News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Daniel Wackershauser, Marketing Specialist
Phone: 608.822.2303
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: November 16, 2020

Esser’s teaching career reaches 30 years at Southwest Tech

Fennimore -

This year, Pete Esser, math instructor; Paul Cutting, agribusiness instructor, and John Pluemer, lead math/science instructor are all celebrating 30 years at Southwest Tech. They have led hundreds of students through their educational journeys and they have no intentions of slowing down.

“The dedication of Pete, Paul and John to Southwest Tech over the last 30 years has been remarkable,” said Jason Wood, Southwest Tech president. “I am grateful for their passion for educating our students. Generations of graduates have been guided to success because of their work.”

Note: Paul will be featured in a subsequent post. John was previously featured.

What was your hire date at Southwest Tech?

June of 1990

What led you to Southwest Tech?

While still in college at UW-Platteville, I actually had a goal of becoming a math instructor at Southwest Tech. Very specific and a bit naïve I suppose! My dad, Pete Esser Sr., was the supervisory management instructor at Southwest Tech in the mid 1980’s. It sounded like a good place to work!

Pete Esser

What was your original position on campus and what is your current position?

I was hired as part of a Title III grant that was in part, focused on building an independent study Applied Math course, with program-specific content. My role was to work with a software system (Quest) used for delivering student assessment. This was all pre-Internet. Most computers on campus at the time had monochrome monitors and many lacked hard drives…only 5.25” or 3.5” discs!

My current position is math instructor in the Knox Learning Center. I teach independent study math courses, and teach small and large groups in specific skills areas, especially nursing math. Mainly though, I work with students individually when they have math-related questions stemming from their coursework. Finally, I create web-based learning resources for both students and instructors.

What do you enjoy about your current role?

Meeting and working with a wide variety of students. While their ages and backgrounds are incredibly varied, they all want to do their best and learn new skills.

What are some of your favorite memories during the past 30 years?

This is difficult to answer! I would have to say my favorite memories are the interactions with students. There have been several memorable co-workers along the way too! Random fun fact; did you know the school used to serve beer at the school picnics?

Why have you remained at Southwest Tech for 30 years?

My job is different every day! Some days, I spend most of my time meeting with students, while on other days, I work on my math resource website or some other project. In the last year, I found time to write a new textbook about nursing-related math.

Why is higher education important to you?

Higher education makes anything possible! You learn information, skills, attitudes, and experiences that help you be a better person.

What does the next 30 years look like for you?

Ever see a Roadrunner cartoon where Wile E. Coyote goes off a cliff? Kinda like that!

Is there anything you would like to add?

I just want to note that what is asked of instructors today is so different compared to when I first started teaching in 1989 at UW-Oshkosh.

All you needed to teach was a textbook, legal pad, pencil, and chalk. You may or may not have had a computer.

What does a new teacher need to know today?

Well if someone takes my position they will need to know; WIDS, CAMS, Schoology, Outlook (especially the calendar), the HUB, Yammer, MathXL, StatCrunch, MS-WORD, MS-EXCEL, MS-POWERPOINT, Adobe Acrobat, YouTube (from the perspective of a channel creator/director), GoogleSites, WIX-based websites, ZOOM (!!!), video editing software, textbook publishing (, TimeTrade, various SWTC utilities for entering student interaction info, generating usage reports, SAS, navigating the TAPs interface, etc.

That is just the tip of the iceberg of course! What other skills and duties must you bring to the table just to be minimally functional as a teacher at Southwest Tech (or any similar place for that matter)?

My point? I don’t think it as likely for a new teacher to be celebrating 30 years of employment at the same institution in the future. Being a good teacher has never been easy, and nothing is on the horizon that will help. If a current teacher has made a positive impact on your life be sure to thank them now. It might give them enough “fuel” to keep going and make a difference for a long time to come.

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