Featured Teacher: Mrs. Peterson at Wachter Middle School

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 8:02 AM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Mrs. Peterson is both a coach and cheerleader for her Wachter Middle School students. The Bismarck teacher leads physical education and peer-to-peer classes where all her talents are put to use. In peer-to-peer, students of all abilities are paired together as mentors and mentees with the goal of promoting friendship and inclusion.

Hope Sisk caught her switching gears from one class to another to explain why she’s the perfect person for the job.

As Sheila Peterson leaves her PE class, where students are learning how to work together to master a new sport, she’s taking her goals with her.

“How do we make sure that every kid in our school feels like they belong,” she asks herself.

In her next peer-to-peer class, students are beginning the new semester by playing games in a mixer-style event. It’s not just board games they’re playing and each other’s names they’re learning. They’re building what may be the most important team of all.

“No matter what kind of setbacks you have in life, everyone just kind of gets to have friends and gets to have a good time with everyone,” Izzy Owens, 8th grade, said.

Here, students drop their worries and differences at the door. They’re practicing kindness and compassion for one another.

“If they’re having a bad day or something, they come to you and you come to them,” Emma Eukelich, 8th grade, said.

Mrs. Peterson says she’s not surprised by the way these middle school students show up for one another. She says she’s seen it play out many times over her 22 years teaching middle school. Now, she has new hope they’ll be impacting more lives.

“If we started out with 15 kids that thought this was important and this semester I’ve got another 20 kids, now we’ve got 35 kids who think this is important. And if those 35 kids all impact one more kid, we’ve got 70 kids who think this is important. And if 70 kids reach out to one more, 140, and you do the math ‘cause you’re smarter than me,” she joked.

While she has decades of experience in teaching, Mrs. Peterson is navigating new territory this school year. Peer-to-peer was a club at Wachter Middle School until this year, when it became a class. Now, these students and aides are her teammates to ensure what they’re building doesn’t stop at the door.

“I love having her as a teacher. She’s just a great person and even when things are hectic in the classroom, she just always has a smile on her face and we always get it done,” Grace Neuman, 8th grade, said.

There are more peer-to-peer classes in other parts of Bismarck and Mandan. Mrs. Peterson credits them for mentoring her and making a big impact in the success of the class at Wachter and in the community. She gave a special thanks to Maggie Williams at Mandan Middle School for helping her get the program off the ground. She also says Sara Bohrer at Century High School mentored her as they built the new class at Wachter.

If you would like to nominate a teacher for recognition on Country Morning Today, send an email to hope.sisk@kfyrtv.com.