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Jerry Thacker, Superintendent of Penn-Harris-Madison Schools (Photo Supplied) (AP)
Penn’s superintendent shares accomplishments, vision

Posted on Oct. 11, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

MISHAWAKA — The leader of Penn-Harris-Madison Schools plans to continue on the school system’s current track, while continuing to add more class choices and expand digital curriculum.

Penn-Harris-Madison Superintendent Jerry Thacker spoke to the school corporation’s educational foundation Tuesday.

Thacker listed the school corporation’s achievements through the past year, including the successes of teachers and staff, sports teams and other clubs and academic achievements.

He also noted some of the continuing challenges in the school district. With Indiana’s implementation more than a year ago of its voucher program for private schools and the expansion of charter schools, public schools face increased competition. Like many urban schools, Penn-Harris-Madison is also facing tighter budgets and a high percentage of students eligible for free-and-reduced lunch.

Thacker emphasized to the crowd how through those challenges the school corporation continues to make academic progress on several fronts, including high scores on standardized tests and having a graduation rate of 96 percent.

The future will bring changes he hopes will continue the school corporation’s success. This year, the corporation added several new classes to Penn High School, updated student computers and added a notification system to keep parents alert of weather delays or other situations at schools. Penn-Harris-Madison will continue to develop digital curriculum, he said, and also continue to keep classes and other learning communities small.

A major part of the school district’s success depends on getting word out to the community and offering “outstanding customer service.”

“We want to become the Nordstrom of public schools,” Thacker told the crowd.

That’s a task that includes everyone in the room, he said.

The Penn-Harris-Madison Education Foundation honored Thacker at Tuesday’s event for being named the 2012 Indiana Superintendent of the Year. The foundation gave him a plaque and also showed a video of students, teachers and staff talking about Thacker.