Instructor Spotlight: Katheen Fenninger
Our spotlight is on SHRM Certification Exam Prep Course instructor, Kathleen M. Fenninger, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, GPHR. Kathy has more than 30 years experience in human resources both as a generalist and an employment specialist, primarily in the energy and financial services industries in Houston and New York City. She has served as president of the Houston Human Resource Management Association and was awarded the Distinguished Professional in Human Resources award in 1998. Ms. Fenninger holds an MBA in organizational behavior and marketing, an M.S. in education and a B.A. in English from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York. She has been an instructor for the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies since 1996 and helped to found the Rice University Institute for Human Resource Education. Additionally, she is the immediate past president of The Rotary Club of Houston and serves on the board of HSPVA Friends.
What made you decide to become an HR instructor?
I taught high school after graduating college and later was a college instructor in marketing and management while working by day in a “regular” job. I missed teaching. So, after many discussions as we started the HR Institute, I agreed to start teaching in the first program-never realizing how many students it would attract over the years.
What’s your favorite aspect of teaching the SHRM Certification Exam Prep Course?
Answering real world questions. Students want to cover the competencies and knowledge material for the exam which can be done by reading the books. Most adult learners want practical knowledge and the answers to how to apply the information to actual situations. That’s why it’s so much fun to be an instructor.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Primarily focused on the problem-solving approach which is best when every student fully participates by prior preparation: reading, asking questions, sharing ideas and experiences. Don’t expect the instructor to spoon feed the information. No question is “just” yours — others want to know so speak out!
What do you hope students will gain after taking your course? The ability to apply learning, network when you aren’t looking for a job, and know there are resources for everything you could possibly need.
What are the key concepts you hope students will leave your course with?
Identify core competencies to promote Human Resources as a profit center, not a cost center. Think like a business leader. Quantify it or don’t bother doing it.
How do you motivate the students in your classroom?
In person — I tend to walk up and down and look at “eyes” to make sure everyone understands and is focused. Online — I still tell stories as memory tools to explain they have great examples in their own lives.
Students often say they hear you in their head during the test, so what is your #1 tip for passing the certification exam?
“Don’t change your answers” followed closely by “don’t read into the questions.”
What are three interesting facts about you outside the classroom?
1. During my college years I studied piano at night at Julliard.
2. Originally, I joined The Rotary Club of Houston as a way to do community service with non-HR people and am in my 20th year of membership. (Being with business leaders got me “out of the office” and gave me a fresh perspective.)
3. Between teaching high school and moving to financial services, I ran a not for profit focused on community safety, gave crime prevention lectures, and worked on political campaigns.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Zombakis, SHRM-CP, is assistant director for professional and corporate programs at Rice University’s Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies where he manages a growing portfolio of successful face-to-face and online programs including human resource management, paralegal studies, project management, communication, marketing and leadership. Established in 1996, Rice’s Institute for Human Resource Education is the largest producer of certified HR professionals in Texas with pass rates that consistently exceed the national average. Rice University is proud to be a top 20 SHRM exclusive premiere university partner.
Connect with me on Linkedin.