Who is Pete Kelzenberg

Depends who you ask:

Sara Kelzenberg - "He is my husband of 23 years. I left him alone for 5 minutes, now he is sitting on the school board!"

Sara and I moved to the Afton area in 1998.  With Afton being a small town, we felt like newcomers until our first child entered Afton Lakeland Elementary.   Once we were parents of a student, we felt more of a belonging in the community and embraced it. For many people, the local schools are that connection. For the benefit of our kids, we volunteered when asked and did not stop as they progressed through the school system.

Katie and Henry Kelzenberg - "He is my Dad" "I get my sense of humor from him...otherwise I think I will be okay"

We are the parents of two District 834 Graduates.  The most recent having graduated in 2020.  Looking back it is easy to see that our schools served them well.  Our involvement made better our connection to the people who would have an influence on them. I appreciate all that we got out of it and would like to see these good things continue for others.

Elementary school staff - "He was a welcome volunteer in classrooms and activities, and served on the PTA.  Kids liked him and looked up to him."  

As the parents of elementary students, my wife and I acted on opportunities to volunteer.  This was an easy way to meet and become familiar with teachers, other students and their parents. It was a convenient way to meet and get to know other parents.  Many friendships were made. 

Middle school staff - "He chaired our PTA and volunteered for many of our activities."

As our kids progressed out of elementary and into Middle school, I continued to accept volunteer opportunities when available. It was a great way to stay in touch. 

High School staff  - "He served on our Building leadership team and a number of our committees". He is the parent of two graduates. He was our liaison to the parent rep committee." 

At the high school level, I was able to participate in various school wide committees as well as groups in support of specific activities.  One group I was asked to join was the Building Leadership Team. I brought the perspective of an involved parent. From that I was able to bring a High School perspective to the District wide Parent Rep Committee. 

Administrative staff - "We have called on him numerous times to participate on different committees (Calendar, Boundary, Parent Rep, Web site, Long Range Planning, Community Design Team and more."

I let it be known that I was glad to give my time and participate when it would benefit the greater School District.  I realize that what is good for the District is generally good for our communities and home values. I was a member of the long range planning team a few years ago and more recently, the Community Design Team. These groups brought together a lot of different perspectives and interests to hash out what was the proper direction for us. These groups do not dictate policy but rather present them to the school board for approval.  

 

The Boundary committee is one of the more challenging ones to serve on.  Hidden in those deliberations, I discovered something positive. When parents spoke or made presentations to the group they always advocated to keep their kids at their current school.  This would not be if they were dissatisfied where they were at. 

Pete the bus driver

For many years, I have been a substitute bus driver for the companies serving Stillwater Area schools.  I enjoy filling in on routes, driving field trips, sports teams and other extra curricular activities. I am afforded a flexibility and balance that compliments my career as a Real Estate Broker.  By doing so, I have become acquainted with our District from top to bottom. (30 miles). And throughout (150 square miles). I likely have been on all of them. This has put me in a great position to observe and get feedback from our youth.  The students in District 834 are pleasant and well behaved... especially if you respect them in return.  

 

Elementary bus riders - "He was our substitute driver.  We call him "Pete the Cat". When is he coming back and can he be our permanent driver? " 

 

Did your kids ride any of these buses during the 21-22 school year? 

 

Bell Bike Bird Camel Candle Cap Cap Car Carrot Chair Cowboy Dolphin Duck Elephant Flamingo Flower Fork Giraffe Glasses Gopher Grasshopper Hammer Hand Heart Horse House Ice Cream Kitten Ladybug Lamb Lamp Lightbulb Llama Moose Mosquito Octopus Ostrich Ostrich Pencil Penguin Pineapple Pumpkin Rabbit Rollerblade Saw Scissors Seal Sled Snowflake Spider Squirrel Star Sun Telephone Tractor 

If so, I may have been their sub driver at some point.  Ask them if they remember Pete (or Pete the Cat).  Their response will be an endorsement I am proud of. 

The one exception is the Cowboy bus.  I misinterpreted those directions and missed the pick up at SMS. Those poor students might say otherwise.

