PEN began when several parents of Pasadena area pre-schoolers came together in the Summer of 2003. Many of them hardly knew each other, but they had one thing in common: they were interested in sending their children to public school. Most of them were products of public schools, including three from PUSD. Despite their interest in public school, they were discouraged, because they had heard some negative things about PUSD from neighbors, co-workers, real estate agents and friends.
They decided to evaluate the schools for themselves and see what help, if any, they could offer. After meeting with parents of PUSD students, administrators including the superintendent, school board members, and – most importantly – after touring several schools, they realized that PUSD has some great public schools. They also realized that most of the discouraging things they heard were said by people who had never set foot on a PUSD campus. Therefore, instead of trying to "help" the schools, they decided to focus on communicating accurate, credible information about the schools to the community and connecting families interested in learning more about their public school options.
Once they expanded their meetings to include the public, in early 2004, they named their group Pasadena Education Network and they became the "Steering Committee". This group was comprised of Kristin Maschka & David Hitchcock, Maggie & Chris Brandow, Jackie Clem & Chris Whiting, Brence Culp & Mark Goodstein, Haley & Marc Karish, Julie & Tod Cole, Christine & Larry O'Brien, Julie & John Root, Jennifer McCreight, Kim Kenne, and Dhari Thein.
Today PEN is run by the Board of Directors, three part-time staff — Executive Director Nancy Rose Dufford, Program Director Susan Savitt Schwartz, Director of Community Outreach Laura Diaz – and a great group of volunteers.
PEN is an independent non-profit parent organization that helps families
explore, evaluate and engage with public schools by connecting parents
with facts, tools, schools, resources, and other parents.