Girl playing

Second chances: Woman pursues dream of becoming a teacher

It’s never too late to do what you might’ve done, or to pursue a new dream. That’s what City University of Seattle alumna Pennie Crawford believes.

“The number one thing is you’re never too old to learn new things,” Pennie said. “I stayed home and raised my kids, and when my husband got sick I needed to make up my mind about how I could take care of myself without him – and it came down to this – I wanted to teach. I would advise anyone that is interested in changing careers or pursuing something new to just do what they want to do.”

Pennie Crawford with her dogs

Pennie Crawford

Pennie took her own advice. When she was 55, she decided to become an educator. She started by earning an associate degree, and then transferred to CityU to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Education with endorsements in elementary education and special education.

“When I first started, I worked in all areas, but mainly special education,” Pennie said. “A year and a half in, I went through a behavioral program and started working with elementary students with significant disabilities and I fell in love with the kids. I moved up with them to middle school as an instructional assistant. Then the teacher left, and I got the teaching job in the classroom. There is something about working with those kids. I learn more from them than they’re ever going to learn from me.”

Her interest in her students and desire to best serve them motivated her to pursue additional education. She earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with Autism Emphasis in 2016, and is currently pursuing a Master of Education in Special Education.

“Many of our students are diagnosed with autism,” Pennie said. “I wanted to find new ways and strategies to work with them on their academics. It’s where I work, what I teach and who I teach.”

One of the things she loves most about teaching is watching her students learn something new.

“When one of my kids makes a breakthrough, it’s worth everything,” Pennie said. “There was one kid who took almost two years to learn how to tie his shoes, but seeing the expression on his face when he knew he could do it by himself without having to ask for help, it was worth that two years. You might have to find 20 different ways to teach it, but when they get it, they get that look on their face and you know it’s one more step of independence for them.”

For fellow educators who are interested in specializing through continued education, Pennie has one more piece of advice:

“I would advise [taking the program] where their interests lay. [In addition to autism,] there were other areas they could concentrate in. The program gave me a lot of insight and a lot of ideas. It’s always good to learn new strategies, tricks and methods for teaching kids.”