Kickboxing World Champion speaks to Options students

NOBLESVILLE – Actor, stuntman and former world kickboxing champion Jerry Trimble spoke to Options-Noblesville, Options-Carmel and Options-Distance Education students on Tuesday morning at Ivy Tech Community College in Noblesville.

An inspiration to many, Trimble shared his story of how he was able to overcome bullying and go after his dreams of becoming a World Champion Actor and Stuntman. Using his own life as a blueprint for creating change, Trimble inspires youth to get out of their comfort zone discover their gifts and use those gifts to go after their dreams.

With students in attendance from both Options campuses and Options Distance Education students having streamed the event, all Options students were able to hear Trimble’s story of overcoming adversity to turn his dreams into reality. Students in attendance also participated in some activities to encourage them to embrace change. Options students & parents interested in re-watching the presentation can email their respective Principal to obtain the website link.

Following the event, Trimble recapped the event and shared some words of wisdom.

“My intention coming in here is that I plant seeds of hope, inspiration and empowerment into each of their minds, bodies and spirit,” Trimble said. ” So when they walk out of here, they’ll know they have something special and they can tap into whatever they have. You know, it’s a process and hopefully I share my process with them so they can get something out of it to the point where they’re going, ‘Wow, I can actually, I can do that. I can do what he did. If it’s not becoming a world champion, it’s something else.'”

The event was also covered by WISH-TV and was featured in Tuesday’s evening news broadcast.

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers a Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana. Providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1. With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002.

 

Options @ BACA Open House set for January 20

Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) | Open House Flyer

Having launched in September 2019, a new partnership between Options Schools and The Behavior Analysis Center for Autism (BACA) now provides families with the opportunity to have access to Applied Behavior Analysis therapy and an accredited public education in one convenient location.

With a limited number of seats remaining in the program, Options @ BACA will hold an Open House on Monday, January 20. The event will begin at 5 PM and take place at BACA Prep in Fishers. All interested families are welcome to attend, but will need to RSVP for the event by emailing Andrew Piper (apiper@optionsined.org).

Known as ‘Options @ BACA,’ the program offers diploma, certificate and functional academic tracks based on the individual needs of each student. Options’ highly-qualified team is co-located within BACA Prep in Fishers. This blended model has provided students with an optimal learning environment to receive both their education and therapy services.

Students attending the ‘Options at BACA’ program will participate in the educational program for three hours each day, either during the AM or PM session. In addition, families may choose to enroll with BACA for clinical services to be provided during the opposite session from education. Students do not need to be receiving BACA services in order to enroll in the ‘Options @ BACA’ educational program.

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers a Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana. Providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1. With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002.

 

Paving the way with Senior Institute

Since Options Schools was founded in 2002, the Senior Institute program has been a strong fixture upon which the foundation of Options has been built.

Within that program, each graduating senior is required to complete a community service-based learning project that spans the entirety of their senior year and requires at least 30 hours of volunteer service. While the details of each student’s service project may differ, the impact of Senior Institute is a positive one for all students.

One great example of that impact can be found with Options-Noblesville senior Lainey Welch and how a volunteer opportunity has helped pave a career path. For many students, the biggest obstacle of the Senior Institute project comes with selecting an organization to pair with for their service.

“When I was thinking about my organization, I decided I wanted to work with Riverwalk Village (Senior Community) because my Aunt worked there for 17 years and I used to volunteer there when I was younger,” said Lainey. “I didn’t know much, but I did know that I wanted to volunteer there.”

Once Riverwalk was selected by Lainey and approved by her Senior institute teacher Angie Smith, Lainey’s project was officially underway as she began volunteering in mid-September. Lainey’s 30 community service hours were obtained through working with the Riverwalk Activities Director, where she assisted with activities that the residents participated in.

“After I started volunteering, I just fell in love with the people and wanted to keep doing it even after Senior Institute,” said Lainey. “I formed a strong, natural connection with residents and that just helped me grow in the position.”

Through hard work and dedication, Lainey was able to extend her stay at Riverwalk Village as she accepted a paid position as an Activities Assistant in mid-November. The stars seemed to align, with the Activities Assistant role having been vacant and Lainey having proven the ability to handle such a position. As an Activities Assistant, she takes part in activities with residents, distributes mail, socializes with residents and assists with other tasks as needed. Lainey has hit the ground running in her new position, but Lainey wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I really enjoy it,” said Lainey. “I just love seeing the residents happy and I enjoy doing what I can to make them genuinely happy. I work six days a week and I’m not full-time, but I definitely have a busy schedule.”

While the Senior Institute project has already benefitted Lainey greatly, it isn’t exactly the result she had expected when the school year began in August.

“I never thought about a career like this before,” said Lainey. “I wanted to be a Biology teacher, but now I definitely think I want to be in Social Services, maybe even something with Psychology or getting by CNA license so I can work as a Certified Nursing Assistant.”

What other benefits does Lainey see from the Senior Institute project as she now works towards the presentation portion?

“It just has opened me up to so many different people in different cultures and just having a different sense of what other people might think,” said Lainey. “I feel that I am so much kinder because I have gained a new point of view on things and the residents give me a sense of hope that I can be my most genuine happy self.”

With Lainey set to graduate from Options in May 2020, she is now shaping her future plans around her role at Riverwalk as an Activities Assistant as she plans to continue in her position after graduation while attending Ivy Tech, before eventually transferring to Ball State University.

 

In order to continue our efforts of serving students in search of a different approach to education, Options will be hosting a pair of Open Houses in January. The Carmel campus will host an Open House on Tuesday, January 14 and the Noblesville event will be held on Wednesday, January 15. Each Open House will begin at 5 p.m. and conclude at 7 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the respective campus and speak in detail with Options Principals, teachers and other team members in order to learn more about the Options experience.

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & another campus coming to Westfield. Options also offers a Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana. Providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1. With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002.

 

Pennies for Patients Fundraiser

Pennies for Patients raises money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society whose mission is to cure blood cancers and improve the lives of patients and their families.

Options-Carmel has participated in this fundraiser for many years. The school goal this year is to raise $500. The advising groups will be competing to see which group can raise the most money. The winning advising group will win a pizza party. Collection will end on Friday, January 31.

You can help by donating online through the Pennies for Patients website or sending in money with your Options-Carmel student.

Some important facts about Leukemia and Lymphoma:

  • Approximately every 3 minutes someone in the United States is diagnosed with blood cancer.
  • Leukemia is the #1 most diagnosed form of childhood cancer.
  • Approximately 80% of childhood cancer survivors develop a chronic health condition from their treatment.
  • More than 1.3 million people are living with or in remission from blood cancer.
  • More than 1/3 of blood cancer patients do not survive 5 years after diagnosis.

Please contact Gretchen at gtaylor@optionsined.org with any questions or concerns.

 

 

Two Open Houses set for mid-January

At Options, every student enrolled comes with an important and valuable story that shapes their individualized learning plan. In order to continue our efforts of serving students in search of a different approach to education, Options Charter Schools will be hosting a pair of Open Houses in January.

The Carmel campus will host an Open House on Tuesday, January 14 and the Noblesville event will be held on Wednesday, January 15. Each Open House will begin at 5 p.m. and conclude at 7 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the respective campus and speak in detail with Options Principals, teachers and other team members in order to learn more about the Options experience.

Serving students in grades 6-12 at the Noblesville campus and grades 8-12 at the Carmel campus, Options Schools are free, public charter schools. Providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1, Options was founded in 2002 as one of the first five charter schools in the state of Indiana. Options also offers a Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana with an online, web-based platform.

Location information for each campus is listed below and directions to each campus can be found here.

Unable to attend an Open House? You can visit OptionsSchools.org to schedule a campus tour and information session for another day & time.

Applications are still being accepted for the 2020 spring semester as a limited number of seats remain at each campus.

