The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Peter Wittner Retires


Julia D'Alessio, Contributing Writer

After 20 years, Morris Hills says goodbye to Peter Wittner, a beloved coach, teacher, and mentor. He officially retired from teaching at the end of January after teaching his final health class.

Mr. Wittner became interested in teaching while growing up in Manhattan, where he was positively influenced by his own teachers and coaches. The idea of following in their footsteps was always in the back of his mind, so Wittner began his teaching career in 1980. He came to Morris Hills after teaching at a school in New York, and describes his arrival at Hills as “really kinda lucky”.

Those who have had Mr. Wittner as a teacher are familiar with his ability to weave stories from his personal life into his lessons. He used his sarcastic sense of humor to push his students towards getting work done and to connect to them on a personal level so they were able “see each other as human beings”. Wittner used these aspects of his personality in teaching Physical Education and Sex Education for senior health. He emphasized the importance of these subjects and said that he hopes he was a resource for those who had little or incorrect information. If students could take away one thing from his classes, Mr. Wittner said he hopes that they learned to make smart decisions and to work hard for success.

Mr. Wittner said that  “you never know who you’re going to touch and how.”  His influence has been felt by students at Morris Hills.  Senior Andrew Donahue said that Wittner “gave me advice that I will use for the rest of my life”. Wittner believes that his success as a teacher and as a coach will not be measurable until 20 years from now and will be based on whether he influenced his students and athletes to lead good lives.

With the free time that retirement will afford him, Mr.  Wittner plans on traveling to see his daughters and their sports games and  is excited to see his daughter’s college lacrosse games for the first time. He feels bittersweet about his retirement and will miss the amazing students and “special, hardworking teachers” at Hills. Although he is retiring from teaching, Wittner plans to return in the fall to coach cross country and basketball, expressing that he will use these sports “to continue to show the kids what’s important”.

Morris Hills thanks Peter Wittner for his time as a teacher and all that he has done for the students and faculty. In the words of athletic director Mr. Haraka, “Mr. Wittner not only was a fine teacher and coach, he has a heart of gold! He formed connections and positive relationships with students and staff through humor, respect, empathy and genuine concern for their well being.  We are very fortunate that Mr. Wittner will still be coaching cross country and basketball next year.” Morris Hills is grateful for his stories, jokes, life lessons, and will greatly miss his khaki shorts and polos. We wish him a happy and well-deserved retirement. “Nuff’ said”.