“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.

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

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.

2024 Young Authors’ Conference, Books & Bots

This year P-H-M Education Foundation’s Young Authors’ Conference is partnering up with the Next Gen Robotics event to bring you Books & Bots!  This event blends literary innovations with robotic creations. It’s a wonderful opportunity for P-H-M students in Kindergarten – 5th grade. Click here to view photos on Facebook from last year’s Young Authors’ Conference; click here to view photos of the 2023 Next Gen event.

The event will start at 9:15 a.m. in Penn’s Fitness Center.  There will be the three rotations at three locations within Penn High School. Families and students will visit each station for 45 minutes, with a 15 minute break in between. The rotations will be an author visit, reader’s theater, and fun with the bots! Next Gen (the bots area) will be open until 1:00 p.m. Registered participants will receive a S’more with confirmation details the week of February 26. You and your student’s rotation schedule and starting location will be provided in the S’more.  If you have any questions after receiving the email, please contact ccussen@phm.k12.in.us.

Please enter Door D. Parking is available in the front of Penn, at Schmucker Middle School, and in the parking lot near River Valley Church. Click here to access a Penn Building Map. Once inside Penn, look for “Books and Bots” signage and please arrive at your room between 9:00-9:15 a.m. With record attendance expected, plan plenty of time to park and walk to your designated area.  

Books & Bots is completely FREE! Thank you to the P-H-M Education Foundation and P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker and his wife Donna Thacker for covering the cost of the YAC for the second year in a row from the proceeds of #GivingTuesday donations.

NEW THIS YEAR … both events will be held at Penn High School!

While the events are FREE, registration is required! 

Registration is NOW OPEN! Click here to register today!  Registration closes Friday, February 23.

One parent only must accompany students! Younger siblings may not accompany adults.  Due to the planned activities and available space, this experience is for your young author and one parent.

As part of the morning activities, students will participate in two rotations: one with well-known children’s author and speaker, Carolyn Crimi; and the other with Jocelyn Dupuis.  Following these rotations, students will enjoy spending time exploring technology, with an opportunity to share a piece of their piece of writing on a FlipGrid or online writing platform. 

Thanks to Better World Books, parents can purchase ahead of time Carolyn Crimi books online and then bring them to the March 2 event. Click here to preorder your student(s) books.

As a way to support Better World Books’ mission of providing books to children around the world to do their part in achieving global literacy, a collection box will be set up near Penn’s Door D for families to donate their gently used books.

BACKGROUND ON CAROLYN CRIMI:
Carolyn Crimi enjoys snacking, pugs, Halloween, and writing, although not necessarily in that order. Over the years she has published 19 books for children, including Weird Little Robots, Secondhand Dogs, Don’t Need Friends, Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Where’s My Mummy?, There Might Be Lobsters, and I Am The Boss of This Chair.  When she’s not snacking, Carolyn enjoys giving author talks to elementary schools all over the country.

BACKGROUND ON JOCELYN DUPUIS:
Also as part of Young Authors’ Conference, participants and parents will also enjoy an interactive experience with P-H-M’s extraordinary Jocelyn Dupuis.  Jocelyn has a passion for music education and the performing arts. As a music teacher, she has taught many students to enjoy music as well. 

*Questions, please contact Candace Cussen at ccussen@phm.k12.in.us.

Miss Engdahl selected for 2023 Indiana Educator Fellowship for Creative Teachers

At the start of the school year, 4th grade teacher Miss Josie Engdahl was selected for the prestigious program The 2023 Indiana Educator Fellowship for Creative Teachers (FCT), a program of the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) and the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).  
 
Miss Engdahl was one of just 20 educators from across the state who were chosen to participate in this innovative program! FCT celebrates and supports outstanding educators throughout the state in implementing creativity-centered innovation in the classroom. Click to see the photo gallery below of the art activities that have already taken place.
 

As part of the Fellowship, Miss Engdahl is participating in a series of immersive, hands-on training activities that will further support students’ academic education through the transformative power of the arts. National and statewide research supports arts integration as a highly effective and rewarding approach to meeting standards while reaching diverse learners, engaging students, and making a memorable and enjoyable experience for all.  
 
Along with the professional development, each FCT educator receives funding to host a free, creative arts residency in their classroom with a guest teaching artist from the community. These artist visits are focused on using the strategies and experiences of the arts to also teach learning in core subjects like reading, math, and science. Miss Engdahl is partnering with Teaching Artist Arianna Peak from the South Bend Art Museum on three in classroom experiences.
 
On November 1st, the student activity was painting in a watercolor booklet. The booklet reviews information about limestone formation from previous lessons and using watercolors to add details to previous drawings. Students will choose a color scheme and paint all 3 previous drawings. 
 
On Wednesday, November 8th was Sculpture Part I. Students continued their learning about sedimentary rock with a focus on stratum and limestones. They worked with clay and seashells to create their limestone sculptures. 
 
November 15th was Sculpture Part II; students reviewed mudstone and continue learning about different clay molding techniques and created an abstract sculpture. 

25th Anniversary Celebration

The 25th Anniversary Celebration held Wednesday, Oct. 11 was awesome! We celebrated 25 years of memories while also making new ones.

Dr. Thacker and other P-H-M administrators joined Principal Gary Gardner and Assistant to the Principal Emily Breeden to help kick things off with the ribbon cutting for our school’s new expansion which opened for use this school year.

Everyone enjoyed the music, face painting, bounce houses, balloon figurines, and of course the food trucks! 

It was so nice to see the familiar faces of former Hawks and staff all wearing the commemorative t-shirts.

Thank you to our PTO President Amanda Turnwald and the entire PTO, staff, and other volunteers who made last night a night to remember–for another 25 years at least!

Relive some of the sights and sounds in the video below:

Fall 2023 Penn Youth Girls Basketball League, 3rd-8th grade

Penn Girls Basketball Head Coach Kristi Ulrich is once again offering a fall youth basketball league 

The “Junior” League is open to girls in 3rd – 6th grades. The “Senior” League is for student-athletes in 7th & 8th grades. All those participating in the ”Senior” league MUST live in the P-H-M District or attend a P-H-M School.

Sign-ups are on Sunday, September 10  from 12 – 2 p.m. in the Penn High School Main Arena. Enter Door D. 

The League runs September 17th – November 12th with a single elimination tournament for all age groups.

All games will be played on Sundays at Penn High School in the Main Arena, Auxiliary and West Balcony courts. Tournament times may vary on Nov. 12th.

Weekly Game Times are:

  • 3rd & 4th grades: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 5th & 6th grades: 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
  • 7th & 8th grades: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Click here to download the PDF with more information and to register.