“Thirty years in one district is a long time,” said Mr. Dennis. “I raised my kids here and I have grandkids getting ready to come through the District as well. For me, it’s the people and the staff I will miss the most, along with the community support. The school culture here is wonderful.”
Mr. Dennis came to Penn Yan as an eighth-grade social studies teacher, a role he held for 10 years. He then shifted to supporting teachers in staff development. He later took on the role of Assistant Superintendent for Staff Instruction before being named Superintendent in 2015.
Mr. Dennis has been a guiding force for students and staff throughout his three decades with the District. Preparing students for life after school can be a challenging task in smaller, rural districts, but Mr. Dennis takes great pride in the curriculum that reaches those interested in a variety of post-graduate plans — whether that is college, the trades or something else.
His passion for Penn Yan stretches beyond the walls of the school. As a Penn Yan resident as well, Mr. Dennis has long been invested in the growth and development of the greater community.
“I live a mile from the school so I can pop in and do things here,” he said. “I love that even though we’re small, we’re large enough to offer opportunities and maintain a strong school community.”
Mr. Dennis is excited to retire so he can spend more time with his family and grandkids — and maybe a little bit of travel, too. But he admits it will be a little odd to skip that early-morning alarm once he retires from the District.
“For 50 years, I’ve gotten up and gone to school every day, so this will be a little weird,” he concedes. “But if there is one thing I can say, it would be to thank the community for allowing me this opportunity for 30 years — for letting me teach their students and work with such talented and dedicated staff. And I would ask them to continue to support the people and teachers and staff who are still here.”
Mr. Dennis shared his intent to retire with the Penn Yan Board of Education at their January 10, 2024 meeting. At this time, the Board of Education will begin the Superintendent Search Process with the intention of filling that role by January 2025.
“On behalf of the Board,” stated David Willson, Board of Education President, “we would like to recognize and express our gratitude to Mr. Dennis for his commitment to the Penn Yan School District and Community. Mr. Dennis has dedicated his career to the betterment of our students, and leaves a legacy of commitment to engage, educate, empower, and enrich every student, every day. He will be missed.”