Teacher of the week 16: Jamie Peterson

Teachers are real life superheroes. Every day, CHS teachers touch the lives of thousands of students, and their work extends beyond the boundaries of the classroom. To show appreciation for these teachers, the Crier asked students to identify teachers that have made a real impact in their lives. A new student and teacher will be featured each week.

This week, Celeste Perez, ‘17, nominated photography teacher Jamie Peterson.

Maggie Jakopac | Conant Crier

Mrs. Peterson gets her camera ready.

Perez: Mrs. Peterson has taught me so much about photography and has influenced me a lot during the 4 years that I’ve been at Conant. I was fortunate enough to start photography freshman year, even though you have to be a sophomore to take it. You can tell that Mrs. Peterson really cares about her students’ well being. My class and I call her “Art Mom” because she honestly feels like a second mom to all of us.

Crier: Why did you decide to teach photography?

Peterson: Growing up, I was the oldest, so I always had that sense of responsibility and leadership. I enjoy planning, organizing, and meeting new people. And obviously because I love art, and I see the benefits for students. In highschool, I was really interested in art, and I felt like I wasn’t good enough as an art student. During my senior year, when we were talking about what we should do in college, my high school art teacher made a point to tell me that I should go into art and that I was really good at it. That [encouragement] gave me the courage to go into art in college. Then, when I was trying to pick a major in the art school, I remembered how much influence she had on me. Her influence was a huge reason why I went into art, but it was also because I enjoyed art so much.

Crier: How do you hope to influence your students?

Peterson: I think it’s more than getting students into art; it’s about exposing art to everybody. So, even if the students have never really drawn or painted before, I just try to focus on the community of Conant High School in the art program. When I was here, we didn’t really have a lot of art shows, events or clubs. It’s about the students being recognized, belonging to the program, and having a good experience while they are here, whether they go into art or not.

Crier: What do you like to do at home with your family?

Peterson: I have three little kids, and I like to do art projects with them. Also, I really like taking them to sports games and watching them excel in the things they’re excited about. I always like a movie night; movie nights [as a family] are fun.

Crier: What is one of your favorite movies?

Peterson: We just recently went out and saw “Sing” with the kids, but I’m not really a movie person. I actually like reality TV. After a long day at work, I like to watch mindless TV. I really like the show “This Is Us.”

Crier: During high school, did you have any other ideas as career choices?

Peterson: I was really into the band, so I thought music or art teacher. And thinking about art careers, I was also thinking about going into graphic design. But I knew I wanted to work with people, so it was a toss up between a music or art teacher. In the end, I was better at art than I was at music.

Crier: What instrument did you play in the band, and did band influence the way you teach?

Peterson: I played the saxophone, and I was the drum major for two years. So, that was a really good leadership experience; I led the band during our trip to Disney World my senior year. I consider myself kind of shy, but in situations like that, the shyness goes away. When I get in the classroom, I’m still shy and awkward, but the kids just laugh about it, and I just have this way of not caring. Being a drum major was a good opportunity for me to come out of my shell and show that I could be a quiet leader. I got the confidence to come in front of people.

Crier: If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

Peterson: I’d have to do something with art, something that I was really passionate about. Everything that I’ve done in school and my career has been about something I’m passionate about and enjoy doing. I would have a really hard time just doing a job.

To nominate a teacher who has made an impact in your life, click here.

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