Grant Peterson is a self-proclaimed do-it-yourself-er.
He’s watched hours of YouTube videos and web tutorials to help him on his latest projects, he’s sourced reclaimed wood from Craigslist like it’s his full-time job and a few years ago he started his own business.
But all of this is in addition to his day-job as a high school social studies teacher.
He is a 25-year-old with two distinct storylines.
Grant grew up in Lincoln and said some of his earliest memories are of doing house projects with his dad and grandfather. He loved watching them tinker with tools, and seeing a project go from start to finish.
In high school, he took his first wood shop class where he learned the basics of furniture making. When he went to college and moved into his first house, he had a choice to make about furniture – buy average furniture that will probably fall apart or make something that would last.
This question prompted Grant to make his first bedroom set. After his friends and family saw his work, he quickly received requests for other projects. He made bookshelves and coffee tables during school as a hobby, but also as a way to earn a little extra money.
It was during this season of going to school and making furniture that Grant had a sudden realization about his career path. He was attending Baylor University pursuing a degree in business when he realized the only reason he was a business major was for financial reasons.
He had grand plans of getting a great job post-graduation and taking home a substantial paycheck. It was a nice thought that promised a comfortable life, and while there was nothing wrong with wanting a comfortable life, he realized he’d be comfortable but bored.
So, Grant went to Plan B – teaching. His mom was a teacher and he’d seen the way she could value and impact students through her work, and he liked having that sense of purpose. His motivation quickly switched from monetary to relational as he realized the kind of impact he wanted to make with his career.
He transferred to UNL, where he finished up his degree and then moved to Lexington, Nebraska for his first teaching job.
It was here that he officially launched his custom-woodworking business – Amos Approved. His business and logo feature his golden retriever, Amos, who is Grant’s woodworking buddy and constant companion.
The name of this business actually wasn’t his idea, a friend thought it up, and Grant was a little hesitant to run with a concept involving his dog. However, the name stuck out to customers and pointed to the level of excellence that Grant puts into each of his projects.
He laughed about the fact that people often call him and ask about Amos before they even get around to their reason for calling Grant about a woodworking project.
Juggling the two jobs and passions has been a major learning curve, he said, there’s no handbook for how to run a business, be a woodworker and full-time teacher. However, Grant wouldn’t have it any other way.
Learning has been a consistent theme in his life – it’s what he loves about woodworking and it’s what he loves about teaching.
Woodworking takes a lot of patience and diligence and Grant said no project goes without a bump in the road. He’s learned various techniques from his grandpa and father. He’s also experienced the generosity of fellow craftsmen like his mentor and friend, BJ, who lent Grant tools and his expertise as he started his business.
Being a high school social studies teacher is a job that changes every day. It’s dependent on his students, the subject matter he’s teaching, the time of year and just the nature of high school.
This past year, Grant moved back to Lincoln and started teaching at East High School. He coached football this fall and is learning the rhythms of a new school.
He bought a house and is doing major renovations on it, with Amos carefully watching his every move.
Grant’s story isn’t what he imagined for himself when he started college. He’s figuring it out as he goes, learning from his mistakes and working to understand how to be confident and courageous as he teaches and builds his business.
These are lessons that can’t be taught via a YouTube video, it’s trial and error, but at the end of the day that kind of methodology is what makes Grant proud of his two storylines.