In addition to brick and mortar campuses in Carmel & Noblesville, and the Distance Education Program, Options also serves students through ‘Options @ BACA’ and Options @ Growing Minds.

 

Making the Holidays merry for others

Since Options Schools was founded in 2002, service-based learning has been a major part of the foundation upon which Options was built.

In order to graduate from Options and receive a diploma, every senior is required to complete a service-based learning project known as Senior Institute. Through the project, students are expected to leverage the skills that they learned through their practical application experience to complete a project with minimal supervision. The Senior Institute Project provides students with an opportunity to explore an area that interests them, benefit a community, demonstrate prior learning and learn something new.

At Options, that selfless mindset tends to stretch beyond Senior Institute students and an example of that can be found in a project that is currently in its final stages. With the Holiday season in full swing, multiple groups within Options Schools participated in community service projects to benefit local children and their families. The Options-Carmel and Options-Noblesville campuses have spent the last couple of weeks working with organizations that help make the Holidays special for local families.

Options-Carmel paired with Foster Fairies, Inc., an organization founded in 2013 to positively impact the lives of local children in the foster care system, primarily by means of fulfilling children’s needs and wishes as well as creating opportunities for individual growth and development. Each Carmel advising group had a child to sponsor for the holiday season.

Outside of the gift collection for Foster Fairies, another member of the Carmel team helped make an impact with help from a friend in the state of Ohio. Joe Hopper (Options-Carmel Safety Specialist) obtained several boxes full of toys that were donated by a friend who owns Dollar Tree and Dollar General stores in Ohio. The items will be donated to Toys for Tots so they can benefit a number of local children.

Options-Noblesville paired with the Good Samaritan Network and took part in their annual Holiday iSponsorship program, which directly coordinates a large Holiday Assistance Distribution program in Hamilton County. The program provides basic holiday provisions (Holiday food, clothing, toys, meals, etc.) for countless individuals and families.

On behalf of Foster Fairies and the Good Samaritan Network, we would like to thank all of the Options families that showed generosity by providing countless items that will help spread Holiday Cheer even further this year.

Students of the Month – Nov. 2019

In celebration of our November Students of the Month, get to know the four students that were selected! Each student was selected by their program’s Principal and teachers.

 

Kyleigh Brownell
(Options-Carmel)

Grade: 9th

When did you enroll at Options?
I started in the beginning of September 2019

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I really enjoy playing video games, mainly Overwatch, and I also like drawing objects and putting my own twist on art. I also play the piano, rugby and soccer.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
The flexibility really helps because you can work at your own pace and you don’t feel like you’re buried under homework and super stressed.

What is your favorite subject in school?
History & Language Arts

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
The teachers are more laid back, but they also care more. They are invested in how I am doing outside of school as well.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I have wanted to be a Paramedic since I was in the Civil Air Patrol and learned more about the medical side of things. I like the freedom of being outside of the hospital. I also enjoy the technical stuff, so I might go into computer science.

 

Zachary Kramer
(Options-Distance Education)

Grade: 12
Hometown: Yorktown

When did you enroll at Options?
September 2019

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I love to play video games, especially Fortnite. I also am passionate about trains.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I like that I was able to catch up on all of the credits I was behind on and that I was able to learn at my pace.

What is your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject is science. I love being able to learn about space the most.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
Not only with academics, but overall. I have improved in math more than anything, but I also have improved my self-esteem some.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
Options teachers don’t make me feel like they have to help me, they make me feel like they want to help me.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I would like to go to a trade school for mechanics, but ultimately, I would like to work in the railroad industry.

 

Dalton Hart
(Options-Noblesville Middle School)

Grade: 6th

When did you enroll at Options?
October 2019

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I enjoy playing Xbox and football, I like playing Madden the most. My favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys, so I always play with them on Madden. When I play football, I like to either play with my friends or even just play catch.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I like that the teachers aren’t always pushing us about things, and they work with us. I like that everyone is connected, and conversations are open.

What is your favorite subject in school?
Last year I realized I was good at Math, so that would be my favorite.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I’m better in History and English. I used to just get a stack of papers to complete, but now I’m learning the material and I’m not loaded with work all the time.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
The teachers are really nice, and you just feel like they are also your friend, in addition to being your teacher.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I want to play football as a running back.

 

Chris Mullins
(Options-Noblesville High School)

Grade: 11 

When did you enroll at Options?
I started a couple of years ago when I was a Freshman.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I just like to play soccer or be at home. I went to Switzerland a few years ago and lived there for a year, so I have been hooked on soccer ever since. I like to play any position except for goalkeeper, and I play travel soccer for Indy Premier.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I like that it is small. The teachers will offer to help any time of the day, no matter what. I also like that it just feels like a family and everyone is treated the same.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I like Science because of how it is hands-on.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I’ve become more mature, especially with going to class and making sure I do my work. Matt Petersen has always been there to help me out and make sure I’m taking care of what I need to.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
The level of teaching is different because they make sure everyone understands it and they don’t just move on to a new topic. They make sure everyone in the class is on the same page.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I want to do a number of things right now, so I might either go into IT, business, accounting or play soccer professionally.

 

Coming Full-Circle

When receiving any form of assistance, it isn’t out of the ordinary for someone to want to give back to the source of that assistance.

In that respect, Holyn Hallman is no different. The 2015 Options graduate is now in a place to give back to Options Schools through its students as a Pre-Employment Transition Services Coordinator at The Arc of Greater Boone County.

Also known as a Career Coach, Hallman works with students on preparing for the world outside of school, whether it be workplace readiness, job exploration, postsecondary self advocacy and more.

“I’ve been seeing students genuinely more excited for their future,” said Hallman. “Some students are just so overwhelmed by the future and I like seeing them bounce ideas off of me and just talk. Then they are able to see if this is something that actually want to do, look into it and if they are passionate about it, we’ll look more into it.”

The stars aligned to make a dream job, a reality. When looking at job openings after graduating from Ball State University in July, Hallman came across an open position that would allow her to work with a number of schools. When learning that one of those schools would be Options, the position was one Hallman couldn’t resist.

“I naturally gravitated towards a field that consisted of helping people and I just fell in love with social work,” Hallman said. “I wanted to come back and work with Options because it’s always kind of felt like a home for me. You’ll often see former students coming back to visit because everyone at Options is kind of like family, we all love each other and we all want to help each other. That support system remains after graduation.”

Having enrolled at Options as a freshman, Hallman reflected on how things were different than where she previously attended.

“At Options, they really just valued independence in students and as students, we knew that the teachers really cared about us as individuals,” said Hallman. “The staff just sees the good in students and I don’t think I would have graduated high school if it weren’t for coming to Options..”

Now married to her then-high school sweetheart, everything has come full circle for Hallman in the best way imaginable. She worked hard for the opportunity to give back and takes pride in that opportunity every day.

 

Charter School Accountability

Curious about how Options Schools & other charter schools are held accountable? We’re here to share some info!

Not just anyone can authorize a charter school. A charter school authorizer may only be one of the following:

– Mayor of Indianapolis
– Four-year state university (Options Schools are authorized by Ball State University)
– Any traditional public school board
– The Indiana Charter School Board (a state agency existing solely to act as a statewide authorizer) – Non-profit college or university that offers a four-year educational program, where the board of trustees is ultimately the responsible party and may be granted a charter.

The State Board of Education has a rigorous accountability framework for authorizers, which includes the ability to close charter schools and end the authorizers’ ability to sponsor schools. Not just anyone and definitely not a for-profit organization may be a charter school “organizer”.

An organizer must receive approval from an authorizer to start a charter school. The organizer is accountable to the authorizer to meet the terms of the agreement. It typically takes up to two years for a charter school to go from an idea to opening its doors.

Charter schools are subjected to the same state testing and accountability requirements as traditional public schools.

