Loren Hershberger – District 1

In 1984, Loren Hershberger, graduated from Taylor University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics education. He received his Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Purdue University Calumet in 1987. Then, in 2003, he received his elementary and secondary administration and supervision certification from Indiana State University. After teaching math at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (Valparaiso Community Schools) from 1984 to 2006, he became assistant principal and a teacher at Flint Lake Elementary (VSC). Then, in 2008, he began his tenure as principal at Northview Elementary School (VSC). Loren takes particular pride in Northview’s academic team successes and in mentoring teachers. Inspired by his father, he has always striven to be a servant leader. In that spirit, he promotes a sense of caring in all relationships between students, teachers, administrators, and parents. He looks back on experiences with both students and teachers who have gone through a particularly difficult situation yet reached the end of that “season,” and he reflects on the tremendous growth that has occurred through working together with them

Donna Biggs – District 2

After Donna Biggs earned her Bachelor of Science degree in special education at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2000, she taught at two different schools in Las Vegas before moving to Handley Elementary School (LaPorte Community School Corporation) where she taught students with mild disabilities. After earning her Master of Science degree in education in 2008 at IUPUI, she became dean of students at Morton High School (School City of Hammond). Since 2008, she has served as principal of Crichfield Elementary School (LaPorte Community School Corporation). In December, she will have completed work on her Education Specialist Degree in school administration. Donna takes pride in her school’s earning an A rating in eight of the last nine years, of being named a Four Star School in six of those years, and of being certified as an IDOE STEM School. For eight years she has partnered Crichfield with the Kiwanis K-Kids program which provides leadership and community service opportunities to students. After researching dyslexia education, she initiated training for K-2 teachers and has seen much progress. In short, Donna characterizes herself as “a firm believer in the power of a team [that] can achieve far more together than any one person can on their own.”

Bradley Bakle – District 3

Bradley Bakle took both his Bachelor of Science degree (1978) and his Master of Science degree (1984) – both in elementary education – at Indiana University Fort Wayne. After ten years in the classroom, Bradley became principal of Hoagland Elementary School in 1994, of Monroeville Elementary School in 1996, and of Village Elementary School in 1998 – all part of East Allen County Schools. After serving as director of elementary curriculum and assessment from 2000 to 2002 for East Allen County Schools, he became superintendent of elementary education and assessment in that district from 2005 to 2007, earning his Ph.D. in educational administration in 2006. Since 2007, Bradley has been the principal of Cedarville Elementary School (EACS). He regards with pride his school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) Lab as well as the technology component of the music curriculum. He sums up his goal as a school leader with these words: “I want to develop others to the point where I work myself out of a job.”

Shannon Cauble – District 4

After completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education at Purdue University in 1996, Shannon first worked as an instructional aide at Southwestern Middle School until 1999 when she became a teacher at Middle Academy South, also in the Tippecanoe School Corporation. While teaching at Mayflower Mill Elementary School from 2003 to 2007, she earned her Master of Arts degree in educational leadership from Ball State University. Then from 2007 to 2010 she was the assistant principal at Klondike Elementary School and from 2010 to 2013 the principal at Otterbein Elementary School (Benton Community School Corporation). In 2013, Shannon returned to Mayflower Mill Elementary as principal. She ranks as her proudest accomplishment the implementation of the C.L.I.M.B. Program (Children Learning to Independently Manage Behavior). More than an alternative to out-of-school suspension, the program supports students in building skills and resiliency. With teachers and students more connected, recidivism has decreased. Her assistant superintendent praises both Shannon’s implementation of Playworks and of the Parent University program that most families in her building attend

