inside update october 2018 P-H-M EMPLOYEE ENEWSLETTER

excellence happens here!

How do you celebrate 13 years as superintendent of one of Indiana’s top public school corporations? With 300 of your closest friends!

The annual Superintendent’s Luncheon, sponsored & hosted by the P-H-M Education Foundation, was held October 16. Community leaders, business partners, P-H-M parents, and P-H-M staff attended. To the left: Dr. Jerry Thacker is pictured with Mishawaka Mayor David Wood and PHMEF Exec. Director Mari Linn Wise.

Dr. Thacker gave his annual State of the District address highlighting some of the district’s most recent points of excellence:

  • For grade 10, P-H-M ranks in the Top 5% (out of 291 Indiana public school corporations that have a high school) for Spring 2018 ISTEP+ scores.
  • In grades 3-8, P-H-M is in the Top 6% of public school districts (out of 294 Indiana public school corporations that have grades 3-8) for Spring 2018 ISTEP+ scores.

The featured speaker was P-H-M parent and CEO of Lippert Components Jason Lippert. 2018 P-H-M Teacher of the Year, Penn’s Danielle Black and Title I Technology Integration Coach Jessie Kinney also addressed the crowd. As Foundation grant recipients, Danielle and Jessie both highlighted the Education Foundation’s mission to develop alternative sources of income to support education initiatives.

Click the button below to see the full photo gallery from the event.

fit for kingsmen

After seven months, the new Kingsmen Athletic Center at Penn’s TCU Freed Field opened for patron use and a community Open House on Friday, October 12.

Penn football players were given a sneak peak on that Thursday and Friday before the Open House.

Before kickoff of Friday night’s game, P-H-M Board of School Trustees members, along with Penn parents and fans toured the new 13,264 square foot facility at the South End of the field.

(left to right): Board of School Trustees Members Jim Garrett, Secretary Angie Gates, Jaye Galloway, Vice President Larry Beehler, Jamie Woods, PHM COO Aaron Lenski, Dr. Thacker, President Chris Riley, AD & Coach Jeff Hart, and Penn Principal Sean Galiher (Board member Gary Fox was unable to attend)

Even some curious Mishawaka patrons came in to take a look around ...

Dr. Dean Speicher, Mishawaka Superintendent (and former PHM Superintendent, 1971-1991)
Mishawaka Dir. of Operations Mike Faulkner & his wife

The new building includes three new locker rooms to be rotated during the Fall and Spring sports seasons: Football (varsity, JV and Freshmen), Track & Field (both boys & girls), and Girls Lacrosse.

Click the button below to learn more about the other features.

The Kingsmen Athletic Center also includes a new concession stand, public restrooms (30 stalls for women, 20 for men), along with three family restrooms, where none had previously existed on the south end of the stadium. There is also now a family plaza and picnic area. P-H-M and Education Foundation community business partner Zolman’s Tire donated $25,000 (over 12 years) to PHMEF for the naming rights for the new concession stand.

Click for more details on the new Kingsmen Athletic Center and Plaza and to see the full photo gallery.

penn fall season wrap-up

Penn’s Fall 2018 Season is now in the books. Penn teams were 7 for 8 for Fall Sectional Championships. Here’s a look at the tremendous season for our Kingsmen student-athletes, coaches and staff:

The Girls Golf Team, led by new head coach Katie Zielinski, upset South Bend St. Joseph to claim the Sectional Championship (9/15/18). The Kingsmen reign as Sectional Champs for the 11th consecutive season.

Penn Boys Tennis claimed its 17th consecutive Sectional Championship with a 4-1 victory against Adams (9/27/18). Led by Coach Eric Bowers, the boys also won the Regional Championship.

Girls Soccer, two-time defending State Champions, led by Coach Jeff Hart won the Sectional Championship for the 12th consecutive time & 17th time in program history; Penn beat Mishawaka 8-0 (10/6/18).

Boys Soccer, led by Head Coach Kyle Zaber, claimed its eighth consecutive Boys Soccer Sectional Championship and 12th in program history beating Riley 5-2 (10/6/18).

