, a ballet and etiquette teacher in Sunnyvale, California, said Newfield’s course is exceptional because what she is learning can be applied not only in her classes but also in her home. After five days of learning from Newfield, she is very pleased with her decision to take Newfield’s course.

“Other programs can’t hold a candle (to Newfield’s school),” Vizcarrondo said.

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