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  • Francis Commey

Bill Peters: In this math classroom, you don’t hear the word “Can’t”.

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Bill Peters, fifth grade math teacher at Jefferson Elementary, never thought the road would ever lead to being in front of a classroom teaching his own students.

Bill Peters’ classroom is always in motion because it is structured to benefit his students in every possible way. “My room truly runs on what each individual student needs to succeed,” he said. “My room is unique because it is organized chaos.”

There was not a fixed plan that led Bill to becoming a math teacher either. Teaching was never something that was in the cards when he was growing up. Education was just never atop the priority list in his household like it was for many other American families. Instead, he ended up joining the U.S. Navy straight out of high school.

Bill loved his time in the military and served for 13 years, but an injury forced him to reconsider his career path. After a fateful conversation with a chaplain, he decided to continue his service by becoming a teacher and discovered his passion for teaching in college.

Bill now is at the head of a math class and credits his classroom success to his blended teaching style. He is dynamic in the sense that he is always changing his methods to fulfill the needs of his students.

In Bill’s opinion, one of the reasons his classroom is thriving is that he takes the time to get to know his students. He said that he does not only make sure that he spends enough time on what his students need to learn. He also takes the time to learn as much as he can about his students' likes, interests, and even fears. By doing this, strategizing on his own, and talking to other teachers, Bill has made his classroom an inclusive and special environment for his students. A particular point of emphasis is creating confidence. “We celebrate every piece of growth,” he said. “When students successfully divide, we celebrate. When they learn how to do numerical expressions, we celebrate. I show students that ‘can’t’ has no place in any classroom, if they try they will succeed.”

Life has come full circle for Bill after leaving the military. His pursuit of happiness started in the Navy and now it’s moved into the classrooms where he’s helping students succeed and chase their own dreams. “After leaving the military, I never thought that I would find a job that I loved as much. I love watching students learn, and achieve.”

Photo courtesy of Bill Peters

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