Jeff Pettera1

For 32 years, Jeff Pettera of Rockford has been teaching at Christian Life High School, where he says, “Teaching the kids about making right choices is one of the primary goals.” This year, Pettera is at the helm of Biology, Anatomy, Chemistry and Physics classes for 9th through 12th graders there. He states in his portfolio that he also sets high academic and behavior standards because that is what he expects of himself. With such a long tenure at CLS, Pettera has had the unique experience of being connected to Michael Hoekstra as his student, peer and now principal! Hoekstra commends Pettera for finding ways to make a tough subject seem approachable and for fostering the willingness in students to serve the community. Pettera creates many opportunities for students to participate in fundraisers and activities that foster their senses of respect, compassion, leadership and community. Among their endeavors, his students ring bells for Salvation Army and feed breakfast to homeless people at the Rockford Rescue Mission. A student who appreciates Pettera’s approach to teaching science nominated him for the Golden Apple, saying, “Mr. Pettera could always make us laugh. I could always look forward to his class, knowing I was going to learn something new and have fun while doing it. He made a lot of lessons interactive so we could remember it better.” Pettera says that his purpose in life is to help others attain their dreams. “I do whatever I can to help students achieve their goals. This not only includes educating them in science, but also writing letters of recommendation for college admissions and scholarship opportunities. The excitement and joy they bring when they tell me how much scholarship money they received is invigorating.” Todd Wellens, parent of former students, shared in his recommendation letter, “Jeff’s focus has always been science and both my children have really benefitted from his wonderful way of bringing these subjects to life.” He added that both his children had received large scholarships to Drake University in Pharmacy and Physics, thanks to what they learned from Pettera. In his portfolio, Pettera stated, “My true legacy lies with the many doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers and entrepreneurs I have educated and who are now, as adults, impacting the lives of many others.”