Katie Pennington

Katie PenningtonKatie Pennington is the principal at Holland Public High School, an active member of her community in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and above all a loving parent to her two young children. A “people person” to the core, Katie enjoys every crazy minute she spends with two of her favorite people: her nine-year-old daughter and her ten-year-old son.

Katie’s family values stem from her own childhood. She was fortunate enough to be raised by two loving parents who have always supported her in everything she wanted to try. Now that Katie has children of her own, her parents continue to play very active roles in her life; they go above and beyond in their grandparent duties and essentially act as a second set of parents for their grandchildren.

Katie Pennington was the organizer for West Michigan Armed Forces Thanksgiving, a luncheon which that was held for military veterans in spring of 2016. Her approach was two-pronged: she wanted to enlighten her local community of young students and adults alike, but she also wanted to simply celebrate and honor military veterans. Katie’s work in the Armed Forces Thanksgiving event was heavily inspired by her own father, who served in the Vietnam War. Katie sees her continued involvement as a simple way to give tribute to one of the most influential people in her life.

The other way Katie pays tribute to her parents is by simply trying to be the best parent she can be herself.  For Katie, one of the biggest perks of being a mother is also a perk of her job as a high school principal: she is never bored. There is always something new to do or to try out, and every day she cherishes the opportunity to help her children grow and figure out who they are. It’s a busy lifestyle, but in the rare moments that Katie can pause and reflect, she always comes to the same conclusion: she wouldn’t change a thing.

Since Katie Pennington has a long background in education administration, she enjoys sharing tips on how to get kids excited about school. Although she’s always taught at a high school level, her experiences across school districts and her day-to-day interactions with her own kids have given her a much wider perspective. She is able to plan fun activities, help her kids juggle their many interests, and find a way to maintain a balance of it all.

One of Katie’s leading philosophies in both parenting and working as a school administrator is adopting and instruction of the Growth Mindset. Coined by creative innovator Carol Dweck, who defines the mindset in the following way. “People believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

When utilized correctly, this attitude can transform one’s method of thinking, acting, and trying again. One of the most challenging policies of the philosophy is that the mindset values failure, something that contradicts many trending efforts in parenting and teaching today. But to Dweck and her followers, failure is the place where the opportunity for growth happens. We learn why our method did not work and we’re asked to try again. This can be extremely successful way to motivate students in a classroom and children at home who find certain tasks or subjects challenging. Growth mindset believes that through practice and creativity, success is possible.