Sunday, March 22, 2015

A legacy of education and "improving your position" - By Michelle Libby

Six months after the death of Stuart “Toby” Pennels his family is keeping his memory alive with The Toby Pennels Memorial Scholarship to be given in his memory for the first time at Windham High School. 

Toby graduated from WHS in 1977 and his children, Taylor, Jordan and Shawn, graduated from there in 2005, 2008 and 2010 respectively. Toby also served for 12 years on the school board.

“We had a good experience, and Toby was a big part of it,” said his wife Brenda Pennels. “When I think of all the things that would be important to Toby, a scholarship is right at the top. He always wanted to help kids with education,” Brenda said.

“Toby was a soldier, who had only recently retired as a US Army Colonel following a 30-year career that included three tours of duty in the Middle East. During his years of service Toby adopted the mantra “improve your position” a phrase which refers to improving your fighting position/foxhole in a combat situation, but in many respects became his defining philosophy in life,” according to Brenda. 

The scholarship will be given to a student who can best give specifics on their efforts to “improve their position.” It was not only a military term for Toby. It was a philosophy that his whole family lives by.
The scholarship is open to anyone seeking a two or four year education including trade school. 

“I have grown to appreciate this community more and the friends – Toby’s friends have become my friends,” Brenda said. 

Fundraisers have been held to raise money for the scholarship, which Brenda has pledged to fully fund for six years. To date the scholarship is at $13,000, from donations as small as $25 to $1,000 or larger. Donation information is available on the scholarship website. 

For more, visit The application and essay are due by May 8, 2015. The awards ceremony will be at WHS on June 4.

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