Teacher Tuesday – Meet Ms. Pennington

Ms. PenningtonMeet Ms. Pennington  Ms. Pennington, a first-year 6th grade science teacher for APS, comes to us from St. Louis, Missouri where she taught as a 6th grade science teacher for the past seven years.

Having spent a lot of time in her retired mother’s kindergarten class, Ms. Pennington grew to have a love for teaching.  Her love for science came to her from another source.  “My love for Science was sparked by my high school anatomy teacher who always went above to ensure our lessons were engaging and relatable to our high school experience.”

We asked Ms. Pennington for her thoughts on teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic to which she replied, “This time has created space to learn so many new things. Technology has always been presented to teachers, but never truly required.  COVID-19 has made it impossible to escape the pathways of technology.  As mentioned before, I spent a great amount of time in my mother’s classroom and unfortunately a lot of education practices from the 90’s are/were still the same before COVID-19.  It is devastating how our country is suffering during this pandemic; however, I try to remain positive while understanding this is only temporary.”  Ms. Pennington keeps herself motivated by remembering that teaching is her livelihood.  “If I want to enjoy it, I need to make sure my lessons are updated and fun.”

A student’s progress that has made Ms. Pennington’s day came to her via social media.  “My first students are now sophomores in college (yikes!) One student who often challenged my procedures and behavior systems reached out to me via social media to share that she was majoring in Science Education. She stated that as she progressed in her educational career, she realized that I had instilled structure and scientific critical thinking skills within her.”

Brittany Packnett-Cunningham, Executive Director of Teach for America was a leader who inspired Ms. Pennington. “During my time in St. Louis while working with Brittany, she showed me that another Black woman from St. Louis could fight educational inequity with force and beauty. I admire Brittany’s ability to show up in conversations and remain authentic to her Black dialect and relay a meaningful lesson all while looking so fabulous.”

Ms. Pennington would like for parents/people outside the school to know or understand that teachers can also be parents.  “I love my daughters deeply and there have been moments where I have felt that Mrs. Blank should’ve done something differently specifically for my child, but because I am a teacher, I am quickly reminded Mrs. Blank also has X number of students. I understand that parents are sending us/me the loves of their lives every day and only want the best for them, but please understand that as a parent/teacher, I would never do anything to ignore their individual needs.  Sometimes, I make decisions which are best for the majority of my students.”

What would Ms. Pennington be doing if she were not teaching?  “I would love to be a full-time calligrapher, leading calligraphy classes – I guess that’s still teaching; I can’t escape it lol.”

Ms. Penning is currently reading What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, by Damon Young.   “It’s a hilarious approach to common encounters of racism and how Black people have navigated these spaces with grace.”