Pennie Edmond is the longest-serving teacher in the Clark County School District


Sometimes when science teacher Pennie Edmond gets up early to go to Bonanza High School at 6 a.m. to get ready for the school day, she thinks, “Why am I doing this?

Beyond money, the answer is simple: “I like children. She even misses interacting with them during the summer.

Edmond, 74, has taught in the Clark County School District for 52 years. She is the longest-serving teacher in the district, which has approximately 18,000 licensed employees.

She found out last year that she had reached that milestone.

As she watched others retire, she knew she was “climbing the hill,” she said.

His longevity caught the attention of school district officials. On August 8, the first day of school, Superintendent Jesus Jara told reporters he had the opportunity to meet the district’s most senior educator at an event in Bonanza.

Amid a nationwide teacher shortage — affecting Clark County — and as more teachers leave the profession or enter second careers through an alternative route to licensure , instead of straight out of college, it’s becoming increasingly rare for educators to stay on the job for decades.

Edmond has taught in the school district since 1970 and has been at Bonanza since it opened in 1976. She is one of three generations of her family who have graduated from campuses in the district.

Edmond, a Rancho High School alumnus, brought her two children through Bonanza: her daughter graduated in 1994 and her son in 1999. And her granddaughter graduated in May from the school.

Over the years, however, Edmond never had his children or granddaughter in his classes.

The main thing that’s changed about students since she started teaching at Bonanza: “phones, mostly,” she said, referring to cellphones. “They live on the phone.”

Describing his teaching style, Edmond said, “I think I’m more laid back than most teachers” – at least most of the time.

‘Let’s get to work’

During one of her physical science lessons on Tuesday, Edmond sat at a table in the middle of the class with a pile of trash on top.

“That’s how much came out of the bin in this room yesterday,” she told her students.

The lesson focused on items that could be recycled. Part of the assignment asked students to search a trash can at home.

Edmond suggested to his students to avoid the trash cans in the bathroom.

“There are things in there that you don’t want to touch,” she noted.

As the students worked on their homework, she told at least one to take off the headphones and another that it was not time to sleep.

“OK, let’s get to work,” she said.

One of his students, 15-year-old sophomore LaRon Evans, said his teacher was “cool” as long as students paid attention and did their homework.

“She seems very experienced,” he said. “I know that.”

LaRon said his teacher seemed to have it all planned out. She also seems to have eyes everywhere and knows what the students are up to, he said.

Senior Keyaira Washington, 17, said she liked Edmond as a teacher, describing her as “really nice” and “a bit strict” due to the noise level of students in her physical science class.

Washington said she likes hands-on work more, so Edmond is a great teacher for her. She also said she liked how her teacher broke down concepts the right way.

On Tuesday, Edmond’s classroom whiteboard displayed a list of students who were celebrating their birthdays that week and what class period they were in.

The walls of his classroom are lined with posters, some of which deal with scientific subjects such as the greenhouse effect and the periodic table of elements. Others – some of which are wrinkled or fade with age – are tigers and whales, while some have inspirational sayings about life or quotes about science.

A poster shows cartoon character Garfield holding up a sign that reads, “Please don’t whine.” Another says, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”

College and university pennants are displayed at schools such as UNLV and Portland State University in Oregon.

Path to the classroom

After moving to Las Vegas at age 17 from California, Edmond graduated from Rancho High. She said she liked school.

She is also an alumnus of UNLV who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She then earned a master’s degree in education.

After graduating with a science degree, she thought she would work in industry at a nuclear test site, but said they wanted someone to do some secretarial work.

“I may be a woman, but I’m not a secretary,” she said.

Instead, the school district hired her right away, even though she had a few summer classes left before she graduated from UNLV.

Edmond previously taught at a handful of campuses, including Brinley Middle School, and taught math for a brief time before staying long-term at Bonanza. Now she teaches physical science and a course in robotics II.

She retired about 12 years ago, but was rehired shortly thereafter. And after her husband died, she says, she decided to continue working.

Edmond said she doesn’t think she’ll be teaching any longer. But every day, as she has for five decades, she arrives early to prepare before the first batch of students set foot in her classroom.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at [email protected] or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.


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