inside update: 2016-2017 december issue E-NEWSLETTER FOR P-H-M EMPLOYEES


On December 8th, Grissom Principal Nathan Boyd got the surprise of his life … a gym full of 600 students, teachers, staff, P-H-M administrators, out of town friends, and family (by way of video) all gathered to say "Great Job!" And TV cameras and photographers were there to capture it all.

The surprise pep rally was the school’s way to say congratulations and to celebrate Boyd being named 2016 Indiana Middle School Principal of the Year.

With the help of lots of "sneaky" Grissom staff, Assistant Principal Seth Molnar was able to pull off the coup of the year!

Grissom staff had some co-conspirators from the ESC. Dr. Kay Antonelli got Boyd out of the school building by calling him to the ESC for a couple of hours of meetings. But it was Molnar’s creativity that got Boyd down to the gym … a supposed wild squirrel on the loose in one of the gym locker rooms!!!

Adding to the fan pep rally atmosphere, students even had Boyd “face signs” as they cheered for their favorite principal.

Nathan was very moved by the incredible outpouring of support from the students and staff, telling them "You are how I measure my success! You are the reason I'm here!"

Boyd definitely has plenty of memories (and mementos) to last him a lifetime!

surprise #2

December was full of surprises! Retiring P-H-M Board of School Trustees Member Randy Leliaert got a little shock of his own at the December 12 Board Meeting … he was awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash Award! The Award is presented as a tribute to those who’ve rendered distinguished service to the governor and/or the state of Indiana. Governor/Vice President-Elect Mike Pence named Leliaert as one of this year’s honorary Hoosiers for his 20 years of service on the P-H-M Board.

Dr. Thacker, Karen Leliaert, Randy Leliaert, Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood and PHM Board President Gary Fox

The presentation was made at Leliaert’s last P-H-M Board meeting. In August, he decided not to run for re-election. Retired P-H-M business education teacher and Penn Girls Golf Coach Jim Garrett will succeed Leliaert as Penn Township Seat 3 Board Member. He was elected in the November 2016 elections. Garrett will be sworn in at the Monday, January 9, 2017 Board Meeting.

thank you!

‘Tis the Season for giving, and thanks to you, P-H-M helped United Way get a $15,000 bonus donation on top of the P-H-M donations! The P-H-M United Way Employee Campaign wrapped up on December 1. Those few extra days pushed the campaign over the top with 5.57% total employee participation rate, earning that extra $15,000. Thanks for Living United!

don’t forget to unplug

Winter Break is a full two weeks, so while you are recharging and taking a rest, don’t forget to make sure your buildings/classrooms are prepped to take a rest as well.

Use Energy Manager Rob Lovett’s Energy Saving Checklist:

  • TURN OFF all lights, computers, monitors, speakers and non-networked printers
  • UNPLUG sound enhancing and projector equipment, microwaves, coffee makers, radio/cd players, DVDs, any appliances with a clock or display, charging equipment and power strips
  • CLEAN OUT & UNPLUG personal refrigerators
  • SET BACK thermostats
  • CLOSE window blinds

We can all help save the District money over this long break if we all do our part! Over the past ten years, these energy saving tips have saved the district more than $6.5 million! Click below to read the Year to Date Energy Savings Report ...

promising practices

The English Language Summer Academy (E.L.S.A.) is the fifth P-H-M program to be named a Promising Practice by the Indiana Department of Education. E.L.S.A. received the recognition at the end of November.

E.L.S.A. is an intensive three-week and is free-of-charge to every elementary student who has received ENL support services during the preceding school year. E.L.S.A. provides students guided practice in academic English--reading, writing, speaking, and listening in selected grade-level content areas. In the Summer 2016, the curriculum featured Reading/Language Arts (including informational writing and a novel study), hands-on STEM studies (Life Science, Engineering! Math, Coding), Theater (role playing), and Art (image making through the writing process). The session culminated with a Family & Friends Finale with over 200 guests attending!

E.L.S.A. in the summer of 2015--and after extensive ongoing training opportunities for professional ENL staff, ENL Instructional Aides, and General Education teachers---70% of P-H-M ELLs increased a minimum of one proficiency level on the 2016 WIDA ACCESS for ELLs. The state average for growth in proficiency is around .5 level. In addition, 87% of our ELLs passed the 2016 I-READ 3 assessment. Parent involvement has also risen dramatically with our outreach and new ENL programming.


Moran Elementary students

Shelli Treely, Moran Reading Specialist, wrote an article for the December issue of "MindPlay Teachers’s Playbook" national newsletter. The article features details about the growth of P-H-M students (K-5) using MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach and how teachers at Moran motivated students.

student success


Two P-H-M FIRST LEGO LEAGUEs enjoyed great success in competitions this month.

Team 1920 “Flufflepuff” FIRST LEGO LEAGUE State Champions

Team 1920 “Flufflepuff” were named State Champions after taking 1st place in all categories! Team members are made up of students from Discovery, Horizon and one home schooled student. Next up, the World Festival in St. Louis at the end of April.

And the “Fuzzy Wuzzy Disaster Busters” took first place in the Strategy and Innovation Award at the Northern Indiana FIRST LEGO LEAGUE Championship Tournament. Team members include students from Northpoint and Discovery.

Indiana Stock Market Competition

For the fourth year in a row Discovery’s team won 1st place in the Indiana Stock Market Competition; another Discovery team took 3rd. The competition is sponsored by the Indiana Council for Economic Education to encourage study of the stock market and investment decision making.

'twas the night before christmas ...

Penn Senior English students read to Bittersweet K-3 students

A Penn Senior English Class spread a little holiday cheer as holiday readers at Bittersweet. The high school students developed activities to do with the elementary students (giving them a little public speaking experience). The elementary students got to work on their writing and story elements skills. A great experience for Grades K-3 and 12.

happy holidays!

Congratulations on your outstanding accomplishments this past year and thank you for your commitment to excellence. I am proud and honored to work with you all. As the holidays approach, may they bring you and your loved ones joy, blessings, health, and happiness!

Dr. Jerry Thacker, Penn-Harris-Madison Superintendent

Pictures from "Breakfast with Santa" (December 3)

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