Highland News Leader

HIASAA Hall of Fame nominee: Patsy Schwarm, Career Public Service

Patsy Schwarm received a bachelor’s of science degree in education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1968. Her major was mathematics, and her minor was in instructional materials.

She completed a master’s of science in education at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1976.

She completed post-graduate classes in gifted education, special education, and writing instruction. Also, she completed national seminars conducted by noted educators Madeline Hunter, Marie Carbo, and Dr. Rita Dunn.

Schwarm began her career with Highland Community Schools in the fall of 1968 as a math teacher and librarian at Highland Junior High School. In 1976, she became assistant principal for grades 4-8 in Highland.

In 1984, Schwarm took a giant step forward as she took on the role of assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the entire school district. She continued in this role until her retirement in 2001.

During her tenure at Highland Community Schools, Schwarm was instrumental in many initiatives that improved the school district and the quality of education afforded its students. She revised the teacher-hiring process and was asked on numerous occasions to share the “Highland Hiring Process” with college classes, professional organizations, and other school districts.

Schwarm was a pioneer in developing a new teacher mentoring program. She started the Highland program in 1986. Similar programs are now endorsed by the Illinois State Board of Education.

She was also instrumental in revising teacher evaluation procedures and in bringing effective professional development to Highland educators.

She was a superb grant writer, writing numerous grants that brought in big dollars to help both teachers and students. Her writing skills provided major funding for technology upgrades, assisted many teachers in winning “Those Who Excel Awards,” oversaw strategic planning efforts, and coordinated the Blue Ribbon Awards won by Highland High School and Highland Middle School in 2001.

Schwarm also found time to lend her organizational skills and personal touches to the renovation of Highland High School and the construction of Highland Middle School.

As you might imagine, Schwarm earned many honors during her career. A few of these were: 1975 Highland Jaycees Outstanding Young Educator, 1981 Outstanding Young Women of America, 1994 Those Who Excel Award of Excellence in Education Administration, and 2001 Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow.

Additionally, Schwarm served the greater Highland Community through church involvement, serving on the Madison County Fair Board, Highland Police Task Force, Highland Business Education Alliance, Highland Area Community Foundation, and helping several organizations write grants.