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Monday, March 30th, 2009 - 12:31 pm

By Megan Summers

Peggy Buffington, Ph.D…

Superintendent of Schools, School City of Hobart

Peggy Buffington, Ph.D.Peggy Buffington’s high school counselors recommended she pursue a nursing degree, rather than her dream of teaching.

“It was 1981, and the employment outlook for teachers at the time was bleak,” she explained. “The counselors steered me to nursing, but after a year, I knew it wasn’t for me. I had always wanted to go into education, and I was going to do it and take my chances when I graduated.”

Pursuing her passion

Because she had friends who were attending Purdue Calumet, Buffington transferred to the Hammond campus and jumped enthusiastically into the teacher education program. Taking a full course load, she also worked full time at McDonald’s to pay for her education.

“I learned self discipline really fast!” she said.

After graduating in 1988 with a B.A. in Elementary Education with a Reading Endorsement, Buffington continued her education at Purdue Calumet in a master’s degree program, embracing the growing popularity of technology in the classroom.

She would obtain her Master’s in 1993 and go on to earn a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Technology at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus in 1998. While advancing her education, she also taught for the School City of Hobart and went on to serve as its Director of Technology. She was appointed Superintendent in 2008.

faculty encouraged her

While pursuing her master’s degree, she credited several Purdue Calumet faculty members for encouraging her. “The Dean of the School of Education, Robert Rivers; Professor Ed Vockell; and the late John Billard are and were exceptional people, and they truly inspired me to pursue my passion,” she said.

Buffington says she remembers fondly the late Billard, a 20-year faculty member, who helped make her a better teacher, leader and researcher. “Dr. Billard had such high expectations for his students, and that is something I share with him to this day,” she said. “I have set the bar high for the Hobart Schools, because I don’t think it’s enough for students to just get by.”

Vockell served on her doctoral dissertation committee. “I am a better educator because of what I learned from him,” she said.

‘The whole PUC experience prepared me . . .’

Buffington also cited the hands-on opportunities she received while a Purdue Calumet student, noting, “The methods classes were very intense, but I was really able to grasp the knowledge I was exposed to. She concluded by saying, “The whole PUC experience prepared me for my position today. The faculty recognized my abilities and encouraged me to be the best I can in everything I do.”

Her numerous accolades speak for themselves: Outstanding Achievement Educator Award from the Hobart Chamber of Commerce in 1996, Educator of the Year Award from the American Legion Post 54 in 1996, Teacher of the Year for the Great Gateway Region of the United States for Technology & Learning Magazine in 1994, and Indiana Teacher of the Year in 1991.

Yet, she says the success of the School City of Hobart’s 4,000 students is what truly defines her.