MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township School District announced the passing of high school social studies teacher Peter Porter on Nov. 28. He was 49 years old and died "after a courageous battle with brain cancer," according to his obituary.
Porter, who taught Advanced Placement (college level) European History, was president of the teachers’ union (MTEA) for more than five years and vice president for two years preceding that. He led student field trips across Europe and in September to WE UN Day in Manhattan. The 49-year-old was also a golf coach for the school. He was a Marine who served in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm with Marine Air Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing according to his obituary.
“Peter was an outstanding high school social studies teacher, club advisor, and MTEA president,” Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar wrote in a statement to the staff and faculty. “Most importantly, Peter was a dear and valued colleague and friend. In my short time in the district, I had developed a close working relationship with Peter and always appreciated his professional approach and cooperative spirit. Students, parents, and staff alike at MTHS, and throughout the district, will be devastated as they hear the news.”
Within each school, grief counseling is being provided throughout the week, according to District Communications Officer Susan Marinello.
“We all need to support one another and our students during this most difficult time,” added Rovtar in her letter to faculty and staff.
“This is devastating news and difficult for us to accept,” Rovtar wrote in an email to parents. “I know you join me in prayers for Peter and his family.”
Porter regularly led students in trips through Europe, which underlined lessons in AP European History. The summer 2015 trip was to Venice, Vienna and Prague, and can be read about here.
On behalf of the Board of Education, President Matthew Kayne wrote, "The Montville Township Board of Education mourns the loss of Peter Porter. Peter was a highly experienced, outstanding high school social studies teacher who gave of himself in many ways for the children of our high school and school district. He was a club advisor who took great pride in the year after year achievements and progression of his students. He organized and chaperoned learning trips to Europe for our students during the summer. To many of his students over the years, he was a teacher first, but also a coveted friend.
“He also served as MTEA President, during one of the more turbulent times in public education in New Jersey.
“Personally, Peter was a valued friend and colleague. Having served twice as Chair of the Board of Education's MTEA Negotiations Committee, we spent a good deal of time conversing and discussing options together. Peter was always looking to develop relationships, broaden understanding, and work closely and collaboratively with everyone on both sides of the process. Relationships are positive between all the working parts in the school district, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Peter for being a big driver of the current state of calm."
Marinello had praise for the teacher as well.
“Peter was an innovative history teacher who encouraged his students to use their knowledge and channel their passions to find solutions to global challenges,” said Marinello.
“In September, Peter organized a trip to Madison Square Garden for 23 MTHS students and four AP teachers to WE UN Day,” Marinello said. “MTHS senior Liam Cassidy gave a talk to the entire assembly during the event. Other speakers at the incredible event included Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Whoopi Goldberg and Chelsea Clinton, and many more.”
Parents were also saddened to hear the news.
Diane Bordonaro’s son Daniel had Porter for both World History and AP European History and travelled to Europe on Porter’s 2014 trip, she said.
“My son is a foreign policy major because of his rapport with Mr. Porter and the love of history and world events that Peter instilled in his students,” she told TAPinto Montville. “I am so sad for his family and for the students who won’t have him as a teacher, mentor, international travel companion and friend. Peter was an inspiration to all who knew him and a man of great faith. He brought history to life in the classroom and showed our children why they should care about what goes on in the rest of the world. This is a tremendous loss for our community.”
Parent Doreen Sauerborn said, “This is a very sad day! Mr. Porter was a great teacher. He was a selfless and kind man and he will be missed.”
Parent Vibha Mehra said, “My daughter was really saddened when she heard the news. He was one of her favorite teachers. [But] teachers don't pass away. They live through the education they impart in their students. He will be missed.”