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From science projects to black belts

Penny Cheketri is a force to be reckoned with by anyone’s standards. Since joining the ACG Strathallan team 15 years ago, she has taught across all age levels at the school, specialising in Science and Health & Physical Education. But that is only one aspect of her teaching purview as, with numerous National and World Karate titles under her 6th Dan Black Belt, she also holds several extracurricular Karate classes for students and their families every week.

Penny Cheketri

Having taught in South Africa for 14 years before immigrating to New Zealand, the experienced educator started at ACG Strathallan two months after her Auckland arrival in 2005. Finding her home away from home at the school, she has been there ever since enjoying a variety of teaching roles and responsibilities.

Making the decision to return to fulltime teaching for the beginning of 2020 was the perfect option for Penny who immediately knew she had made the right choice. “It felt like coming home,” she explains.

Now focusing on younger students, Penny is currently a Year 4 classroom teacher who also takes Year 6 Science and Year 4 to 6 classes in Health & PE.

Her enjoyment in teaching primary aged children once again is apparent, especially as every day offers her the chance to encourage new ideas and inspire different avenues of thought. Penny finds the enthusiasm and open-minded approach of her students to be a constant delight.

“The most appealing aspect of teaching younger learners is their passion, their love of life and their willingness to embrace all that it offers.

“Strathallan is a school that welcomes diversity and sees each child as a unique individual, helping every student develop and grow. It is incredibly rewarding to see a child building confidence and self-belief.”

Described by past students as someone who is strict but always fair, fun, caring and ready to listen, Penny loves to travel, spend a rainy afternoon playing boardgames or relax with friends over a coffee. The keen athlete balances her love of sports including Kobudo (weapons martial arts), Aikijujitsu, cycling, swimming and kayaking with a her more whimsical side, enjoying movies, superheroes and anything Harry Potter.

And of course, Karate is a huge part of her life. Following her introduction to the sport at the age of 14, Penny has subsequently been awarded a black belt in five different styles of Karate. Plus, during the decade and a half she has taught the martial art at Strathallan, she has seen over 30 students (and several of their parents) earn their black belts through her tutelage.

As for the year ahead, we can expect an exciting mix of academics and sports in the Senior Primary from this dynamic teacher, with special attention paid to the Year 6 Science project inquiry which will be displayed in the school hall.

Looking forward, Penny’s advice to her students reflects the ethos of ACG Strathallan itself.

“Develop your strengths, seek new opportunities and challenge yourself. Always seek support; you never have to do it alone. We are a wonderful community who are there to encourage each other, support each other, motivate each other and celebrate our achievements.”