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Penny Schwinn

Commissioner
Education

Dr. Penny Schwinn was sworn in as Tennessee’s education commissioner on February 1, 2019. As commissioner, Dr. Schwinn is committed to building on Tennessee’s momentum over the last decade, and plans to continue to accelerate growth through excellence in achievement, empowerment of students and teachers, and engagement of all stakeholders

Coming from a family of educators and committed to increasing access to an excellent education for all children, Commissioner Schwinn began her work as a high school history and economics teacher in Baltimore. Her early career also includes experience as a new teacher coach in south Los Angeles and time in the private sector, where she supervised work in operations, marketing and information management.

Prior to joining the Tennessee Department of Education, Commissioner Schwinn served as the Chief Deputy Commissioner of Academics at the Texas Education Agency, where she oversaw the Office of Academics and was responsible for the following agency departments: School Programs (including Early Childhood Education, Reading, and College, Career, and Military Preparation); the Deputy Commissioner of Special Populations and Monitoring (including Special Education); the Deputy Commissioner of Standards and Engagement (including Curriculum, Digital Learning, Assessment, and Performance Reporting); Research and Analysis; and Special Projects.  

Commissioner Schwinn also previously served in other state and district roles as an Assistant Secretary of Education in the Delaware Department of Education and as Assistant Superintendent of Performance Management for the Sacramento City Unified School District. She is also the founder and former superintendent of Capitol Collegiate Academy, at the time one of the county’s highest performing charter schools serving low-income students from a region of Sacramento where she grew up.  She also served as an elected Trustee for the Sacramento County Board of Education.

Commissioner Schwinn earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California-Berkeley, her Master of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University, and her PhD in Education Policy from Claremont Graduate University in California. She is the proud parent of two daughters, both of whom will enroll in Tennessee public schools.