Matthew Miller – District 5

Having graduated from Indiana State University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree, Matthew began his career teaching physical education in Rossville Consolidated Schools in 1998. He took his Master of Arts in education degree from Ball State University in 2001, becoming assistant principal of Hershey Elementary School (Tippecanoe School Corporation) in 2003 and then at Clinton Central Elementary School from 2004 to 2013. Currently, Matthew is the principal and Title 1 coordinator for Tri-Central Elementary. Promoting collaboration, he implemented the C.L.A.S.S. (Connective Learning Assures Successful Students) developmental model. Matthew cites Life Goals as the foundation for students. With pride, he talks about grants that led to the completion of a state-of-the-art STEM lab in his school. Regarding leadership, he writes, “A building principal is the leader of the school; however, in no way can the principal do it alone! I believe it takes a great TEAM to have success.” His superintendent writes of Matt, “he has a great compassion for the staff that he leads. Put this together with his love of students and his ability to get total buy-in from his staff, and you have a great principal.”

Julie Gregg – District 6

With a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Anderson University (2008), Julie began her teaching career at General Shanks Elementary teaching fourth grade. Then in 2009, she moved to Broomfield Elementary where she taught kindergarten until 2014. While pursuing her Master of Arts degree in educational administration and supervision through Ball State University, she became principal of Redkey Elementary School from 2014 to 2016. In 2016, she returned to General Shanks Elementary to serve as principal there. Then, taking on the task of bringing three very different schools together in 2018, she started her present tenure as principal of East Elementary. (All of her schools have been part of the Jay School Corporation.) Points of pride in Julie’s career include that integration of staff, parents, and students from three different schools into one new school as well as serving as team leader for restructuring the entire district’s intervention program. As school safety specialist, she has implemented a layered protection approach. Julie strives to encourage the development of skills, empathy, and kindness in the face of adversity in all her school’s students. Her superintendent writes of Julie, “She is adept at managing the complex environment that exists within our schools while never losing sight of the human touch that is essential in bringing out the best in our kids, parents, faculty and staff.”

Dennisha Murff – District 7

Dennisha Murff earned her Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education and kindergarten/primary education as well as her Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Ball State University in 1999. From 1999 to 2003 she taught at Rhoades Elementary School (MSD of Perry Township in Marion County). After earning her Master of Science degree in education through Indiana Wesleyan University in 2002, she became assistant principal at North Wayne Elementary School (MSDPT). Having earned her educational administration licensure at Indiana University in 2004, she has served as principal of Westlake Elementary School (MSDPT) since 2007. In 2017, Dennisha completed work on her Ph.D. in educational leadership through Purdue University. She is proud of the focus on a culturally responsive and equitable learning environment provided for students, staff, and families, especially regarding the involvement of her staff. She used the Equity Audit conducted in 2014 to plan professional learning activities and meets with each staff member to discuss individual student data. Dennisha’s superintendent writes of her, “Dr. Murff has created a culture of excellence. A culture where professional development is focused on delivering a viable high quality curriculum. A culture where all staff are united in the mission of the school. A culture where student achievement and school spirit have both increased.”

Suzanne Marrs – District 8

Suzann Marrs holds a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education, a Master of Science degree in administration, and a Ph.D. Currently, she is the principal of Sugar Creek Consolidated Elementary School in West Terre Haute, Indiana. At her school she has recently implemented a program she calls the Principal Prize Patrol. Because the program focuses on positive relationships established between families and the school, she and the classroom teacher visit a selected family, deliver dinner, and present an award emphasizing how thankful the school is to have the family in its community. Suzanne also takes particular pride in the tower garden, made possible by a partnership with Indiana State University and Juice Plus, which enables students to grow and harvest vegetables at school all year long. Over the past two years, she has added a sensory path, a sensory room, and an imagination station where students build, create, and use hands-on STEM activities to help grow and foster their emotional development.

