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Northeast education used daily by Iowa teacher

Northeast education used daily by Iowa teacher

NORFOLK, Neb. -- The 2023 Iowa STEM Teacher of the Year and new Dean of Applied Technology at Northwest Iowa Community College says he continues to use the skills he learned at Northeast Community College in Norfolk every day.

Shane Peterson earned an Associate of Applied Science in architectural drafting at Northeast in 2009. He went on to earn his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Wayne State College and has taught industrial tech at West Lyon Community School District in Inwood, Iowa, for the past 11 years. He was recently hired as the dean of applied technology at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon.

Peterson said he uses the drafting he learned at Northeast in many aspects of his current position.

“With everything I do, I draw plans,” he said. “Last year I was the one in charge of coming up with the project for the state SkillsUSA cabinet making contest. I had to have a full set of plans to give the people who were running that contest.

“Whether it’s woodworking or CNC (computer numerical control) equipment – that’s all drafting,” he continued. “Any time we build anything we have to draw it up. I use that skill every single day.”

Peterson was honored by the Iowa STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Advisory Council in February for his efforts to transform an intro-level woodworking class at West Lyon Community School into an all-encompassing STEM program.

“When I started at West Lyon,” Peterson said, “the shop was about 3,000 square-feet. Today it is about 10,000 square-feet. About two-thirds of the high school students go through our program, including a high percentage of females. Our SkillsUSA chapter is the largest competing chapter in Iowa. Last year our program was the largest industrial tech program in northwest Iowa. We have added a second instructor for welding fabrication. With the shop addition, we have been able to add a car lift, a paint booth, and other equipment to allow us to teach a lot of different things.”

Peterson accepted the dean’s position at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon this summer but asked for a year to help West Lyon transition to a new instructor.

“I decided I wanted to be the busiest I’ve ever been,” he joked. “I’ve got an 18-month-old daughter. I’m still teaching at West Lyon. I’m doing what I can of the dean’s responsibilities, and we are building a new house.

“It is extremely hard to find industrial tech instructors right now.” Peterson said. “That’s one reason I wanted to be able to continue working at West Lyon this year, making sure this shop is ready to go and also give the school time to find the best person to replace me.”

The West Lyon program is unusual.

“We teach everything – drafting, construction, woodworking, automotive, machining and more,” he said. “We have CNC mills, press brakes, fabrication equipment. We do auto body and auto mechanics.”

In order to do both jobs, Peterson said he uses email and virtual meetings often.

“I take unpaid time off from West Lyon to attend in-service and for other activities at Sheldon,” he said.

Looking back on his time at Northeast, Peterson remembers the friends he made and many of the instructors.

“Michael Holcomb (Northeast drafting instructor) has always been a big person to me,” he said. “I still keep in contact with him. I still get tagged in the drafting club posts once in a while from him.”

Peterson remembers retired drafting instructor Harry Lindner and a full semester of hand drafting in the Maclay Building. He said he especially enjoyed the longer lab periods to work and make friends.

“We got a 3D printer while I was there,” he said. “It was the size of a refrigerator. Now we have about 14 3D printers in the shop at West Lyon.”

While at Northeast, Peterson was a member of the Drafting Club. His freshman class built a shed in the downtown area of Norfolk near the Methodist Church.

“I still drive by that when I’m home visiting my family,” Peterson said, “just to make sure it is still standing.”

Peterson is a strong supporter of community colleges and technical training.

“With the job market the way it is and the need for skilled trades,” he said, “having a facility like Northeast in Norfolk is a huge asset, especially as they continue to put money into the campus and develop programs.

“There are great jobs out there,” he concluded, “and to be able to get an education right in town saves money and allows students to get local jobs for experience. I encourage students to check out the programs at any community college.”

Peterson lives in Inwood, Iowa, with his wife, Kelsey, and daughter, Teagan. His parents are Roger and Sherry Peterson of Norfolk.

Photo cutline Shane Peterson 

West Lyon Industrial Tech Instructor Shane Peterson (Northeast ’09) demonstrates general car maintenance to students in Basic Home Maintenance, a class for girls that covered home care, basic plumbing and electrical repair and basic vehicle maintenance. (Courtesy photo)