Mrs. Harcus Wins PHM Impact Award

Teachers whose students have seen significant First Semester growth, achieving individual improvement on their formative assessments over time, are being recognized with the P-H-M Impact Award. It’s quite an honor, and a surprise, to receive this award. Click here to see the photo gallery below of today’s surprise.

Today Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker visited Mary Frank Elementary Schools to congratulate 3rd grade teacher teacher Amanda Harcus with the help of Principal Christie Heerschop.

Mrs. Harcus was recognized for her students being the Top 1 or Top 2 in three subjects: Reading, Writing, Math on Clear Sight.

Congratulations to Mrs. Harcus and the hard work of her students!

While all P-H-M teachers across the district are dedicated to helping their students achieve personal academic success, we are especially proud of teachers and their students who have excelled.

The Impact Awards were first handed out in September 2023 to teachers with the most significant overall student growth during the 2022-2023 school year.

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.


One Book, One School 2023!

It’s once again time for One Book, One School! This year we will be reading “Billy Sure, Kid Entrepreneur

About the Book:

“Meet Billy Sure, twelve-year-old inventor and CEO of Sure Things, Inc., and discover all of his wild and wacky inventions in this start to a hilarious middle grade series!”

To keep everyone on the same page (literally), click on the calendar below. 

OBOS Calendar

For the FULL list of events, clicking this image will open a PDF that goes over the entire month’s activities. Happy reading!!!

One Book One School Image

Mrs. Banks Named Education Foundation’s Jeneane Arter Excellence in Education Award Winner

Teacher Appreciation Week brought more surprises and honors for one Mary Frank Elementary School teacher. Today the 5th grade students of Mrs. Alexandra (Lexi) Banks were on hand to help surprise her that she had been chosen as the 2021 P-H-M Education Foundation’s Jeneane Arter Excellence in Education AwardPlease see the full photo gallery.

The Arter Award is named after Northpoint Elementary School teacher Jeneane Arter and and is given to an outstanding P-H-M staff member. Students nominate their candidate to P-H-M Education Foundation by submitting an essay describing how a P-H-M teacher or staff member has contributed to their educational experience in P-H-M. Mrs. Banks’ students wanted to honor their teacher for all she’s done during this challenging school year. Fifth grade co-teacher Mrs. Erin Horvath helped the students with their nomination. The winner of the Arter Award receives $2,000, which is underwritten by Jason and Darla Lippert. 

These are some of the comments students submitted as part of their nomination:

~I love it when she gets excited during morning meetings, it always makes me happy.

~Mrs. Banks makes coming to school fun because she is so funny, she helps you with whatever you need, and if you are ever feeling down, she’ll make you feel so much better.

Click to read the student’s full nomination submission.

Mary Frank Principal Christie Heerschop and Mrs. Horvath orchestrated this morning’s surprise by telling Mrs. Banks there was a 5th grade Assembly in the cafeteria. While Mrs. Banks and her students waited for the “Assembly” to begin. Mrs. Banks was surprised when PHMEF Executive Director Jennifer Turnbloom walked in with Mrs. Lippert and a giant check! Also hand for the surprise were Mrs. Banks’ mother Lisa Pawlik, Penn High School Volleyball Coach and teacher.

Test Broadcast Article

2019 Running is Elementary Results

There was a break in the rain on Wednesday (May 1) for the 11th annual “Running is Elementary.” The course was mostly dry, but the 4th and 5th grade runners did get a little muddy!

Click to watch the YouTube video below & then click here to see the full photo gallery on our Facebook page.

The one mile run is held at Penn’s Cross-country course, which is located behind Elm Road Elementary School. Approximately 610 students participated in Wednesday’s race. Many more students participated in the 6-week training leading up to the race, but could not participate in the rain day event held on May 1; originally the race was scheduled for Monday, April 29, but had to be rescheduled due to rain.

This annual event encourages fitness, healthy choices and wellness. Fourth and fifth graders are encouraged to sign up for the free running club. Designated coaches at each school are then tasked with training the runners for the 6-week club which then culminates with the Running is Elementary one mile race. The students are cheered on by their families, principals, teachers and running coaches; it’s amazing to see the dedication and hard work the students put in to complete the race. 

