Teacher of the Year finalist: Dr. Denise Pennywell

Dr. Denise Pennywell’s bright smile and soft voice speaks volumes — she loves teaching.

 

Now in her 38th year of teaching, Pennywell still strives to let students know that they are valuable.

“It does not matter who you are or your current level of learning, you are important,” said the Glenn Hills High Elementary School teacher.

Pennywell is one of five finalists for Teacher of the Year in the Richmond County School System. She, Brigitte Holmes (Hephzibah High), Kia Mills (A.R. Johnson Magnet), Tonya Fulton (Morgan Road Middle) and Sandra Owens (Freedom Park Elementary) will gather for the the Teacher of the Year Banquet on Thursday at the Augusta Marriott.

The recipient will receive a car, trophy, gift certificates and more.

Pennywell believes the nomination makes a statement that her peers view her as an outstanding educator capable of making a difference. Her hard work has trickled down to another generation as well; her daughter, NaTasha, was previously nominated for Teacher of the Year in Fulton County.

Even after so many years in education, Pennywell continues to learn about the field. Her students have taught her that some of them require a different approach to helping them learn.

“In order to make a difference there will come a time that there has to be a difference or change in me,” she said.

About Denise Pennywell

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Family Members: NaTasha, Natalie and Calvin Pennywell Jr.

Education: Southern Baptist College, Associate’s Degree; Arkansas State University, Bachelor’s Degree; Central Michigan University, Master’s Degree; Argosy University, Specialist degree

What is the most enjoyable aspect of teaching? The most enjoyable aspect of teaching is seeing that light that comes on when students are learning which confirms the fact that they get it. It is those moments when there is a definite connection, and you can see it in their eyes and their actions.

What would you change about the profession? I would change the way teachers are hired. If a teacher applies for a position in a school and is considered for the position, I would require that teacher to spend time – a week at least – at that school of interest in order to gain inside knowledge of the demographics of the students and the climate of the school. Some newly hired teachers did not stay at their schools because they were unaware of the depth of dedication and commitment needed to become an effective teacher in that particular school in which they were hired to teach.

 

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