Never Too Old To Learn

When you ask Peter Duesterbeck ’12 what he wants to be when he grows up, he smiles and imagines his future as a teacher, something he’s dreamed about for years.
How many years? Well, his mind then flashes back to 1974 when he was studying at UW-Madison and told his parents he wanted to “take a year off from college.” Now, after 31 years of working for a family-run business in Wautoma, Duesterbeck can finally call himself a college graduate.
The itch started about 10 years ago when Duesterbeck met with UW-Stevens Point School of Education Advisor Maggie Beeber and began taking one night class per semester.
Peter Duesterbeck“When Peter first came to see me, it was so easy to tell how committed he was to becoming a teacher,” said Beeber. But Duesterbeck’s academic past was haunting him and Beeber had to give him a GPA warning.
Working hard at improving his GPA three credits at a time, Duesterbeck finally decided to quit his job two years ago and attend UWSP full-time in hopes of fulfilling a life-long aspiration to be a teacher.

Beeber was so compelled by Duesterbeck’s story she wrote a memo stating his success in the program. “I had the privilege to work with Peter over the years and watch him excel at everything he did.”
Duesterbeck’s teaching aspiration was one step away from reality when he spent his final semester student teaching in Mr. Pat Fee’s history class at Weyauwega-Fremont High School. Fee, 19 years younger, said he learned a lot from Duesterbeck.
•Point of Pride•
The School of Education provides continuing education and educational programming for Central Wisconsin teachers. CPS Continuing Education offers courses that lead to 10 different teacher certifications that allow local teachers opportunities to diversify what they can teach. Our Continuing Education program provides access to our experts in specialty areas such as reading and special education.

“Peter brings professionalism to the classroom. I didn’t have to mentor him as much as typical student teachers,” said Fee. “He also knew the technology, thanks to his background in business training, and helped enrich my teaching experience. We would set aside a period for ‘tech time’ together each week to learn Skype and train on SmartBoards.”
That wasn’t the only mentoring going on during the semester. Duesterbeck fostered a relationship with three students who moved to Weyauwega from Mexico City in 2011. They spent first period together each day working on transitioning.
“We started with basic survival English—counting, days, months—and played phonetics games as they began to gain confidence each week,” said Duesterbeck. “Each Friday I gave them a test to use as a measuring stick.” A measuring stick, just like the one he had to pass as a student … and he did so with flying colors. Duesterbeck graduated in May 2012, impressing his advisor and professors along the way.
“I cannot wait to see where Peter lands as a teacher and the great impact he will have on his students,” said Beeber.
In August, Beeber received an email from Duesterbeck, “Hi Maggie, It’s official ... I’m teaching social studies at Beaver Dam High School. YES!!!!”
A dream worth the wait.