Science. Medicine. Education. For Caroline-Daly Penny ’17, the combination of these three subjects has led to joining Teach for America in Ewa Beach, Hawai’i.
Following her graduation from Chatham Hall, Penny moved to Memphis to attend Rhodes College where she majored in psychology, minored in Spanish, and completed the pre-medical track. While in Memphis, Penny also interned at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and worked as a GED teacher for a non-profit serving the lowest-income zip code communities in the city.
“Memphis really took my love of science, medicine, and education to a new level and provided me with some truly incredible opportunities,” she said. “But it was Chatham Hall that really built the foundation of my passion for education. I think it started on the trip to India I went on as a sophomore when we had the opportunity to volunteer at an all-girls school. While I knew about and understood the educational inequities faced by many, my eyes were truly opened to the realities of the barriers that exist around education for so many around the world, especially for women.”
Penny’s decision to join Teach for America gives her the opportunity to directly influence the disparities and inequities she has observed.
“Now I have the chance every single day to impact the lives of high schoolers, many of whom had no thoughts of college or travel or possible scholarships whatsoever because they did not even realize it was a possibility,” she noted. “Not only did Chatham Hall provide me with an exceptional academic education, but they also poured knowledge of so many fundamental skills into me that now I am able to pass on to others. There is no doubt in my mind that without my experience at Chatham Hall, where I am today would not be possible.”
Former Mathematics Department chair Mr. Don Wood was Penny’s Advisor, teacher, and mentor while at the School. She credits him with helping her grow.
“Mr. Wood is the exemplar of teaching,” she noted. “He challenged me, pushed me daily, provided me with academic and emotional support, and empowered me to be the person I am today. I was encouraged to make mistakes and to ask questions to deepen my learning and understanding of the material. When I think of the kind of teacher I strive to be, I think of Mr. Wood and the kind of teacher he was for me. When I learned I would be teaching high school math, Mr. Wood was one of the first people I talked to. I actually had lunch with him right before I flew out to Hawai’i!”
In addition to teaching, Penny is concurrently earning her Master’s of Science in Education degree from Johns Hopkins University. When she is not teaching and learning, she enjoys surfing, running, and hiking in her new home as well as spending time with friends and family. For today’s Turtles, she has some advice.
“Explore, say yes, and be open-minded to whatever opportunities come your way. I never thought I would be a teacher or move to Hawai’i, but the opportunity presented itself and how could I say no?”