All charter school agreements must include a requirement that the charter school close after four consecutive years of F ratings. If an authorizer chooses not to close a charter school after four consecutive F ratings, they must request and receive approval from the State Board of Education (SBOE) to renew the charter agreement. After a hearing, the SBOE must implement one or more of the following: grant the renewal request (and determine length and conditions of renewal), order the closure of the school, and/or reduce the amount of administrative fees the authorizer can collect.

Charter schools are required to have an independent financial audit completed every year, unlike traditional public schools which are only audited by the State Board of Accounts every other year.

Unlike some traditional public schools, no student is forced to attend a charter school. Parents make the decision to send their child to a charter because they believe it will be the best educational environment for their student. A lottery must be held if the number of students who wish to attend the charter school is greater than the number of available seats in the school.

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & another campus coming to Westfield. Options also offers a Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana. Providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1. With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002.

About Public Charter Schools
Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

 

Pen Pal Across The Pond

For Kimberly Massoud, a life-changing friendship began at age 12 with a book of addresses and optimism.

Interested in finding a pen pal, Massoud wrote a letter to every national embassy located in New York City to inquire about a pen pal program through which she could connect with someone in a different part of the world. The only response came from the Japanese Embassy and the result was a collection of letters.

“I started getting letters from all these people in Japan and that just wasn’t what I was looking for,” said Massoud. “I was just disappointed and then I found a book that was my dad’s and it was just full of street addresses all over the world. I just knew that if I wrote enough letters, I was going to receive a response.”

One of Massoud’s letters was delivered to a Lutheran church in the United Kingdom, about 30 miles outside of London in Essex. With not many young people in the churches’ congregation, the letter was given to 11-year-old Stephen Hamp.

“I remember one Sunday, the pastor came to me and gave me this envelope and folded up piece of paper,” said Hamp. “I was the only youngster in the church, so I’m not even sure if there was anyone else to give it to. I was fascinated, intrigued and excited, and all those things you would be. So, I replied and thought about it for a week or two and then a week or two later a letter arrived. It just went from there.”

While means of communication have changed in the 35 years since the first letter, Hamp spoke to everything that comes with a hand-written letter from a friend.

“It’s really hard to explain and we have never really been able to explain it, but there is just something about having an envelope come through the mail slot of your door and land on your doormat,” said Hamp. “Because we had to wait for the letter to be mailed and everything, it just made it unique because there wasn’t that instant gratification, but it was still exciting.”

While the hand-written & mailed letter may be a way of the past, Hamp spoke to what it did for his growth.

It really impacted the way I write and the way I communicate,” Hamp said. “Not many school kids have the opportunity to write at the depth and level that we were writing at. It has had such a positive impact on my life in so many ways and I even notice now that the way I speak was impacted by writing letters.”

Since first connecting over 30 years ago, Massoud and Hamp have each visited the other about every eight years, with the most recent visit being Hamp coming to central Indiana.

Massoud saw the visit as a great opportunity for her students to expand their world view.

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Hamp spent the school day at the Noblesville campus of Options Schools and was able to help Options students learn more about life in the United Kingdom.

“Stephen read Shakespeare to our eighth and ninth grade students,” said Massoud. “He works near Buckingham Palace so we did a digital tour of the area to show the students what that part of London is like. We also talked about some different terms in America and the United Kingdom, like ‘trash can’ and ‘rubbish bin.'”

“The students were asking me about my every day life and they were just really engaged in unique aspects of how things are different for us in the UK.,” Hamp said.

But what would a true cultural experience without tea?

During Massoud’s advising period, students were treated to tea and traditional foods like Marmite and egg salad sandwiches.

“It has been a really cool experience,” said one of Massoud’s students. “We already want him to come back.”

A life-long friendship and a cultural experience, all from the determination of Massoud to find a pen pal.

During Tea Time, students enjoyed tea, Marmite, egg salad sandwiches & more

Students of the Month – Oct. 2019

In celebration of our October Students of the Month, get to know the four students that were selected! Each student was selected by their program’s Principal and teachers.

 

Riley Tynan
(Options-Carmel)

Grade: 11th 

When did you enroll at Options?
In August of 2018. I actually found out about it by accident and liked that it wasn’t a big & stressful environment.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I am really interested in reptiles and have recently become more interested in cosmetology, with makeup and acrylic nails. I also taught myself how to play the ukulele, guitar and piano. I currently have two reptiles, one ball python and one leopard gecko.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
There are a lot of things that I like. The environment is small and personable, which has encouraged me to do more work. The structure creates trust and mutual respect between the student and the teacher. It is always consistent that every teacher is nice.

What is your favorite subject in school?
Last year it was biology, but this year would be history. Having Steve as a teacher makes the subject great because he knows when it is time to be serious and when we can enjoy it.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I’m definitely better at math and I’ve become more social. I’m trying harder in school now and I’m a lot more comfortable with talking to people. At this school, students are open about their flaws and are easy to talk to and be around.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
The teachers are very understanding, and they will work with us if something happens. They’re always willing to help if I need it and they’re just supportive in every way.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I’m still deciding, but I know I want to graduate from college and become the first person in my family to do that because it will prove it is possible. I am interested in things like herpetology, ornithology, biology and cosmetology.

 

Chloe Keeling
(Options-Distance Education)

Grade: 10th
Hometown: North Salem, Indiana 

When did you enroll at Options?
January 2019

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I love to workout at the gym with my brothers or do anything that involves physical activity. I also find myself very intrigued in the fashion world.

What is your favorite thing about the Options Distance Education Program?
My favorite thing about the Options Distance Education Program is the flexibility it gives you. You can work on lessons anytime of the day or night, as well as work at your own pace, which I think is amazing.

What is your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject would have to be Math. I have always understood math very well, and I think it is cool how the whole world uses it in the same ways. 

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
Academically, I have improved. I have been able to not only get my work done, but I actually understand it and can apply it to the real-world. Outside of school, I have improved my relationships with my family, and have been able to experience more real-world situations with the flexibility of my schedule.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
The teachers at Options are great! Whenever I need help in a certain subject, all I have to do is message the teacher and I will get a quick response. We discuss why I’m having a hard time over video chat or email. The teachers really take their time in making sure the problem is resolved and I fully understand all of my work.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
Nothing is set in stone regarding my plans after a graduate. However, I’d like to attend college and explore different majors, and I’d also like to travel as much as possible in the future.

 

Bella Ott
(Options-Noblesville Middle School)

Grade: 8th

When did you enroll at Options?
At the start of September of this year.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I have played the clarinet for three years and I like Henna art, but it is the only thing I am good at drawing. I also like to play basketball.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I like it a lot. I have become connected to other students and have developed some real friendships. I like that the teachers are genuine, they put in effort and truly care about us and our education.

What is your favorite subject in school?
Right now, it is Family & Consumer Science and Health. I like having Mike as a teacher and the class is just interesting because a lot of it is new to me.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I am just a lot happier and not as stressed about things because I am better about handling things, so I don’t have to always worry about school.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
I feel like I have such a closer connection with my teachers. Calling them by their first name was weird at first, but it really makes a difference in making them more approachable.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I want to graduate from high school during my junior year. I want to attend Purdue and get a degree in Zoology. I want to become an animal rehabilitator for plains animals and I want to make an impact. I don’t want my life to be wasted and I really just want to do something meaningful with it. I am really passionate about saving animals.

 

Leah Beach
(Options-Noblesville High School)

Grade: 12th

When did you enroll at Options?
The first day of the January 2019 semester.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I like to listen to different types of podcasts, but mainly mystery, true crime and paranormal. I also know how to knit, but I don’t really do it. Right now, I’m also busy volunteering at a senior citizen living community as part of my service project for graduation.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I’ve gone to five different schools and this is my favorite. I like that it is small and you can get to know people better. You can also create more personal relationships with the teachers. I also like that it is all built around each student and everyone is supportive.

