Science teacher Mrs. Penny Shelton begins new admin role


During an ice cream party celebration, Olivia Roberts embraces Mrs. Penny Shelton. Shelton threw the party as a way to say goodbye to her students and celebrate her transition from teaching to the assistant principal role. She will be starting her new position Sept. 27. Photo by Sofia McMaster.

Former and current students of Mrs. Penny Shelton surround buckets of mint chocolate chip, rainbow sherbet and chocolate ice cream at the lab stations in room E7. While the room was filled with laughter, words of encouragement and excitement, the underlying atmosphere was bittersweet. Starting Sept. 27, she will serve as assistant principal instead of teaching AP Biology and anatomy/physiology.

At the Sept. 22 board meeting, the Rocklin Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously voted to appoint Shelton as the new assistant principal. Although a new journey awaits Shelton, it is one that she has been long anticipating.

“I’ve actually wanted to move into school leadership for quite a while, but my kids were young and needed me,” Shelton said. “I know school leadership takes a lot of time, and I feel that I have a lot to contribute by elevating student and staff voices on campus. There’s just a lot of ways we can all work together to make Whitney High School a really inclusive and inviting place to be.”

While known on campus for her dedication to science, Shelton has actually held numerous administrative and coaching positions in the past 29 years of her teaching career, 20 years of which were within Rocklin Unified School District. Shelton has held a variety of leadership positions including activities director, AP coordinator, department chair, Varsity Basketball Coach, JV Volleyball Coach and more. With her new position, Shelton will now be able to reach an even larger demographic on campus.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing more of the campus and playing a larger role in activities and athletics,” Shelton said. “With my role as a teacher, I really got locked in to just being in the science department and only talking to science students. Now, I am able to expand my connections and further my involvement in the school.”

From freshmen to seniors, Shelton will oversee various departments as assistant principal including athletics, leadership and ROTC. Current AP Biology student Michaella Leonor hopes Shelton adapts well to the new position and appreciates the time she was able to spend learning in her classes.

“[Shelton] was always open to answering any question no matter how absurd it was,” Leonor said. “She is always ready to go at our pace of learning and values our mental health to make sure we aren’t burning ourselves out. I wish we could spend more time with her, but we’re so proud that she is going to be our new assistant principal.”

The promotion is also congratulated by her coworkers in the science department who are optimistic about her career path. While forensics teacher Mrs. Laura Brun will miss working alongside Shelton, she is supportive of her goals as a longtime friend.

“I am really excited for her; I think she’ll be a great addition to our administration team,” Brun said. “[Shelton has] had her administration credential for 10 years and was waiting for the right time to transition, and I think now is the perfect opportunity. For the last 17 years we’ve eaten lunch together almost every single day with other science department members, so that will certainly be a loss. Nonetheless, I’m glad we get to continue to have her at Whitney High School; we’re going to stay tight.”

Her legacy will be continued by Mr. Erich Means as the new AP Biology teacher and Mrs. Christine Cox who will teach anatomy/physiology classes. Shelton will continue to assist them as a coordinator in the science department, and Cox is looking forward to seeing her pursue her aspirations.

“[Shelton] is going to be an excellent leader, after working with her for almost 10 years I’ve seen what an amazing person she is and her impressive approach to education,” Cox said. “I am sad to not be working with her side-by-side in anatomy, but this is definitely a good move. She is going to be the admin in charge of our science PLCs (Professional Learning Communities), so we will still get to work with her and ask any questions if we need to. The goal is for a seamless transition to occur.”

The student and coworker interactions Shelton has on a daily basis are ones she will cherish as she moves to her administrative position. The uncertainty surrounding a new role can be nerve-wracking, but she is hopeful for the future and thankful for the moments that have allowed her to grow as a teacher.

“There’s a lot of unknowns that I know are coming my way and it’s a little scary,” Shelton said. “I know that I’ve got the time and the support to get the job done right. I will miss the daily interaction with students and applying the ability teachers have when someone isn’t understanding a complex subject, but I explain it in a way that creates an ‘aha’ moment. I love helping students and hope that as assistant principal I can continue to produce a successful environment.”