Teacher Feature: Ms. Peterkin

Millennium is home to some of the best and brightest teachers in New York City, and this is no exception for Ms. Peterkin. Ms. Peterkin currently teaches both Biology to freshmen and Environmental Science to juniors and seniors. Growing up, both of her parents were doctors, something she knew wouldn’t suit her. Through experiences like bring your daughter to work day she knew she did not “like the environment of the hospital.” Nevertheless, the sciences still fascinated her.

Ms. Peterkin’s story as a teacher began when she got involved with Odyssey of the Mind, a creative problem-solving program that allows students to create and present the solution to a long-term problem, all while simultaneously competing against other teams. She participated in the program from elementary school through highschool. Through Odyssey of the Mind, she realized how rewarding it was to coach others, and she knew her destiny was to become a teacher.

It’s evident how Ms. Peterkin’s dedication and interest in teaching Biology as well as Environmental rubs off on her students. Junior, Catrina McGrath, a student of hers, says, “Ms. Peterkins class is super fascinating because I can tell how interested she is in the topics she’s teaching. I have learned so much, and I enjoy informing my friends and family about some of the things she’s taught us. I think it’s really important to learn how to be more sustainable and eco friendly.” Similar sentiments are echoed by Ms. Peterkin; when she recalls her high school experience, she fondly remembers science was her favorite subject, but particularly 9th-grade Biology. “Shocker!” she jokes. This rings true for many Millennium students, including Lola Duek, who recalls the “fun and interesting labs.”

Now, Ms. Peterkin’s favorite unit to teach is food and agriculture, and for her and many of her students, it’s an eye-opener.  The unit is centered around the consumer, which all students can relate to. Students learn about “how our food system is very industrialized … and they learn how animals are treated on factory farms.” Teaching this unit and watching some of the harrowing documentaries about the food system is what essentially turned Ms. Peterkin pescetarian. She recalls how she was “on the cusp, but after the first time [she] taught it, [she] knew it was time.”  

Ms. Peterkin’s hobbies don’t stop at teaching and have changed a lot over the years. When she was in high school, Ms. Peterkin loved playing the flute and dancing, and although she doesn’t have time due to her demanding job, she has many fond memories. Now, one of her favorite activities to do in her spare time is to look up recipes on websites like Pinterest and make them her own. She remarks how relaxing it is, especially to do the food prep, which, although most people usually don’t like, she thoroughly enjoys.  

Remote learning isn’t easy for any class, but it’s especially hard for science teachers. Lots of the science curriculum is very hands-on, and students learn through labs and demos, which is not possible this year. As Ms. Peterkin and I concluded our interview, she remarked how hopeful she is for the prospect of returning to in-person learning. She remembers how fun some of the demos students used to do, and is excited to return to a time where she will be able to teach them again.