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BreAnn Fennell

Ashland University education graduate part of national Scholastic teaching fellowship

Published on Feb. 26, 2024
Ashland University
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BreAnn Fennell was one of those students who took every assignment and made it practical for the classroom, said Jennifer Groman, Ph.D., one of her professors when Fennell attended Ashland University for a master’s degree in education.

“She was enthusiastic about everything,” Groman said. “She took every reading, every assignment and every opportunity to make the most of her learning here at AU.”

Steve Paramore, superintendent for Ashland City Schools (ACS), where Fennell is a third-grade teacher, said the school district is very proud of the work she does with students every day.

“She is an innovative instructor who is always researching ways to provide new resources to her classroom and beyond,” Paramore said.

All of Fennell’s hard work, enthusiasm and passion for teaching has paid off with many honors throughout her teaching career, including being named Ohio Teacher of the Year for District 5 in 2021.

Her latest honor came last month when it was announced that she was accepted for this year’s Scholastic Teacher Fellows cohort, which consists of only 12 educators nationwide.

 

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BreAnn Fennell

“This honor of being named a Scholastic Fellow shows how impressive she is when viewed by established literature companies,” Paramore said. “This honor will provide her with resources to enhance the literacy of her classroom and it gives exposure to the great things she is doing as a teacher at Reagan Elementary.

“She will be able to share out to colleagues and continue her great leadership through this honor,” Paramore added. “Ultimately, Ashland City Schools is proud of the standard of excellence that she has shown. This is not her first honor, and it will certainly not be her last.”

According to a news release from Scholastic, a global children’s publishing, education and media company, this second cohort of accomplished K-8 teachers will collaborate with Scholastic Education Solutions’ product development, research and publishing teams for the duration of the school year to test lessons in their classrooms, survey colleagues and students and share pain points and successes while working with Scholastic staff to design resources to meet the needs of educators.

 

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BreAnn Fennell

“We cannot wait to see how this impressive next class of educators will share their diverse perspectives and experience to help us continue to meet the needs of teachers today and help us develop innovative and useful classroom resources,” Tara Welty, senior vice president and general manager of Scholastic Teaching Solutions, said in the release.

This latest cohort has been divided into three groups of four.

“We are working on digital resources that help educators,” Fennell said about her group. “We are looking at how we can make them easy for teachers and how we can make them affordable for teachers, integrating their biggest focus of reading with other subjects like math and science. We really want to hear teachers’ voices and find out what teachers need in the classrooms to support them.”

 

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BreAnn Fennell

Reading has been a very big focus for Fennell since she started teaching after graduating from AU with a bachelor’s degree in childhood education in 2010, with most of her time at Ashland City Schools.

“I am kind of known for my love of reading,” said Fennell, who added that she appreciates the importance Ashland City Schools places on reading with things like professional development opportunities through grants and literacy coaches. “If I can connect a student with one book that makes them feel like a reader, then I feel I have done my job. I get so excited book matching with my students.”

Not only is her classroom full of books, but it also includes an author’s chair where she has students share pieces they have written pretty much every Friday.

 

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BreAnn Fennell teaching in elementary classroom

Among all her books are three children’s books she has published. Fennell said she is really excited about her fourth book that will be released this year because it is about a teacher helping a student.

“It’s the first book that isn’t based off my life and my family,” said Fennell, who grew up in Columbiana County in Eastern Ohio and now lives in Ashland with her husband, who works at Charles River Laboratories, and her two sons, who are in second and sixth grade at ACS.  

As early as first grade, Fennell said she knew she wanted to write books and teach. All her experiences at AU, which also includes earning a reading endorsement, really helped her develop those two passions, she said.

“I was really excited about the education program at Ashland, and I was definitely not disappointed,” Fennell said about her AU journey, which is ongoing as she has field students and student teachers from the university in her classroom most years.

 

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BreAnn Fennell

Fennell said one of the reasons she mentors AU students is to give back to the university, which provided her with many great mentors, particularly one of her undergraduate education professors, the late Jan Rinehart.

With her love of reading and connection to Scholastic through books orders and book fairs, Fennell said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply for the company’s second Teacher Fellow cohort.

After going through individual and collaborative interviews, Fennell said she feels honored to be selected among the hundreds of applicants.

“In July, we will submit our capstone projects,” Fennell said. “We get to go to New York City to the Scholastic headquarters to present.

“As a teacher who has been involved with writing,” she added, “I feel like this opportunity was very important to me.”

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BreAnn Fennell teaching in elementary classroom