If your son or daughter happens to be in Mr. Austin Peterson’s fifth grade classroom at Clear Creek Elementary School, don’t be surprised if they start talking about Peterson’s own brand of enthusiasm for education with a classroom game of ‘Trash Ball.’
Math be one of the most challenging subjects for a number of students, but Peterson is known for an active style of motivation, and kids love to tell visitors about this particular style of learning.
A Spencer native, Peterson is young enough to relate to students (and parents) easily. He student taught in Dunkerton and Waterloo on the way to earning his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in Math and Reading from Wartburg College in 2012.
Now in his third year teaching fifth grade math in Clear Lake, Peterson says he was drawn to education by a part-time job growing up.
“When I was in high school and in college I worked at a YMCA daycare and I always liked hanging out the with the kids and interacting with them,” he says. “I decided that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
In addition to teaching at Clear Creek, Peterson serves as coach for JV boys basketball and co-head coach for softball.
‘It’s fun to see kinds in a different avenue, a little different atmosphere,” he says of the coaching work.
Peterson is even looking down the road a few years to when the students he has had in elementary classes start showing on his sports teams.
“Here in a couple years it will be fun to see the kids that I first taught and see how they’ve grown and matured,” Peterson notes. “It’s another way to have an impact on their lives and get to know them on a different level.”
Peterson still remembers a few of the teachers who have positively impacted his own life.
“I remember some of my past teachers, third and fourth grade, who were great,” he says. “My older sister teaches history at Hoover High School in Des Moines. She’s great at what she does and she inspired me.”
And, who knows, there might be a new teacher in a decade or so who recalls playing ‘Trash Ball’ while tacking math back here in Clear Lake.
What do you like best about Mr. Peterson?