Southeast principal Penrod makes waves of success for students and staff

Tanner Penrod began his Lincoln Public Schools career helping students clock successful times at high school swimming meets.
He has maintained his spot in winning waters as principal of Lincoln Southeast High School.
Penrod has created a first-place environment at Southeast with his work ethic and dedication to students and staff. He has spent nearly 20 years in a full-time capacity at LPS. He has handled roles as a teacher, coach, instructional coordinator, associate principal and principal.
LPS Director of Secondary Education Jess Fries said Penrod has been an influential figure in the lives of many people. She felt he was a great role model to highlight during National Principals Month.
“Tanner has been intentional about planning and leading professional learning sessions that incorporate research-based strategies and best practices to improve student learning,” Fries said. “He has also developed systems for himself and his leadership team to be in classrooms providing timely and meaningful feedback to teachers, and making time to foster conversations about student learning.”

Penrod said he has enjoyed many aspects of his job as principal. He said he arrives at work each morning eager to help others throughout the school.
“Having the opportunity to work with 150 staff, 2,000 students and thousands of people in the Southeast community is very rewarding,” Penrod said. “Our goal is to give students the opportunity and knowledge to position themselves to be successful in all of their future endeavors, and the culture that’s been established at Southeast is one where we want every student to feel safe and welcomed. It’s fun getting to be a part of that team here.”

Penrod grew up in Lincoln and graduated from East High School. He foreshadowed his future career by enjoying success in both academics and activities for the Spartans.
He swam the anchor leg on a 200-meter medley relay team that won a state title his junior year, and he was a state-qualifying swimmer in three events as a senior. He was a member of a 200-meter freestyle relay team that captured a state title that year.
Penrod earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May 2004, and he secured a master’s degree in educational leadership from Doane University in May 2011. He later obtained an educational specialist certification from Doane.
Penrod taught social studies at Southwest High School and was head coach of the girls and boys swimming teams. He also coached girls soccer for the Silver Hawks. He became an instructional coordinator at Bryan Community Focus Program in 2012 and served as associate principal at Lincoln High from 2013-16. He also coordinated the summer school program at North Star.

Penrod returned to Bryan in 2016 as the site’s principal. He remained in that role until he began his current job at Southeast in the summer of 2020.
Penrod said he is grateful to have been at many LPS schools. He said all of those stops on his educational journey have been beneficial.
“To be in that many learning environments has helped me formulate my philosophy and vision on leadership,” Penrod said. “I’ve been able to take all of the good things that I’ve seen at other places and incorporated those here.”

Penrod praised staff members who have given students a firm foundation in their high school lives. As he and a visitor were walking down one of the hallways, he pointed out classrooms of multiple teachers who have been at Southeast for more than 25 years. He said it was a testament to the encouraging environment that has existed at the school for a long time.
“The longevity of our staff says a lot about what we have here at Southeast,” Penrod said. “Those are the people who have established this culture, and they’re the ones who are making sure our younger staff members know what that culture is like.
“We’ve been blessed to have a ton of role models here. We don’t cut corners when it comes to educating kids. We hold everyone to high standards because our kids deserve the best, and our staff here do an awesome job of meeting and exceeding those standards.”

Penrod said a significant part of his leadership strategy is leaving his office and visiting classrooms during the day. During one morning he saw students brainstorming ideas for projects in their science and creative writing classes, and he shared smiles with teachers as he watched them work. He said establishing those positive relationships has been a critical piece of his administrative responsibilities.
Penrod said his primary goal is to help everyone at Southeast swim through winning waters in their academics, activities and careers.
“The best part of my job is getting into classrooms and seeing students learn and teachers teach,” Penrod said. “Having those opportunities to see students learn something new is incredibly rewarding. Our job here is to prepare them for the next chapter of their lives, so to see them grow and learn is something that is really exciting. It’s why we do what we do.”
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Published: October 25, 2023, Updated: October 25, 2023

Lincoln Southeast High School Principal Tanner Penrod smiles in his office before visiting classrooms in the building. Penrod is helping Southeast students succeed with his dedication to the education profession.