PHM Introduces ParentSquare, new parent communication tool

With the start of the 2024-2025 academic year, P-H-M is switching to ParentSquare, a new unified, user-friendly, communications platform designed with parents and guardians in mind. 

Click here to watch a short video introduction.

ParentSquare provides a centralized location for families to receive communications from school principals, teachers, coaches, and front office staff on all their students, in all schools, in all classrooms! 

Parents/guardians receive alerts, updates, and posts on:

  • important notifications, such as school closings and delays
  • attendance
  • principal & teacher newsletters
  • school & classroom calendar of events
  • volunteer & RSVP for events
  • fill out permission slips & other forms
  • … ALL IN ONE LOCATION!

Families chose their preferred mode of communication for non-urgent notifications– app, text, email, phone. Parents/guardians can also chose to have all communications automatically translated to their preferred first language.

As we approach the first day of school (Wednesday, August 21), principals and teachers will be using ParentSquare to share important “Back to School” information. Parents and guardians are asked to activate their accounts by Monday, August 12, 2024.

PLEASE NOTE: If your child is transitioning to a new building from last school year, the information will be updated later this summer. You are still able to register for ParentSquare.

To activate parent/guardian accounts, parents need to check their email for the welcome and introductory email.

The email was sent between Thursday, July 11 and Friday, July 12, 2024 with the subject line: “Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. is now using ParentSquare.” 

The sender of the email will appear as “Penn-Harris-Madison via ParentSquare” with a donotreply @parentsquare.com email address, similar to this … donotreply+01d8d49e-b6f1-47f3-ac23-d45abf67b233@parentsquare.com

“I Love Reading Day” For Second Grade!

It’s “I Love Reading Day” for the 2nd grade students at Meadow’s Edge Elementary! During our visit, we witnessed guest readers enthusiastically sharing their favorite picture books with small groups of students.

Reads to students
Literacy Director & Milken Educator Award Winner Ryan Towner reads to students

In addition to group readings, students enjoyed the special opportunity to read 1-on-1 with an adult reader, fostering a deeper connection with their books.

student

Take a look at these heartwarming moments from this special day!

 

Spring 2024 Teacher Impact Awards, Round 2

Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker handed out the second round of district Spring 2024 Impact Awards on Thursday, May 23rd. The awards were given to teachers who had the most significant individual student growth with DIBLES, ILEARN, and SAT assessments for Spring 2024.

Dr. Thacker, along with Assistant Superintendent Dr. Heather Short, Director of Professional Development and Student Learning Dr. Lavon Dean-Null, and Director of Literacy and Title I Ryan Towner, visited three schools to surprise three teachers letting them know that they were the latest winners.

Principal Gary Gardner helped surprise 3rd grade teacher Katie French. Ms. French’s students had the highest student growth in 3rd grade Math scores–out of all six P-H-M Title I schools! Congratulations to Ms. French and her students!

As this school year comes to a close we want to thank all our teachers and students for their commitment to academic excellence this school year. The hard work really paid off!

Thank you to the P-H-M Education Foundation for covering the cost of the awards for purchasing the beautiful crystal awards given to the teacher award recipients.

P-H-M’s DVT & Planetarium Renamed Arthur M. Klinger Planetarium

Mr. Art Klinger, the man credited with being the “father” of P-H-M’s DVT & Planetarium, was honored today when the facility he helped create 44 years ago was officially renamed in his honor. The new P-H-M Arthur M. Klinger Planetarium sign now hangs on the exterior of Bittersweet Elementary School, where the facility is housed. It was unveiled to cheers and applause on the afternoon of May 14, 2024. Click to watch the video below.

On hand for the unveiling and dedication were Klinger’s wife, son, and longtime friends. Also present was P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker, Executive Director of P-H-M Education Foundation Jennifer Turnblom, members of PHMEF Executive Board, P-H-M School Board Members Jim Garrett and Ryan McCullough, P-H-M Administrators, and current Planetarium Director Melinda O’Malley. P-H-M former Superintendent Dr. Dean Speicher also attended. It was under Dr. Speicher’s leadership that Bittersweet school and the Planetarium opened in 1980. Bittersweet first grader teachers and students added to the celebration. The students made a banners to mark the occasion.