Brooke Phillips – District 9

Principal of Maple Grove Elementary School (Center Grove Community Schools). Brooke Phillips has served in that capacity for eight of her nineteen years in education. She appreciates the value of professional learning communities made possible by early release time for teachers. Since implementation of that approach, her school has seen not only an increase in student proficiencies but also an enhancement of teacher collaboration and sharing of personal victories expressed through data. She is particularly proud that each grade level team in her building collaboratively plan lessons in a spirit of trust engendered through the PLCs. Her leadership style depends in large part on personal communication with teachers and high expectations of all stakeholders. As the mother of four children, she recognizes the importance and needs of families. This year she received the MVP Award from Team FPWR (Foundation for Prader-Willi Research) for her fund-raising efforts, inspired by her son who was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome. Her assistant principal says, “Brooke is quick on her feet to collaborate with the appropriate teams and implement a new plan while showing calmness and support to her staff.”

Kara Holdsworth – District 10

Kara Holdsworth received her Bachelor of Arts degree in education from the University of Kentucky and her Master of Education in administration from Xavier University. She taught at elementary schools in Kentucky from 1991 to 1997 before moving to Switzerland County Elementary School where she stayed until 2001. After serving as a school counselor at Graham Creek Elementary (Jennings County Schools) from 2001 to 2002, Kara became the Title I Program Administrator for Jennings County Schools from 2002 to 2010. From 2010 to 2014, she served as principal of South Decatur Elementary School (Decatur County Community Schools). Then, in 2014 she worked as associate principal at Greensburg Elementary School and since 2016 has been the principal there. In that role, Kara takes particular pride in the implementation of Time to Teach, a response to inconsistent individual classroom management plans, most significantly in one strategy in particular: teaching students behavioral expectations consistently throughout the school. In addition, she also points to the implementation of Second Step, a social/emotional learning curriculum that gives teachers the tools to provide for a supportive, successful learning environment and gives students the strategies to understand their emotions and regulate them. Her superintendent describes Kara as “an outstanding evaluator of teaching ability who pushes her staff to constantly improve their instruction.”

Melissa Pancake – District 11

Melissa Pancake completed her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary and special education in 2007 at Indiana State University. After four years of teaching at Tecumseh-Harrison Elementary School (Vincennes Community School Corporation), she served as a curriculum coach for the corporation until she became assistant principal of Clark Middle School for one year. Since 2014, Melissa has been the principal of Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, also in the Vincennes district. She is proud of the grant she received from Toyota to purchase Project Lead the Way Launch for all K-5 classrooms, a grant that also made possible training for every classroom teacher. She observes that the implementation of Instructional Rounds each semester has given teachers a positive experience. In addition, she has initiated a new reading incentive program as well as measures that transformed math instruction and performance. She also adapted behavior logs in PowerSchool to allow positive behavior options for teachers. It is likely that students most enjoy Pancakes with Mrs. Pancake, a reward for good behavior. Her superintendent describes Melissa as “battle tested” and adds that her experiences have led her to understand “the true meaning of what compassion, hard work and love for your students truly embodies.”

Laura Morris – District 12

After taking her Bachelor of Science in elementary education at Indiana University Southeast in 1998 Laura Morris added a Master of Science in elementary education with an endorsement in special education also from IUS. Starting in 1998, she taught special education classes successively at East Washington Middle/High School, at Charlestown Middle and Northaven Elementary (Greater Clark County Schools), and at Angelo Rodriquez High School in California when her husband was stationed at Travis Air Force Base. In 2008, she earned her educational leadership California licensure at Sonoma State University. Then, in 2012, she took on the role of assistant principal of River Valley Middle School (GCCS) and the next year became principal of Corden Porter Education Center (GCCS). For the past four years, Laura has been the principal of Northaven Elementary School. Leading her staff on the difficult journey to effective data-driven decision-making, she is proud of moving the school from a D to an A in her first year. In the second and third years, teacher enthusiasm soared. Inspired by a principal she met at the Trauma Informed Schools Conference, Laura started partnering with United Way, Amazon, and other organizations to meet the many needs of her students. Laura’s assistant superintendent calls her “a catalyst for enthusiasm.”

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