The Indiana University School of Education at IUPUI honored two outstanding alumni during the second annual “Celebrating Transformational Leaders in Education” on Wednesday night at the IUPUI Campus Center. The even honored Jacob “Jake” Allen, MS’05, the principal of Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville, and Ann Mennonno, BS’99, first and second grade teacher at the Center for Inquiry at IPS School 27.

The event is to honor the achievements of early career alumni for their transformational work in public schools. A committee selects honorees from a pool of nominees. Each honoree receives a $1,000 award to advance his or her work. National Public Radio’s national education reporter Claudio Sanchez provided the keynote address for the ceremony.

The two honorees for this year’s ceremony have made distinctive marks on their schools and students since earning their School of Education degrees. Allen has successfully led Paul Hadley Middle School (PHMS) for three years. In the most recent Indiana state school assessment, PHMS narrowly missed an exemplary or “A” grade. Allen graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2000 with a degree in English Literature, but decided to enter education and completed the IU School of Education’s Transition to Teaching program in 2003. He began teaching in Mooresville Schools in 2004. He earned his master’s degree in language education in 2005 and then completed the Urban Principalship Program at the IU School of Education at IUPUI in 2009 and moved into his first administrative role as the Dean of Students at PHMS in 2010.

In August, the Indiana University School Administrators Association (IUSAA) based at the IU School of Education in Bloomington presented Allen with the Dean F. Berkley Emerging Leader Award. The IUSAA noted Allen’s passion for education and his attention and his focus on making sure all students can learn.

“Jake Allen is the epitome of a transformational leader in education,” said Scott Kern, the director of curriculum and instruction for the Mooresville Consolidated School Corporation. Kern called Allen a humble, servant leader and noted two other outstanding points. “Jake is an instructional leader,” he said. “He understands teaching and learning at a deep level. He is a student of his craft and works diligently to help teachers create an effective and efficient learning environment in the classroom. He understands that learning is much more than test preparation.” Kern said Allen also knows how to draw the best out of his staff. “He has the unique ability to listen, empathize, and challenge at the same time,” he said. “As a result, his staff is committed to his vision of teaching and learning.”

Mennonno is also an educator who has been recognized for excellence before. Earlier this year, the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) named her its teacher of the year for the second time (IPS also named her for the top award in 2004). A frequent presenter at district, state, national, and international conferences in the areas of language arts and science, Mennonno is a recognized innovator in teaching through the inquiry method. Last summer, she traveled to China to share teaching practices, where two schools replicated her classroom in their buildings. She is president of the Hearts in Education Teacher Outreach program which takes groups of teachers to Honduras where they work in rural schools in the country.

“Mrs. Mennonno exemplifies all of the attributes that make the very best teacher: she is meticulously organized, caring, positive, knowledgeable, collaborative, dedicated, professional, and purposeful,” said Jamilyn Bertsch, principal at IPS School 27. “It is a joy to observe Mrs. Mennonno’s class and see her students hard at work. In fact, every time that I enter her room, her first and second graders are happily engaged in authentic, rigorous learning tasks where they have adopted the roles of their discipline – working as authors in writer’s workshop, collaborating to solve problems as mathematicians, and exploring their world from the perspectives of scientists, historians, sociologists, and researchers. She is masterful with differentiation and embraces the opportunity to serve students with special needs, English learners, and high ability students – and her expectations are high for all students!”

The Indiana University School of Education at IUPUI is an institution defined by its place, while at the same time defining the role of urban education in the 21st century. Located in the heart of a major metropolitan area, the School prepares exemplary educators and leaders for urban settings.

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