By Jack Morissette
One of the many new faces wandering the halls of OES this year is our new Associate Head of School and Upper School History Teacher, Peter Kraft.
Peter, his wife Kimberly, and his 7th grade daughter, Gabby, moved to Portland from Indianapolis this summer to join the OES community. Peter was the Associate Head at Park Tudor School, and for the past year served as Interim Head of School, a position he accepted after the Head of School unexpectedly passed away. Before Park Tudor, Peter worked at the Peddie School in New Jersey. In addition to his teaching and administrations duties, Peter has also served as the Director of the Principio Project, an innovative program that integrated technology with experiential learning. Peter started his teaching career at New England schools, Groton and Northfield Mt. Hermon.
Last year, when former Associate Head of OES, Chris Schuck announced he was leaving, Mo Copeland immediately began to search for someone to fill that role. During his job search, Peter was looking not only for a job that would be a good fit for him, but also for a school that would be a good fit for his daughter. He found both at OES.
In addition to being a passionate educator, Peter is an athlete at heart. He has coached varsity basketball and football for years, and even coached a women’s basketball team to a national title. He also brings his coaching experiences into the classroom in the ways that he teaches. His goal is to help his students feel successful and make the classroom a positive place for everyone. He wants students to take over the class and talk to each other, not just to their teacher. While he acknowledges that grades are important to students, he puts more emphasis on student growth while they are in his class. His coaching philosophy, of focusing more on building skills than wins and losses, carries over into his classroom, and he wants to help his students become better writers, historians and learners.
Peter could have gone to work at several different schools, but he told me there are three things that pushed him toward OES. The first is that he picked OES as the right school for his daughter. His second reason is that he really appreciates the fact that students and teachers are comfortable pushing each other and asking difficult questions. Finally, Peter says that he really enjoys the people at OES. In his short time here, Peter has started building his own vision for what he would like to accomplish at OES. He wants to help his colleagues build success in an environment where students and teachers feel comfortable challenging each other. He also wants to continue expanding on the inquiry-based learning curriculum we have at OES.
I couldn’t end our conversation without asking Peter the one question that I was hoping he would say yes to….would he be open to coaching again at OES? Unfortunately, he was disappointed to say that he didn’t think he’d be able to coach here in the near future. His job is pretty time-consuming, and he doesn’t think he would be able to give a team the attention it deserves from a coach. He is planning to become an enthusiastic fan and attend as many games as possible. Look for Peter cheering on the Aardvarks at Homecoming and be sure to introduce yourself and welcome him. We are lucky to have him!