Looking Ahead to 2015-2016

Posted on August 19, 2015


As an “A”-rated school district, Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation excels at providing an excellent education for our students! And the 2015-2016 School Year will be no different!

This year P-H-M has several new initiatives:

  • For the first time this year, 2,500 middle schoolers at Schmucker, Grissom and Discovery Middle Schools will receive Google Chrome Books! Last year, all 3,500 students at Penn High School received them. That makes 6,000 students in P-H-M with personal Chrome Books—more than half of our student population!
  • P-H-M’s Transportation Department is utilizing GPS tracking and the latest technology to help parents up-to-date with their child’s bus routing. Through the web-based  infoFinder i  and “Here Comes the Bus” website and smart phone app, P-H-M continues to provide great customer service to our families.
  • 130 Penn High School students are on track to be in the Graduation Cohort of 2019 of the Penn Academy of Early College. In this unique program, Penn High School has partnered with Ivy Tech Community College to offer a selection of courses, including dual credit courses, that can potentially earn a student college credits up to an Associate Degree by the time the student graduates. 
  • P-H-M continues to build community partnerships to help enhance the quality education, resources, along with extra and co-curricular activities we offer to our students. One such partnership is with Teacher’s Credit Union. On August 28, Penn High School’s football field, formerly known as Freed Field will be dedicated as TCU Freed Field. TCU will also work with P-H-M teachers and staff to provide financial education opportunities to our students and families.
  • In keeping with P-H-M’s Vision of Excellence, P-H-M established Exceptional Education, an in-house department whose goal is to provide special education services for students with identified needs. P-H-M’s goal is to provide an inclusive, cooperative, excellent education to ALL our students.
  • 100% of P-H-M teachers are rated “Effective” or “Highly Effective” by the state DOE standards and evaluations. This is because we invest in our teachers and educational staff by offering year round professional learning opportunities. This will continue to be an important initiative of P-H-M.


Highlights from 2014-2015:

Here’s a look back at the school district accomplishments achieved by our schools, students, teachers and staff from last school year:

