25 years ago, my life was beginning to be shaped in a way I could never even imagine. I tell everyone that 4th grade is the only full year of elementary school I remember. During this year, I was placed in one of the most innovative classrooms with an extremely foresightful teacher, Mr. Peterson. I had no idea that he was “innovative” at the time, nor did I know that I was learning true life lessons. All I knew was that I was having fun, doing things I hadn’t ever done before, and getting really fast at math. I got to know my classmates better through writing plays, through our time spent around the sink brushing our teeth after lunch, and “Touching down” every morning with the Chicken Fat workout. I knew that Mr. Pete was a special teacher. I had fun. Every day. I looked forward to coming to school, and when the year came to an end I knew I had experienced something special.

Fast forward to today. With two young kids of my own and working in the field of education, I understand from a different angle that Mr. Pete was truly one of the most innovative teachers of his time. Not only was he innovative, but he cared. This combination is a unique trait that I personally don’t believe comes along very often.

For years I knew that Mr. Pete needed to be recognized. When Gina and I crossed paths in 2012, it was time. Time to do something big for this guy who did something big for me. And so many others.

As Gina mentioned, The Mr. Pete Foundation sprouted out of a bit of brainstorming, but is truly the idea of the namesake himself. He wants to help teachers.

The landscape of education is just as much the same as it is different from 25 years ago. Teachers have brilliant ideas, but the funding isn’t always there for them to carry them out. Even in our own kids’ school we see teachers footing the bill for so much. This shouldn’t have to be the case. We want teachers to do what they do best – use their talents to engage our kids in fun, innovative ways. By taking away the burden of cost, our hope is to inspire teachers to “teach outside the box” and impact kids in the same way that so many were impacted by Mr. Pete.

These past few months have been nothing but inspiring. We hope that we have built something that you will be proud to contribute to, to have fun with, and to benefit from. I am so proud of Gina and the whole Peterson family. It isn’t easy to open up your life to the public in this way. I am so thankful that they have let me in and allowed me to work with them to honor a true hero both in and outside of the classroom.

This is their foundation, but it is also YOUR foundation. Please share your stories, contribute as you can, and stay tuned for SO much more. Thank you for joining us in this journey!

Kim Sundin Oppelt


4th Grade Class of 1988-89

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