What is your favorite subject in school?
History because of how much passion and gusto Josh has for the material. I was never really a big fan of history, but I’ve liked exploring world history over time.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
Being here has been better for my spirit. My anxiety isn’t as bad, and I don’t get worried about unnecessary things anymore.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They care and have more understanding, plus they really just want to be helpful. You get to know the teachers because the classes are small. They will make accommodations for students that need it and they are willing to work with you.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I have so many interests and I am working on narrowing it down. Right now, there are five different things I am interested in.

 

Want to learn more about Options Schools? Visit “The Options Experience” Blog to see more news about Options students & staff!

Josh Curry Named 2019 Dewey Award Winner

Connor Reiff (left) and Joshua Curry (right)

In 2017, and in honor of Richard Dewey, Charter School Capital created the Dewey Awards to celebrate those teachers who were able to see in student what they perhaps couldn’t see, who saw the promise and potential of students and helped them believe that they could do anything they set our minds to.

For the 3rd annual Richard Dewey Awards, Charter School Capital received a number of amazing, touching, inspirational submissions. Close to 75 stories about how teachers have made a difference were shared with Charter School Capital, with the caliber of submissions having made selecting the three winners a very challenging task for the panel of judges. While each selected winner was a student, the impact of victory can reach much further as the prize includes a $1,000 grant.

One of those 75 submissions and three winners was a familiar face in Options-Noblesville sophomore Connor Reiff.  In his submission for the Dewey Award, Connor was tasked with answering the question, “How has Joshua Curry impacted my life?”

Reiff’s answer to that question speaks volumes to the impact Joshua Curry has had on more than just Reiff’s education.

Prologue:

“To answer this question, allow me to review the two previous years of my life. I had been told that I had ADHD, but in 6th grade, I had actually become seriously ill with Narcolepsy with Cataplexy. I was put on homebound restrictions through my previous school for almost two years. Having to do online work was not fun and sometimes I fell asleep halfway through my work! Sometimes I fell asleep for weeks at a time! I was put into a clinical trial for a medication where I had to frequently fly to California. Then I had to be seen by the top research doctor at Stanford University because I was still sleeping so much. It was there that I was also diagnosed with Klein-Levin Syndrome, a very rare sleep disorder. I have no idea how, but I somehow survived through those painful two years on an online school and traveling. After successful medical interventions, my homebound instructor suggested Options Charter School in Noblesville, Indiana. Today I am a successful student at Noblesville Options Charter School. Let me tell you about one of my teachers, who has made it his mission to ensure my success in school.”

Actual Story:

“The school I am at now, Options Charter School, has put me on a brighter path by inspiring the student in me to wake up (no pun intended) and to be free. Regardless of my disorders, I am able to function at school and complete my work every day, sometimes with no homework at all!

The one teacher who helped me through a lot of this was my social studies teacher, Joshua Curry. He had some secondhand experience with Narcolepsy and it came from a surprising source! My family and I attended the Center for Courageous Kids in Scottsville, Kentucky. There I met other children who have narcolepsy including one of Josh’s school friends named Nick who had a daughter with the same type of narcolepsy as me! Nick tutored Josh on every possible important thing for a narcoleptic like me. He taught him the wants, needs, and level of care needed to help. Josh then suggested extended time for assignments, minimal homework, and that the goal was to help me succeed with whatever it took. Over a short period of time, Josh became not just a teacher, but my best friend and someone who cared for me. He came to my awards ceremony for the community project I had done. He even spoke at the ceremony despite his nervousness toward the thought of public speaking! He even drove me back to school afterward and bought me a giant-sized Dr. Pepper when we stopped at Speedway! We laughed all the way back! It was the best day of my life!

Josh has always had my back and he gives me somewhat ridiculous deadlines for school assignments. When I bring this up, he would say, “Just take the two weeks, Connor. Besides, it’s only just in case you fall asleep.” We would both laugh for a while after that and then I would go on to my next class. Every day at school I wish one thing for myself, “I wish to be in Josh’s classroom all day, every day!”

The reason that I like his classroom so much is because when I was undergoing treatment, I read a lot of historical articles, books, and movies. In the classroom, he makes history relevant and interactive. He uses constant hilarious dark humor that keeps my mind engaged. He engages the students by demonstrating that he is an authority about each topic. It makes me ask questions about the sequence of history.“History is not wrong unless you record it wrong” is one of his favorite quotes. He has many books in his classroom for different perspectives and time periods. This allows me to gain historical knowledge and draw my own conclusions.
There isn’t a teacher more deserving of being recognized than Josh Curry. Often times, charter school teachers are not recognized for helping individual students and for the good that they do in the world. Thank you for the opportunity to nominate Josh Curry. He is most deserving of this national honor!”

In response to learning that he was the recipient of a $1,000 grant, Curry was both humble and grateful.

“I was happy to be recognized it such a way. What it demonstrates to me is that people are paying attention to Options and the good things happening in the classrooms, whether it be parents, stakeholders and others in the community. It was very gratifying and encouraging to find out that I was selected. School teachers are always looking for more sources of funding to deepen lessons and improve our classrooms. It was a pleasure to be selected and it was a deep surprise. The gratification will go a long way.”

A Social Studies teacher, Curry already has an idea how the grant funds will be used within his classroom. Curry plans on adding to the selection of reading materials, documentaries & videos for visual learners and interactive classroom decorations in order to help enhance the learning experience of all students.

The full Charter School Capital announcement for the 2019 Dewey Award can be found here.

 

About Charter School Capital
Since the company’s inception in 2006, Charter School Capital has been committed to the success of charter schools. We help schools access, leverage, and sustain the resources charter schools need to thrive, allowing them to focus on what matters most – educating students. Our depth of experience working with charter school leaders and our knowledge of how to address charter school financial and operational needs have allowed us to provide over $2 billion in support of 600 charter schools that have educated over 1,027,000 students across the country.

About Options Schools
Founded in 2002 as one of the first five charter schools in the state of Indiana, Options Charter Schools provide a free alternative to the traditional education program through small class sizes and an individualized approach. Utilizing innovative approaches, Options Schools focus on personal academic achievement as well as the health and wellness of each student. Along with campuses in Carmel & Noblesville, Options also offers a web-based Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana.

 

Charter Schools by the Numbers

The following information was provided by the Indiana Charter School Network

For the fourth year in a row, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) ranked Indiana 1st in the nation for the strongest state charter school law.

The Center for Education Reform rated Indiana as an “A” for our charter school law in their 17th Edition of its National Charter School Law Rankings and Scorecard. Arizona and the District of Columbia were the only others to receive an A rating.

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) ranked Indiana first in the country for our laws on authorizer accountability.

State law requires that every charter agreement must include a requirement that the charter school cannot remain an F rated school for 4 consecutive years. If an authorizer fails to close a school after 4 consecutive F ratings, the State Board of Education may intervene and close the school as well as penalize the authorizer.

15 out of 16 independent studies found that students attending charter schools do better academically than their traditional school peers.

 

About Public Charter Schools
Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low-income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the Indiana Charter School Network
The Indiana Charter School Network serves as Indiana’s charter school association. A great majority of Hoosier charter schools are dues-paying members. ICSN works closely with the IQE policy team in the development of policy positions to be shared with policymakers, to ensure our charter school members are represented well at the state level. ICSN provides member schools with communications on policy issues, grant opportunities, charter-related research, events of interest, and other relevant information. ICSN provides professional development opportunities for charter school staff and connects member schools to vendor partners offering our schools exceptional service or discounts.

 

Learn About Charter Schools

Courtesy of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, we have constructed this page to provide general information on public charter schools. This page contains answers the question “What Is A Charter School?” and also provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions about charter schools.

