to her former students as “Mrs. Pete,” Janet (Falconer)
Peterson was a popular physical education teacher at Denfeld from
1958 to ’76. She has been described as “energetic,”
“enthusiastic,” “effervescent” and “ebullient”
— and those are just the Es.
The daughter of Scottish immigrants, she attended
one year of elementary school in Scotland before arriving in Duluth
and attending Lakeside Elementary, East Junior and Central High
Peterson always wanted to be a physical education
teacher, and went to Duluth State Teacher’s College to pursue
that goal. She graduated with a degree in physical education and
social science and received a K-12 license to teach in Minnesota.
While in college she was a member of the women’s athletic
association, basketball team, cheerleading squad, a college pep
club called the “Barkers” and a dance group called Orchesis.
She also wrote for the student newspaper and was elected May Fete
She student taught at the Lab School, East Junior
High and Central High School. Her first teaching positions were
in Wrenshall, Moose Lake (where she was the cheerleader advisor)
and then in Duluth at Lincoln Junior High and Central High School.
She took a break to spend time raising three daughters,
but returned to teaching in 1958 at Denfeld, where she stayed until
her retirement. She taught girls physical education, was cheerleader
and Girls’ Club advisor, and Power Club (pep club) sponsor.
“I loved my years at Denfeld,” she
said. “I think I taught at the best of times.”
When Mrs. Pete began teaching at Denfeld it was
obvious to everyone that her enthusiasm was contagious. That energy
is still apparent in how she has conducted her personal life. Her
philosophy has always been to stay active. She started golfing in
her 50s and has recorded a hole in one in both Duluth and Brownsville,
Texas. She said, “I tell everybody to keep active. Don’t
sit around and feel sorry for yourself. Spend time with young people
and play golf.”
She has also been active in her retirement with
writing poetry, being involved in her church, keeping in contact
with former students — whom she still knows by name —
and also as director emeritus of the UMD Alumni Board.
of Fame Members