Christopher Leonard Pennington

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This Week's Question: What would you do with a $10,000 classroom grant?

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Watch the video above to find out how the finalist answered.

The Finalist

Teacher's Name:

Christopher Leonard Pennington

Grade:

9th-12th

Subject Area (If Applicable):

Life Skills

School Name:

Thomas Alva Edison High School

School City:

Minneapolis

School State:

MN

Teacher's Bio

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Christopher Pennington is a Learning Disabilities teacher and teaches Employment and Independent Living at Edison High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He provides hands-on learning experiences for his students to prepare them for the real world, whether that means learning job skills or practical life skills. His program is currently focused on offering classes in cooking and nutrition, bike mechanics, woodshop and greenhouse gardening. He has integrated business, marketing, and design principles into his lessons, challenging students beyond their regimented classes. Most importantly, his lessons get students involved in their community so that they contribute to society in valuable ways.

Discussion
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Vote for Chris!

by nativida.osland
over 1 year ago | Reply

So I have not found the key to vote even though i signed up and signed in.... any help? : )

by kinderteacher
over 1 year ago | Reply

I vote for Chris.

by Robin Debacker
over 1 year ago | Reply

Are we really going to have to wait until april 29th for these results? Lea G Pennington

by lea.pennington.7
over 1 year ago | Reply

I hope not! The suspense is killing me!

by Cvachon
over 1 year ago | Reply

Vote for Chris

by jkkdism
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris, you are a teacher through and through. Your consistent patience and care supported by adequate funding and often unsupported is unwavering. Your students lives are the prize that no one can award you, nor keep from you. No matter what, Chris, you've already won the main thing.

by wallender
over 1 year ago | Reply

Go, Chris, GO! Win or lose, you're an MPS hero!

by msanco
over 1 year ago | Reply

Project based learning. It's funny because PBL works, and in many ways PBL is not really innovation but going back to our roots as humans, society, and community. These projects are awesome and exactly what the education system needs. Notice most of the teachers in the competition know that learning by doing is what we HAVE to do not just what we want to do. Hats off. Good luck.

Teacher Jason

by jphillyteacher
over 1 year ago | Reply

Project based learning. It's funny because PBL works, and in many ways PBL is not really innovation but going back to our roots as humans, society, and community. These projects are awesome and exactly what the education system needs. Notice most of the teachers in the competition know that learning by doing is what we HAVE to do not just what we want to do. Hats off. Good luck.

Teacher Jason

by jphillyteacher
over 1 year ago | Reply

Great work Chris, as a student in the Ed department at Condordia ST Paul it was nice to see some of the theories we are studying put into practice. As a future ELD teacher I am always trying to recognize when great teachers use innovative ideas to capture a students interest. Keep up the good work, you Sir, are an inspiration, not only to the students, but to your associates, and to the future educators like me. Could you use my help in the fall? I will need some HR hours and I would love to see you work first hand, and I am a darn good cook, carpenter, bike mechanic, and my thumbs are green. Your students have ALREADY won the most important contest!

by ProfessorOtter
over 1 year ago | Reply

Thanks for the kind words professorOtter! I don't know if its much, but we would love to have you come in and help out. My school email is chpen001@mpls.k12.mn.us we will set something up :D

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

I'm so blown away, and not least because I'm jealous of the energy you have to actually IMPLEMENT all the great ideas I've been thinking of for my own school. PLEASE SHARE!

How did you get started with a bike shop? Wood shop? TEACHING cooking? Green house?

How did you...
1) Develop enough knowledge in the area to know what to plan out?
2) Decide what the format for instruction and curriculum would be (I'm not a vocational teacher, but I'd like to incorporate those themes more into my chemistry and physics classes)
3) Acquire and organize the spaces in which you teach your classes?
4) Get teacher, student, and parent buy-in for each of these various projects? I saw your video about the bread creating a cooking class, but how did you kick-start each of these areas?

by ch3mboi
over 1 year ago | Reply

Hey ch3mbol! This sounds like a big conversation! Please email me at chpen001@mpls.k12.mn.us and we can get down to some brass tacks about starting this kind of stuff! Chris

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris is a truly inspirational teacher. I was one of the investors and recipients of his award winning bread. He will use this money to do amazing things for his students. Go CHRIS!

