Meet retired teacher Pete Springer author of They Call Me Mom

  • Published on July 10, 2020

Meet Pete Springer author of They Call Me Mom

Today it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Pete Springer. Pete was a classroom teacher for over thirty years. When he retired, he decided to share his experiences and wisdom with others who may be at different stages of their teaching journey. His book is a pleasure to read. He writes from the heart and every teacher will find something within the pages of his book with which they can identify or/and learn from. It will have you nodding your head in agreement, inspire an ‘aha’ moment, make you laugh and make you cry. From when you open the book until you close it, you will know that this is the honest voice of an authentic teacher who made, and continues to make, a positive difference to the lives of others.

About Pete Springer

Hi Pete, welcome to readilearn. Before we begin the interview, please tell us a little about yourself.

I taught elementary school (grades 2-6) for thirty-one years at Pine Hill School in Eureka, California.  I loved everything about being a teacher, and I want to be a role model for the next generation of teachers the way others inspired me to want to become a teacher.  I was a master teacher to four student teachers.  I was chosen for the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006.  That is an annual award recognizing ten top teachers in the county.  I belong to the Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival Committee which brings in twenty-five nationally known children’s authors to speak to children in over eighty schools in the county.  My future goal is to write books for middle-grades.

About the book They Call Me Mom — the blurb

Pete Springer They Call Me Mom 

Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff. Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model.

The interview

Pete, the title of your book is a great hook. Please tell us about the title and where it came from.

Anyone who has taught elementary school before has been called “Mom.”  It happens quite regularly.  Sometimes kids catch themselves saying it, but often they don’t.  When students referred to me as “Mom,” I never corrected them because I believe it was the ultimate compliment to be thought of as a mother.

You were a classroom teacher for many years. When you retired, you wrote a book about your experiences as a teacher. Is this something that you decided only after retirement or had you been planning it for some time?

It was never something I had planned to do.  It started first as a journal as a type of debriefing period after I retired.  I had some fantastic role models while I was teaching, and at some point, I decided that I wanted to pass on what I’d learned to the next generation of teachers.  My only regret is that I did not write down some of my experiences right after they happened.  Even after my book was published, I’ll think of something else that I could have included.

There are many teachers who, when they retire, walk away and never look back. But you decided to share your experiences. Why did you feel it was important to do so?

Pete Springer They Call Me Mom 

I describe teaching as the hardest and most rewarding job I ever had.  I wanted to share my experiences because future teachers should understand the responsibility and privilege of what it means to be an educator.  It is an opportunity that many people will never get to experience.  I look at education as an investment in the future as I know many of my students will go on to do extraordinary things in their lives.

Who is the target audience of your book and how do you hope they will feel as they read it?

Pete Springer They Call Me Mom

My main audience is young teachers or those thinking about becoming a teacher.  I have had many experienced teachers tell me that they have found lots of valuable ideas, too.  Another large group who might find the book helpful are parents, particularly in the area of discipline.  I hope that most people who read my book will find that there are plenty of things they are doing right, but there is always room to improve as an educator or parent.  It’s impossible never to make a mistake, but wise people can learn from the experiences of others.

What is your #1 message for teachers who are just embarking on their career? 

Don’t beat yourself up when you have a bad day.  Even the best teachers can have days that don’t go smoothly.  Realize that education works best when you view yourself as part of a team.  Collaborating with other teachers lifts your morale and makes you a better teacher.  Find positive people and mentors in your school to emulate and stay away from those teachers who are negative.

What is your #1 message for teachers who are further into their career?

Continue to grow as a teacher by learning new teaching methods.  No one ever masters everything.  Consider being a mentor for student teachers as you have a wealth of experience to share with others.  Don’t be afraid to change grade levels as new challenges are often good for us.

What is your #1 message for teachers who are considering retirement?

Don’t become that teacher who hangs on too long if you’re not enjoying teaching.  Take a careful look at yourself each year to make sure that you are still up to the task physically and emotionally.  Do you still get excited the week before school starts about having a new group of children to teach and bond with?  While I loved everything about being a teacher, it took retirement to realize what a workaholic I had become.

Would you like to share a highlight of your career?

Pete Springer They Call Me Mom 

It’s hard to pick one highlight because there have been so many.  The one thing that gives me the most satisfaction is when students I taught many years ago continue to reach out to me to let me know of their accomplishments.  It is their way of saying thank you, and they want their teachers to know how much they appreciate what you did for them.  When I see former students who are contributing something valuable to society with their careers, as parents, and in their communities, I feel a tremendous sense of pride.