Reimagining Education: One school, one classroom, one student at a time

Charter schools are independently-operated public schools that have the freedom to design classrooms that meet their students’ needs. All charter schools operate under a contract with a charter school authorizer – usually a nonprofit organization, government agency, or university – that holds them accountable to the high standards outlined in their “charter.” It is common to see charter schools led by former teachers who wanted to take the lessons they learned in the classroom and apply those lessons to an entire school.

Each of the more than 7,000 charter schools is unique – both inside and out. Some focus on college prep, some follow a STEM curriculum, and others integrate the arts into each subject. Most charter schools are located in cities, but there are charter schools in suburban and rural areas as well. Some charter schools require uniforms, others have longer school days, and some teach their entire curriculum in two languages. The possibilities are endless, but charter schools aim to provide a range of options so that parents can choose the public school that best fits their child.

The reasons that parents choose charter schools for their children are just as unique as the students themselves. They choose charter schools because of the strong, dedicated teachers, because the school’s focus matches their child’s needs, or simply because their child was struggling in their assigned public school and needed to try something new. Charter schools provide families with options in public education, allowing parents to take a more active role in their child’s education.

How do charter schools work?

Charter schools are public schools operating under an independent contract or “charter” with an authorizing agency—typically a non-profit organization, government agency or university.  The charter provides the school with operational autonomy to pursue specific educational objectives regarding curriculum, staff, and budget. It also holds them accountable to the same (often higher) standards of their district public school peers.

Are charter schools public schools?

Yes, charter schools are independently-operated, public schools. Charter schools provide a high-quality education option to public school students, upholding high standards that meet and often exceed the district and state metrics.

How do I enroll my child in a charter school?

Most charter schools have an enrollment period when parents can submit applications for the school. If there are more applications submitted than seats available, they will hold a randomized blind lottery. To learn more about applying to a charter school in your state, visit your state’s charter support organization website.

Do charter schools have attendance boundaries?

Charter schools do not have traditional school boundaries like district schools, which allows many charter schools to attract a diverse student body. Charter schools are restricted by state limits and some have city limits as well. Visit your state’s charter support organization website for more information about charter schools in your area.

Are charter schools nonprofit?

Yes, the overwhelming majority of charter schools are nonprofit organizations. Some states allow for-profit organizations to manage charter schools, but that accounts for less than 15% of charter schools across the country. Regardless, all charter schools are free to attend.

How can I start a charter school?

Charter schools can be started by any interested party, including parents, community members, and teachers.  It is common to see charter schools led by former teachers who wanted to take the lessons they learned in the classroom and scale to an entire school community. It is helpful to first identify a unique need in the community that the charter school would serve and connect with a local charter school authorizer. You can learn more about the charter school authorizers in your state on the National Association of Charter School Authorizers website.

How can I teach at a charter school?

A great place to start your search is on our Charter School Job Board! You can also learn more by from your state’s charter organization.

Do charter schools have admission requirements?

No, charter schools do not have admission requirements or entrance exams. Though many charter schools are in high demand and when that demand exceeds the spaces available in the school, a charter school may hold a randomized, blind lottery to determine which students are admitted or may preference students by need or location.

What are some questions to ask when I’m choosing a charter school?

As a parent, make sure you are familiar with the individual objectives and rules affiliated with the specific charter school that you are considering before you enroll your child. The reasons that parents choose charter schools for their children are just as unique as the students themselves. They choose their child’s school for a variety of reasons including strong, dedicated teachers, the school’s focus matches their child’s needs, or simply because their child was struggling in their zoned-public school and needed to try something new. Charter schools provide families with options in public education, allowing parents to take a more active role in their child’s education.

What is a charter school authorizer?

Authorizers are the institutions that decide who can start a new charter school, set expectations and oversee school performance, and decide which schools should continue to serve students or not. Depending on state law, authorizers can be school districts, education agencies, independent boards, universities, mayors and municipalities, and not-for-profits.

Do charter schools charge tuition?

No, charter schools are tuition-free, public schools.

What makes charter schools different than other schools?

Each of the more than 7,000 charter schools is unique – both inside and out. Some may focus on college prep, some follow a Montessori curriculum, and others integrate the arts into each subject. Most charter schools are located in urban areas, but there are charter schools in suburban and rural areas as well. Some charter schools require uniforms, others have longer school days, and some teach their entire curriculum in two languages. The possibilities are endless, but charter schools aim to provide a range of options so that parents can choose the school that best fits their child.

Who supports charter schools?

Charter schools enjoy widespread support from parents, teachers, community leaders, and both Republican and Democrat elected officials across the country. Learn more about some of our strongest supporters here.

 

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & another campus coming to Westfield. Options also offers a Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana. Providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1. With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002.

 

The state of school choice in the U.S.

Via redefinED (By Patrick R. Gibbons – September 25, 2019)

Charter schools and home schooling are experiencing major growth. Meanwhile, there were no significant differences between students in charter schools and traditional public schools in average reading and mathematics scores on national tests in 2017.

Those are two of the key findings in the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDOE) latest report, “School Choice in the United States,” which updates the national changing landscape for school choice with changes in enrollment data, academic performance updates, and parental satisfaction surveys. Nationally, charter public schools and district schools increased enrollment while private schools declined.

Overall, there were around 57.8 million K-12 students in the United States, up from 53.8 million in 1999. Based on figures from the USDOE, the market share of district schools fell from 87 percent of all students in 1999 to 81.8 percent of students by 2016.

From 1999 to 2016 the share of students attending their assigned neighborhood public schools dropped from 74 percent to 69 percent. Public school choice option, including charter schools, magnet schools and open enrollment programs, grew from 14 percent of the student body in 1999 to 19 percent. Charter schools alone grew a staggering 571 percent from 2000 to 2016, enrolling over 3 million students by 2016.

Private school options fell from 10 percent to 9 percent, while home education grew from 2 percent to 3 percent by 2016.

Unlike most of the nation, however, Florida has seen private school enrollment bounce back. In 2000, 348,000 students enrolled in nonpublic schools, comprising 12.5 percent of the total PK-12 student body. Thanks to the help of several private school programs, including the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, private schools in the Sunshine State continue to grow. In 2018-19, the latest data available, 380,000 students enrolled in nonpublic schools, though the market share has declined to 11.8 percent of Florida’s total PK-12 student population.

Catholic schools remain the top choice among private school parents, enrolling more than 2 million students in 2016, more than double any other denomination.

District schools enrolled 94 percent of all public school students, with charters enrolling the other 6 percent. District schools were more likely to enroll white students, and less likely to enroll black or Hispanic students, than charters. According to the USDOE, 57 percent of public schools were 50 percent or more white, while just 33 percent of charters were. Charters were more likely to be 50 percent or higher black or Hispanic, however.

Enrollment in charter options varies greatly among states, though one important pattern emerges just in time for the Democratic presidential primaries: Important swing states Florida, Arizona and Michigan have large charter school populations.

Meanwhile, the USDOE reports “no measurable difference” between the average district students and charter school students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams in reading in math in 2017.

Charter school students, including black, Hispanic and free and reduced-price lunch students, saw higher raw NAEP scores in fourth-grade reading than in traditional public schools, and were no different on eighth-grade reading. White, black and Hispanic students attending charters also saw higher raw scores on eighth-grade math, and were no different on fourth-grade math.

According to the report, 1.7 million students attended a home school setting in 2016. Home school students were more likely to live in a rural setting or small town than be urban or suburban. Homeschooling was also more common in the South and West than in the Northeast.

Home school parents had various reasons for choosing the option, according to the USDOE. About 34 percent of home education parents chose home schooling over public schools due to concerns about a school’s environment such as safety, drugs or negative peer pressure. Seventeen percent were dissatisfied with instruction, and 16 percent wanted to provide religious instruction.

Choice also played a significant role in parental satisfaction. Sixty percent of parents choosing a public school option were satisfied with the school, compared to 54 percent of parents with students at assigned public schools. Seventy-seven percent of parents enrolling children in private schools reported being satisfied with the school. A similar pattern emerges regarding satisfaction for academic standards, school discipline and regarding interaction between staff and parents.

