The Plymouth School community gathered Friday July 25th in Harold Henry Park for their annual end-of-the-year celebration and to say farewell to Penny Cox, who after 42 years helping raise the neighborhood’s toddlers, is retiring.
“I like what some of the parents wrote me in a farewell card,” she told the Larchmont Buzz. “You come home from school at Plymouth with sand in your shoes and sequins in your hair” referring to the play-based developmental education Plymouth School teaches.
A non-denominational school, Plymouth’s original home was in the United Methodist Church on Wilshire and Plymouth, and was founded in 1972 by Cox, Sylvia Johnson, Gayle Smith, Ruth Traub and Darlene Smolan. In 1992 it moved to its current location in the Wilshire Presbyterian Church on Oxford and 3rd, where children move from classrooms to the “Big House” for their final year before heading to kindergarten.
Plymouth’s teachers are a tight-knit family who have worked together for years raising the children of the greater Hancock Park area. Fran Hentz has been there for 25 years and saw her daughter Jeanne graduate from the very first class at Plymouth. Ria Raders is in her 23rd year teaching and sent all four of her children to the school. Donna Carolan’s son Vincent also attended Plymouth, and she is finishing her 7th year there. Amber Heron, the granddaughter of one of the founders, Sylvia Johnson, is currently a Plymouth teacher.
“We’ve taught the children of the children we originally taught,” Penny said. “George Hawley was in the original class and his three children all are Plymouth kids, now grown. He came by the other day to say hi, and bye.”
When asked what changes are in the future, Penny chuckled. “I told them – you’ve got to promise me you won’t change things too much. But there’s already a plan for a computer upstairs!” She knows the new Director, Megan Enright Drynan, will update the systems when she takes over administration for the school in the fall of 2014. Drynan, who grew up in the area and lives in Brookside, will get help from her close friend and one-time classmate Maureen Gonzalez.
At 82 years old, Penny won’t be going too far afield. “I’ve lived in Silverlake since 1960, and don’t plan on going anywhere,” she said, while also sharing that she’d be visiting Plymouth often.
For parents and children in the area, Plymouth won’t be quite the same without its pretty Penny.