What things did you find most difficult about being a teacher?

Pete Springer They Call Me Mom

One of the most challenging things to come to grips with is that there are children who don’t have good role models in their homes to guide them.  You see untapped potential in some children who you know will be fine if they can overcome all of the dysfunction in their family environments.  Another thing that can drive you crazy at times is the disproportionate amount of time and energy some schools put into doing well on standardized tests.  We can’t expect students to care about testing when their lives have so much chaos.  Our most important role is to create a safe and loving environment for our students rather than worrying about our test scores.

What things did you find to be the most rewarding? 

The most rewarding things come in your students’ accomplishments in life.  Sometimes you don’t get to see these rewards for many years.  I take particular pride in knowing that several of my former students became teachers.  I had the pleasure of teaching with one of my former students in the last five years of my career.

As you look back on your career from retirement, how do you feel about what you achieved?

Pete Springer They Call Me Mom

I’m proud of myself and my profession.  Being a teacher requires a lot of heart and belief, but it is worth the effort.  Some of our students will become the leaders of tomorrow and go on to do great things because some of their teachers inspired them.

Retirement, of course, is not the end, it is but a change in direction. What are your plans for your future?

Pete Springer They Call Me Mom

 I will be a lifelong supporter of education, literacy, children, and teachers.  I will continue to volunteer in schools on a limited basis.  My favorite daily activity as a teacher was to read aloud to children and imagine how authors intended their characters to sound.  Retirement has allowed me to try new things.  My dream is to write books for middle-grades.  I’ve taken some writing workshops, joined a critique group, and I’m in the process of revising my first children’s novel.  It is about a seventh-grade boy who is struggling with his parents’ recent separation while navigating typical middle-school problems (girls, peer pressure, fitting in, etc.). I’m having so much fun trying something new.

thank you writers and illustrators for sharing information about your books and your creative process

Thank you, Pete. It’s been a pleasure to have you here today. I never turn down an opportunity to discuss education, particularly with teachers as passionate about children and learning as you. I’m sure everyone will join with me in wishing you success in all your plans for retirement. May it be long, enjoyable and productive.

View the trailer of They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer.

Pete Springer They Call Me Mom

Purchase your copy of They Call Me Mom from


Barnes and Noble

Outskirts Press

Find out more about Pete Springer

on his blog Blog

or connect with him on social media




readilearn teaching resources for the first three years of school

Remember to check out the complete readilearn collection of
over 400 teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.


Browse resources now

If you haven’t already, follow @readilearn on Twitter and readilearnteachingresources on Instagram and like the readilearnteachingresources Facebook page.

I appreciate your feedback and comments. Please share your thoughts below.

Follow Blog By Email

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new readilearn posts by email and stay up to date with new resources.



    I hope that Pam (from Roughwriting) sees my comment. I began my love for education as a teacher’s aid in a special education classroom, so I have great respect for people who work with children who have special needs. I know how special those bonds are to our students, and I’m glad you developed this friendship with your student. I’ve been invited to graduations, weddings, birthdays, and even my first housewarming last year of one of my former students. By the end of my career I taught many second generation students. If you want to feel old, I suggest sitting down to have a parent conference with a parent who used to be one of your students.

    Those are all very special moments, Pete. Not that we need them to do so, but it makes everything we do seem so worthwhile.

    I think that every new teacher should be given a copy of Pete’s book. In every country! This is the kind of reading material an aspiring teacher needs. Also, I think every teacher who’s been “at it” for ten years or more should read it too. I like your advice so much here, Pete. And to teachers “thinking of retirement,” don’t stay on just to stay on if you’re not enjoying or caring what you do every day. SO TRUE. Norah, kudos to you for interviewing Pete with just the right questions. And so fun to find him here!
    Interestingly, I just returned from driving 40 minutes to a town where a former (Special Ed) student of mine lives. We text weekly and I drive to visit him at his special ed apartments every other month or so. We stopped since March, but today he was able to wheel himself outside while I sat on a bench nearby wearing a mask. This indviidual was my first special ed high school student and I was scared, so scared, that I wouldn’t do a good job with him. Well, he helped me along so much, and we are now good friends. And, this student is now a 35-eyar-old man! 🙂 <3

    I’m pleased you enjoyed the interview with Pete, Pam. It is full of wisdom.
    Thank you for sharing your story. It is very touching. What a special friendship you developed with that student. I appreciate the acknowledgement that you both learned from and supported each other.

