— The following is a letter written by the parent of two Options Schools students —
When we were first introduced to Options, we thought, “Throwaway school, delinquents, marginalized children, poorly performing and there is no way we would send our children there.” — However, nothing could be further from the truth. Historically, this has been the public’s perception. But the insider view shows nothing less than miracles happening every single day.
The emphasis academically is not just testing, but rather on completion and mastery. The students build relationships with peers and adults which is the cornerstone of being able to function in society. You can attend the best schools in the world, perform well on standardized tests, and still not be able to get along with people and ultimately maintain employment. The social-emotional piece is just as, if not more important than the academic prowess.
Options has become a school of choice.
Our children have found their place.
They laugh every day.
They talk with and have friends.
They want to go to school.
They believe their teachers care about them.
They are being taught at their academic levels.
They like the small classes.
They are succeeding.
Both of our children started with Options during their middle school years. Our son was critically ill, which required multiple flights across the country for a clinical trial and treatments. His homebound instructor mentioned the newly started middle school at Options and their flexibility after our son had missed almost 18 months of formal schooling.
We had a good kid — did we really want him to be around “those kids”?
The staff helped him to catch up academically, helped him to re-integrate back into a school routine and provided compassion, humor, and understanding of his illness. His favorite memory is of his social studies teacher buying him a Dr. Pepper. That one gesture of human kindness caused our son to be understood, recognized and ultimately connected.
Our daughter struggled after the Noblesville school shooting and refused to attend school. Her homebound instructor suggested the newly opened sixth grade at the Options middle school.
We had a good kid — did we really want her around “those kids”?
The goal was to physically get her back into a school one step at a time. If she could not feel safe in her environment, she could not learn. She started attending Options Middle School for one hour a day. Soon that one hour became three hours. Now she attends full days. The staff did whatever it took to ensure her well-being, addressed her learning challenges, and collaborated with us strengthening the development of her as a whole child.
Every child needs a place where someone believes in them, accepts their uniqueness, and enjoy their gifts. Every child deserves to be respected and to feel safe. Every child wants a place where they can achieve.
“Those children” are miracles. “Those children” are the most incredible, talented, funny, Avant Guard and outside-of-the-box thinkers. “Those children” learn differently with just as much intelligence, capability, and capacity as traditional school learners. “Those children” are cherished and valued by teachers and staff whose goal is to ensure their success.
Our son is no longer marginalized but included.
Our daughter no longer is crushed in spirit but being restored.
Our children are rediscovering the love of learning.
Our children are thriving.
Our children are proud to be one of “those children”.
Sarah Reiff (Proud parent of two Options students)