  • P-H-M students perform in the top 5% of all Indiana districts on ISTEP+
  • P-H-M has seven Four Star schools, as named by the IDOE. They are: Horizon Elementary, Mary Frank Elementary, Prairie Vista Elementary, Northpoint Elementary, Discovery Middle, Grissom Middle, and Penn High School.
  • Prairie Vista Elementary School was named a finalist for the 2015 National Blue Ribbon School (announcement to come in the fall of 2015).
  • Northpoint Elementary School was ranked #27 in the nation among 70,000 schools by the organization TheBestSchools.org. Northpoint was cited for its academic performance, the strength and richness of its programs, and for earning National Blue Ribbon School status in 2010.
  • Discovery Middle School Science Teacher Shelia Toth was named P-H-M Teacher of the year and was nominated for 2015 Indiana Teacher of the Year (announcement to come in fall 2015).
  • Penn High School Principal Steve Hope was named Indiana District 2 High School Principal of the Year.
  • Penn High School ranks as the seventeenth best high school in the state by U.S. News and World Report, moving up from bronze to silver since the last U.S. News and World Report Ranking.
  • With a 97% graduation rate and a 90-25-90 rating by the IDOE, more than half of Penn High School’s graduating seniors receiving Academic Honors diplomas—a first for Penn High School—with a third earning High Honors, a distinction reserved for those with a 3.5 GPA or higher. Ninety-one graduates received Technical Honors diplomas, a tribute to the strength of the district’s STEM programs. Twelve seniors were named National Merit Finalists. There were 17 valedictorians and two salutatorians. Three seniors have earned coveted appointments to United States Military AcademiesThe combined value of their collegiate scholarships exceeds $8.5 million!
  • Over the Summer of 2015, Morgan Ludwig and Emma Moon, now rising seniors at Penn High, earned Congressional Award Gold Medals. Moon received her on honor on Capitol Hill from Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN, 2nd District). Ludwig received hers from Walorski at her Mishawaka District Office.  The United States Congress awards medals to ambitious young Americans who set and meet goals in four program areas: Volunteer Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.
  • Winning works of art by 13 Gold Key Scholastic Art Award winners from Penn were included and judged in the Scholastic Art Awards’ national exhibit.
  • The Black Knights, Penn High’s advanced robotic team, received the prestigious Chairman’s Award at state competition hosted by Indiana FIRST Robotics, then went on to represent Indiana in international competition.
  • The Baker's Dozen, a FIRST Lego League Robotics team made up of Horizon Elementary and Discovery Middle School students, attended the Razorback International Invitational at the University of Arkansas, competing against 71 teams from 31 states and 12 countries. The Baker's Dozen captured 1st place for Robot Strategy and Innovation, and earned a 4th place trophy in the Robot Game competition.
  • Penn High School TEAMS (Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science) did very well at national competition in June 2015: Penn’s 9/10 Team was named the Indiana State Champions; Penn’s 11/12 Team 1 brought home the 3rd place trophy in the Problem-Solving Competition; and Penn’s 11/12 Team 2, brought home the 2nd place trophy in the Written Competition. These students are coached by Mrs. Becky Tagliaferri.
  • Penn’s Spell Bowl Team won its 14th state championship with a perfect score of 90. The team is led by Mr. Pete DeKever and its success is based on the hard work of eighteen dedicated team members.
  • Schmucker Spell Bowl Team brought home the Spell Bowl State Championship for the third time in the school’s history. The team is led by Mrs. Sue Dale.
  • The Penn High School Symphonic Winds were awarded 1st place at ISSMA state finals, tying with Carmel. The Penn High Orchestra also did a tremendous job in the competition and judges awarded them a 6th place finish.
  • Penn Boys Baseball won the 4A State Championship and senior catcher Tim Lira was named the L.V. Phillips Attitute Award Winner.  This is the fourth state championship for head coach Greg Dikos, whose other big wins came in 1994, 1998 and 2001.
  • Penn Baseball coach Greg Dikos was named the Indiana Boys Coach of the Year by the South Bend Tribune.
  • Penn pitcher Skylar Szynski was chosen to represent the Chicago White Sox in the 2015 Area Code Baseball Games played in California in August 2015.
  • Penn Varsity Wrestling won the Team State Wrestling championship, after seven contenders advanced to state finals. The team championship is a celebrated first for Penn Wrestling.
  • Kobe Woods earned the Individual State Wrestling championship in his weight class. Penn last had an individual state champion wrestler in 1971.
  • Chase Osborn who earned the Individual State Wrestling Championship in his weight class, was the recipient of the Ward E. Brown Mental Attitude Award, issued by the Indiana High School Athletic Association, and also named MVP of NIC Wrestling.
  • Football coach Cory Yeoman was named Northern Indiana Conference Coach of the Year. He led the Kingsmen through a 12-1 season and on to the Class 6-A semi-state.
  • Penn Boys Rugby won the state championship, while Penn Girls Rugby took second place at the state tournament.  Penn Boys Rugby also competed and placed in the top ten at the national tournament.
  • Penn Softball coach Beth Zachary was named NIC Coach of the year.
  • Penn Girls Soccer coach Jeff Hart was named NIC Coach of the year and District I Coach of the Year by the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association.
  • Penn Girls Cross Country coach Josh Fletcher was named NIC Coach of the year.
  • Penn Boys Tennis coach Eric Bowers was named NIC Coach of the year.
  • Penn Boys Golf coach Tony Polizzzotto was named NIC Coach of the year.
  • Penn High School is the Northern Indiana Conference All-Sports Award winner for the 21st consecutive year.
  • Thirty-nine Penn student-athletes signed letters of intent to attend colleges and universities across the country; 12 of them with Division 1 Schools.
  • Glenn Northern, Penn band director and head of Penn’s Fine Arts Academy, was presented Phi Beta Mu’s Outstanding Bandmaster Award by the Indiana Chapter of the International Bandmaster’s Fraternity.
  • Superintendent Jerry Thacker was chosen by Indiana University South Bend to receive the 2015 IUSB Distinguished Alumni Award. He was recognized for his accomplishments at the May commencement ceremony.
  • Sean Galiher, principal of Schmucker Middle School, was named by the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce to the 2015 class of “Forty Under 40” as a young professional who’s making a difference.
  • Tom Hartman, Director of Facilities, was named the 2015 Indiana Support Professional of the Year by IASBO (Indiana Assn. of School Business Officials). 

Last Modified January 4, 2019