Cindy Batalis (P-H-M’s 2009 Teacher of the Year and physical education teacher at Mary Frank Elementary School) began the yearly tradition of Running Is Elementary back in 2008. Batalis’ own love for running and her desire to pass that love on to students is evident in the passion she puts into the Running is Elementary event each year. 

The top times for the 2019 Running Is Elementary Race were as follows:

5th grade Girls Winner

5th grade girls winner
BIB# 485
Time: 6:42

5th grade Boys Winner

5th grade boys winner

BIB# 431
Time: 6:11 


4th grade Girls Winner

4th grade girls winner
BIB# 522
Time: 7:21

4th grade Boys Winner

4th grade boys winner
BIB# 163
Elsie Rogers
Time: 6:15

“Running Buddies” accompany those students who may need a little extra assistance and/or encouragement. All runners are to be congratulated for their efforts and hard work!

Running buddies Running buddies

Running Buddies Running buddies

A big thank you to the P-H-M Education Foundation and Corporations for Education for sponsoring the event! After Race Snack Donations were donated by Urban Swirl.

Kids Club 2019 Summer Registration Opens April 22

Kids Club 2019 Summer Program registration opens soon! Click here for more information and registration.

Full-day childcare is offered at two locations (Prairie Vista and Walt Disney Elementary schools) for current P-H-M students in grades K-5. Children will enjoy a variety of educational and recreational activities, crafts and field trips.

Cost is $125 a week, for five days a week. All children not currently enrolled in Kids Club are required to pay a $25 registration fee along with a non-refundable $100 activity fee deposit.

Click to download a copy of the registration form.

Locations:    Prairie Vista Elementary School

                       Walt Disney Elementary School

Dates:          June 6 – August 20, 2019

                       (closed July 4)

Times:          6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Questions: If you have questions about Kids Club Summer Session,

                       please call Binti Shah at (574) 258 – 9514 or

                       Ashley Stoffl at (574) 258 – 9587

Register Now for the 2019 Silver Mile Bubble Bash on Sat., May 4!

Saturday, May 4

8:30 a.m. – Noon

Penn High School

Register online today! Early Bird Registration is available until Sunday, April 21 ($20 for adults, $10 for students)!

Do you like bubbles? Well, if you do, you’ll enjoy the Silver Mile Bubble Bash!  

Highlighted changes for this year’s event:

  • Earlier start time, 8:30 a.m.
  • 1.5 mile and 5K route options
  • Lower early bird prices:$20 for adults, $10 for students
  • The school with the most participation will win a Gaga Ball Pit or 9 Disc Golf Baskets ($2,500 value)!
  • And more bubbles!

Missed out on all the bubbly fun last year? Don't let it happen two years in a row! Watch the video and see how much fun you and your whole family will have …

The Student Talent Show starts at 9 a.m.

The Health & Fitness Expo will be in the cafeteria where everything from free health screenings by presenting sponsor Saint Joseph Health System to numerous businesses showcasing their health-related items will be offered.

And don’t forget about the Silent Auction!

The Silver Mile Run is the largest fundraiser for the P-H-M Education Foundation and all the proceeds go towards providing innovative P-H-M teaching grants, scholarships to students, staff development, and other corporation-wide initiatives.

Click here to take advantage of early bird registration and for more information on the Bubble Bash.

P-H-M Named 2019 Best Community for Music Education

With music education programs at all grade levels (K-12), Penn-Harris-Madison has been named  one of 2019 Best Communities for Music Education for its outstanding commitment to music education. P-H-M is one of only 623 districts nationwide and 12 in Indiana to receive the honor from The NAMM Foundation

The Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. The BCME award acknowledges the commitment of P-H-M’s music teachers and administrators in the District’s 11 elementary, three middle schools and Penn High School.

  Grissom Middle School  Penn Orchestra students

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. 

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.

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.

Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation serves more than 11,100 students in 11 elementary schools, three middle schools and Penn High School. The School Corporation has consistently received an “A” rating from the Indiana Department of Education since 2011. With the release of the Spring 2018 ISTEP+ results, Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation ranks in the state’s Top 5% of public school districts for grade 10 ISTEP+ results and in the Top 6% for grades 3-8. Northpoint is Indiana’s #2 public elementary school and Discovery ranks #3 out of the state’s public middle schools. Penn High School ranks in the Top 5% of all Indiana public high schools and has a 97% graduation rate, exceeding the state’s graduation rate. P-H-M’s “Triangle of Success” connects students, teachers and parents for excellence in education. 