    I don’t know if you’ll see this comment, Diana, but I sincerely appreciate your thoughts. The first priority for teachers is to ensure that their students feel safe and loved. The learning will happen once they know somebody cares about and will be there for them.

    What a nice surprise to hear from you, Kira. That was a long time ago, but I remember you well. I recall how smart and mature you were for your age. I still live in Eureka, and I run into former students quite regularly. I even got the opportunity to teach with one of my former students who now teaches at Pine Hill. Since I taught for so many years, the way I remember my students in my mind is picturing them with their friends. I have a clear picture of you and Jenna C. (She’s getting married soon.) Just to further confirm how much time has passed, Jenna used to sit for my now twenty-six year old son. I am so curious what field you went into. If you read this, I’d love to here from you.

    How wonderful to hear from a former student, Pete. It’s so affirming to know that you are remembered and appreciated. I hope Kira does get in touch with you.

    Pete Springer was my 4th and 5th grade teacher at Pine Hill Elementary and definitely made a lasting impact on me. It was great to be forwarded this article (by my mother) and get to read about what he’s up to 25 years or so later.

    Kira, I am so pleased you dropped by to give your thanks to Pete. I’m sure he will be delighted to hear from you. It’s always wonderful to hear from former students.

    One of the things I like best about Pete’s approach is that it’s so humanistic… toward other teachers regardless of where they are in their journey and especially toward children, many who come to school with backpacks full of personal challenges from home. There’s something so kind and generous in that, and it’s no wonder that some of his students stayed in contact. And called him Mom.

    I wish your daughter-in-law the best, Stevie. One of the standard comments I used to get from parents who volunteered in my class was, “I don’t know how you do this everyday.” I think the same is probably true for many other professions as well. We don’t know what it entails unless we’re close to someone already in the profession.

    Enjoyed reading this interview. My daughter-in-law is a teacher, and often sits up until midnight planning her lessons. I’ve now realised just how much work a teacher does outside the classroom too.

    I’m pleased you enjoyed the interview, Stevie. Yes, many teachers spent as much or more time working without the children present as they do in the classroom with children. And it’s not just the hours in preparation and marking, it’s difficult to turn the heart off at the end of the day too.

    It does my heart good to see that there are young people who still want to become teachers, Carol. There is a teacher shortage in the United States right now. I don’t know where your granddaughter lives, but she should have no trouble finding a job if she lives here.

    Not a bad suggestion, Darlene, but I’m turning to writing children’s books now. I’m writing for somewhere in the neighborhood for the age of your Amanda series. I did toy with the idea of writing a book about the interesting things that have happened to some of my former students since they became adults.

    A great interview with Pete, Norah. HIs students were fortunate to have been influenced by him. He said his only regret is that he did not write down some experiences right after they happened and that he often thinks of something else that he could have included. I would suggest he write a second book to include these experiences!! All the best in your retirement, Pete.

    I’m pleased you enjoyed the interview, Darlene. I think your suggestion of a second book is a good one.

    What a wonderful interview..Pete always comments on my blog and it is lovely to see him getting recognition as a great teacher.Our grandaughter is at uni and in her final year training to be a teacher… I think I will get her Pete’s book it sounds like it may come in handy 🙂

    I think your granddaughter would find Pete’s book very useful and inspirational, Carol. It would make a great gift.

    I sincerely appreciate the compliment, Patricia. We educators feed off each other’s positive energy. Norah is one of those great supporters who is making a difference in many children’s lives.

    Thank you for your regular support, Jim. You know by now that I never miss your blog posts, and I’ll keep responding each day while you continue your blogging streak.

    That’s great, Patricia. I’m pleased you enjoyed Pete’s enthusiasm for learning.

    great interview, Norah. I have been reading Pet’s blog for quite a while, and I have read his book as well. Both highly recommended!

    A wonderful interview from an outstanding teacher. Thank you for sharing Pete’s passion and wisdom, Norah.

    New teachers—you’ve nailed my target audience. When I came out of college with a teacher credential, I was ill prepared for what it meant to be a successful teacher. Experience was often the best teacher. Children aren’t the only ones who need role models.

    I know exactly what you mean, Pete. College covered the theory but the heart of teaching is learned on the job.

    If all parents were like you, Robbie, the job of teaching would be 1000% easier. When children see that their parents value education, it automatically raises the stakes for those kids. It’s the same phenomenon that takes place when children see that their parents stress education and reading. When children see their parents reading, there is no better model . Every child who I taught had a natural desire to make his/her parents proud.

