“Most likely to succeed”

Ray Peterson’s journey through his years at BVH


Jaylen Gladney

Ray Peterson can be seen teaching financial algebra, one of the few subjects he teaches. Later on in the day Peterson has a cross country team to train with.

In high school, Integrated Math I and head track and field coach Ray Peterson, was voted his senior year “Most likely to Succeed.” Peterson has been working at Bonita Vista High (BVH) for almost 17 years and believes he has succeeded in both teaching and coaching. 

When Peterson was younger, his goal was to become an electrical engineer. He took his first physics class at San Diego State College and quickly realized the science path wasn’t for him so he decided to pursue a new career. During his time in college, Peterson found his true calling.

“My initial desire to be an engineer was by title, income, expectation and the vote of most likely to succeed [as a senior superlative]. I thought it was something that would satisfy others. Then when I took a physics class along with my first calculus class, physics class wasn’t an interest to me. I realized I wasn’t really into the sciences. That’s when I realized I wanted to change [my career],” Peterson said.

Peterson started exploring new career paths, and noticed he enjoyed the concept of math. The idea of only a yes or no answer satisfied him and made it more appealing. In addition, he realized he enjoyed the positive ethics that he was influenced by. Because he viewed how others taught he wanted to do the same. This led him to later become a math teacher.

“I had to reflect and ask ‘What do I want to do? What do I like to do?’ [Then I realized] I like seeing my [professors] teach. I liked that aspect of it. I was already taking a math class, so I tied that into each other. That caused me to make that choice,” Peterson said. 

Once Peterson was hired by BVH, not much later he also became a track and field coach. During the spring season of track and field, Peterson must find ways to balance both teaching and coaching. He faces challenges such as time management and trying to keep up with both duties. Peterson expresses how he handles these significant challenges and how it impacts his daily routine.

“For me, [handling it is] organizing stuff for practice or teaching. Once I’m teaching, I’m teaching, so there’s no track and field that comes in between. Sometimes when the bell rings, I’m tired from teaching, [but] I have to find the time to coach,” Peterson said.

Although Peterson can become very busy with teaching, he finds the time to focus on his student athletes. To ensure a winning team, Peterson must establish a strong connection with the athletes. Track and field captain and senior Adriana Gamboa explains her journey through the four years on track and field and how Peterson has played a huge role in her high school career. t.

“[Peterson’s] known me since I was a freshman. He always makes sure to always uplift and cheer me on. He’s always telling me to keep going and motivates me to do my best,” Gamboa said. “He also finds a way to make me laugh, too. It’s really fun and he always likes to make a really good environment for everyone.” 

As years pass, Peterson collects a lot of memories and experiences through teaching and coaching. Peterson recollects his most memorable track and field experience as he explains what occurred and why it made him proud.

“From a sports standpoint, I remember my girls [track and field athletes], for the Relay Race [in 2013] we went to the state championship. We ran in three minutes and 55 seconds,” Peterson said. “That’s a very successful feat to take a relay team to the state championship where the competition is hot, but to do that locally and be successful was a memorable moment.” 

From an academic standpoint, Peterson has not only created, but strengthened relationships with teachers. Even before becoming a teacher at BVH, Peterson developed a strong relationship with Keith Dewalt, a biology teacher at BVH. Their relationship began through each others first teaching job and has continued for almost 22 years.  

“[Our friendship] has impacted my work life and he makes it a lot more enjoyable. We compare how we do class management and sometimes we might go to a sporting event,” Dewalt said. 

“[Our friendship] has impacted my work life and he makes it a lot more enjoyable. We compare how we do class management and sometimes we might go to a sporting event,”

— Biology teacher, Keith Dewalt

Through the past years, Peterson has become a role model to many people, including Gamboa. As he continues to change the lives of students and friends around him. Dewalt expresses how he views his relationship with Peterson.

“I ask him for advice and he always ends up giving good advice. I think he’s also a good teacher and he makes a good role model for his students,” Dewalt said. 

Additionally, Peterson is positively impacted by other peers at BVH. He explains how being at BVH makes teaching tolerable and creates a social environment for him. Because BVH is Peterson’s first and only high school he has taught at, Peterson believes he would never leave due to the positive environment and friendly faces.

“Teachers [at BVH] make [teaching] more fun. I always make my way to hang out with Dewalt since we get along. So that gives me a sense of adult socialness,” Peterson said.

Alongside teachers, Peterson has had a fun time with students. Gamboa feels like Peterson not only influences her on the field but also off the field. Gamboa explains how Peterson has affected her over the years of high school on and off the track.

“I feel like he’s influenced me to be a better leader in many ways. My freshman year I didn’t think I was going to be the captain in my senior year,” Gamboa said. “He has always influenced me to lead and be strong and independent. I continue to practice to be a better person for myself, but he always pushes me to be the best version of myself.”

Finally, Peterson has had a long journey at BVH. Although he believes with the right environment he will always enjoy doing the work he does, being involved in BVH in different ways has affected his work and personal life in many positive ways. Peterson did not want to teach high school once he got his credentials. He knew that at this kind of teaching job he would spend less time with his family and kids. Peterson finally took the job at BVH when he was finally ready.

“Whether it be relationships, friends, or social life that allows you to come to work with a positive piece of mind, knowing that approaching the weekend or approaching a vacation, you can still enjoy both. I’m at peace and I enjoy my breaks. [At the end of breaks], I want to come back [to school],” Peterson said.