 

Charter School Students Have Same Academic Performance, Report Finds

Via Education Week (By Andrew Ujifusa on Sept. 25, 2019)

There are “no measurable differences” between the performance of charter schools and traditional public schools on national reading and math assessments from 2017, a finding that persists when parents’ educational attainment were factored into the results.

That’s one key takeaway from a report released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics about charters, private schools, and home schooling. “School Choice in the United States: 2019 ” also found that Hispanic students constituted a plurality—33 percent—of charter school enrollment in 2016-17, followed by white students at 32 percent and black students at 26 percent. Meanwhile, nearly half of students enrolled at traditional public schools, 49 percent, were white. And a higher share of charter school students were enrolled in “high poverty” schools compared to their traditional public school counterparts, as defined by eligibility for free or reduced-price meals, by a count of 34 to 24 percent.

Enrollment in charter schools grew by more than five times between 2000 and 2016—not the most shocking finding given the growth of the charter sector in general, although that increase did outpace the enrollment growth of just 1 percent in traditional public schools over the same time period. Meanwhile, the number of children ages 5 to 17 being home-schooled nearly doubled, reaching 1.7 million in 2016.

Let’s dig into those math and reading results for a minute. They come from the 2017 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the “nation’s report card,” in reading and math to students in the 4th and 8th grades. It’s important to remember that these exams have no stakes attached for students, educators, and schools. And there are other ways in which using NAEP to measure the impact of policies and practices can get tricky very fast. For more on how to look at NAEP data and avoid “misNAEPery” go here for a classic Education Week piece from 2013 by Stephen Sawchuk.

With that said, here are a few conclusions we can draw from the new NAEP data comparing charter schools and traditional public schools:

  • Based on scores alone, with no controls, there was no statistically significant difference between charters and traditional public schools on NAEP in reading or math.
  • Why does this matter? Because these schools tend to serve different populations with different background characteristics, which can skew scores.
  • The researchers controlled for parent educational attainment, and still found no significant difference.
  • A lack of data meant NCES couldn’t rule out lots of other factors (like income, teacher quality, race and ethnicity) that are potentially caught up in these test results. The report notes that other factors not controlled for “are substantively correlated with student assessment scores and school type.”
  • This data is based on average or aggregate performance, which tends to suppress outliers. We know from recent work from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes that charters in some cities like Boston do better than traditional public schools. That’s not always the case, however.

For a visual, here’s the NCES chart of those scores for charters and traditional public schools in reading:

NAEPReadingCharterSchoolsTPS.PNG

There’s a bunch of other data on charter schools in there for folks to chew on. For example, charter schools are more than twice as likely to be located in cities than in the suburbs & 56 percent of charters are in cities, compared to 26 percent that in the ‘burbs.

Here’s one more demographic data point for you: 57 percent of traditional public schools are more than 50 percent white, compared to 33 percent of charter schools that can be described that way. More on that breakdown here:

NCESCharterTraditionalPublicDemographics.PNG

Fort Wayne News-Sentinel runs story on ‘Options @ Growing Minds’

(News-Sentinel.com photo by Kevin Leininger)

Via Kevin Leininger / News-Sentinel (Sept. 12, 2019) | The original article that was posted to News-Sentintel.com

What do you get when you combine online education, a brick-and-mortar charter school, and a not-for-profit tutoring and mentoring business?

The answer is in the former Early Childhood Alliance building at 3320 Fairfield, where the partnership between Noblesville-based Options Schools and Growing Minds of Fort Wayne also offers a lesson in how to turn a problem into an opportunity.

“We had been working with Indiana Virtual School, but when it closed we made contact with Options,” said Beth Hodges, who worked for a publishing company and the Fort Wayne Community Schools before founding Growing Minds in 2010. The new hybrid known as “Options @ Growing Minds” will educate students online and in-person while offering tutoring, life-skills coaching, mentoring and other “wrap-around” services through Growing Minds, which occupied the building in May.

In addition to distance learning, the goal is to have 40 students in grades 9-12 on-site by this spring, with middle-school grades added later. While all students are welcome, Hodges said the program is geared toward students who are struggling in a traditional school setting.

But, of course, Indiana Virtual School didn’t merely “close.” In June, following allegations that it had enrolled (and handsomely profited from) thousands of inactive students, the school negotiated a deal to cease operations by the end of this month. Indiana Virtual Academy and its now-closed sister operation, Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, also were criticized for poor academic performance, graduating just 2 percent of seniors.

Options, on the other hand, claims it is “competitive in all grades and subjects and consistently outperforms the norms in many areas . . . (and) both Options brick and mortar campus (in Carmel and Noblesville) perform well above the averages of the nine Indiana alternative schools and the hundreds of alternative schools nationwide.”

“We’re not here to be a competition (to other schools). We’re a complement. Traditional schools can’t serve the entire spectrum. We serve students with no traditional (connections) to school,” Options COO Michelle Walden said. “We’re not opening a new charter school (with all the regulations that would entail). This is an extension of what we were already doing.”

“This program is exactly what the children of Fort Wayne need, as it provides a true alternative education program that is free and available to the public,” Hodges said. Options @ Growing Minds students will report to the Fairfield campus for at least three hours of face-to-face instruction per day.

Charter schools are publicly funded but are not bound by many of the regulations governing public schools. Growing minds, meanwhile, also gets much of its funding from the state. The fact that charters and traditional public schools are funded by the Legislature can be a source of tension between the two.

But Options Schools does have support within the public school community.

“We are very supportive of the Noblesville Options Charter School expanding their program to include middle school,” Noblesville Schools Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer said in a statement. “This is a need that area school districts were struggling with . . . We have a common philosophy that we are all here to serve students well and we recognize the strengths that each us of brings to the partnership.”

Added Bret Bailey of the Hamilton Heights schools: “Students learn in different ways and in different settings. (We have) been thrilled to partner with the newly formed Options Middle School because they provide a unique service and educational model that helps some of our most at-risk students who are struggling to succeed in our educational setting.”

It sounds like the perfect partnership, and Hodges and Walden are both full of the optimism that comes with any new venture. But, in truth, the performance of some charter schools in Fort Wayne and across the state have left something to be desired despite the rosy rhetoric. What’s more, Hodges and Walden have embarked on a challenging mission just as the resumption of classes may complicate efforts to recruit new students.

Still, I am cautiously optimistic about their chance for success and wish them and their students the best. Because, as Hodges said, “You can’t take a student out of a traditional setting and expect them to improve by doing the same things.”

For more information, visit OptionsSchools.org/enroll-now to secure a seat. Applicants should mention ‘Options @ Growing Minds’ within their online submission.

 

Options partners with Growing Minds Educational Services

NOBLESVILLE – In order to continue serving students across the state of Indiana, Options Schools have formed a partnership with Growing Minds Educational Services that will provide a hybrid school model for students in grades 9-12, located in and around Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Known as ‘Options @ Growing Minds,’ the hybrid program will offer students the relationship-based educational approach unique to the Options Schools, partnered with the wrap-around services that Growing Minds offers its clients.

Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville, along with a Distance Education program, that specialize in providing students with an individualized approach and small class sizes. Founded in 2002, Options strives to serve all students needing an alternative to traditional education with innovative platforms that meet their specific needs.

Founded in 2010, Growing Minds is a Fort Wayne-owned, for-profit educational business, that provides educational support services including academic tutoring, life skills, mentoring, and coaching with a desire to partner with a like-missioned school such as Options in order to provide the credit-earning supports for their clients that are eligible for alternative education under IC 20-20-22.

‘Options @ Growing Minds’ students will report to the Growing Minds campus (3320 Fairfield Ave.) for a minimum of three hours of Options educational instruction per day. Growing Minds will provide students with a myriad of wrap-around services that include life skills, mentoring and coaching.