PHM School Trustee VP Ryan McCullough, former PHM Superintendent Dr. Dean Speicher, Art Klinger, current PHM Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker, & PHM School Trustee Jim Garrett

Click to see the full photo gallery on P-H-M’s website.

Klinger began his 45 year career with P-H-M in 1970.  He taught Earth and Space Sciences at Schmucker Middle School, a position held for 10 years before taking over the Planetarium as its first director. Klinger’s interests in astronomy, aviation, and space travel made him a natural for the position. He was a pilot receiving his private pilot’s license in 1974. He was a member of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association and the International Planetarium Society. Klinger even authored an Introductory Astronomy text book that was used in Penn High School and IUSB astronomy classes; the last revision was August 2020. 

It was Klinger’s interest in the space travel history and NASA that really transformed the Planetarium. Astronaut Col. James Irwin, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 15 (8th man to land on the Moon), was the honorary speaker at the Planetarium’s public dedication in February 1981. He was the first of six astronauts to visit the Planetarium over the years; a Russian cosmonaut even visited in 1994. With every visit, personalized autographed photos were donated.

The Planetarium’s Space Museum came about through a connection Klinger made with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum because of his application for the “Teacher in Space Project” in 1984. From that connection, 47 artifacts, including 16 that have actually been on the Moon, were loaned to the museum. Klinger eventually secured autographed pictures of all flown astronauts. He even obtained the autographed photos of the scientific minds behind the “Space Race,” like Wernher von Braun and Yuri Gagarin. Klinger states that according to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, P-H-M is the only public school district that not only has artifacts from the space program, but also has items that have been on the Moon. Click here to watch a video of Klinger talking about the importance of space exploration.

Klinger served as Director of P-H-M’s DVT, Planetarium Space Museum for 35 years retiring in 2015 after working at P-H-M for 45 years.

Dr. and Mrs. Thacker donated $10,000 to the Penn-Harris-Madison Education Foundation to rename the Planetarium the Arthur M. Klinger Planetarium.

This $10,000 donation is among four donations to PHMEF that Dr. and Mrs. Thacker have made as part of the Naming Rights Campaign. All recognize the contributions P-H-M employees have made to the community:

Per PHMEF’s Naming Rights fundraising initiative, 80 percent of the donation will go into Foundation’s endowment, which will in turn provide alternative and additional funding for various co-curricular and extracurricular programs. The remaining 20 percent directly funds professional development initiatives for
P-H-M teachers. Continuing the education and training of teachers is a major priority the School Corporation.

The mission of the Education Foundation is to develop alternative sources of income to support education initiatives in the School Corporation by strengthening partnerships between the community and the District. PHMEF supports education through awarding innovative teaching grants, staff development and other corporation-wide initiatives.

Running is Elementary 2024 is in the Books!

The “Running is Elementary” program wrapped up its 2024 season with the main race at Elm Road Elementary School yesterday. The event saw enthusiastic participation from 4th and 5th grade students, both boys and girls, who competed in a 1-mile course that tested their endurance and speed.

The annual program, aimed at promoting fitness and healthy lifestyles among elementary school students, brought together participants from various schools in the area. 

team gets ready

Parents and teachers cheered from the sidelines as students dashed toward the finish line, each striving to put forth their best effort. The event not only highlighted the physical capabilities of the students but also emphasized the importance of physical education in the school curriculum.

Meadows Edge TEam Photo

The “Running is Elementary” program has been a key event in the community’s calendar for the last 15 years, fostering a sense of unity and encouraging children to adopt active lifestyles. Special thanks to the P-H-M Education Foundation for making it possible! 

