Katie Pennington has nearly two decades of experience in teaching and education administration. She is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and has been the high school principal at Holland Public Schools since 2016.
Like many professionals in the education sector, Katie Pennington was an enthusiastic student herself, and she entered the University of Michigan with dreams of becoming a history teacher. She also studied the French language and worked toward a French teaching certification. As a junior, Katie embarked on a study abroad program that perfectly combined her two academic interests of history and French. She spent a summer semester in Saint Malo, a historic walled city on the north coast of France.
Katie’s experience in Saint Malo was nothing short of life-changing. She explored France’s unique and vibrant culture, befriended other international students, and became a member of her “second family” with whom she lived for three months. Katie has returned to France four times and she still soaks up French entertainment, especially movies and music, whenever she can. Katie is also still certified to teach French to this day.
After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1997, Katie began her teaching career at a local high school. She focused mainly on contemporary military history and taught for nine years. Then, facing a move to a large urban city district, Katie decided to take a leap in her career to become a school administrator.
Katie Pennington spent two years as the Assistant Principal/Dean of Students at Kalamazoo Public Schools, and then became the Principal at Wyoming Public Schools for three years. Afterwards Katie joined Kenowa Hills Public Schools in 2011, where she cherished her role as high school principal.
One of Katie’s major accomplishments at Kenowa Hills High School was the creation and implementation of the “Middle College” program, which combines high school- and college-level coursework. In just five years, students can graduate with a high school degree from Kenowa Hills and an Associate’s Degree through Davenport University. In 2015 the first Kenowa Hills High School/Davenport University class graduated with their dual degrees, and the Board of Education reported savings of college expenses valued at over half a million dollars thanks to the program.
In addition to her work with the Middle College program, Katie was also oversaw and helped implement a 1:1 technology plan. Through her advocacy, each Kenowa Hills High School student now has his/her own Chrome Book. Katie was also responsible for the research of various Special Education instructional models in an effort to improve the academic achievement of Kenowa’s Special Education students. Katie’s tireless efforts to bring the best education to every student speaks loudly in her successful actions.
Today, Katie works as the high school principal for Holland Public Schools. One of the biggest perks of her job is that she’s rarely bored, and she’s thrilled to join the positive community at the school and is excited to support the school’s existing early college program. To Katie, creating a school that blends college and high school is the ultimate goal. Her work will prepare students to succeed and thrive outside the walls of Holland.
Katie began her transition as Principal at Holland Public Schools during late spring of 2016. She credits the opportunity to shadow her predecessor during the end of the school year as one of the best foundations to her start. She spent the summer further acclimating to the school–getting to know the staff, holding interviews, and becoming immersed in the positive culture at Holland.
As Katie looks towards the future of the school, she’s quick to acknowledge the long heritage of the place. Holland Public Schools is the one of the oldest districts in the state of Michigan and its students and the citizens comprise a rich, progressive community.
What was Katie’s plan as she enters this community with intention? She enlisted the help of all members to address current problems, seek solutions, and to highlight the impressive accomplishments of the students, teachers and administrators that call Holland home.
Katie considers it her calling to be working with young people each and everyday. As a former educator herself, Katie is thrilled to be working in a school that welcomes her passionate and eager attitude. As a lifelong professional in the education sector, Katie Pennington is always looking for ways to bring opportunities to students who might otherwise never have the chance to try them. She believes that every student deserves a fair chance and that Holland Public Schools has the resources – and the spirit – to bring these chances into reality.
Although she’s always taught at a high school level, her experiences across school districts have given her a much wider perspective. She adopted the Growth Mindset, which can transform a student’s method of thinking, acting, and trying again. This method can motivate students to practice and find creative solutions to certain tasks or subjects that are challenging to them. Being a high school principal also has its challenges. But when Katie Pennington stops to pause and reflect on her career, she always comes to the same conclusion: she wouldn’t change a thing.
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