For the better part of two decades, few people have personified the Kennett slogan “ALL IN” better than Brenna (Levi) Austin. In 2003, she began her career at Kennett Middle School as a Spanish I teacher. From there, she expanded her role beyond the classroom as the student council advisor, the girls soccer and basketball coach, and an eighth grade team leader. It was this level of commitment that gave people a sense that she could expand her influence beyond the classroom.
In 2012, despite having no intentions to transition beyond teaching, she was encouraged to enroll in a principal certification program at Cabrini University. Then, in 2015, an assistant principal position opened at her beloved KMS. Getting to expand her role in the only school she ever taught in was, as she calls it, “icing on the cake.” With no less enthusiasm than when her career started, she jumped into the position looking to make the greatest impact possible. For five years, Brenna could always be found cheering at every KMS event, helping teachers develop new lessons or instructional strategies, and creating new professional development opportunities. Beyond anything else, Brenna was always a supportive team member, not just to her fellow principals and administrative team, but to teachers and students alike. In the wake of the pandemic, Brenna felt like she had more to give. And in the early fall of 2020, she transitioned into a new role as Supervisor of Student Services and ELD. Her new position seems far removed from her time in the classroom, but they’re very much grounded in the same purpose and intent.
While Brenna excelled in school, she found learning a second language to be an exciting challenge. Her desire to learn Spanish, combined with a school trip to Spain, gave her a new perspective. While there, she fell in love with the culture, the music, the people, and, of course, the language. This formative experience helped clarify her path forward as she attended Shippensburg University in the fall of 1999 where she majored in Spanish Education. Again, she visited Spain as a college student and spent an entire semester living with a local family who did not speak English. This fully immersive experience helped her Spanish fluency, but also gave her a compassionate approach to those individuals who are learning languages in a new environment.
It’s this experience that speaks to her current role within the district. She remains a passionate advocate for bilingualism and biliteracy. She recognizes the unique abilities and perspectives of our bilingual students and is eager to use these advantages to create limitless opportunities. Yet, the limit of Brenna’s vision doesn’t stop here. Her general perspective on education is one that is inclusive of all students. She believes all students can learn. We just need to approach our challenges with an open mind and hopeful heart.
The dedication to school is something that characterizes Brenna’s entire life. Even her preschool teacher once noted that “Brenna was born to be a teacher.” Her singular approach to education and endless support for all students exemplify the very spirit of what it means to be “ALL IN.” Kennett is a better place because of her and we’re happy to celebrate her story!