After attending Phillips Exeter Academy, Peter earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Russian at the University of Pennsylvania, and then an M.A. in linguistics and a Ph.D. in Slavic languages, both at U.C.L.A. He spent nearly 30 years teaching Russian and German at Phillips Academy, Andover, where he led the division of world languages and spearheaded new initiatives in global programming in China, Brazil, India, and South Africa. He also served two terms as president of the American Council of Teachers of Russian.