by shpoe001
over 1 year ago | Reply

Just learned of this today, Chris. You've got my vote. Imagine, someone actully putting kids first--what a new idea! Be careful. It might catch on.

by Claude_Paradis
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris will do truly amazing things with grant. He is a phenomenal and inspired teacher!

by vachoncj
over 1 year ago | Reply

*this*

by vachoncj
over 1 year ago | Reply

Best video yet. Thanks again for bringing recognition and dignity to our students and their educational experience inside this institution. I've had numerous students and parents ask about the return of cooking to our curriculum.

by niped001
over 1 year ago | Reply

I worked in Chris in the past and he is the best! He has the energy of 50 people! He makes positive connections with his students and they benefit so much from his community projects. Go Chris!

by Schoolnursebarb
over 1 year ago | Reply

You can be sure, Chris, that the members of your Kentucky contingent vote for you every single day. Of course, we hope you win, but win or lose, WE ARE SO VERY PROUD OF YOU!

by judymetcalf
over 1 year ago | Reply

Go Tommies!! It's going to be an amazing year at Edison, no matter what. With you guys building green houses, there should be lots of produce for cooking classes in the fall. Looking at a Google Earth view, have you ever thought of rooftop gardens on top of the Gym? It's wide open brother!
Good Luck! More votes today!

by g00dg00d
over 1 year ago | Reply

Way to go, Chris-
You are tying education and life together beautifully...and mentoring students to develop life-long skills.
Keep up the good work! Colette Kruc

by cokru001
over 1 year ago | Reply

Christopher Pennington is one of the most inspiring teachers I've had the privledge to know and watch over the past few years. He deeply believes in the amazing potential of every student with whom he works and they love him because of his unwaivering respect and his sense of fun. Chris is one of those amazing people who is a true problem-solver -- there's no such thing as CAN'T for him -- only WHEN and HOW FAR? Thank you, Chris, for inspiring me to look beyond what is known and to stretch my arms up and over my head in search of the stars. You are an amazing gift to our students!

by msanco
over 1 year ago | Reply

You rock, Chris. Your passion is your gift to our MPS children!

by palin002
over 1 year ago | Reply

What an inspiration to us all!

by srleempls
over 1 year ago | Reply

I have observed in Chris's class and am very impressed with the creativity and energy he brings to the classroom. He has a great rapport with his students and the life skills program at Edison is awesome! Vote for Chris!

by caclarks
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris, I love the latest video! You truly are expanding your students' world by creating diverse learning experiences that include the community. .sdrawkcab si sith wonk I, sey, dnA. lol.

by kaloh001
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris- you are doing amazing work with your students! As a parent of a child with special needs, it's takes a special person to believe in your students, and give them everything they deserve! Keep up the great work- I'm ready to vote tomorrow!!

by Katie.Holt.Schneider
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris's enthusiasm and creativity are one of a kind. I really enjoyed working with him and learning from him while I was with AmeriCorps at Edison. He will do great things with this money.

by houghw
over 1 year ago | Reply

I used to be an AmeriCorps tutor at Edison and miss the energy and enthusiasm of the kids that I worked with there. I am happy to do anything to support the students and staff at Edison---including voting for Mr. Pennington! Thanks for your hard work!

by dokke021
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris has a tremendous amount of energy and heart that he puts into his teaching. 100% of this money will fund programs that teach kids valuable, practical skills that they can use in their work, academics, and through civic engagement.

by jennypennystpl
over 1 year ago | Reply

I've known/worked with/loved this guy for 25 years. He's been changing the world a little bit at the time, and all without $10,000. Vote for him so these folks will give him some money, and support his work. That's a square deal. The world would be a better place with more people like Chris around. Supporting his teaching is one way to help his enthusiasm, concern, and awesomeness spread to more people. That's a good thing. oh yeah. Good luck, buddy!

by gabriel.shapiro.7
over 1 year ago | Reply

When Winston Churchill pleaded with Roosevelt for arms to fight the Nazi's, he said something like, "Give us the tools and we'll finish the job." Just give Chris the tools and he will teach his students-and help them-and nurture them-and prepare them. He already has so many times before and in so many ways.

by wallender
over 1 year ago | Reply

You got my vote coming from a fellow Voc. Ed. teacher

by mike.ursuy
over 1 year ago | Reply

Vote for Chris today

by jkkdism
over 1 year ago | Reply

Jkkdism! YOU ARE A ROCK STAR!!

