Aledo High School Principal Dan Peterson recently announced his retirement and looked back on his 35-year career in public education, saying he’s leaving the best place to work in the state of Texas.
“We are grateful for Mr. Peterson’s 12 years of service to our Aledo ISD community and his significant positive impact on our students and staff,” Aledo ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan K. Bohn said. “We are excited for Mr. Peterson’s next stage in life and to take the opportunity to celebrate his outstanding career and accomplishments. However, we will certainly miss him being such a valuable member of our team.”
Peterson grew up in Nebraska and his father was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha. He attended school there and graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1985 before starting his career in public education the same year.
“I had a wonderful teacher in high school that was an industrial arts teacher and he just saw something in me and thought I was good at what I was doing. He asked me if I ever thought about being a teacher and just kind of planted that seed, so I decided I wanted to become an educator,” Peterson said. “I moved to Texas for a teaching position at Marcus High School in Lewisville and worked there for six years as an industrial arts vocational teacher.”
During his time in Lewisville, Peterson met and married his wife, Leslie, who is also an educator, and they moved to Crowley in 1991 where he taught career investigation.
“I was working on my management degree while I was doing that and then became an assistant principal at Crowley Middle School. I was an assistant principal there and at the freshman campus for a year before I became principal,” Peterson said. “I was the principal at the ninth grade campus for several years and then went back to the middle school. My final role at Crowley ISD was working in central administration for two years.”
That’s when the principal position opened up at Aledo Middle School. Peterson applied and was hired into the role in 2008.
“He knows the students, not just their names, but he knows them. He is always kid-centered and he cares for his staff in the same way,” AISD Special Programs Director Cheryl Wooten — who has worked with Peterson since 2008 — said. “Aledo ISD has benefited greatly from his leadership. Dan’s a shining example of the highest integrity and true passion for student success.”
In 2010, Peterson moved to his current position as the principal of Aledo High School, keeping his mission of always supporting students.
“My mission has just been for the students to know that we’re here to listen to them and support them, that administrators aren’t just the ones that dole out punishment — it’s an important part of the job at times, but we’re here to find out what’s going on and support them if issues are happening,” Peterson said. “We brag on them, write recommendation letters, help them get to the place they want to be, those types of things and I just wanted to have a positive impact on kids. I’ve always enjoyed being around students, whether it was in the classroom or as an administrator.”
AISD Deputy Superintendent Lynn McKinney said Peterson, who she’s worked with since he was hired, is well-loved and respected by his students, the staff and the Bearcat community.
“Mr. Peterson has positively impacted thousands of students in the Aledo community, first in his service as the Aledo Middle School principal and then as the Aledo High School principal. He is well-loved and respected by his students, the staff and the Bearcat community. His student-first focus is evident in his leadership decisions and his dedication to serving others and always giving his very best each day will be greatly missed,” McKinney said. “Mr. Peterson is a man of great integrity and he consistently models the importance of treating everyone with kindness and respect. He serves as an incredible role model for us all.”
Peterson will officially retire at the end of this school year and said he will miss being involved in his students’ lives, watching them grow and succeed, and working with the staff.
“Being a part of the kids and teachers, that’s what I’m going to miss and over the years being able to work with families and watch multiple kids come through the high school, watch them grow and become young adults,” Peterson said. “We truly have some outstanding teachers and great support staff. I’m grateful for all of them and have been fortunate to work with some amazing people. I love what I do, the people I work with and the kids I’m around.”
Aledo Learning Center Principal Cheryl Jones worked with Peterson as the AHS assistant principal during his first year in the position.
“Mr. Peterson is a true example of a servant leader, not only for his students but for his staff, as well. There is no job too small or big that he won’t roll up his sleeves and get done. Students are at the forefront of every decision that he makes and he always has their best interest in mind when making decisions. He is an exceptional role model for his students and staff,” Jones said. “I will miss everything about Mr. Peterson. I will miss his guidance, mentorship and support. I will miss his friendship and his leadership in our district. I am grateful that both of my boys had the experience of ‘Dan the Man’ being their high school principal.”
Peterson said his proudest moment during his 10 years at Aledo ISD was watching his daughter, Holly, graduate.
“Probably the best moment I had in the 10 years I’ve been here is being able to see my daughter walk across the stage when she graduated in 2016,” Peterson said. “That was probably the single best moment for me.”
As for what’s next, Peterson said he isn’t quite sure where the next chapter of his life will take him.
“I’m leaving the best place to work in the state of Texas, I’ve been with the best high school and I’m blessed,” Peterson said. “I’m not going into another educational pathway, I’m not going to another district, but I’m hoping I can serve in another way. I’m hoping I can find a way to have an impact and keep supporting people in some way, but I don’t know what that is yet. I’m just finishing this race and want to be here for the senior class of 2020.”
Peterson will lead the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 on May 31.