Fritz Peters

Fritz Peters ran Wood River Middle School until taking on the role of interim superintendent in November.

Fritz Peters hadn’t ever really considered a career in education—until he realized he had been doing it his whole life.

As an instructor in skiing, scuba diving, whitewater rescue and rafting, the future principal of Wood River Middle School—and now interim superintendent of the Blaine County School District—had always enjoyed the feeling of teaching others.

“I just felt that there was this real gift when you pass on something to another person,” Peters recalled.

But he hadn’t thought about doing it in a classroom until it was suggested to him when he was between jobs. He went on to complete his teaching degree and set out on his new career path in New Mexico in 1986. Thirty-five years later, that path has led him to the superintendent’s office in Blaine County and, at the end of the 2020-21 school year, into retirement.

Peters and his family first moved to the Wood River Valley in 2002 after visiting and “falling in love” with the area—and especially falling in love with its “marvelous” schools. They settled in Hailey with no jobs, but with “complete faith” in the valley and a determination to put their son through the Blaine County school system.

At first, Peters couldn’t find a job in any Blaine County schools. He took a position in Twin Falls, commuting each day for the 2002-03 school year. The following year he was hired as vice principal of Wood River Middle School, and, in 2005, became principal of the school—a position he held until November 2020, when the school board tapped him to become interim superintendent of the district.

“The transition from vice principal to principal is huge,” Peters said. “Your umbrella gets very big as principal. The transition from principal to superintendent is on a magnification of a much higher level.”

His first day as superintendent brought two big challenges: a snow storm and a shift to online-only learning for Alturas Elementary School. That momentum largely hasn’t slowed since, as the district has continued to handle the COVID-19 pandemic and set to work filling multiple administrative positions for the coming school year.

“I walked right into a district that was going through an incredible transformation,” Peters said. “It’s been a wild ride since I’ve been here, that’s for sure. But the team around me, they’ve been fabulous.”

In the words of a colleague who summed up Peters’ experience leading the district this past spring: “You’ve only been in the role four months, but you’ve packed in about five years of experience.”

Looking back on his 18 years with the Blaine County School District, Peters says he hopes he’s remembered “for running a pretty strict school.”

“I know I rubbed a lot of people the wrong way because I wouldn’t give in to certain things,” Peters said. “In the end, I hope I treated kids as fairly as possible.”

Peters has seen evidence of his impact through the letters he’s received from previous students over the years. While he plans to step away from education entirely for at least a year post-retirement—he might like to work in school safety in the future, he said—he hopes to continue reconnecting with old students in the years to come.

“Some of the kids I had the toughest time with [in school], they came back and said, ‘You had faith in me, even though I didn’t see it at the time,’” Peters said. “That’s the most rewarding thing an educator can have, realizing that the words you say do make a difference.”

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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