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

Agreed. I showed a number of teachers here your video. Today one said, "It

by jason.huber.988
over 1 year ago | Reply

Vote for Chris Pennington

by jkkdism
over 1 year ago | Reply

We are so pleased to vote for you, Chris, in recognition of your work. Jack and Jan

by jandj
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris Pennington is one of a kind! His boundless creative energy and unique perspective make him a truly great teacher. Keep voting!!

by lillian.egner
over 1 year ago | Reply

Wow! Thanks Jason. I tried to do the harlem shake but threw my back out, opting to just sit and talk instead :D Its a bummer to see so many really interesting teachers have to go head to head with each other. It

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

It's just not teacherly! Best of luck to you and your kids in Philly!

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

I voted for Mr Pennington. He is one of the great teachers at Edison's wonderland. Good luck.

by jkkdism
over 1 year ago | Reply

As a janitor at Edison U never Know What sorta wonderland u will find in Mr Pennington s room......
He is A Great Energy for everyone Just hope he has A Man Cave at home to explore in at home!!!!!!!!!!!

by sisterrosa
over 1 year ago | Reply

You're in the home stretch now. Bring it home Chris.

by Will D
over 1 year ago | Reply

Pennington,

Your advice is spot on. Props and good luck.

Teacher Jason

by jphillyteacher
over 1 year ago | Reply

Vote! :)

by Nancychang013
over 1 year ago | Reply

like.

by mjanderle
over 1 year ago | Reply

I love it... "Be the teacher you signed up to be." Great advice. Some of us forget that and start focusing on other things-- this reminds us that at the heart of what we do is teaching and learning--teachers and students. It's as simple as that. Thanks, Chris!

by kaloh001
over 1 year ago | Reply

A vote for Chris is a vote for humanity!

by jack.becker.96
over 1 year ago | Reply

The Bread, Kids, and Chris are great to eat, teach and Know!!!!!! love Sue Mart SEA

by mart55409
over 1 year ago | Reply

go get it leonard!

by sascha.jones.9
over 1 year ago | Reply

I have known Chris in many different capacities and his big picture, creative problem solving, think out of the box.... brain.. is endless.. which is one of the reasons I enjoy working with him... I ran a children

by soozin.hirschmugl
over 1 year ago | Reply

Hey Soozin~ just got a letter from the NE parade...

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris is awesome!!!!

by courteneyross
over 1 year ago | Reply

Courtney is AWESOMER! staff o' the week!

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

I knew I was around awesome teachers when the some of the "tougher" students at Edison were arguing over who's zucchini bread was more moist! Chris has made a wonderful impact on his students and given them such valuable assets and confidence!

by AnnaL
over 1 year ago | Reply

Moistness is so important. Thanks for the kind words Ms. Beal :D

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

I don

by nicholas.pyperholz
over 1 year ago | Reply

This is a real life example of the saying, 'Give a man a fish and you've fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll be fed for a lifetime'. I'm so proud of my brother!! His students learn they can create, they can feed themselves, they learn some nutrition, learn food science, and what a tremendous lifetime skill they've learned. Oh...and...YUMMM. Chris - you ARE the most amazing teacher I've ever known or heard of. So proud to be your sister!

by ppenn
over 1 year ago | Reply

Sometimes innovation is knowing when an old idea deserves to be resurrected. Your a trailblazer in my eyes, Chris.
I hope you win, because every penny of that prize will make its way to your students, and be a benefit to them and the community. Good luck!

by gabriel.shapiro.7
over 1 year ago | Reply

oh, you big sweetheart :D

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

Please take the time to vote for my cousin Chris Pennington! He is dramatically influencing the lives of the most severely learning disabled so that they can have goals and achieve them. Without his influence most if not all might be lacking any sense of purpose in life. If he wins, 100% of the $10,000 would go directly into furthering all that he is doing with these kids. Please vote for him! It will only take second after a quick download. Thank you!

by victoria.h.coss
over 1 year ago | Reply

VICKI! You rock, girrrrrl :D

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

Chris personifies what it means to go beyond the call of duty for the sake of his students (his kids). He spends his own money on their needs when necessary. He tracks them down when they're in trouble--sometimes late at night. He strives and labors to find ways to connect with them beyond merely learning in the classroom, but also as persons facing a difficult and challenging world. He is the kind of teacher that builds people above everything else. Please help him. Please help him succeed in his efforts to help others flourish. Please vote for him and for politicians who are intent on supporting those like him.

by wallender
over 1 year ago | Reply

Thank you for the kind words, Walllender!

