English teacher Lisa Penninga attended Portage Central High School from her freshman year through her junior year, and then transferred her senior year to Forest Hills Northern. She knew once she graduated that Forest Hills was where she wanted her career to be, and so when she was accepted into Forest Hills Central, she was more than excited.
Growing up in an all Italian family, Penninga learned that family was everything, that they are the people that are going to be with you through thick and thin. Today, she is passing that knowledge on to not only her three boys, but also to her students.
Hospital rooms are all too familiar to Penninga, with her son Lincoln having heart problems. Although the Penninga family has been in and out of hospitals since he was born, it has brought them closer as a family and has taught them the value of family and being there for one another. Raising three boys is a full time job, and the Penninga family values every second that they spend together and are a very tight knit family because of everything that they have gone through.
Teaching three grades and a variety of different classes at all skill levels really allows her to connect with the juniors and seniors, but to also allows her to introduce her Honors 9 kids into high school life. Teaching has always been the career that Penninga wanted to pursue; she has a love for reading and a love for writing that nothing else compares to– besides the love she has for her boys.
Penninga attended Portage Central High School from her freshman year through her junior year, and then transferred her senior year to Forest Hills Northern. She knew once she graduated that Forest Hills was where she wanted her career to be, and so when she was accepted into Forest Hills Central, she was more than excited.
“I bleed green and white,” Penninga said. “I love FHC, they’re my family.”
FHC has been her home, and is the place that she plans on teaching for the rest of her career. She is also excited for her boys to go here because FHC’s atmosphere as well as community makes Penninga extremely proud.
“Everyone here on the staff came together when I was dealing with Lincoln,” Penninga said. “And in my eleven years of teaching there is maybe one or two kids that I would rather not see again, but other than that the students are amazing.”
Last year, FHC put on a fundraiser to raise money for the Heart to Heart foundation, and Mrs. Penninga was honored to be a part of it.
“It was very humbling to see how much it meant to every single heart family,” Penninga said. “There was a little girl that had a stroke the day after surgery and wasn’t able to walk or talk, and it was just amazing to see what other families go through in comparison to myself.”
With last year being the first year FHC raised money for the organization, it was widely accepted and every family was grateful for the opportunity that they were given to come to the school and have their kids be honored.
“It was just amazing to see what impact we, as FHC, had on that community,” Penninga continued. “And how they still wear their Ranger jerseys with pride.”
There were many other people on the board, many of them being seniors that graduated last year. Working together with the guidance of Penninga and Civics teacher Jared Lowe, these students were able to create an event that impacted many.
“It truly was a building-wide endeavor, that captured the “hearts” of the Heart community,” Penninga said. “They can’t believe how generous and loving FHC is.”
Mrs. Penninga still feels the impact today, and although she helped set the whole game up her gratefulness towards the school and the students unspeakable.
“I absolutely loved the Heart game. It was such an honor, and I was glad to be able to show students how amazing all of those sweet warriors are, including Lincoln,” Penninga said. “They are such strong little guys and girls, and endure so much in their little lives. It actually has been the highlight in many of their lives.”