OSU alumnus’ daughter follows in his footsteps of becoming an educator
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Media Contact: Kirsi McDowell | Senior Communications Specialist | 405-744-9347 | email@example.com
Editor’s Note: ASPIRE magazine spent an afternoon with an OSU alumnus and his daughter, a current student studying elementary education in the College of Education and Human Sciences.
Walking into a classroom buzzing with energy as students discuss World War II is not something you will find in every high school.
For Cushing High School history teacher Bill Peeper, it is nothing out of the ordinary.
His classroom of 10th through 12th graders is full of laughter, camaraderie and encouragement among the students. More than just asking for the answer to a question, Peeper wants to be persuaded as to why they believe they are correct.
It’s the kind of atmosphere he is always trying to promote.
A Family Tradition
Originally from Enid, Oklahoma, William (Bill) Peeper graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in education.
“I was just a farm kid attending Chisholm High School with other rural folks,” said Peeper, looking back on his youth.
His parents were both teachers, with his dad teaching vocational agriculture before taking over the family farm and his mom teaching kindergarten before becoming a librarian.
“We come from a long line of teachers. It’s kind of what we do in my family,” Peeper said. “A lot of my childhood was spent in my mom’s classroom, helping with projects, and doing odd jobs.”
His daughter, BreAnna, a graduate of Stillwater High School, has chosen to join the family profession. She is currently pursuing her own degree in elementary education from OSU as part of one of the largest incoming classes of students the university has seen.
For BreAnna, this background is what helped answer the question of what she wanted to do with her own career.
“I ultimately just wanted to choose a career path that would allow me to help people,” BreAnna said.
“Knowing that my dad and grandparents were all teachers, I initially wanted to do something different — something of my own — but I just kept coming back to teaching.
BreAnna has enjoyed her OSU experience thus far.
“As a freshman, I only just began to take courses in education and childhood development in my second semester, and I love it,” she said. “I have always enjoyed working with young children and it’s exciting to know I’ll be helping to build the foundation of their education before passing them through to higher levels of learning.”
While BreAnna is hoping to one day make an impact on a student’s life, Bill has been doing it for almost three decades.
For the 2022-23 school year, Bill was a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, representing Cushing Public Schools for his dedication to students.
“It has been a unique situation to be in, as a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. It’s a strange moment,” Bill said.
Bill humbly added that he doesn’t teach for any awards, but for the joy in the classroom.
“It is amazing that I have gotten to do this for 27 years. There aren’t many jobs that have such an impact on so many young people,” he said.
“I hope it’s seen through my presence in the classroom, the love I have for what I do.”
His biggest goal in teaching is to help students become inquisitive. He hopes to have them see the big picture and understand cultures from around the world.
Bill views history as a connection to the past and said his love of it began through early conversations with his grandparents.
“I’ve had a passion for history since I was young and there’s really no other content area that I could see myself giving so much energy to. The interesting part about history is the ability to ask ourselves, ‘What’s the path forward?’” Bill said.
“To me, history is a connection between what was, what is and how it’s going to be. History isn’t all a feel- good story.”
Currently teaching U.S. History, Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History, AP Human Geography and History through Film, he spends each day living out his passion.
BreAnna said seeing her dad at work has been inspiring.
“I have spent a lot of time in his classroom throughout my life, helping with different
projects, and I’ve watched him work with kids for years
as a coach, but I hadn’t seen much of his interactions with students until recently. It has been interesting and awesome to get to watch him in action,” BreAnna said.
Bill said a primary part of what teaching is to him is developing the classroom culture.
“I want the students to think beyond the subject matter, to ask questions like
‘How do we interact with, engage, and trust one another? How do we disagree appropriately?’ There are a lot of layers to classroom management,” Bill said.
However, that support for the profession has taken a hit in recent years statewide. Having spent nearly 20 years of his career teaching in Kansas and the last 5 in Oklahoma,
Peeper notes the challenges Oklahoma teachers face.
“There are just not enough people in the state jumping into the profession and I’ve witnessed many classroom teachers struggle to find joy in their profession amongst the daily stressors,” Bill said.
He said that luckily, teaching in Cushing has been a great environment to continue his career in, with great support from administration and the local economy.
He also loves the kids in his Cushing classroom.
“They really rise to the expectation you ask of them. Through teaching, I’ve learned empathy, tolerance and patience that I never would have thought I could grasp,” Bill said.
“Every kid has a different story; they all have unique and diverse situations.”
A Good Example
Now, with his daughter soon to be a teacher in her own right, Bill shared with BreAnna the advice he wished he had gotten as an early career educator.
“There will be struggles, no doubt,” he said. “There will be tough days and tough situations. You will get frustrated. But there are so many more good days to balance things out. You have to love what you do. You’ve got to have fun with it.
“I have 100% confidence that BreAnna will become a great teacher.”
The biggest quality BreAnna hopes to emulate from her dad is his leadership. Watching him be a mentor to youth — whether as a teacher, basketball coach or leader for Fellowship of Christian Athletes — has been inspiring.
BreAnna said that what she most wants her future students to learn from her is to be kind, considerate people.
Bill hopes to be remembered by his former students as a teacher who also coached, and not just a coach who happened to teach.
When asked about his hopes for the future of Oklahoma education over the next five years, Bill is most optimistic for support of the new-to- the-profession educators, whether they are fresh out of college or making a career change.
“If we can embrace that we’re all in this together, the easier it will be to guide and instruct the students,” Bill said. “As long as standards have been met, all I want to do is teach these kids about topics they haven’t yet learned about and help them to grow as individuals.”
Photos By: Kelly Kerr
Story By: Kirsi McDowell | ASPIRE Magazine