Volleyball won the NIC Athletics Championship title (10/6/18); Sectional Championship (10/13/18)--the team’s 15th Sectional Championship in program history. Coach Lisa Pawlik led the Lady Kingsmen to a Regional Championship (10/20/18) advancing to Semi-state.

The Boys Cross Country team, coached by Tom Miller, won the Northern Indiana Conference Championship (9/29/18) and Sectional Championships (10/6/18). The boys also won the NIC, placed third in the Regionals (10/13/18) & placed 9th in the Semi-state (10/20/18).

Penn Girls Cross Country Team, led by Coach Michael Clements, also won the Northern Indiana Conference Championship, Sectional Championship, and the Regional Championship advancing to Semi-state (10/13/18) placing 6th qualifying for State Finals (10/20/18). The girls placed 18th place in the XC State Finals (10/27/18).

Football Coach Cory Yeoman and his staff led the Kingsmen to win the first round of the Sectionals against Warsaw, 16-7 (10/26/18). The Kingsmen finished the season with eight victories. It was the 38th consecutive winning season for Penn Football.

Congratulations to all our Kingsmen teams for great seasons!

march to state

The Kingsmen Band finished 10th in the State Finals (Saturday, Nov. 3). It’s been quite a ride … before the end of school on Friday, Nov. 2nd, Wrestling Coach Brad Harper led the band through the school in the traditional March to State Pep Rally.

Then on Saturday afternoon they got a community send-off fit for Kingsmen! Penn Township Fire Department and St. Joseph County Police gave them escorted them to the Bypass as parents, students and patrons cheered them on.

Take a look at how the Band and Guard members let their parents know how grateful they were for all their support during these months of practice and preparation. Congratulations to Glenn Northern and all Penn Band directors!

middle school fall sports season wrap-up


  • 7th grade football team: 6-1 and Big 11 Co-West Divisional Champion
  • 8th grade football team: 6-1
  • 7th grade volleyball team:14-13 West Side Invitational Champions
  • 8th grade volleyball team:9-14
  • Boys' Cross Country: 9-2
  • Girls' Cross Country: 11-0 Regular season and Conference Meet Championships
  • Cheerleading: Big 11 Cheer Competition Runners-up and Jump Off Contest winner was 7th grader Hannah Nickles

Grissom 7th grade won West Division in Football.


  • 7th Grade Football record 6-1 (Big 11 Conference co-champions)
  • 8th Grade Football record 3-4
  • 8th Grade Volleyball record 19-6 (Big 11 Conference Tournament Champions)
  • 7th Grade Volleyball record 13-12
  • Cross-Country Girls record 7-2 (5th Place conference finals)
  • Cross-Country Boys record 7-2 (5th Place conference finals)

spelling bees

Penn, Schmucker and Discovery Spell Bowl Teams

Penn Spell Bowl team qualified for the State Championships by scoring an 82 out of 90 at the Plymouth Regional on Oct. 26.

Both Discovery and Schmucker Middle School Teams won in the Regional completions held on Oct. 31. Discovery scored a 69 out of 72 possible points; Schmucker scored a 63.

All teams will compete in the State Championships held at Purdue on Nov. 10th.

a gold star

Congratulations to the school counseling staffs of Schmucker Middle School & Penn High School for their recent Gold Star designation from the IDOE. The Indiana Gold Star Counseling Award signifies the school counselor-led steering team has met specific criteria identified for the development of a comprehensive school counseling model.

Schmucker Middle School was a first time recipient and Penn High School’s Gold Start status was renewed. Grissom Middle School was also named a Gold Star school in previous years.

The official award presentation will take place in November at the Indiana School Counselor Association fall conference.

teacher learning lab classroom

article written by: Lisa Russell

The Learning Division and Meadow's Edge are excited to share the pilot Lab Classroom!

This general education class is instructed by Sharon Obert, a teacher of 15 years.

Throughout her time at Meadow's Edge teaching 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, a lab classroom started to develop organically.