“After having visited Growing Minds a few weeks ago with Options COO Michelle Walden, it was easy to see how they make a major impact on students in the Fort Wayne area,” said Options President/CEO Dr. Mike Gustin. “The mission of Options has always been to serve students throughout the state of Indiana that are at-risk of not graduating high school and this new partnership allows us to continue doing that.”

“This program is exactly what the children of Fort Wayne need as it provides a true alternative education program that is free and available to the public,” said Growing Minds Director of Education Beth Hodges. “We are excited for this new partnership and everything that it will do for students in and around Allen County.”

Those in the Fort Wayne area that are interested in learning more about ‘Options @ Growing Minds,’ are invited to attend an upcoming Open House on Monday, Sept. 9 or Tuesday, Sept. 10. Both events will run from 6-8 p.m. and will take place at Growing Minds (3320 Fairfield Ave. Fort Wayne, IN 46807).

Enrollment is now open for those interested in ‘Options @ Growing Minds’ and interested applicants can visit OptionsSchools.org/enroll-now to secure a seat. Applicants should also mention ‘Options @ Growing Minds’ within their online submission.

For additional information about ‘Options @ Growing Minds,’ email Growing Minds Director of Education Beth Hodges.

 

About Options Schools
As free, public charter schools, Options Schools are designed to support the academic and social needs of students that haven’t found success in the traditional public school environment. At Options, students are encouraged to explore and embrace their individuality in a caring, supportive, and inclusive environment.

Through small class sizes and an individualized academic approach, the outstanding and highly trained instructors and staff of Options propel students to achieving academic success both in high school and their future endeavors.

About Growing Minds
Established in 2010, Growing Minds provides educational services to all students. Growing Minds goes beyond academics, by providing life skills, mentoring, and coaching. Growing Minds believes that with guidance in a safe, caring learning environment all students can and will succeed.

 

Friday Feature – Lisa

The following is a blog post from Lisa Chandler, Program Director for ‘Options @ BACA.’ Having launched on Tuesday, Sept, 3, the program provides a unique opportunity for ABA therapy & a high-quality education in one location. More information about the program can be found at OptionsSchools.org/BACA.

It was an exciting first week in the ‘Options @ BACA’ Program as we all learned more about each other.  The low ratio (3:1 student-to-teacher) definitely made it easier to focus on relationships and trust from Day 1. This is crucial before we dive too far into academics. This week we spent time focusing on learning what it means to be part of a classroom community by doing activities such as scavenger hunts, playing Twister, and having freeze dance parties. 

The transition into the classroom at BACA has been essentially seamless! I’m so impressed with how students have managed their new classroom and routine this week! It was definitely beneficial that students had the opportunity to preview the classroom the week before school started. Students have already been getting the routine of the classroom down. By Day 3 they were coming in and unpacking their backpacks and checking their daily schedule. We spend a lot of time early on learning the classroom structure. This eases student uncertainty and makes the classroom expectations clear. By building this solid foundation early on, we can spend more time on the fun stuff!

I’ve been thrilled to hear from several families already this week sharing positive highlights about their child’s school experience so far.  

The BACA staff has been a tremendous resource. Not only are they a wealth of knowledge, but their ongoing support prior to start-up helped ensure that everyone was prepared for the first day. I think this has also contributed to the ease of students transitioning to a half-day of school so well. Since a lot of students were already comfortable being at BACA, that was one less challenge of entering an entirely new school environment. 

So many of our ‘Options @ BACA’ students are joining the class, coming from experiences where things just weren’t the right fit. Where they were labeled as bullies or targeted by bullies.  It’s been exciting to see their smiles and watch them come out of their shells in just a couple of days. Learning can be fun and that’s our goal here! We have already been gearing up to start our first hands-on project, which will consist of creating animal dioramas to learn about different animal habitats. I love how engaged the students have been!

I am excited to announce that with enrollment having exceeded our expectations, we will be adding an additional teacher to the ‘Options @ BACA’ Program by the end of September. We still have seats remaining and I welcome anyone that is interested to contact me directly with questions about the program.

~~ Lisa ~~

 

Connor & Maddie Reiff featured in Noblesville Magazine

A pair of Options-Noblesville students, Connor (10th grade) and Maddie Reiff (7th grade) were featured in the “Student Spotlight” piece for the November issue of Noblesville Magazine. The brother/sister duo has collaborated on a number of community service projects, one of which was recognized with national honors.

The full article can be read at the link below:

A limited number of seats remain available at Options-Noblesville, Options-Carmel & in the Options-Distance Education program.

 

Options Schools Unveils ‘Options @ BACA’ Pilot Program

Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

NOBLESVILLE – A new partnership between Options Schools and The Behavior Analysis Center for Autism (BACA) will now provide families with the opportunity to have access to Applied Behavior Analysis therapy and an accredited public education in one convenient location.

Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville, that specialize in providing students with an individualized approach and small class sizes. Founded in 2002, Options strives to serve all students needing an alternative to traditional education with innovative platforms that meet their specific needs.

The Behavior Analysis Center for Autism specializes in providing the most efficacious applied behavior analysis services to children and young adults with autism while utilizing Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior. BACA is also known for improving the quality of life for every client by ensuring staff receive and apply intensive, on-going training.

Known as ‘Options @ BACA,’ the program will offer diploma, certificate and functional academic tracks based on the individual needs of each student. Options’ highly-qualified team will be co-located within BACA Prep in Fishers. This blended model will provide students with an optimal learning environment to receive both their education and therapy services.

“I have to begin by expressing my appreciation and respect for (BACA Co-Founder & Chief Clinician/President) Dr. Carl Sundberg with everything he has done at BACA to help so many people and impact so many lives,” said Options President/CEO Dr. Mike Gustin. “I speak for everyone on the Options team when I say that we are ecstatic to partner with BACA and serve students that previously were limited in their educational opportunities.”

“We at the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism are very excited about our partnership with Options,” said BACA Co-Founder Dr. Carl Sundberg. “We believe that the two organizations working together will produce the best possible outcomes for our students. We are looking forward to following the growth of our clients as they move through this program.”

Students attending the ‘Options at BACA’ program will participate in the educational program for three hours each day, either during the AM or PM session. In addition, families may choose to enroll with BACA for clinical services to be provided during the opposite session from education. Students do not need to be receiving BACA services in order to enroll in the ‘Options @ BACA’ educational program.

Lisa Chandler will serve as the Program Director for ‘Options @ BACA,’ with her office based in BACA’s Fishers location. Lisa is experienced working in public education and clinical environments but has spent the last 10 years in an alternative educational setting. During this time, Lisa played a key role in the development, implementation, and growth of multiple educational and ABA programs for individuals on the spectrum. Lisa is highly skilled in classroom design, integrating sensory, therapeutic and academic needs to create environments for multiple learning styles and her background includes extensive curriculum and assessment development. A 2006 graduate of Indiana University, Lisa holds an Indiana teaching license in Mild Interventions P-12 and is currently pursuing her M. Ed. in Educational Leadership.

The ‘Options @ BACA’ program will maintain a 3:1 student-to-teacher ratio and will also cap enrollment at 12 for the 2019-20 pilot year. The first day of the academic year for ‘Options @ BACA’ will be Tuesday, Sept. 3.

To secure a seat in ‘Options @ BACA,’ interested applicants can visit OptionsSchools.org/enroll-now to submit an application.

 

Team Tales – Melanie Martin-Terrell

If you ask Melanie Martin-Terrell how she feels about a career in education, today’s response would evoke a much more positive result than 20 years ago.

The daughter of two educators, Melanie set her sights on a career in social work and social services. With limited job opportunities in her desired field and pressure from her parents to gain employment after graduating from college, Melanie decided to try her hand at education.

“As much as I tried to resist a career in education, it just happened. I was often told that I would be a great teacher and educator and I just never thought that was my thing, but that is how things turned out.”

