Bethel Alumnus and Trustee Given Indiana's Highest Honor

Penn-Harris-Madison Superintendent of Schools and Bethel College Trustee Jerry Thacker ‘72, Ed.D., has been recognized with Indiana’s highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash award. The award is a special honor made by Governor Mike Pence and Thacker was nominated by State Senator Ryan Mishler. The award is a tribute from the governor for those who have rendered distinguished service to the state. The term “sagamore” was used by Native Americans to describe a great man.  

A Mishawaka native, Thacker is a graduate of Mishawaka High School. He has an undergraduate degree from Bethel College, a master’s from Indiana University South Bend and a doctorate in Educational Administration and Counseling from Andrews University. 

Thacker began his career as an elementary teacher in Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation teaching at both Madison and Mary Frank Elementary Schools. During his career in public education, Thacker held a variety of leadership roles including elementary school principal, director of curriculum, professional development and school improvement, director of elementary education and assistant superintendent. He was superintendent of schools in Logansport, Ind., before coming to Penn-Harris-Madison in July 2006. 

Throughout his career, Thacker has been actively involved in numerous professional organizations. He served as president of the Indiana Urban Schools Association, president of the Mid-American Association of School Superintendents (MAASS), executive committee member of the Growing and Suburban Schools Coalition, and adjunct professor at Indiana University. Currently, he is actively involved in the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS). In addition, Thacker serves on the boards of numerous community and civic organizations. 

Last year, Thacker was named 2013 Outstanding Educator and in 2012, he was named Indiana Superintendent of the Year. He has been honored as the IUSB School of Education Distinguished Alumnus of the Year and Bethel College Alumnus of the Year. As a champion of public education and lifelong learning, he has published numerous articles in professional journals and made presentations at state, national and international conferences. 

Under Thacker’s leadership, Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation is rated an A district by the Indiana Department of Education and students are achieving at the highest level in the history of the district. 

Thacker and his wife, Donna, a retired music teacher, enjoy attending numerous school events and meeting and talking with students and parents throughout the district.