Pete Law was born in this "Surprisingly, Little Town" 42 years ago, living 41 of those years in the same, yellow house on Jackson Street, right off the square.
Though he's been around the town for a while, his upbringing is anything but typical. Law, an elementary teacher, put on a one-man show at Willow Leaves of Hope disclosing his childhood, and growing up in the town of Hope.If you haven't seen his play, spoilers ahead.
When he was 20, Law and his sister lost his dad. Then, six years later, he lost his mom. But his college experience helped him through this tough time and opened his eyes to his future. His scope of work now expands beyond Hope and a classroom at Hope Intermediate School. Law now attends acting classes at Second City in Chicago and is following his dream of becoming an actor. While still teaching, he has starred in over 10 plays in the greater Indiana area, and beyond.
From an elementary teacher to a consistent exerciser at Pharrell's, to an actor and a playwright, Law proves Hope is also made up of surprising, little characters.
Was it a difficult decision to go away to school for college?
I knew I always wanted to go to Purdue. It was a decision I made in second grade, thanks to my teacher, Rosie Trotter... The first time I went to Purdue was when I took placement tests. The second time, I moved in. Looking back, I thought Purdue was a million miles away. It is funny to think I thought that when it was only a 2-hour drive. I was very much a homebody, so it was scary to go from a small town high school to a large university.
What advice would you give students on going away for school?
Do it. I feel so lucky that I went away. I lost my dad at 20 and my mom at 26, so my years at Purdue helped. It also opened my eyes to a whole different world, with many different people with different beliefs, looks and opinions. Sometimes a small town has an effect on you and makes you feel comfortable and safe. When you go away, you are able to see the world in a much different way.
How has Hauser, and Hope, changed from when you were a student to becoming a teacher?
One of the most significant changes is the use of technology. I remember when we got TVs in each classroom at Hauser in 1991. That was a huge deal. There were very few computers. The Internet was not even a thing that was used. Now, every student has their own iPad to do various activities.
Another huge change is having all FRHC students all together. Everything was separate when I went to school. Hope was K-12, Cross Cliff was K-12, and Hauser 7-12. When I started teaching, Cross Cliff was K-2, Hope 3-6, and Hauser 7-12. I remember when I was in school and headed to seventh grade, you combined with the Cross Cliff kids.
How has the town of Hope changed over your lifetime here?
Hope has pretty much stayed the same. Of course, there are a few more chain stores and some new housing, but a charm of Hope is its connection to the past. Hope has a pretty unique history. In recent years, I have seen a huge effort to make sure that that history is preserved... You still pretty much know who's who in Hope, just as it was when I was growing up.
When you became teacher, why did you want to eventually teach at Hope?
I knew I wanted to be a teacher from the first day of Kindergarten in Pat Emerson's class. I used to play school with my Fisher Price Little People and action figures. I had such amazing teachers at Hope Elementary that I knew that is where I wanted to be.
I was bullied in high school. Most people would want to stay away from the scene of the crime, but I came back with a goal to make a difference for the kids in my community. I wanted to give back because I had such amazing teachers all the way through school.
I always wanted to stay in Hope. I thought that dream would come to an end when I interviewed and was rejected twice. I was eventually given the opportunity to teach, for which I am extremely grateful.
You are also now directing and starring in many plays in the Hope and greater Indiana area! What fuels this passion?
I have always loved movies and television. I love actors and actresses. I was always interested in doing church plays. I also loved to read aloud in class when given the opportunity. Unfortunately, there weren't a lot of opportunities other than this.
When the opportunity came up to do a play with Mill Race Players in 2008, I took it. There was no turning back. I eventually took roles in Brownstown, North Vernon, Seymour, Shelbyville and Columbus.
Can you tell us about your acting classes at Second City?
Second City is an amazing place. So many great comedians and actors have come out of Second City. Two of those amazing alumni are Steve Carell and Tina Fey. I admire them so much. And when I discovered they both went to Second City, I researched. It seemed so far out of reach.
Two years ago, I applied for a scholarship from Second City and received one that paid for a class. I took a Level 1 Improv class and Level 1 Sketch Comedy Writing class. I was hooked. I went the next month for Level 2. This past summer, I spent two weeks in Chicago doing Level 3 and Level 4. I have also attended some weekend workshops.
During my first visit, I went to the Mainstage Show. I was seeing what I was learning in effect. During one scene, I was selected from the audience to be in a scene. It changed my life. All I could think was that I was on the stage that Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Chris Farley and so many others had been on.
Writing helped to get my ideas out. It helped me develop my one man show The Laws of Jackson St., which I am hopeful to take to other places and present.