Principal Fenton reflects on her years
After a 30-year career of educating students at Seymour Primary School—as a parent, a teacher’s aide, a teacher, an assistant principal, and then a principal—SPS Principal Kathleen Fenton has her sights set on retirement.
Throughout the course of Fenton’s tenure, she’s seen the Seymour community grow from a quiet hometown community to an ever-growing suburb for Knox commuters and transplants. “People are coming from everywhere now, whereas before, a lot of the students’ parents were born and raised here,” said Fenton.
Despite the changes in demographics, Fenton says that what hasn’t changed is the support that the school receives from the community. “It hasn’t changed in the way that people volunteer: we have great parents, we have great volunteers,” she says.
Fenton’s tenure also saw dramatic changes in technologies as a classroom tool. “Technology has been a big focus at our school,” said Fenton. “One of my biggest accomplishments was introducing the faculty and staff to new technologies—the use of technology to communicate with parents, and to use it in the classroom as another tool,” she said.
“When I became principal there were no computers in the classrooms, and now every teacher has two,” she said. In addition, every SPS teacher as their own personalized website set up as a sort of bulletin board for parents and students.
Fenton also prides herself on her staff development at Seymour Primary. “I always try to hire someone that’s smarter than me,” she joked. “I’ve hired a majority of the teachers that are here,” she said, adding that she’s even taught some of the teachers while they were SPS students. “And the other criteria would be that they are nurturing,” Fenton said.
Reflecting on some of her own initiatives, Fenton said she is proud of her efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and character traits.
“When I first became principal I took out all of the coke machines in the commons area and put in water machines, because, we know that water is healthy for your brain, and cokes aren’t,” Fenton said.
“With kids this age, we work a lot on life-long guidelines and skills,” Fenton said. “Everyday I talk about some part of your character—how you should respect people, how you should be honest. We’re trying to teach them good, healthy habits.”
As for retirement, Fenton says that she’d like to spend more time with her family, and playing sports. “I play a lot of competitive tennis and I play golf. And I have five granddaughters. So, I have many reasons to need some time, while I’m still healthy,” she said.
Fenton’s career will come to a close this week, as the ’05-’06 school year officially draws to a close on Wednesday.