Top Teachers




Saturday, August 23, 1997

Name: James Petersen
Age: 48
Position: History teacher, Aiea High
Education: UC -- Berkeley
Pastimes: Ironman competitions, time with son

Helping students discover

James Petersen teaches students about ancient civilizations, but he is by no means bound by ancient practices.

The Aiea High School teacher recently set up up a web forum for his Advanced Placement European history class, promoting an interactive learning experience through links with educational websites. Petersen views the computer as an exciting tool in teaching. "The more information you have, the better judgment you have," he said.

Principal Gary Griffith praises Petersen for preparing students with technological skills for the next century. He says Petersen's teaching technique fosters independent thinking and problem solving. "He becomes more of a guide than a sage," said Griffith. "The education becomes discovery and not just what somebody is telling you."

This summer Petersen made some discoveries as one of 25 educators selected nationwide to attend a seminar at the Archaeological Institute of America in Boston. He is anxious to carry his new perspectives into the classroom.

Seven years ago, Petersen left his job as a forensic scientist to become a teacher, following some friendly persuasion from his wife, Carol, vice principal of Mililani High School.

"This is the hardest I've worked in my life," he said. "But then there comes those days when I think I really might have made a difference in somebody's life."



Neal Iwamoto, Star-Bulletin




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