Peter Wordelman voted EOU’s educator of the year

Peter Wordelman is currently an esteemed professor and has been so since 1991. In his 32 years of teaching, he has been a mentor to hundreds, if not thousands, of students. 

After graduating with his master’s and doctorate at the age of 26 from the University of Arizona, Wordelman applied to over 65 music teaching jobs across the country. Though he was not the first on EOU’s list, Wordleman was obviously the best choice for Eastern Oregon University, as he has faithfully served and educated his students for the last 32 years. 

Wordelman was born in Rochester, Minnesota. From a young age he always had a passion for music. As a church kid, he was around music constantly; playing the trumpet and singing in his church choir every Sunday. From the ages 11-18 he spent eight weeks every summer at Interlochen music camp in Michigan. He always sang and enjoyed it, but never took it seriously until he graduated from Interlochen High School, continuing his music career into his college years.  

He started at Oberlin College in Ohio, focusing mainly on singing and eventually decided to emphasize conducting. Moving on to his masters and eventually his doctorate, he transferred to the U of A and graduated with honors. He married his wife and they later moved to La Grande together once he got his teaching job as a professor at EOU. 

“The reason changes over time. I have always had a passion for music; it evolved into a love for teaching,” Wordelman said when asked about why he wanted to become a music educator. 

Right now, Wordelman’s focuses are on making a whole new generation of music teachers from grades K-12, and keeping music going in all of the small rural settings. 

 “I believe that to be a great music educator, you must always have a good teaching plan, and be able to relate to your students. The teaching world has changed since I first started, and some students change over time because society changes,” he said. “I have had to adapt and be willing to listen, know when to have fun and when to be strict. 

This past month, Wordelman was voted by the student body population as the educator of the year and given the Teacher of Excellence Award for the year of 2023. He has served the students and faculty of this school faithfully and given over 30 years of his life to bettering others through music. 

The majority of students on campus agree that Wordelman is the best example of excellence to represent EOU and its mission. When asked why he thinks he is a good educator, he replied that it is probably because he enjoys teaching his students, keeps track and advises them well, and is very knowledgeable about the university. And once again, he makes it a goal to offer a welcoming environment for people of all skill levels. 

Wordelman is a joy to know and to be educated by. He is an excellent example of what a great educator is and he continues to be an inspiration to students at EOU today. 

“To be a great educator, you have to have fun and enjoy what you do. If you love what you do, then work isn’t work,” Wordelman said. 

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