About Mr. Peterson

I grew up in Neenah, WIsconsin. I was a city kid who always wanted to be in the country. Fortunately, I had wonderful parents who took me out fishing and camping and hunting as much as possible. I went to a Lutheran grade school through 8th grade. I had wonderful teachers there who nurtured a love of learning and all things school related in me. Since I was very little, my favorite subjects have been science and art. When I was in Kindergarten I wanted to be a paleontologist.

I graduated from 8th grade with class of 13 students and three months later found myself in a class of over 500 at one of the largest high schools in Wisconsin, Neenah High School. I was painfully shy and tried hard to fit into many different social groups but only ever half-fit into any of them. I was an athlete. I played basketball all the way through school and had a very successful team as a senior. I was also involved in lots of other organizations inside and outside of school. I had tremendous science teachers, specifically Scott Hertting and Pat Westphal. I already liked science but my teachers helped me to see that I could have a future in it. I enjoyed helping classmates with their work and they told me I was good at it. I graduated in 1998 and left for the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point to become a biology teacher.

At Point, lots of important things happened. First, the more biology I took, the less I liked it. It seemed like a series of diagrams and ridiculous vocabulary lists that you had to memorize. However, the more physical science I took the more I liked it. To me, physics makes sense from the basic principals up to the most challenging concepts. It’s like a story or a building. Things fit together and support each other in logical ways. By the time I realized I wasn’t a biologist I was only a class away from a minor so I finished that grudgingly while I ramped up my studies in chemistry, physics and astronomy. After five years I graduated with two majors in broadfield science and three minors - Biology, Chemistry & Astronomy.

I learned a lot in my college classrooms but that was nothing compared to the growth that I experienced personally while at Stevens Point. As a sophomore, I got a job on staff of my residence hall during the year and at my childhood summer camp during the summer. I credit both of those choices with making me the teacher that I am today. I was gently forced out of my shyness and when I finally just let me be myself, I found that everyone else liked that. I did too. I experienced explosive personal growth. I learned to work with diverse groups of people in a variety of situations. Sometimes things were fun and easy other times they were very uncomfortable but they always made me a better person. I became a confident leader and a happier person. I received some nice awards from the university. I was beloved by campers and staff alike at summer camp. But the best thing that I got out of college was a wife. I met Jessica while we worked together on staff at Watson Hall. Our first date was to an archery contest. She beat me. The rest is history.

Before I had even graduated from Point in May of 2003, I took the job teaching upper level physical sciences at Brillion High School. My first year of teaching was traumatic . . . in a good way . . . I guess. I was teaching four different classes and, truthfully, I was unprepared. However, I was also raised to be a stubborn cuss who will not tolerate less than my best work. These two facts lead to a torturous nine month tour of duty in room 1110 at Brillion High School. I survived. That summer Jessica and I were married. Year two was much better than year one. Three was better than two. I’ve been at Brillion ever since. Now, I thoroughly enjoy the art and science of teaching science. In 2010, I earned my master’s degree in physics instruction from UW-Oshkosh. I have been recognized with some nice teaching awards locally and at the state level. In addition to teaching, I have been involved in coaching track and field at Brillion since the beginning. In 2013, good friend and fellow teacher Steve Meyer and I started a small business called STEMy Stuff. We do consulting with schools and teachers on STEM instruction and also offer kits for teachers to use in their classrooms.

I have been truly blessed. When I come home from school now, Jessica and I get to hang out with our children Ayla and Archer and a whole petting zoo of critters on our 20-acre farm less than a mile from school. I have really gotten to love woodworking and making things in general, which is good because there is never a shortage of things that need working on around here. When we have free time, which isn’t often, we like to camp, fish, hunt, shoot and train retrievers as a family. Every Sunday morning you will find us at church.

If you'd like to get occasional tidbits of nerdiness, a teacher's life, cute kids & life in the country follow me on Twitter @BrillionNerd.  Let me know how I can help!