Retiring – Peter Riegelman

Retiring - Peter Riegelman

Owen Biniecki, Editor

BFA’s Peter Riegelman is retiring from his position as English Teacher and Adviser to the Mercury this year.

Riegelman began his teaching career at Vermont Academy, a high school in southern Vermont, before teaching at BFA.

“I started working at a high school, Vermont Academy in So. VT, in 1986-87. I was an administrator there for six years before I turned to teaching and coaching full time, and I took a huge pay cut. Never looked back. My teaching and coaching at BFA has been for 15 years,” Riegelman said.

As a teacher, you are introduced with a weird amount of continuity in the workplace as every year brings the same content to be taught, but new people to teach it to and new ways to teach. This pattern is Riegelman’s favorite part of the job.

“The cyclical nature of the school year has always fascinated me. Every year is new, with new students you need to get to know. Some are new to you, and some have older brothers or sisters who have already been through some “cycles” with you. It has a unique start, an arc of experience, and an end,” Riegelman said.

Among Riegelman’s favorite memories of teaching are the hands-on projects he’s been able to do with students, with one class’s primitive structure building taking the title of his fondest memory.

“I taught many “low level” classes my first few years at BFA, and I learned that kids like hands-on projects, and that is a bit tough in English. We read The Bones on Black Spruce Mountain, and in the book, the boys build a primitive shelter. I had students make the shelters in smaller scale to the book specifications, cutting and connecting real branches, etc. and we had Mr. Capsey and Mr. Walker come in and judge the results. I still have great pictures of this,” Riegelman said.

Riegelman’s dedication and hard work has been integral to the success of the Mercury, with the amount of time it takes to structure and manage the class, it has become one of his favorite classes to teach. 

“Gene Sink asked me to take over Journalism and the Mercury when he retired. That class, again with a HUGE hands-on aspect, has had the highest highs and the lowest lows. Working with young writers to help them tell the objective truth in the journalistic format has been a true joy, and I am very proud of the Mercury. Working with the Mercury student editors to get the Vermont New Voices Bill passed, and then advocating for the freedoms the Law affords right here within the MRUSD, showed what truth to power can accomplish,” Riegelman said.

In retirement, Riegelman won’t miss his commute, and looks forward to taking time to “just be,” and spend time with his family.

“The 40-minute commute each way to and from Grand Isle is grueling. I will not really miss that. I live in an island paradise, and I like to just BE there. More time with my fiancé, my daughters, my 1860 cabin, my boat, my garden, and my bikes. I am hoping Robbie Maher can make a real golfer out of me,” Riegelman said.

Although Riegelman has never had a “specific grand goal,” to accomplish before retiring, he would like to thank his students and colleagues for offering a variety of learning experiences and camaraderie.

“I thank all my students. I learned from you every day. To my wonderful colleagues in the BFA English Department, you are the “core” of the school, and it has been a pleasure to work with all of you. And to the others at BFA who have become friends, you know who you are!” Riegelman said.

The Mercury would also like to personally thank Riegelman for all of the time he has dedicated to our class. Riegelman was not only an integral part of our class’s success, but our success as learning writers and people. Whether it was during or after school hours, Riegelman was there to support us during our most exciting successes and unfortunate pitfalls. The Mercury will sorely miss such a driving force.

If you’d like to leave a personal message for Mr. Riegelman, send him an email at [email protected] or send a letter to BFA at 71 South Main Street, St. Albans City, in care of Peter Riegelman.