We wanted to find out more about Peter, so we went way back in his childhood and asked the person who knew and remembered him best.
Can you describe how you remember Peter when he was in fourth grade?
I remember Peter as a well proportioned young lad with an exceptionally alert face. I would select him as one of my favorite pupils in the 24 years of my teaching. He was always unpredictable and genuinely creative. I never did witness a mean streak in him.
Was there a noticeable sign of his interest in music?
He sang with much spirit. I don’t recall his playing in the school orchestra, however.
How would you describe Peter—shy, awkward, quiet, loud, a leader?
Peter was always well liked, for life was always interesting around him. He always had a ready joke or an unusual slant on things.
What was your first impression of him?
My first impression of Peter when he became my pupil in grade four of the Coventry Day School in Coventry, Conn. was of a most alert youngster.
How did he do as a student?
He was an exceptionally good reader. I recall his reading level on a nationally standardized test as 8th grade plus, although he was only a fourth grader at the time.
He did remarkably well in problem solving in Arithmetic but disliked the routine work in this subject that is necessary to develop accuracy.
What was his favorite activity or subject?
I would guess silent and oral reading and dramatic presentation.
Did he get along well with his classmates?
Yes, they enjoyed his unusual stories and novel games at playtime.
Do you remember having to discipline him?
He was well behaved as long as he was kept busy. Being an avid reader and an exceptionally talented story writer, I encouraged Peter to go to the library for free reading time or to get paper to write an original story when his assigned work was completed.
How did he get along with the adults he came in contact with—other teachers, principal, nurse, etc.?
Fortunately, the school administration realized that he was an exceptionally talented child with a very high I.Q. They all enjoyed his unusual answers to questions. However, the responses made sense and were to the point.
Was there any indication that he was specifically talented or gifted?
Yes, definitely. Luckily, the Coventry Day School was a private school with small classes. Each child was given much freedom of expression. Creativity was encouraged. It is my belief that a child like Peter should attend private school if possible. I am speaking from experience for I have taught 9 years in the Boston public schools, 3 years in Lebanon, Conn. public schools and 12 years in the Coventry Day School, a private school in Coventry, Conn.
Do you remember well any incidents (funny or otherwise) which happened in the classroom or on campus?
I remember well an incident. In the Thanksgiving Program, my fourth grade class was asked to put on an original play pertaining to the Pilgrims. The class chose to dramatize the “Pilgrims Going To Church.” The fammous painting of the same title was hanging on the wall and probably served as an inspiration. The idea of bringing their fathers’ guns to school was an exciting idea. However, when I reminded the youngsters that if we chose this theme, we’d need a preacher and this would necessitate making up a sermon, after a period of silent thought, I asked if any boy in the class would volunteer to be the pastor. Only Peter volunteered. With little or no help from his parents, Peter composed a sermon that was truly remarkable for a fourth grader. His delivery, too, was excellent.
Do you watch the Monkees on Television? If so, what do you think of the show?
Once in a while, but Monday night is a bad night for me. It is extremely clever and requires genuine spontaneity on the part of the four Monkees.
Did you remember Peter as one of your students when you first saw him on the Monkees?
I had been alerted by his mother that he would appear.
Is there anything else you could tell us about Peter?
I must admit that he was one of the most intelligent, creative youngsters I have ever had in 24 years of teaching. He shall always be remembered by me as delightful. He’s deserving of his present success.