About The NAMM Foundation: The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit

Students celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, 2019

Our school celebrated World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) yesterday (Thursday, March 21, 2019) with students wearing crazy socks for 50 cent donation. Teachers and staff also wore 21-21-21 shirts.

Down Syndrome International says that the 3/21 date for WDSD  was chosen because it’s the “21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.”

World Down Syndrome Day 2019

Down Syndrome International also “encourages our friends all over the world to choose their own activities and events on WDSD to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.”

Our Mustangs Give Back Club put together this video to help mark this special day … 

2019 PHM Elementary Spell Bowl Results

Nail biter, suspenseful … not terms you usually hear to describe a Spell Bowl, but that’s what happened at last night’s (Tuesday, March 20) 33rd annual P-H-M Elementary Spell Bowl. Click to see the photo gallery on the PHM District website (you’ll be able to view & download a high resolution jpg file from the photo gallery by simply clicking the “DOWNLOAD” button on the bottom right hand corner of the photo wile viewing it in the Photo Gallery function).

It was a packed house at Penn High School’s Center for Performing Arts filled with more than 200 third, fourth and fifth graders from all of P-H-M’s 11 elementary schools, along with their family, friends and P-H-M staff from the students’ home schools. Click to see the full list of winners listed below.

Preparation for the Spell Bowl takes weeks, as the students work with their teacher coaches. Each school has three teams (representing each grade) made up of six students, plus one alternate. Preparation includes spelling under pressure, studying word lists, learning about word sources (e.g., Latin roots) and rules such as capitalization and pluralization.

The format of P-H-M’s Spell Bowl is very much like a written test. Similar to a traditional spelling bee, the emcee reads a word aloud and then uses it in a sentence. The students then have 15 seconds to write the word on paper. The words get progressively more difficult through each round. A panel of judges reviews the answers and then posts the scores for the audience to see. 

The 4th and 5th grade rounds had to go into “extra innings” for tiebreakers. Bittersweet and Northpoint’s 4th grade team of two students each went into the tiebreaking round with 29 points. Students had to spell appendicitis, hieroglyphic, reverberate, and Mozambique to win. Eventually Bittersweet beat out Northpoint by successfully spelling Mozambique. Click to see the full photo gallery on the PHM District website.

4th gr. tiebreaker Dr. Thacker & Bittersweet students celebrate Bittersweet students celebrate Bittersweet winning students: Collin Hickey & John Gutierrez

After that close match, it was time for the 5th grade round, which also had to be finished with an additional tiebreaker round. This time it was Walt Disney going head to head with Northpoint. Students went through all five tiebreaker words: antiperspirant, spelunking, westernization, putrefy, and Okeechobee Lake.  Judges then had to pull from their “secret bag of words,” giving the students the word affiliate to spell. Finally in the end, Walt Disney came out on top spelling affiliate correctly. 

Each first place winning team got their picture taken with their coach and P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Thacker. See the full list of winners below …

Northpoint, 2019 3rd gr. Spell Bowl winners 3rd Grade Winners:

  • 1st place – Northpoint with 26 points, Coach Deb DeLaurelle (team pictured to right)
  • 2nd place – Prairie Vista with 23 points, Coach Katie Harris
  • 3rd place – Bittersweet with 20 points, Coach Sheri Hedrick
Bittersweet 4th gr. 2019 Spell Bowl winners 4th Grade Winners:

  • 1st place – Bittersweet with 37 points, Coach Leslie Metcalf​ (team pictured to right)
  • 2nd place – Northpoint with 36 points, Coach Rosan Morehouse
  • 3rd place – Horizon with 26 points, Coach Jeanne Rehlander
Disney 5th gr 2019 winning team 5th Grade Winners:

  • 1st place – Walt Disney with 42 points, Coach Kristie Reynolds​ (team pictured to right)
  • 2nd place – Northpoint with 41 points, Coaches Jen Payne & Charity Grimes-Ford
  • 3rd place – Mary Frank with 29 points, Coach Christine Nisley

Special thanks to P-H-M’s K-5 High Ability Coordinator, Mrs. Anne-Marie Reininga, who is the Spell Bowl manager. This year’s emcee was Kate O’Brien, Penn’s Spell Bowl Coach.