Seeing the wonderful work she was doing with workshop model in Reading and remediation using the instructional cycle, many teachers started visiting Sharon's classroom.

For the last three years, all new elementary P-H-M teachers have visited her classroom to see it all in action.

This year, a schedule was shared, opening up Sharon's 3rd grade classroom as a pilot Lab Classroom. By the end of December, the lab classroom will have hosted more than 100 visitors, including some from the middle schools!

Whether you're just starting to utilize workshop model

or wanting to perfect your workshop method with the instructional cycle,

all teachers are welcome to come observe and learn more!

Sign up dates for 2019 are coming soon. Click the button below to sign up.

excellence spotlights

a day at the museum!

“Young at Art" is a program developed in close partnership with the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame, Penn High School writing and art coaches, and the Title I second grade teachers. The program is now in its fifth year. By visiting the Snite Museum, Title I second grade students are not only exposed to art, but are immersed in an art experience! The program integrates art appreciation and history, with art creation and the Lucy Calkins writing program. We recently tagged along with two classes from Walt Disney. In this spotlight on “Excellence Happens Here,” see what the children experienced …

a warm welcome

Lyndsay Helman, a 4th grade Mary Frank teacher, researched that the best way to start a student's day is to look them in the eye and greet them. So she came up with one better ... finding a way to make a special connection with each one of her 28 students, every day! Let’s just say she’s got a pretty strong right arm!

lunchtime fun

National School Lunch Week was the week of Oct. 15th. At Horizon Elementary, two creative lunch room aides Jessica Moore and Kelly Gyselinck have discovered a way to cut down on the mayhem and antics by involving the students in organized, fun activities.

We went over to Horizon to check out this latest example of #PHMExcellence. Watch the video below.

fall is in the air

It’s fall and that means a you can count on a few things signify the change of the season--of course the changing colors of the leaves, but also things like the Young Adult Fall Sale, Halloween costumes, fall parties and dances ...

The Young Adult Program held it's annual Fall Sale Oct. 19 at Schmucker.
Students aren't the only ones who have fun dressing up for Halloween ... staff do too! Madison Principal Kevin McMillen and Secretary/Treasure Elaine Truex dressed up as "Prince Charming" and "Snow White;" some Madison staff members filled in as the "Seven Dwarfs;" Mary Frank Kindergarten teacher Lisa Wetzel dressed up as Mary Frank Principal Christie Heerschop; and Christie dressed up as "Pete the Cat."
Mary Frank Kindergarten classes had a ball doing everything from playing "Pumpkin Bowling" to "Pumpkin Golf."
At Moran, 5th grade students in Julie Sloan's class did "Pumpkin Math," while kindergartners enjoyed wearing their costumes.
Elsie Rogers students and families had fun at their annual "Monster Mash."
Schmucker hosted Exceptional Ed's annual Halloween Fall Ball on Friday, Nov. 2. Along with students from Penn's Exceptional Education Academy and the Young Adult program, students from Mishawaka High School and Elkhart Memorial High School also enjoyed the festivities. Penn's Peer Mentors danced and had fun with their mentees; and Penn's Art Club made spooky selfie cutouts.
Over at Walt Disney, 1st graders in Trisha Micinski's class scooped out pumpkin seeds as part of their "Pumpkin Math" project.
In Franca Peluso's 1st grade Walt Disney class, they watched a movie and enjoyed "Boo Snacks."
Later in the afternoon at Disney, 1st graders paraded through school as part of the annual "Book Character Parade."

meet the team

The Human Resources Department has had some recent changes.

Please welcome Laura Figueroa, HR Specialist for Certified Staff, and please congratulate Lyndsey Smith as the district's new Benefits Coordinator.

Pictured left to right: Laura Figueroa; Tammy Gizewski, Administrative Assistant; Mike Lureman, Director of Human Services; Donna Kelly, HR Specialist for Classified Staff; and Lyndsey Smith.

the office

In this latest feature of “The Office” we’re showing off Tammy Gizewski’s office.

Tammy has worked for P-H-M for 20 years. Previously she worked in the front offices of Bittersweet and Meadow’s Edge, which is where she picked up the “bug” for year-round decorations.

