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From class clown to MBA grad

Peavy HolmesIt was easy for Peavy Holmes to identify the teacher who made a difference in his life. It was English teacher Ms. Burton-Powel, who taught first period in his freshman year.

Peavy recalled that he began his freshman year intent on securing the role of “class clown.”

“I came from a poor environment, so if I was the poor kid, I wanted to be the popular poor kid,” Peavy said. On the first day of school, Peavy said that he would answer questions in class, but he managed to work in a joke for everything. His friend was acting up right along with him. At the end of class, Ms. Burton-Powel excused Peavy’s friend but held him back.

“She asked me what I wanted to do after high school and I said I wanted to go to college. She asked if I could afford to go to college and I said I couldn’t. She asked if I could get a scholarship to help pay for college and I said I wasn’t smart enough.

“She said that the homework that a smarter kid could do in 15 minutes might take me an hour to do. She asked if I was willing to put in that hour. And it clicked. I understood what she was saying. She put me on the right track on my first day, in my first hour, in my first year of high school.”

Peavy graduated from Hamilton in 2002 with a 3.6 GPA and went to Marquette University on scholarship. When he completed his undergraduate degree with a double major in accounting and supply chain management, he had $15,000 in student loans – far short of the six figures he would have owed without that scholarship. Peavy continued his studies at Marquette, earning his MBA in Human Resources, and then started his career at Price Waterhouse Coopers. Five years ago, Peavy joined Northwestern Mutual and is currently Manager of Life Underwriting.

One teacher. One moment. One life changed forever.


Earl Arms, Media Relations Manager
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Milwaukee Public Schools is committed to accelerating student achievement, building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels. The district’s commitment to improvement continues to show results:

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