Editor’s Note: Dr. Pennacchio was named vice principal of McTimoney College of Chiropractic in Oxfordshire, England, on June 1, 2011.
Making Her Family Proud
Her influence is far-reaching. Her work makes a difference in the lives of thousands. Valerie Pennacchio, D.C., is quite possibly one of the most influential women in chiropractic education today.
Pennacchio credits Sherman College with igniting the passion that inspires her everyday life. The New Jersey native sat in on philosophy classes when she worked as founding president Thom Gelardi’s secretary while her then-spouse was a student at Sherman. “I just fell in love with the message,” she says. Though it was more than a decade later and after a divorce, Pennacchio went back to school and pursued a chiropractic education of her own, graduating summa cum laude from Sherman in 1990. She was quickly tapped to be a faculty member, thus launching a very productive career in chiropractic education.
In a humble way she explains her driving force. “I must admit I am devoted to my job and the influence that I know we’re making in chiropractic education and helping to graduate competent, caring, confident chiropractors to serve the people of the world,” she says. “When I divorced I took my father’s name back, and I remember telling him, ’Dad, I intend to do great things in this world, and when I do, I want the “Pennacchio” name to get the credit.’”
The Pennacchios have a great deal to be proud of.
Hundreds of Sherman alumni were her students at Sherman, and many hundreds more attended board reviews or continuing education seminars that she has taught over the years. Amid teaching classes and attending committee meetings, Pennacchio also managed to maintain a private practice in Spartanburg. As chair of the Philosophy Department she also penned many articles for various Sherman publications, as well as participated in and authored case studies.
Pennacchio gained a great deal of administrative experience at Sherman. She was instrumental in developing Sherman’s first Clinical Proficiency Examination (Exit Exam) prior to the existence of the National Board’s Part IV. Moreover, she was selected by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) to be a part of its test-writing committee.
In 1999, fellow Sherman grad Ralph Boone, Ph.D., D.C., then a key administrator at a foundling chiropractic college in New Zealand, asked Pennacchio to come to that country for a very important project that would have profound effects. Boone and other leaders in New Zealand entrusted Pennacchio to prepare its pioneer class in New Zealand for a proficiency examination that would prove that the soon-to-be graduates were competent to serve their communities, and that the school’s curriculum was accreditation-worthy. Taking a leave from Sherman College, she spent four months in New Zealand. With diligence, hard work, and the help of Irene Gold Board Review notes (used by permission), she was able to help the school achieve this milestone.
All this set the stage for an enticing offer several years later that would result in Pennacchio pulling up stakes and moving to New Zealand permanently. She is now the college’s vice president where a typical day starts with her arising at 5:15 a.m.
She’s at the college by 8:30 and spends a majority of the day attending meetings — organizational, strategic, departmental and faculty. “Then you have to actually do the work you said you would do in the meetings,” she quips, so you may find her at the office until 6 or 7 p.m. She teaches philosophy classes on Tuesday and runs philosophy focus groups three or four times a week. But the doctor professes that her devotion to chiropractic and her love of assisting students makes it all worthwhile. She thoroughly enjoys helping students to get in touch with their core beliefs, and teaching them to achieve excellence. And while Pennacchio’s life continues on a new continent, she says she often reflects on her roots at Sherman College and the seeds that were planted to lead her to her current adventures. It’s all a part of the Pennacchio legacy.