Alumna earns inaugural “Lugar Education Patriot” award

Monday, March 15, 2010

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar and Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett presented the first "Lugar Education Patriot" award on Saturday (March 13) to Indiana University alumna Dr. Peggy Hinckley.

Hinckley is superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township in Indianapolis, and she is a 1974 graduate of IU Bloomington who earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education.

According to the award criteria, the honor is for "a school, school corporation, or education leader who has demonstrated leadership and initiative in improving the academic achievement and career preparation of Indiana students." Warren Township, an urban district which includes nearly 12,000 students with a poverty rate of more than 85 percent at some schools, made "Adequate Yearly Progress" (annual academic performance targets) in every school in 2007.

The U.S. Department of Education honored Hawthorne Elementary School for closing the achievement gap in 2008-2009 among designated Title I schools (schools identified for extra funding for at-risk students).

"I had heard Senator Lugar mention that he was going to create this award, but never in my wildest imagination would I ever dream that I would be the first recipient," Hinckley said. "So I am really humbled because there are many superintendents doing good work in Indiana, and the fact they would single out Warren Township is a great honor."

"Peggy Hinckley has established a proven model for Warren Township," Lugar said, "and we look forward to many more exciting accomplishments coming from Warren Township schools."

After arriving in 2001, Hinckley implemented an eight-step program to focus on student needs and raise achievement. "We have a continuous improvement model that requires teachers to use ongoing data to make teaching decisions," Hinckley said. "So we really aren't doing the same things we've always done, and we work very hard every day to make sure kids get daily remediation or enrichment based on what the data sets tell us rather than wait until the end of the year and try to remediate them in summer school."

Hinckley said the academic calendar is broken down into three week blocks. Assessments of student achievement monitor how well students have learned the concepts emphasized during that period.

"The principal meets with those teachers every three weeks to go over their data," Hinckley said. "They decide for the next three week period what they're going to change in their instruction to meet the needs of those children." All Warren Township elementary schools use the method. Implementation has begun at other grade levels.

"When we are able to identify best practices, it is critical we share them with schools around the state so they, too, can improve," Bennett said. "Superintendent Hinckley's work proves, with bold and swift changes, students who once struggled can make great strides in closing the achievement gap."

"We're very proud of Dr. Hinckley's achievements," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education. "The School is pleased to have alumni like her who are turning around schools in need of improvement and setting the standards for others to follow."

Hinckley has served as Warren Township's superintendent for nine years, after heading the school systems in River Forest and La Porte. She was an elementary teacher for six years before entering administration. Hinckley said the award reflects Warren Township's commitment to making sure all students succeed.

"We take children no matter what the circumstances are, and we try to make them whole in terms of their educational achievement because that's our job," she said.

More about the Lugar Education Patriot Award and Hinckley is available on Senator Lugar's Web site, at