 

At the elementary level, I introduce myself to the riders by my first name, PETE.   An immediate reaction is to call me “Pete the Cat!” This is a character in a series of books read at the younger grade levels. PTC is a “cool cat” and responsible.  From the elementary kids, I take it as a compliment.

 

Middle School bus riders - "Ya, he's alright"

High school bus riders - "That's Henry's/Katies's Dad, I think.  I don't know. I was on my phone. "

Special needs bus riders - 'He is nice to us"

I make a point of greeting each student as they get on the bus, generally in return I get a cordial “Thanks”  as they get off. I enjoy having conversations with students and have gained a better understanding of today's students and their perceptions of school and current events. 

One of my proudest moments was driving the unified basketball team to Target Center for the State Championship.  Special needs kids who are paired with general ed students were able to compete with those from other schools.  Our team was supported and cheered by hundreds of Stillwater area students.  All had good reason to be proud. 

 

Coaches and players - "He got us there on time and was our biggest fan. 

I have become a fan of the Stillwater teams.  I enjoy playing my part as a bus driver. When they prevail, I include the win on my scorecard.  This being Stillwater, it is a winning record. I have enjoyed driving teams at all grade levels including many section and state champions.  As a School Board member, I will support these winning ways. 

Teachers and chaperones - "He got us there and joined us on the field trip. Glad to have him participate with us. "

Driving these events gives me an up front seat to what we do in our District.  It is my pleasure to see our students demonstrate excellence and reasons to be proud in so many ways.  As a driver and supporter, I have gladly taken on numerous roles at our destinations: Chaperone, Debate Judge, Meet organizer, Usher, Host, Nature guide, Public Relations,  Reporter, Photographer, Security, Communications and more. This is really a front row seat to the heart and spirit of Stillwater Area schools. 

 

Dwayne Johnson (Hollywood) - "He is the father of my best friend, "Katie Kelzenberg."  "Unfortunately, I was unable to go to the Prom with her"   

April 20, 2018.  I received a call from the High School Principal with a “heads up” about  an upcoming morning announcement from Dwayne Johnson.   Video was taken and posted. This became the most incredible WOW moment for my daughter.  

 

To start a conversation, ask me about it, wait 5 minutes, then say “that's enough Pete, let's talk about this School Board election. 

 

Let me insert an observation here.   These Videos have had well over 30 million views around the world and over 10,000 comments.  Many comments are similar to this...”I bet the people who treated her badly, regret it now”  That made me appreciate that bullying and mistreatment was never a problem for my Kids. I know it happens, and I am concerned any time it does.  I very much want all students to have a similar sense of belonging as my kids have had.

Lions club members - "He is a recent president of the Afton Bayport Lakeland club and a recent District Governor, representing our 3 county area to the International organization."

6 years ago, I responded to an invite to come learn about the Lions Club and a new chapter forming in the area.  What drew me in was the integrity of the organization. Any money raised from the community had to go back into the community 100%. The structure and hierarchy of the organization can only be supported by member dues.  I joined a group of residents committed to the idea of serving the community. We have fun doing it.  A few years ago our signature project became the Bingo operation at the Washington County Fair. We are able to raise enough money to offer a couple scholarships to SAHS seniors who demonstrate, via essay, how they have served the community.   

 

Realtor colleague - "He is a tough negotiator, yet honest and fair. He represents his clients well."

I am the owner of and Broker for Afton Realty LLC.  I incorporated in 2002 and serve clients in the greater Twin Cities metro area including WI.   When home buyers start looking at homes (mostly online), one of the main filters is School District. People realize the importance of good schools and make that a specific criteria in their search.  I know that good schools support higher home values and quality of life.

Voter in District 834 - " I met him at ____, I agree with him that we need to continue making changes to keep us as one of the best districts in Minnesota. We want to continue on the positive path that began with the 2020 election of new board members.  I will vote for him on or before November 8, and encourage others to do the same. 

Throughout my years in the Afton and Stillwater schools area, I have had the pleasure of meeting lots of people.  I am a good listener and will continue to be as a member of the school board for District 834. Now with my kids becoming alumni, I hope to keep this energy going.

 

Your support is appreciated.