Upperman Middle School announces new principal

Dr. Will Penner

PUTNAM COUNTY – The Putnam County School System announces Dr. Will Penner as the new Upperman Middle School principal. 

Penner brings his experience from Spring Hill where he has served as founding principal of Battle Creek Middle School, one of the most innovative STEM campuses in the state, since 2019. Before his time at Battle Hill Middle School, he was assistant principal to 1,100 students at Whitthorne Middle School in Columbia. Dr. Penner has also served as an adjunct professor of writing at Nashville State Community College in Dickson and taught honors English at Fairview High School and East Hickman High.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Penner to our school system as the new principal at Upperman Middle School,” said Corby King, director of Putnam County Schools. “Dr. Penner brings many years of teaching and administrative leadership experience to our district, and we look forward to seeing him join the team at Upperman Middle and continue the great work that has already begun there.”

APPenner earned his Bachelor of Science in Education in English and Political Science from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He went on to earn his Masters of Education in curriculum and instruction with a minor in instructional technology from Baylor University in 1996. He completed doctoral work toward a Ph.D in education and human development from Vanderbilt University in Nashville in 1998; and in 2015, he received his Doctor of Education in learning organizations and strategic change from Lipscomb University in Nashville.

He was recognized as Middle Tennessee Principal of the Year for 2020-2021 from the Tennessee Association of Secondary School Principals. He has been a member of the Professional Educators of Tennessee, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Tennessee Association of Secondary School Principals, International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry, Association of Youth Ministry Educators, Youthworker Movement of the United Methodist Church, Alpha Chi Honor Society and Tennessee High School Press Association.

“For the past year, I’ve taken a strong interest in Putnam County schools,” said Penner, “I really like what I’m seeing.” 

Penner has spent every weekend in Putnam County this past year with his wife, Rev. Dr. Christine Penner, who was appointed as pastor of Monterey United Methodist Church last fall. 

“This county has not only a rich history but also a positive trajectory for the future, and I’m looking forward to joining the team at Upperman Middle School,” said Penner.

In addition to his work with schools, Penner has written or edited more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles, studies and book chapters, and is a sought-after speaker and consultant for conferences, retreats and leadership training events. He and his wife have five children, ranging in ages from 12 to 30.

Upperman Middle School’s current principal, Mr. Shannon Pirtle, announced in early May that he was joining the team at Cane Creek Elementary School as assistant principal in the fall of 2021.

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