- IU South Bend Distinguished Alumni Award (2015)
Jerry L. Thacker earned a master’s degree in elementary education at IU South Bend in 1975. That experience nourished Thacker’s profound desire to work in administration, curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The groundwork laid at IU South Bend enables him, he says, to improve student achievement, align curricula with standards, invest in professional development, and implement best practices.
Thacker began his education career in 1972 as a sixth-grade teacher in Mishawaka. He held various positions in public education in Saginaw, Michigan, and Monticello, Indiana, and served as assistant superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township in Indianapolis, where he was also the director of elementary education. Later, as superintendent of the Logansport Community School Corporation, Thacker earned a reputation for promoting high academic achievement. Once ranked near the bottom in the state for graduation success, under Thacker's leadership Logansport High School landed in the top third. Other measures of student achievement improved across the board.
Jerry L. Thacker is currently Superintendent at the Penn-Harris-Madison (PHM) School Corporation in Mishawaka, Indiana. During Thacker's tenure at the PHM school corporation, the graduation rate has increased from 79 percent to 97. 7 percent. This premier district is home to the number-one ranked elementary school and the number-one ranked middle school in Indiana. Out of 14,000 school districts nationally, both have been placed in the top fifty.
An integral member of the School of Education's advisory councils, Thacker is engaged in leading strategic efforts to make IU South Bend a greater institution than it already is-one that produces even more top-notch educators.
In 2015, IU South Bend presented Thacker with the campus’s Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2013, the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents named Thacker its Outstanding Educator; in 2012, he was named the Indiana Superintendent of the Year. He has received distinguished alumnus awards from the IU South Bend School of Education and from Bethel College, where he earned his bachelor's degree. Indiana Governor Mike Pence recently presented a Sagamore of the Wabash, Indiana's highest honor, to Thacker.
Thacker has served as president of the Indiana Urban Schools Association and the MidAmerican Association of School Superintendents, and as an executive committee member of the Growing and Suburban Schools Coalition. He is actively involved in the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, and he serves on the Bethel College Board of Trustees, as well as on boards of numerous community and civic organizations.