Staff Spotlight: Peter Stenross

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Peter Stenross (5th year with Faribault Public Schools)


Job title:  Science teacher (physical science, biology, academy)


What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I would say that one of my hobbies is teaching and learning. I really enjoy searching for new and creative ways to give my students experiences in science and opportunities to learn. So I really enjoy reading and learning about current events occurring in all fields of science and also current advancements in educational practices. I also enjoy enjoy spending time with my two little nephews aged 5 and 3. I also enjoy woodworking, remodeling, renovating and anything involved in taking some old and making it like new again. This has led me to an interest in both the science and art that is auto detailing. Taking cars that have been neglected and polishing the paint and glass to make it better than new.  


What’s something interesting about you that not a lot of people know?


This is a difficult question to answer as I have always been open about the aspects of my life. While many people might know this, I have struggled with Crohn’s Disease for the last 10 years of my life. Most of my educational career. I was diagnosed in graduate school, and while I am thankful that it is under reasonable control now, managing Crohn's has allowed me to realize that there is ALWAYS something else going on in both my students' and colleagues' lives. As an educator, this has helped me realize that what I am teaching on a given day, is not always the most important thing happening in that student’s life.  We all have adversities, but the support we have in facing these adversities determines our ability to overcome them.  


Why did you decide to pursue a career in education?

When I was living in Maine after college, I was working as a landscape/hardscape foreman, and I was doing a lot of training of new hires on equipment and work ethic. It was at this time that I was beginning to realize the joy of helping someone else learn something new. I was also working on a lobster boat, as a first mate, at the time and was working incredibly long days 7 days a week. While these days were rewarding in a monetary sense, I felt as though I as not doing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At this time my father, Matthew Stenross had recently retired from Xerox and went back to school to become a math teacher (his fourth degree). He was a brilliant man and really helped shape me into the person I am today. He had an ability to explain even the most complex concepts in math in a way that would be best for the person he was explaining it to. He would have made an amazing educator. However due to his age, he was struggling to get a permanent teaching position, but was subbing in many different districts. Well, he never got a chance to become a full time educator before he passed away. This was the push I needed and the realization that teaching was something that I both wanted and needed to do. I wanted to teach because I hoped to spark an interest in science the way many of the people in my life growing up did for me. I needed to teach because I felt that there is a need to have passionate educators, just like my dad, working with students and helping them realize their potential. So, the search for an educational program that was both revolutionary in its ideas, and also forward thinking in the future of education. That led me to the GMST Program (Math, Science, and Technology) at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.  


What do you enjoy most about working with students?

What I enjoy most about working with students is getting to see a spark of excitement about science. While it can be a challenge to find what will spark an interest in all of my students, the drive to find it is the most rewarding part and most enjoyable part of education. There is a saying that goes back to ancient Greece that says roughly “Students are not vessels that need filling, but wood that needs igniting”. When filling a cup with water there is a limited amount of space in which the water can fill. It is a finite amount of space. However, if I am able to ignite a passion for learning in the way that a spark ignites wood, then there is no limit to what they are able to achieve as long as I can keep providing the “wood”. That is the most enjoyable aspect of working with students, providing the “wood”, the opportunities and experiences, that will continue to burn throughout their educational journey. 

What do you enjoy about being part of Faribault Public Schools?

What I enjoy most about being a part of Faribault Public Schools is our ability to recognize the challenges we face every day and continue to be forward thinking about the ways in which we can address these challenges. However, we are also great at recognizing our strengths and our ability to harness those strengths in order to provide an the best possible learning environment. While I have only worked in Faribault for the last five years, the changes I have seen and been a part of are amazing, and that is what education needs. Forward thinking educators that are willing to try new things and willing to research new ways of approaching challenges.

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