Hunter Hall of Fame

Janet Petersen

Known 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 School.

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 queen.

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.

Hall of Fame Members

 

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