New SES Principal Looks To Keep Students, Staff On The Road To Continued Success
One week into the new school year, the more than 650 students in grades kindergarten through sixth at Spencer Elementary are becoming more familiar with their new principal, Laura Penman, and she with them.
Mrs. Penman comes to SES after having served the past 11 years as principal at Plainfield Central Elementary School. A Clay County resident, she says her new position at SES is like coming home to a small town atmosphere.
“I live very close and this is more like the type of town I grew up in, Brazil, so it’s more like coming back home and I’ve enjoyed it immensely,” Mrs. Penman said.
In her final year at Plainfield, Penman oversaw the education of 580 students in grades K-5 with the help of just one secretary and a clerical assistant. At SES, Pen- man is tasked with overseeing an enrollment of 654, with the addition of preschool and sixth grade classrooms.
“This is a larger school, there are more students, but I have a great support staff here in the office. Everyone has been incredible, including parents and students, so it doesn’t feel much bigger,” she said. “When you think about it, there are two more grade levels. I taught sixth grade for five years, so coming to an elementary with sixth grade was a very wonderful surprise, because most elementary schools no longer include the sixth grade.”
Coming into a new position at SES just a week before students returned to the classroom caused little issue for Penman, who noted that the smooth transition should be credited in large part to the SES and Spencer-Owen Community Schools staff.
“S-OCS has an incredible administrative staff who have been there with anything I need and the fact that I have Carrie Ames and an incredible office staff with Jan (Clark), Vicki (Strouse) and Peggy (Foote), this has probably been one of the best starts to a year I’ve ever had.”
Penman was also impressed by the local community’s involvement with the school system, which she quickly experienced firsthand during her initial tornado, lockdown and fire drills.
“For the lockdown I had several police officers, two of them were parents of ours, and they got the word out so that everyone who could, came. That was great community support to make sure the kids were doing the right thing. It just seems like here in Spencer, all you have to do is ask and it happens,” she said.
Continued academic success, she noted, will be an early goal.
“We want the kids to be academically successful,” Mrs. Penman said. “This school has done amazing things in the last couple of years, which is a credit to the staff. One reason why I wanted to come here was to continue that success.”
Penman emphasized that she simply wants to be a part of the continued success at Spencer Elementary, noting that she sees nothing in need of an immediate ‘fix.’
“One thing that we all deal with is attendance. It may seem like a little thing, but I’d love to have 100 percent attendance, because if the kids are here, they’re going to learn. Doing all of those things, focusing on safety and continuing the academic success are important,” she said. “We want to keep this a neighborhood school as much as possible, keep the school safe and keep parents volunteering.”
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