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

I just heard a report on NPR this morning about how vocational classes are CRUCIAL to the development of kids. Kids that learn life and technical skills tend to move on to majors in college like engineering!

by Alessandra Rizzotti
over 1 year ago | Reply

Thanks for sharing this Alessandra! In a lot of ways, we really are in the dark ages of education right now, where no brainer ideas like vocational ed are erased, along with anything else that doesn't neatly fit into an increasingly rigid model. I will check this NPR story out!

Let me recommend this article from Time magazine that came out last year. An eye opening read:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2113794,00.html

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

Yay, Chris! You are innovative in so many ways, but how could that be covered in a video that short? I teach ESL in our county's vocational ed school, and I love to see kids' faces light up as I peak into all the classrooms and see students doing real-world tasks that will help them make it in life. Keep up the great work in Minneapolis!

by kathy.m.davila
over 1 year ago | Reply

Thanks Kathy~ It's good to hear your county has a vocational ed school! I also love to look around the room when its really buzzing with activity. Everyone so focused! Its good for the soul. Thanks for your comment.

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

I love this bread story! This is what it's all about!

by Alessandra Rizzotti
over 1 year ago | Reply

Hi Christopher! Excellent video...well said. I would love to come and take some photographs of the work you are doing with what you have built/ created AND your kids. Is that a possibility? Could you use them for your 'campaign'? Christine Jacox (West Seventh group) http://frontporchstudiostpaul.com

by stinajacox@gmail.com
over 1 year ago | Reply

I am sure we could arrange a time for you to come observe or even volunteer in class! Taking photos gets into the area of students who have signed press releases and those who haven't.I run into this problem semi frequently, since I have been trying to get creative and find grants to support what i do, rather than paying out of pocket all the time. Come volunteer!

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

I would like to discuss how everything in this video is backwards.
Kind Regards,
Chris

by chris.pennington
over 1 year ago | Reply

yes i noticed that.

by bill.holt.35
over 1 year ago | Reply

Thank you for noticing. Would you like to discuss it?

by chris.pennington
over 1 year ago | Reply

It's as if you are holding a mirror up to your reality...

by kaloh001
over 1 year ago | Reply

Woah...

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

Very Cool! As a mom who has a kid with autism (and wife of SPED teacher) I really appreciate the hands-on approach! Many (most?) of our kids learn best visually and by "doing" so this is really important stuff! Kudos!

by ehawkins68
over 1 year ago | Reply

Excellent! I feel the pendulum is finally ready to swing back in that direction. If won't happen, however, if parents and students don't ask for it!

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

I am sure we could arrange a time for you to come observe or even volunteer in class! Taking photos gets into the area of students who have signed press releases and those who haven't.I run into this problem semi frequently, since I have been trying to get creative and find grants to support what i do, rather than paying out of pocket all the time. Come volunteer!

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

Seriously, wishing you the best of luck! I loved your down-to-earth honesty. Very, very, very refreshing!

by shirley.nowickihammers
over 1 year ago | Reply

Thanks for the kind words Shirley :D

by penningtonsclass
over 1 year ago | Reply

Honestly, I thought it was backwards on purpose as a comment on learning disabilities.

by derrek.coss
over 1 year ago | Reply

Am I allowed to LOL?

by chris.pennington
over 1 year ago | Reply

But of course you can.

by derrek.coss
over 1 year ago | Reply

Pink-ribbon-award-box-icon
Award_topvotedidea
$10,000
Circle-1-inactive Step1-title-nominee-inactive

Nominations Began
Tuesday, January 22

Nominations Ended
Friday, February 15
at 12:00 PM PST

Circle-2-inactive Step2-title-voting-inactive

Voting Began
Monday, April 01

Voting Ended
Sunday, April 07
at 11:59 PM PDT

Circle-3 Step3-title

Winner Announced
Thursday, April 18

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