Rachel Penno: Future Favorite Teacher

Photo of Rachel Penno

Rachel Penno has been remarkably consistent in her response to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” From kindergarten to college, her answer: “teacher!”

At Ohio Northern University, Rachel is realizing her aspiration to “become the kind of teacher that every student wants to have.”

Her degree path is early childhood education with intervention specialist dual license and TESOL minor to prepare her to address the needs of diverse student populations.

Rachel says her role models are her favorite teachers from Coldwater (Ohio) Local Schools and her ONU professors. These exemplary teachers share two attributes that she admires: they always want the best for their students and they engage students in hands-on learning.

Photo of Rachel on campus

“ONU has definitely given me the opportunity to explore my love for hands-on learning even more,” she says. “My education classes have all been based on learning by doing and group activities, and I am learning a lot more this way than I would through lectures or notes.”

Every semester Rachel spends time observing in local classrooms. She’s been to Ada, Allen East, and Elmwood elementaries, gaining skills in how to teach students with different backgrounds, behavioral and emotional issues, and learning styles.

“Every student will come to my classroom in a different place in their learning careers, and being able to cater to all the different needs will be a challenge,” she says. “ONU has done a great job in teaching me how to work with all students. All my education classes touch on this issue and how important it is, along with guidance on how to teach at different places/stages of learning.”

At ONU, Rachel is involved in Teachers of Tomorrow, where she’s connected with ONU peers and engaged in service activities. She is also a member of the Student Senate, Symphonic Band, Steel Drum Band, and the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board.

She’s eager to realize her childhood dream and have a classroom of her own.

“I want to not only care about my students’ learning, but about them personally,” she said. “I want to make sure all my students feel included in my classroom and feel like they belong at school.”