4th Grade Girls

  • Praire Vista 6:24
  • Horizon 7:14
  • Elm Road 7:15

4th Grade Boys

  • Northpoint 6:08
  • Meadow’s Edge 6:22
  • Northpoint 6:50

5th Grade Girls

  • Bittersweet 6:42
  • Horizon 6:59
  • Meadow’s Edge 7:03

5th Grade Boys

  • Prairie Vista 6:07
  • Mary Frank 6:11
  • Horizon 6:12

 

P-H-M Named 2024 Best Community for Music Education

Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation was named among the 2024’s Best Communities for Music Education (​BCME) in the country by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for the 11th year in a row! P-H-M is among only 17 Indiana school districts, out of about 300, that made the list.

Now in its 25th year, the 2024 Best Communities for Music Education program has recognized 583 school districts and 135 schools across the country for the outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders and their support for music education as part of a well-rounded education for all children. This recognition celebrates and recognizes K-12 music teachers in school districts who found creative ways for the “show to carry on” despite schools moving online or to in-person settings where masks were required not only for student musicians and instruments.

In P-H-M elementary schools, music class is part of the regular curriculum following state standards. Students are instructed in both vocal and instrument classes. Beginning in 6th grade, P-H-M students at our three middle schools (Discovery, Schmucker and Grissom) have the opportunity to choose choir, orchestra or band as their music elective. Students at Discovery also have the option of choosing Piano Lab. Schools from elementary all the way up to Penn High School also perform musicals.

Horizon Elementary students perform Charlie Brown Christmas
Horizon Elementary students perform Charlie Brown Christmas

Penn High School offers the Fine Arts & Communication Academy as part of its unique academy structure. The seven academy design provides Penn students with relevant and meaningful coursework taught in smaller, supportive environments where each student is known well by his teacher and peers. Nearly a third of Penn’s total 3,500 students are enrolled in the Fine Arts Academy with the majority being involved with music programs, either Choir, Orchestra, Band or another music program.

Penn High School Band students perform A Evening of Jazz (Feb. 9, 2024)
Penn High School Band students perform A Evening of Jazz (Feb. 9, 2024)

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, P-H-M answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas. Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music.

In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University a link was found between students in community music programs and life-long academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. In another study from the University, it was discovered that the benefits of early exposure to music education improves how the brain processes and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood. Beyond the Northwestern research, other studies have indicated that music education lays the foundation for individual excellence in group settings, creative problem solving and flexibility in work situations, as well learning how to give and receive constructive criticism to excel.

Free Preschool Academy for Qualifying Students

Penn-Harris-Madison is excited to share our offerings for full-day preschool opportunities for eligible families: Madison and Meadow’s Edge Preschool! 

The preschools are currently available for families living in the boundaries of Elm Road, Madison, and Meadow’s Edge Elementary Schools. 

Students who are four years old by August 1st, and in the year before kindergarten are invited to enroll.  

Eligibility is income-based, with funding grants available through Indiana’s Child Care Development Fund, and the On My Way Pre-K grants.  

Information Session

Tuesday, April 9

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Meadow’s Edge Elementary, 16333 Kern Rd, Mishawaka

Click here to RSVP for Information Session

 

See Preschool State Voucher Income Eligibility Chart below. This is Pre-Tax Monthly Income, total family members, including parents.

Preschool State Voucher Income Eligibility Chart

 

To receive enrollment information, please contact:

Ryan Towner, Director of Literacy: rtowner@phm.k12.in.us

Meadow’s Edge Elementary: (574) 255-9347

Meadow’s Edge Student Artist Wins RIE T-shirt Design Contest

We have a winner! Fourth grade Meadow’s Edge student Carter Matson came up with this year’s winning T-shirt design for P-H-M Education Foundation’s upcoming Running is Elementary annual race.

Running is Elementary T-shirt design

With the help of Principal Gary Gardner, Jennifer Turnblom, Executive Director of PHMEF, surprised Carter in class this morning with the good news that his design had been chosen for this year’s student shirts. Director of Professional Development & Student Learning Dr. Lavon Dean-Null was also on hand for the fun.

