How far can an educator’s influence and curiosity reach? When it comes to someone like Renie Bunting Lenning, the impact reaches immeasurably in many directions, touching the lives of countless students, peers, organizations, and communities across the country as she has shared her knowledge with others.
After earning her degree in elementary education from Wartburg in 1964, Renie began her career as an educator in Iowa, Colorado, and New York before earning her master’s in elementary education from State University of New York at Brockport in 1985. She was the first in her family to go to college, and her enthusiasm for learning shows itself in her drive to share her newfound knowledge. In the 1980s, she developed a series of workshop for teachers called Creative Teaching on a Shoestring and a Smile, which she presented throughout New York and for a women’s college in Japan. She also added gifted and talented teacher and college lecturer to her resume, inspiring the next generation of educators. Renie received the Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence in 1992 and was included in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in 2005. In 2012, she was recruited to oversee course development from professors across the country with WorkWorld Learning, resulting in 17 courses earning approval for college credit.
She authored a book in 1990 titled More Than Money: An Activities Approach to Economics, credited with giving wider inclusion of money matters in elementary schools across the country. In 2017, she co-authored Brain Changers 365: Build a Better Brain with 7 Activities Each Day, drawn from her 40-plus years of creative teaching. She spent several years researching and developing the book’s brain-stimulating exercises in seven areas. The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation endorsed the resource, which originated with Renie’s development of a weekly Brain Boosters class for senior citizens in Arizona to help them maintain brain health.
Renie’s life is full of planting seeds wherever she is, areas that have stretched from Iowa to New York, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Minnesota. Even in her retirement, she advocates for struggling Valencia Middle School in Tucson, Arizona, leading a multi-church effort under the auspices of an assistance agency called 4 Tucson. Renie organized an end-of-year teacher appreciation dinner and led an effort to provide volunteer tutors, school supplies, children’s school uniforms, and other needed items. “One can see how Renie truly does have a soul to aid and give hope to the least, the lost, and the last,” wrote a nominator. “Not only does Renie embody the core values of Wartburg College, more importantly, she embodies what it means to love God and love neighbor.”
Active at Mount Zion Lutheran in Tucson, she lives what she believes by caring for those around her, looking deeply at their God-given gifts, and helping them claim their sense of purpose. She approaches life with a sense of wonder and awe that comes from being a person of faith. Renie’s volunteer efforts range from helping with church rummage sales, to cutting squares for the quilting club, to coordinating the collection of toiletries and other basic items for needy people. Her leadership and service have uplifted many communities over the years, having been a trustee on numerous boards and leading several civic and charitable endeavors.