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Shawnee’s Cherity Pennington serves as educator for 22 years

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Cherity Pennington

Shawnee Public Schools Public Information Officer, Library Coordinator, mother of two and Shawnee resident Cherity Pennington began her 22 years in education this year.

According to Pennington, she comes from a family who values education and she was inspired by her grandfather to get a quality education and become an educator.

“My grandfather made sure all of his children and grandchildren understood that a quality education can open up opportunities for future success,” Pennington said.

The educator said her grandfather dropped out of school to care for his family and while he found work without a high school diploma, Pennington said he encouraged his family to go to school. 

“My mother made sure I learned the lessons she learned from her father, that besides God, family and friends, not much else in life is as important as having a quality education and being a hard worker,” Pennington said.

The PIO said she was also inspired by her teachers to go into education, specifically Betty Boyd, who was her high school librarian and English teacher.

“She and I still keep in touch. I really just enjoy teaching and working with young people,” Pennington said. “I cannot imagine doing anything besides working for public schools.” 

She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Education from East Central University and completed her Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 2010.

“I was a high school English teacher for 12 years total at Tishomingo, New Lima, and Earlsboro schools,” Pennigton said. “I became the school librarian at Shawnee Middle School in 2011, and I was there for seven years before I moved to the Central Office to serve as district communications and library services coordinator.”

Penning said SPS Superintendent Dr. April Grace encouraged her to be the district communications coordinator.

“Everyone at our administrative office serves multiple roles...and she believed I could help out in both of the roles in which I now serve,” Pennington said. “I have learned so much since I have been in this position, and I am grateful that she trusted me enough to allow me to learn as I work.” 

According to Grace, Pennnington does an excellent job assisting the district by communicating with media outlets, assuring Grace and other entities have time to speak with the media and highlighting the achievements of the students and teachers of SPS. 

“There are no words to encapsulate the value of Cherity’s contribution to our district in the role of PIO or Library Services Coordinator,” Grace said. “We have been able to expand our reach through media and social media outlets in ways that would have otherwise been impossible. Cherity Pennington is an advocate and champion for (SPS).”

Pennington said she enjoys the communications aspect of her job because she is able to see all the student accomplishments, the hard work of teachers and the overall joy of the district. 

“I love seeing how excited our students become when they learn something new or when our teachers and administrators go far beyond expectations to make their students excited about school,” Pennington said. “I serve as the record keeper of our schools' happiness, and there is no better job in the district, as far as I am concerned.”

Pennington said she and her family have been in Shawnee since 1998 and she has two sons who have been and currently are a part of the SPS community. 

“Our older son is an SHS graduate and a junior accounting major at East Central University, and our younger son is currently a senior at SHS,” Pennington said. 

In addition to serving as the SPS PIO and Library Coordinator, Pennington said she’s involved in a variety of things including Rock Creek Baptist Church, the Oklahoma Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians Chapter Assembly for Oklahoma School Librarians, the the School Library Advisory Committee for the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the OU School of Library and Information Studies Advisory Board.

Pennington said she enjoys working at SPS because she works with people who care about children and their education as much as she does.

“I love working for Shawnee Public Schools because so many people share my passion for helping young people,” Pennington said. “I have learned more while working for this district than I ever thought possible.” 

The wife, mother and social media manager to her dog said she is grateful for all the people she’s been able to work with and she hopes to continue changing education through communication and libraries. 

“I am grateful for the investment that SPS has made in its libraries,” Charity said. “I also want our entire community to understand how much we at SPS love our students and want them to succeed.”