As part of National #CharterSchoolsWeek (May 12-18), Options is sharing stories about its teachers, students, supporters and more in an effort to help more people #ExploreOptions.
For Stacie O’Flaherty, the path to teaching wasn’t traditional, but it provides her with a chance to make an impact in a way she had always hoped.
Having always wanted to do something in science due to her passion for the experiments, she found her calling when she was one of just three girls in her ninth-grade science class.
“That experience made me want to make science a more approachable subject for girls,” said O’Flaherty. “I guess being a child of the 70’s just made me that way, but I didn’t like that people easily dismissed science because it was viewed as too difficult.”
Her passion for science led her to study environmental studies in college, followed by a position in an environmental lab where she assisted with work related to the Environmental Protection Agency.
After taking time away from work to raise her children, the landscape of environmental labs changed, but O’Flaherty’s mission remained the same.
“I wanted to finish my professional career by helping break down negative stigmas around science and be part of the solution for students,” O’Flaherty said. “I completed a transition to teaching program and became certified by the Department of Education.”
Her first experience in the classroom came as an Instructional Aid and soon after, she heard about an alternative charter school in Noblesville.
“I interviewed with Michelle (Walden) and Linda (Cunningham) in August 2013 and the next thing I knew, I was in the classroom for the first day of school,” O’Flaherty said. “That first year was such a blur because I was learning so much each day about Options, the students and being a teacher.”
Fast forward to today and there’s been a great deal of growth by Options and by O’Flaherty, all of which is made possible by a team dedicated to serving students.
“We’ve come a long way in five years,” O’Flaherty said. “It is a mission to help as many kids as you can while you’re still on this earth and we have the support to do that. I know we back up the talk because I’m surrounded by people that have the best interest of the students at heart.”
For O’Flaherty, her role of science teacher stretches far beyond with her mission-minded approach to life. Over the years, she has seen numerous students come through the doors and exit them with a strong foundation for future success and a high school diploma in hand.
“This is a really special place and we have so many successes,” said O’Flaherty. “We are able to get to know the students as people and that helps us connect with them on a different level. This truly is a school that has every type of student and we come together to form a great environment.”