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

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.

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.

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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.

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.

2023 Community Connections Fair to be held Oct. 7

The Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation’s ENL Services’ is sponsoring the District’s FREE Community Connections Fair!

Come check out what the Mishawaka, South Bend, and Elkhart communities have to offer to your families!

P-H-M is inviting area businesses who want to participate in the Community Connections Fair to sign up. Click here to request a table at the event. 

The Fair will also include cultural performances from P-H-M students and families. Families wishing to sign up to perform, click here.

Bilingual interpreters will be on hand at the event to assist those families who need it.

Come out and enjoy the many cultural performances and student work that will be on display representing countries from all over the world! 

Please join us! Click here to download and share the flyer.

For more information, please contact:
Rylee Jacobson
P-H-M Elementary ENL Coordinator
(574) 271-8598, Ext. 50913
rjacobson@phm.k12.in.us

2023 Community Tailgate

This year’s annual Community Tailgate will be a great way to kick off the return of the Backyard Brawl between the Kingsmen and the Mishawaka Cavemen. 

All fans are welcome, Cavemen and Kingsmen! There’s plenty of food for fans on both sides.

Gates open at 5:00 p.m. You must have a ticket to the football game to enter. Once inside the stadium head down to the white tents in the South End Zone, near the Zolman’s Tire & Auto Care South Concession Stand.

For $6 you get your choice of hot dog, hamburger or brat served with a bag of chips, choice of drink, and a cookie. Food tickets for the Tailgate are purchased at the Tailgate.

 

2023-2024 District Activities Calendar

The 2023-2024 District Activities Calendar was mailed to the homes of P-H-M families the last week of July.

The calendar provides key dates for testing, recess breaks, and school specific events (for the schools that provided the information).

You can click here to view a PDF copy of the calendar. You can also view a one-page of the 2023-2024 school calendar that shows the school year at a glance.

The P-H-M District online (Google) calendar is the most up-to-date. You can add this district and any school calendar to your own personal Google calendar.

Each of our 15 schools also maintains an online calendar that is updated frequently with the school’s scheduled activities and event details. You’ll need to visit your school’s website to add that calendar to your personal Google calendar. 

P-H-M Named 2023 Best Community for Music Education

 

Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation was named among the Best Communities for Music Education (​BCME) in the country by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for the 10th year in a row!

Now in its 24th year, the 2023 Best Communities for Music Education program has recognized 830 school districts and 78 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 NAMM Foundation celebrated and recognized 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 our 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.

Elsie Rogers Elementary School's performance of Seussical the Musical

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 Kaleidoscope concert

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.

Support Staff Job Fair, Feb. 15, 2023

Looking for a job with flexibility around your student’s school schedule? Do you know of a friend or family member looking for a great place to work?

We’re hiring these positions:

Come out to our Job Fair for on the spot interviews!
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Schmucker Middle School (Door B)
56045 Bittersweet Rd, Mishawaka
 

Click here to see the open positions that are accepting applications. If you can’t make it to the job fair, fill out an application online today!