Ames High Welcomes Long-Term Orchestra Substitute


Following Ms. Polashek’s retirement after the orchestra’s winter concert, Ames High has a new orchestra director taking her place. Phil Peters is a veteran orchestra teacher, who began teaching in 1985, and retired after 36 years of teaching in June 2021. He spent his first 10 years teaching in Baltimore, Maryland, before moving to Valley High School in West Des Moines, where he spent 26 years. 

So far, Mr. Peters says he has had a good experience at Ames High.

“I have been welcomed by the students in the orchestra and have received help navigating the halls from students I don’t even know,” he said.

He has only been here for a short period of time, but he is already jumping straight into leading the orchestra and preparing music for the orchestra’s next concert.

Mr. Peters was inspired to become an orchestra director thanks to a teacher he had in high school.

“I had a terrific orchestra teacher in high school who supported everything I did and encouraged me to seek a music education degree,” Peters said.

He explained that this teacher still impacts him to this day. He also described his favorite part of teaching as.

“The energy I get from the students and the shared experience of making music together,” he said. “I feel like a continuous learner even when I’m in the teaching mode. [I] love that feeling.” 

He went on to say that he wants his students to share his passion for music and to find their own passions to pursue.

Along with directing the Ames High orchestra, Peters plays the double bass, teaches private lessons, teaches a course at Drake University, and conducts the Simpson College Community Orchestra. He is married with three children and has a puggle and a cat. He loves to travel and has been to Europe many times. Mr. Peters is serving as a long term substitute for Ms. Polashek and conducts the Ames High Orchestra through May.