For every season, Tammy swaps out and redecorates the entire HR area. She has every holiday covered from Valentine’s Day to Christmas, and everything in between. Her full array of autumn colors is currently on full display!

Tammy says has two "HUMONGOUS” totes for winter. She’s been accumulating the decorations since 1998. Some have been gifts, given to her from staff and students.

“I love the memories that come back each time I open a tote and set out the decorations," Tammy says.

Know of someone with an office full of cool or personally unique things? Email and let us know. You never know whose office could be featured next month!

thanks for the good times

After 44 years, Beth Raker, Instructional Technology Coordinator, has officially turned the “power off” and retired from Penn-Harris-Madison.

When Beth started at P-H-M, in 1974 she was a 4th grade teacher at Mary Frank. From there, she went to Walt Disney for 12 years and taught grades 4, 5 and 6.

In 1974 when Beth, then “Wehrly,” started at P-H-M she was a 4th grade teacher at Mary Frank (see her 1st year picture below). From there, she went to Walt Disney for 12 years and taught grades 4, 5 and 6. She fondly remembers even teaching P.E. at Mary Frank and Walt Disney before they hired PE teachers! She helped open Prairie Vista 1989, teaching 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades.

It was at Prairie Vista that she fell love with computers--an Apple II and MECC to be exact! “I was fascinated by the educational uses that were possible,” Beth reminisces. “No one was responsible for the computer lab so I kind of took it over.” Beth eventually started running the computer lab and did so for three years. “It meant a great deal to me that they came up with the idea and asked me to do it.”

This has been the most rewarding job I can imagine and I have had so many good memories and friendships

In 1997, Beth moved into the role that she’s had for the past 21 years … Instructional Technology Coordinator. Originally it was a job she was only supposed to have for one year, the length of the state grant. At the end of the second year, she was asked to continue … and as they say, the rest was history! “This has been the most rewarding job I can imagine and I have had so many good memories and friendships,” Beth fondly recalls.

Beth’s last day was fittingly Halloween--somewhat of a Trick-or-Treat, a treat for her and a trick for the district! Sporting a Halloween sweatshirt she had made & wore from her teacher days, Beth said in a parting message to staff, “I am looking forward to getting up whenever I wish, spending more time quilting, volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages and at Resale to the Rescue. I am already part of the regular rotation taking & picking up our grandkids to and from school and am happy that I'll see more of them. I also love to read and can now finish the last chapter even if it keeps me up way too late!!!”

She will of course be doing her other favorite pastime, quilting! In fact, on her last day she brought in her nearly latest finished product for coworker Jessie Kinney, a mermaid snuggle blanket.

left to right: Beth shows the mermaid snuggle blanket off to Jessie. Beth beside one of her quilts proudly displayed in her IT office.

Not to worry, Beth has left the Instructional Technology department in very capable hands with Nancy Breidenbach, Danielle Lau and Jessie Kinney.

Jessie Kinney, Beth Raker and Danielle Lau

Danielle and Jessie have been training with Beth for 6 months. So when you have a question about the software and no one in your building knows the answer, just email Helpdesk@phm.k12.in.us and one of them will answer.

And for those of you who are wondering, YES Beth will still have Barnaby Pizza coupons to sell to staff, probably starting around mid-December.

coming up in november

  • Sunday, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. Many schools are having programs to honor veterans and/or to teach our students important historical lessons.
  • Monday, Nov. 12 is a P-H-M Board of School Trustees meeting (at the ESC).
  • Wednesday, Nov. 21 - Friday, Nov. 23 is Thanksgiving Break.
  • Monday, Nov. 26 is a P-H-M Board of School Trustees meeting (at Discovery Middle School).

want to share a story idea?

Get in touch with Director of Communications Lucha Ramey at lramey@phm.k12.in.us.

Look for #PHMExcellence

Follow us on

Created By


Most photos were taken by Lucha Ramey & Curt Rallo. P-H-M teachers & staff also sent in pictures

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.