Schurke blasts off to new horizons

Former+Assistant+Principal+Peter+Schurke+was+named+third+place+finalist+for+the+2012+National+Aerospace+Teacher+of+the+Year%2C+an+award+accompanied+by+a+%241%2C000+grant.+He+also+won+the+Washington+State+Air+Force+Association+Teacher+of+the+Year+in+2011.
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Schurke blasts off to new horizons

Former Assistant Principal Peter Schurke was named third place finalist for the 2012 National Aerospace Teacher of the Year, an award accompanied by a $1,000 grant. He also won the Washington State Air Force Association Teacher of the Year in 2011.

Former Assistant Principal Peter Schurke was named third place finalist for the 2012 National Aerospace Teacher of the Year, an award accompanied by a $1,000 grant. He also won the Washington State Air Force Association Teacher of the Year in 2011.

© HAWKEYE Hawkeye Staff

Former Assistant Principal Peter Schurke was named third place finalist for the 2012 National Aerospace Teacher of the Year, an award accompanied by a $1,000 grant. He also won the Washington State Air Force Association Teacher of the Year in 2011.

© HAWKEYE Hawkeye Staff

© HAWKEYE Hawkeye Staff

Former Assistant Principal Peter Schurke was named third place finalist for the 2012 National Aerospace Teacher of the Year, an award accompanied by a $1,000 grant. He also won the Washington State Air Force Association Teacher of the Year in 2011.

By Jonah Paulsene, Hawkeye Staff

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Over the summer, MTHS Vice Principal Peter Schurke was promoted to be the planning principal of a new high school opening in the Northshore School District.Schurke is very excited to take on the job and explore the new opportunities that it will bring. 

“The opportunity to be a planning principal is kind of every administrator’s dream job, and those [jobs] are kind of those once in a blue moon things,” Schurke said.

As the planning principal, Schurke will be designing the vision of what the school’s education will look like, hiring the staff and preparing for the opening of the school in the fall of 2020. He will play a direct role in assisting the hired staff to plan the school’s curriculum.

However, with the promotion comes his departure from Mountlake Terrace, which Schurke believes to be the hardest aspect of his promotion.

“I’m leaving the place that’s been home for eight years,” he said. “I finished cleaning out my office yesterday, and there were tears as I was walking out of the building”

Schurke has made many memories over the years at Terrace, his favorite of which involve helping struggling students get through high school successfully. In addition, he played a prominent role in starting up the school’s Rocketry Club.

Schurke emphasized that the part of his job that held the most importance was helping individual students get back on track on their way to graduation.

I finished cleaning out my office yesterday, and there were tears as I was walking out of the building,”

— Peter Schurke

“That’s what keeps me going every day, that’s what makes it all worthwhile,” Schurke said.

Schurke is also very proud of the Rocketry Club’s efforts and progress over the years, and believes they have a genuine chance to advance to the national competition in Virginia this year.

“They’ve gotten closer and closer to qualifying for the national finals each year, and, if they keep it up, they have a real good chance of making it next year,” he said.

Schurke also talked about one of his favorite moments five years ago at the annual Fire in the Sky festival, organized by the Washington Aerospace Club on Memorial Day weekend. During that weekend, Schurke says he had the help of Katie Beth Higgins, a senior with a passion for rocketry and other STEM related clubs.

During the competition, Higgins was able to help Schurke double check things and corrected him when he overlooked things on his checklist, overall helping things run smoothly for the MTHS delegation.

“I was more proud on that day that Katie Beth had grown so much that she was willing to stop, not just a teacher, but an administrator, and tell them they had to stop and do something than I was of myself for having flown a rocket,” he said.

Schurke always loved to see students fly their rockets and holds that the success of students was the most important part of the competitions he went to with rocketry students. 

“As educators, we take more joy in the accomplishments of our students than in our own accomplishments,” Schurke said.

However, Schurke’s favorite moments from his time at Terrace were the graduation ceremonies at the end of each of his eight school years.

“Seeing the joy on our graduates’ faces, seeing the joy on their parents’ faces, seeing us get to the ultimate goal of high school and getting our students across the stage and being able to say positively, ‘we made a difference in their lives’, those are the kinds of things that absolutely hit you right in the heart and make every last bit of it worthwhile,” he said.

Schurke went through college thinking he wanted to be a doctor. However, during his time at grad school, while being a teaching assistant for some of his professors, he realized that his real passion lay in teaching.

From there, Schurke got his teaching certificate and went on to be a teacher in the Seattle School District. For 11 years, Schurke taught classes from chemistry and physics to math and engineering, and even started a rocketry club at a school he was working at before MTHS.

Then, after being encouraged by the school’s principal, he got his administrative credentials. This ultimately led him to Mountlake Terrace, where he has been for the last 8 years.

After eight years at Terrace, it was difficult for Schurke to commit to the decision to leave. However, Schurke, while sad about his departure, is looking forward to a bright future as a planning principal, and is confident that Terrace’s staff and students will continue to do great things, even with him gone.

“The only things that allowed me to [leave] are knowing that I wasn’t walking away, I was walking towards something new and exciting and that I know I am leaving the students of Mountlake Terrace High School in fantastic hands, because the staff is amazing,” he said.

Schurke also stressed that he wants Terrace to welcome the new interim assistant principal, which has been announced as Dr. Fabian Castilleja, the previous Assistant Principal at Terrace Park Elementary School.

“They deserve to feel that the school is welcoming them, not mourning me,” Schurke said.

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