    That is very true, Pete. The attitudes of parents has an enormous impact on the attitudes of their children.

    I think we all share in the responsibility of helping others, Debby. You do the same thing in your memoirs. You are helping people that may be going through similar situations. Knowing that someone else has had the same experience helps other folks learn from your experiences. I’d say that is an enormous gift on your part.

    I agree with you, Pete. Debby expresses very clearly and openly what many feel but may be unable or afraid to discuss.

    It’s so great to hear that you are serving as a mentor, D. One of my former superintendents got my book for all of his new teachers. That made me feel great as I feel like we a responsibility to support those who are studying to become teachers. I had the best master teacher, Cynthia V. She was a teaching/principal at my school, and after one day of observing her, I had found someone I wanted to model myself after.

    It is wonderful to find those teachers who inspire us, particularly if they are right next door.

    Thank you so much for your comment, Miriam. I have so much respect for anyone who taught and then became a principal the way that you did. Being an administrator requires some very thick skin. I’m not sure I could have done it, but I liked teaching too much to ever want to find out.

    WordPress isn’t allowing me to reply directly under your comments, but I hope you find them. It’s always a pleasure to connect with a fellow educator, Bette. I seem to be following in your footsteps first as a teacher and now I’m on the path to writing children’s novels for middle grades. By the way, anybody looking for a great children’s book needs to read Bette Stevens’s book, Dog Bone Soup. It’s a fantastic read!

    I agree about Dog Bone Soup, Pete, and I look forward to reading your book when it is published too. 🙂

    That’s such a great title. Not being an elementary school teacher, I wasn’t aware that it’s common for young students to call their teacher, Mom. I would agree that it’s a compliment and I appreciate how the author did not correct students in that moment of shared trust. I think this book would make a great gift for new teachers and also be a good one to form a teacher’s book club around. Great interview, Norah!

    Thank you, Charli. I agree that the book would make a great gift for new teachers and would be good for a teachers’ book club. What a great idea. There are lots of useful tips for parents too. Pete’s got it covered. (He has responded to your comment, though he couldn’t reply directly as WP wouldn’t let him.)

    Thank you, Robbie. I’m pleased you enjoyed the interview with Pete and that you found his book helpful as a parent also. (Pete has responded to your comment though he couldn’t respond to it directly – WP.)

    Thanks so much, Norah, for taking the time to interview me. One quality that I found in my fellow educators is that we all look out for our students and one another. It is an amazing community of support that translates across schools, counties, states, and even other countries. The fact that an educator in Australia like you can connect with a teacher in the United States exemplifies that. Thank you for all that you do as an educator, Norah.

    Thank you, Pete. I think you have done a wonderful thing for teachers, of all ages, by sharing your experiences. Your book will be of enormous support to so many. What a wonderful gift. Thank you. I’m pleased we have connected across the world.

    Fantastic q and a, and always great learning new tidbits of our writing friends. I love that Pete wrote the book to leave as a sort of legacy to teaching for the next generation. <3

    I’m pleased you enjoyed the interview with Pete, Debby. I agree, it is marvellous what he has done. (He did respond to your comment, though WP wouldn’t allow him to respond to it directly.)

    Thanks for alerting me Norah. I can see Pete’s lovely response to my comment, but unfortunately, the ‘reply’ won’t allow me to reply 🙁 I think WP is acting wonky! Thank you Pete, just goes to show the world needs us nonfiction writers. 🙂

    Sadly, it is wonky at the moment, Debby. I hope it un-wonkies itself soon. 🙂

    So many places for me to chime Yes, me too, as I read this. It is a profound thing, a privilege and responsibility as Pete says, to be an educator. Rewards and sorrows, as any mom experiences. I think I’ve talked more about it among “civilians” since retiring than when I was on the inside, but I’m not yet ready to talk about it much. But good for Pete. I may send his book to my mentee. I
    Good one Norah, Pete.

    I think that’s what is great about Pete’s book. He tells it like it is and there is something in it with which every educator will agree. It would make a wonderful gift for your mentee.
    Like many things, it can take time to talk about things that are such a part of us. Funny how we walk away in many ways but not in others. I haven’t cut the ties yet even though I’m no longer in the classroom. You will when you are ready. If ever. (BTW Pete responded to your comment although he couldn’t respond directly to it – WP playing up.)

    I agree, Miriam. It will be an inspiring and ecouraging read for many.

    Thank you, Bette. Pete is a pretty amazing teacher, both in and out of the classroom. (He has replied to you, though he couldn’t reply directly to your comment.)

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: