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Teaching wasn't second choice for Peterson

Although one of his sisters was also a teacher, Bruce Peterson doesn't credit her for the direction his career took.

Peterson originally thought about engineering as a vocation, but soon realized he didn't have the math background he would need, he said Thursday. So he, too, decided to become a teacher, but he doesn't consider it a second choice.

"I'd do it all over again in a second," he said. Peterson is retiring from the Ellsworth School District at the close of this school term.

Specifically, he's ending 31 years in education at Sunnyside Elementary School, he said. In fact, he spent all 31 of those years in the same classroom.

"As far as I know, Margaret Skrutvold and me are the only ones to have (regularly) taught in that room since Sunnyside opened," he said.

The Ellsworth native said he had fifth grade classes for his first 20 years. When Ellsworth Middle School opened, he was given the option of moving there, but chose to stay at Sunnyside instead. For the last 11 years, he's taught fourth grade.

"I'm an elementary school teacher, not a middle school teacher," he said of his own training and experience, not to diminish the value of the middle school.

Peterson said he dreaded his approaching retirement in recent years because he enjoyed teaching so much. However, he now figures it's all worked out for the best, with the school's closing. He does regret that, except for Dennis Olson at Hillcrest, there won't be any male teachers in the local elementaries after this year.

"We have somewhat different approaches," he said about men's and women's teaching styles, agreeing it's good for the young students to get a male's influence.

Read more in the print version of the Herald May 9.