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Hudson art teacher retires after 39 years


HUDSON—“Art communicates our innermost thoughts. It tells stories. Art is as important as the core curriculum courses. It is the one way many kids are able to express their thoughts and feelings,” said Chuck Peters. He plans to retire in June from teaching art in the Hudson City School District for 39 years.

“I am blessed to have been able to work in one place so long,” he said in an interview earlier this year.

Mr. Peters said he wanted to be an art teacher since sixth grade when an art teacher “sparked my interest even more. From that point on, I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

He attended Hudson City schools through 8th grade, Ichabod Crane High School, and SUNY New Paltz. He then was a substitute teacher for about two years until a permanent position as art teacher for the Hudson City School District opened in 1982. He went for it.

For all 39 years Mr. Peters has taught junior high students. He feels an attachment to that age group and the challenges it presents. “They’re changing in body, mind and ideas so much. They like to experiment. I love to joke with them. It’s always surprising, amazing, what kids can come up with and create! I’ve enjoyed that part of it.”

“The art field is always a surprise,” he added. “Every day I’ve learned something new. In the last couple of years, I have had a resurgence. There is so much to learn and so much to do better.”

As the years went by, Mr. Peters and his students got used to computers—with animation and Photoshop—as an additional art medium. He said people could not believe that so much time went into making a film, even one only five minutes long.

In addition, the past year has been completely different, and since the return of students to school, “They can’t go to the art room. We travel to their classroom. You have to think of everything you need.”

‘There is so much to learn and so much to do better.’

Chuck Peters, art teacher

Hudson City School District

But, he said, “The kids are always the same.”

Mr. Peters said one of his best experiences was having his own kids and the children of his friends come through his class. That, he said, is something “I’ll miss for sure.”

Another highlight was having other adults come into the classroom and “join us,” doing the same work as the students, sometimes with the students teaching them how. One such visitor was district Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier.

“Maybe the scariest moment” in his teaching experience was last year, when the school shut down. He said teachers had only a little time to collect whatever they thought they would use for teaching remotely. They had to plan remote lessons taking into account what children could do with things they had at home. “Certainly this year has been a learning curve. Everything we did is completely new.”

In retirement Mr. Peters, who lives in Greenport, said he plans to “devote more time to creating my work.” He expects that painting “would give me a lot of enjoyment and relaxes me. Art has been so amazing!”

Much of Mr. Peters’ own art work uses collage and he has occasionally displayed his work, including at Columbia-Greene Community College. “As an artist, I do work for myself,” he said.

In the future, “I think art education will continue to grow in the diversity of tools and materials,” Mr. Peters said.

Asked about advice for his successor, he said, “Roll with the punches. You have to be able to adapt quickly. And the kids are a bundle of emotions. You don’t want to take it too seriously, but you do.”

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