Skip to main

Meet Penny Carpenter: A Maestro’s Journey Through Music and Learning!

Archway Chandler February 20, 2024 -

Mrs. Carpenter, music teacher at Archway ChandlerPenny Carpenter attributes her musical abilities to her grandmother. “[She] was a pianist and played virtually everything by ear. She used to play old showtunes and hymns while our family sang along.” Carpenter began her musical journey at the age of six. Accompanying choirs in her youth, she discovered her calling as a music teacher, emphasizing collaboration and ensemble work. Graduating from Arizona State with a degree in choral music education, Carpenter became the very first K-5 music teacher at Great Hearts, contributing significantly to the curriculum.

She is the founding music teacher at Archway Chandler. During her 15 years of teaching, Carpenter’s passion for music education has led her to various roles. She has taught curricular classes, served as Dean of Students for Archway Chandler, and the elementary music curriculum consultant for Great Hearts. She has also had the privilege of directing extra-curricular Women’s Ensembles, Men’s Choruses, and Orff instrument ensembles. Currently, she is teaching two extra-curricular string ensembles for students in grades 3-5.

“I never had any ambition to teach elementary music like many in my field. I wanted to teach the older grades, specifically high school. I didn’t think that I could teach anything of real substance to little kids. How wrong I was. It was my experience as an elementary music teacher at Great Hearts that made me realize that this is exactly where I’m meant to be.”

Mrs. Carpenter with her music students on stage

She is married to a fellow Great Hearts music educator, Dr. Justin Carpenter, who teaches music at Chandler Prep. “One of the perks of having required teaching spouse next door is getting the opportunity to accompany his choirs for their concerts. When I look up from the piano at his juniors and seniors in the top choir, most see the smart, funny, and talented young men and women that they are. And I see the little kindergartners and first graders I taught way back when. It’s so incredible to have the rare pleasure of seeing the full development of a great-hearted student.”

Reflecting on her first meeting with Mrs. Leanne Fawcett, the then headmaster of Archway Chandler, Carpenter recalls the overwhelming excitement at the prospect of building the elementary music curriculum, with a primary focus on classics. Since then, she has found joy in teaching every student on campus, introducing them to baroque, classical, folk, contemporary, and African American spiritual music.

Mrs. Carpenter with her students on stage

Carpenter takes pride in the high-quality performances of her students, challenging them with complex music typically suited for older students. She emphasizes the importance of exposing students to the classics, fostering a love for music as a lifelong appreciation rather than a pursuit of professionalism.

Her concerts, hosted at various venues, including large churches and the Higley Center for the Performing Arts, attract over 2,000 audience members each semester. Carpenter acknowledges the unwavering support of the Archway Chandler staff and the enthusiastic engagement of parents in the music events.

As a Teacher-Mom, Carpenter manages a hectic schedule of driving kids, practices, rehearsals, and lessons. “I would not have been able to do what I’ve done over the past decade and a half without the unwavering support of my mom,” she said. “She has watched our three children from the moment they were born while my husband and I taught. I am forever grateful for everything she has given to our family. Our youngest will be attending Kindergarten at Archway Chandler in the fall, so this is the last semester she is on ‘duty.’”

Mrs. Carpenter with her family at DisneylandBeyond her role as an educator, Carpenter reveals her identity as a “Disney Mom,” making family trips to Disneyland every year. “And every year, I bust out the fanny pack, travel-sized medications, Band-Aids, and a water cooler backpack to walk multiple miles at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth.’ I can give you the best tips and tricks on how to survive [at the park] with children.”

Penny Carpenter stands as a proud and honored member of Great Hearts, expressing deep appreciation for the network of families and colleagues that inspire and motivate her daily. Her journey encapsulates the transformative power of music education in shaping well-rounded, Great-Hearted students. “As teachers there is nothing greater than to see the appreciation of the subject that we teach flourish in, our students. Because we know that they will carry the torch to the next generation of learners there is no more important or essential line of work than what we do every single day guiding and molding the minds and hearts of the future leaders of tomorrow.”

Do you have a story or know of a story that you would like to see featured at Great Hearts?  Please contact