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2014 Forty Under 40: Emily Pelino

Lou Harry
February 1, 2014
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pelino_emily_1col.jpg (IBJ Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Stepping in: Pelino took over the troubled KIPP Indianapolis charter school in 2009 after a disappointing four-year charter review (and after four previous leaders since 2004). In 2013, KIPP eighth-graders passed the ISTEP math test at higher rates than the district and the state.

Home school: Pelino said she learned a lot about drive from her father, an Italian immigrant who was the first in his family to finish elementary school. “Through him,” she said, “I could see what’s possible for kids and families in the long term.”

Rural rules: After studying at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she joined Teach for America and was placed in one of the lowest-performing schools in North Carolina. It happened to be down the street from a KIPP school. Its two founders became Pelino’s mentors. She earned a master’s in public health and master’s in social work but, she said, “quickly realized that, while I care about those issues, education was where I wanted to do my life’s work.”

Indy calls: Indiana wasn’t on Pelino’s radar when she got the call. But an intriguing offer—and being a bit closer to family in Michigan—sealed the deal.

AGE 32
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Family: single

Model teacher: “My fifth-grade teacher,” she said, “believed very deeply in all of the kids but drew a hard line around expectations. He wouldn’t let people slack off. There was always a bar to get to and it might take three, four or 10 times, but the bar was never lowered.”

Charter correction: “The misinformation I hear most frequently is that charter schools are private schools or selective schools. KIPP is a public school where 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. It really is a place for all kids.”

Down time: “I like to pretend that I have some spare time,” Pelino said. “When I do, I like to be outside. And I joined a book club.” Her personal book pile ranges from teen fiction to “Leveraged Leadership.”•
 

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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