Teacher. Father. Husband. Democrat. Candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Learn more about Peter and his dedication to serving and empowering the students and families of Louisiana.
Peter fell in love with teaching when he was fifteen, volunteering at a residential program. He saw the impact that a stable, caring presence could have in the life of a young person. From that moment, his entire focus was on becoming the best teacher he could be. He volunteered, tutored, and mentored. He taught summer enrichment classes in high school and student-taught for a semester in college. He completed his degree in mathematics from Brown University and cold-called every principal in New Orleans looking for a job as a high school math teacher.
He arrived at Lusher Charter School in time to see its first high school graduation. From the beginning, students and colleagues recognized the passion he brought to the classroom and hard work he put into providing the best opportunities for his students. They saw that he taught students, not equations. In his first semester, he started helping coach the baseball team. By his second semester, he was a regular at school events and tutoring every day after school. By his third semester, he was piloting a peer-to-peer tutoring program.
By year four, students and parents noticed that “Mr. Wenstrup” ran a different kind of classroom. Students weren’t told what to do, they were empowered to see patterns and make connections. Parents started asking why their children loved math so much. Peter gave feedback not to paper but to people: on how well students took responsibility for others or demonstrated the Pursuit of Excellence.
Strong families and strong neighbors are the bedrock of our civic bonds. For ten years Peter has strived to be a good neighbor in his Central City community. You could find him playing curb-ball in the street or navigating the OneApp school application with parents. In turn, he received mentoring from Mr. Anthony in the laundromat or help preparing the nursery from Malcolm. In 2015, he married his wife, Kristen, in a beautiful wedding on Magazine Street. Three years later, just 48 hours after catching a shoe at Muses, Kristen gave birth to their first child, Hope Madeleine.
In 2015, Peter moved to Walter L Cohen High School, just ten blocks from his home of five years. Again he threw himself into the life of the school: tutoring after school, coaching the baseball team, and attending games and concerts. Cohen’s fledgling baseball team had no facilities, so Peter gathered a few committed students and faculty members and erected a batting cage and practice pitcher’s mound. As a neighbor, Peter could hold a parent-teacher conference by walking a block or two or provide internet access for homework.
Peter has spent the last two years at Livingston Collegiate Academy in New Orleans East. Though still full-time in the classroom, he has become a leader among the faculty, empowering other teachers to think about ways to give students the tools and trust to flourish. In 2019, he and Kristen welcomed their second daughter, Grace Magnolia, into the world.
A NEW CHAPTER
For most of his life, Peter believed that the best way to serve his community was by teaching, coaching, and neighboring. And in normal times, he still thinks so. But right now the problems facing his students and their families, his communities, and similar communities demand new leadership in Washington to empower communities like his with the tools and trust to thrive.