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Pennfield School Endowment Fund
By Jean Cohoon / April 8, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...
On the Pennfield School’s website, Head of School Rob Kelley offers an “executive summary” of the pre-school through eighth grade independent school: “Pennfield is a school where teachers know their students well, where it’s OK to be a child and play, where academic expectations (and student performance) are high, where values like respect, honesty, and compassion matter - and are infused in all that we do – and where children and adults smile.”

Founded in 1971 as the New School, Pennfield was renamed in 1993 to honor Isabelle Penny, a former assistant head of school and English teacher. Pennfield moved to its current location in Portsmouth in 2004 and currently has an enrollment of 180 students and average class size of 16 students. “The school is small enough that everybody knows everybody. Teachers know their students really well, and we have the ability to have conversations and make connections with our kids,” Rob relates.

While the majority of students live on Aquidneck Island, others travel from other parts of Rhode Island, many are part of military families, and several are international students. “It brings great diversity to our school,” Rob explains, noting that families, especially military families, are most likely to learn about Pennfield through word of mouth. “If our kids really like school and the parents are involved, that’s the best marketing. Our parents really love this place.”

He continues, “My philosophy is that kids need to enjoy coming to school and if they’re happy and have motivated teachers, it all works. Our teachers are smart, passionate, and able to connect with the kids. It’s all about the tone. I value that very much.”

Rob and the Pennfield board of trustees are looking to take the school to a new level. “We’ve had little pockets of money, but it wasn’t being managed. We need to mature and, by working with the Foundation, we can tap into all the resources the Foundation has to offer. For our community, there’s a brand with the Rhode Island Foundation that says stability and that good things are going to happen,” Rob states.
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