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September 25, 2011
by: Dollie Cromwell, Journalist

Peter Woods, Mathematic Teacher

“Education serves as the greatest tool we have for social change and, by being a teacher, I have a direct impact on the lives of students and can help them better find their place in the world and also move the world toward a more equal and balanced space,” shared Peter Woods, who teaches math at IDEAS.

He has already been working behind the scenes at IDEAS for a while, though. He helped to develop  the Inquiry curriculum that will be used by teachers and students at IDEAS.

Peter, 23, grew up in Oconomowoc, Wis., and attended Marquette University, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in secondary mathematics education in 2008 along with a minor in teaching chemistry.

After graduating, he was hired as the assistant coach of forensics at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee. He was named director of the program in 2008 and worked in that capacity until he was hired by IDEAS.  

Peter says if he could debate anyone, it would be Karl Marx. “The guy is wrong on so many levels, and I want to know what the heck he was thinking!”

Of teaching, Peter said he wanted “to get a job that would serve as a means for empowering people of all backgrounds.”

“Our current educational system is on a slow collapse, but one that is exponentially increasing in speed,” Peter lamented. “Charter schools seem like the perfect opportunity for education officials to figure out what works and how we can implement that on a broader scale.”

Beyond the spectrum of education, Peter is a musician and playwright.

“I am primarily a bass player, but expand out into a number of instruments,  both traditional and non-traditional – everything from your standard drum set to found and repurposed instruments such as sheet metal,” he explained.

As for plays, he’s written “somewhere close to 15, but I would have to count. I would like to forget a lot of them, as they were pretty bad in the beginning.”

Peter said most of his plays fall into the absurdist genre. His writing influences include Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco and Harold Pinter. He’s produced a number of plays around Milwaukee and a few outside of the state. Most were produced at Insurgent Theatre, Pink Banana Theatre and Alamo Basement. The latter was started by IDEAS’ own Mike Q. Hanlon.  Currently, Peter is touring with a monologue (“Hello from Pittsburgh!”) that he wrote.

You might want to take notice of Peter’s particularly stylish hair, which he credits to girlfriend Andrea, who works at Stella’s Salon in Milwaukee. Before he met her, he used to cut his own hair. “It’s an immense step up,” he said of her sensational scissor skills.

He met her at a shop near where he lived. “She would hang out there since she knew a few of the employees,” he recalled. “I would hang out there since I was too cheap to pay for Internet.”

When he can find the time, Peter also enjoys reading. He’s making his way – “at an incredibly slow pace,” he said – through the Modern Library’s “Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century.” Most notable for him so far has been Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight Children.” Peter found it to be “an absolutely incredible novel that really gets at the heart of post-colonial India through this very bizarre series of almost sci-fi elements,” he said. “It’s just beautifully written.”       

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