Running is Elementary is Monday, May 6 (Rain Day is Wednesday, May 8) and will be run at Elm Road Elementary School starting at 3:00 p.m.

All P-H-M 4th & 5th grade students are invited to participate. Students will practice at their home schools and the culminating race is is the Running is Elementary event.

Check out the video below.

2024 PHM Elementary Spell Bowl Results

Tuesday, March 19 was P-H-M’s annual Elementary Spell Bowl event. Student 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teams from all 11 elementary schools compete. Click here to see the photo gallery below.

Below is this year’s “leaderboard”:

3rd Grade Winners:

3rd gr. winners, Northpoint

  • 1st place- Northpoint with 29 points, coached by Nichol Monday
  • 2nd place- Prairie Vista with 27 points
  • 3rd place tie – Bittersweet, Horizon and Mary Frank each with 22 points

4th Grade Winners:

4th gr winners, Northpoint

  • 1st place- Northpoint with 30 points, coached by Jen Payne
  • 2nd place- Bittersweet with 29 points
  • 3rd place- Prairie Vista with 27 points

The 5th grade competition was very close with Northpoint and Bittersweet neck and neck. The tiebreaker words were: panache, soup du jour, fluorescence, pharmaceutical and Albuquerque.

5th Grade Winners:

5th gr winners, Northpoint  5th gr 2nd place, Bittersweet

  • 1st place- Northpoint with 38 points, coached by Ros Morehouse 
  • 2nd place- Bittersweet with 37 points
  • 3rd place tie – Prairie Vista and Horizon each with 26 points

Overall Bittersweet did so well that when the 5th grade team came out on stage to be recognized, the other students and parents cheered, clapped, and gave them a rousing round of congratulations!

Bittersweet team recognized  Bittersweet recognized

The teams spend weeks preparing for Spell Bowl with their teacher coaches. They may study word lists, learn about derivations (e.g., Latin roots) and rules (e.g., capitalization, pluralization), and how to spell correctly under pressure.

The format of the Spell Bowl is more like a written test. The emcee reads a word and uses the word in a sentence, the students listen and then write it on paper within a 15-second time limit. The students’ written entries are reviewed by a panel of judges and then their score is posted in front of the audience. Each correct word spelling is worth one point.

The annual event is held in Penn High School’s Center for Performing Arts to not only accommodate all the student teams, but also the students’ “fans,” which are their family, friends and other staff from their home schools!

Mrs. Cassie Scarsella, P-H-M’s High Ability Coordinator, manages the Spell Bowl and works to assure that it is a positive and enriching experience for students. Academic competition can give students confidence, increase their motivation to sharpen their skills and abilities, and expand their opportunities to receive recognition.

April 8 Solar Eclipse Information

While the Indianapolis area and south will experience 100% totality for the solar eclipse occurring on Monday, April 8, 2024, the St. Joseph County area will only experience 96%.

The Michiana area will start experiencing darkness at 1:53 p.m., lasting until 4:23 p.m., with 96% totality occurring at 3:09 p.m. and lasting just over 4 minutes.

Click to watch the video below and hear from P-H-M Digital Video Theater and Planetarium Director Melinda O’Malley as she shows us what to expect in our area.

Click here to see a Indiana Department of Natural Resources map of Indiana regions that will experience varying degrees of darkness.  Click here to also get more background information on the Great American Eclipse website.

Because the partial eclipse time is occurring around elementary school dismissal times and based on the recommendations of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the IDOE, P-H-M will have an eLearning day on April 8. Click here for more information on that decision.

Thanks to Old National Bank and P-H-M Education Foundation, all students will have a pair of eclipse glasses to use at home when watching the eclipse with their families. The glasses will be sent home the week of March 25 before P-H-M’s Spring Break.

DVT Director Mrs. O’Malley demonstrates how the eclipse glasses should be used.