After having spent time as an Instructional Assistant and doing social work for a non-profit, the year was 2002 and the Charter School Movement had begun. With two children, one of which was headed to first grade, Melanie and her husband were faced with multiple opportunities for their daughter’s education.

“We looked at the different school choices for our daughter and tried to consider everything,” said Martin-Terrell. “Charter schools sounded great with how they cater to education in a way that helps each child learn and thrive. I wanted my child to have a setting that allowed for enhanced learning opportunities.”

While making an employment transition, Melanie stayed busy by being an involved and engaged parent at her daughter’s school. The staff took notice of Melanie’s initiative and offered her a job to start working immediately at 21st Century Charter School. From 2002 until 2007, Melanie served as a member of the teaching team, but after her family relocated to Noblesville she began searching for a position closer to home.

“Our kids began attending school in Hamilton County and I was just growing tired of the commute into Indianapolis,” said Martin-Terrell. “I was ready for a change and I remembered having heard about Options Charter School.”

In 2007, she interviewed for an Instructional Assistant position with Options Co-Founder Kevin Davis and was later hired to join the team at Options-Noblesville.

While the IA position was gratifying for Melanie, it wasn’t where she wanted to end up. Having aspired to obtain her master’s degree in social work, Melanie saw an opportunity to bring her passion into education as a School Counselor.

“I’m so thankful to Kevin Davis and Mike Gustin for having supported me to attend graduate school for school counseling,” said Martin-Terrell. “In 2008, I was able to earn my master’s degree while still working as an IA at Options.”

From 2007 up until 2017, Melanie not only served as an IA at Options, but also as a teaching instructor, school counselor, and Ivy Tech adjunct faculty, while building relationships with the students at Options-Noblesville.

In 2017, Melanie accepted a new role as the Counselor for an online school, but eventually realized that she missed having opportunities for the personal connections that she had while at Options.

In search of a new position, the stars aligned for Melanie as Options-Carmel was searching for a full-time School Counselor. While at a different campus, Melanie was still able to fill what is an invaluable role to so many students.

When looking back on her winding journey, Melanie sees how often she was able to help students beyond their coursework.

“Coming here allowed me to pull from social work background and help provide assistance to students so they can thrive,” said Martin-Terrell. “Students spend a good amount of time in a school setting, so it is important to help them in any way that is needed.”

There is plenty of evidence that the approach of Melanie and the rest of the Options team has helped hundreds of students live out the Options motto of “Belong. Believe. Achieve.”

“The alternative setting is fantastic because we give a place for students who need something different,” said Martin-Terrell. “I have always made a point that everyone feels comfortable and welcome. That isn’t commonplace. To be able to build relationships with students and connect with them is a major part of our motto. If you don’t feel like you belong, how are you able to be successful and feel at home? Once they belong, they can believe that they are capable and able to then achieve and accomplish goals as they move forward in life.”

 

Options is now accepting applications for the 2019-20 school year, but space is limited so interested applicants should apply ASAP in order to secure a seat.

About Options Schools

As free, public charter schools, Options Schools are designed to support the academic and social needs of students that haven’t found success in the traditional public school environment. At Options, students are encouraged to explore and embrace their individuality in a caring, supportive, and inclusive environment.

Through small class sizes and an individualized academic approach, the outstanding and highly trained instructors and staff of Options propel students to achieving academic success both in high school and their future endeavors.

 

 

Welcome, Michael Dunagan!

Join us in welcoming Michael Dunagan to the Options family as he was recently named the Principal of Options-Carmel! He fills the role previously held by Camille Scott Tolliver, who is now the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Options.

With years of experience rooted in working with students struggling at school, Dunagan brings a plethora of knowledge to the Options team. For his first Principal Blog, Dunagan answered a few questions to provide some background into who he is, what attracted him to Options & more!

 

What is your background in education?
I graduated from Ball State University where I studied Secondary Education in Social Studies and a minor in Multicultural Education. After graduating I took a position at Lawrence Early College High School, later renamed Stonegate Early College High School, and began the process of opening Indiana’s first Early College Charter School. The first two years I served as a social studies teacher and as assistant dean of discipline. I continued to work at Stonegate helping 6 students graduate from high school with an associates degree from Ivy Tech.

 

In 2012 I took a position at Indianapolis Metropolitan High School as a Social Studies Teacher. I also completed my Elementary level Principal’s internship at Oaklandon School of Environmental Studies. In May of 2012, I graduated from Ball State University with a MAE in Educational Administration and Supervision. In July of 2012, I took an administrative position at Emma Donnan Middle School overseeing all instruction. As a CRT I hosted professional development, coordinated testing and school data, observed staff, and supervised all aspects of Instruction. In 2013, I took a summer position as Director of Summer School and became the Assistant Principal of EDMS. In 2014, I became the Principal of EDMS. In 2015, EDMS was expanded to K-8 school in partnership with IPS as an innovation school. EDMS is now Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School. At Emma Donnan the Elementary has earned the A letter grade the past two years and the Turnaround Middle School was removed from the failing schools list earning a C. 

 

My experience has constantly centered around students who are behind or in danger of not graduating or dropping out of school.  As a teacher I worked with students as the senior advisor and running graduation. It was my role to help support our seniors to stay on track to graduation. Stonegate was a school for students who did not fit into the traditional public schools around them or who wanted something different. I worked with several students who had been expelled or who we were their last option to stay in school. I know I can continue helping students graduate high school. At Stonegate we also were one of the first schools to offer dual credit classes. This is now commonplace, but I have a lot of experience supporting students in these efforts.

 

As an administrator I worked with predominantly middle school and then added elementary students.  I am use to having students enter our school years behind their peers and working to help them catch up to grade level. I know that I will have a lot of learn about Options-Carmel, but I am excited for the opportunity to serve the students, families, and staff.

 

How familiar are you with Hamilton County and Carmel?
My Wife and I moved to the area just south of Pendleton, IN back in 2007. We have lived on the far north side the past 12 years and are very familiar with north from Pendleton to Zionsville. My wife has worked at Primrose of WestClay for the past 12 years and has been the director of the school for the last 10. Our oldest son attended Primrose thru Kindergarten and our youngest is still at the school.  We have spent a lot of time in the Carmel area and plan to continue to be part of the community for a very long time.

 

What attracted you to Options Schools?
I have worked in charter schools and schools of choice during my entire education career. I have worked to serve families that wanted a better option for their student. I saw Options as an opportunity to continue that work in an organization that believes all students could be successful and that understood the importance of family and community. I want to be part of a family as a school. I see the Options team treat each other and their students as family. I had to be a part of that type of culture and help continue their legacy of making a difference in students’ lives each day.

 

Is there anybody you’d like to recognize as you move into this role?
There are so many people who have helped and supported me along the way. I wanted to thank my family for supporting me. My parents for teaching me what it meant to work hard and to always do my best.  My wife, Kendra, for being my rock and believing I can do anything I put myself into. I want to thank my two boys for being the best kids a father could ask for. I would like to thank Dr. Scott Syverson for supporting as a mentor getting me started as an administrator. Thank you to all the students, teachers, and staff members I have had an opportunity to work with so far. You have all shaped me. I hope that the Options family will be as impactful in my life.

 

Interesting Facts:

  • Married to my wonderful wife, Kendra, and have to boys, Hudson and Maddox.
  • I am an avid Disney fan. Our family visits Disney parks often. We collect, watch, listen, and experience as much Disney as we can as a family.
  • I enjoy running, I have completed several half marathons and enjoy running regularly.
  • I am a big Indianapolis Colts fan, and try to meet as many of the players as possible.

 

About Options Schools
As free, public charter schools, Options Schools are designed to support the academic and social needs of students that haven’t found success in the traditional public school environment. At Options, students are encouraged to explore and embrace their individuality in a caring, supportive, and inclusive environment.

Through small class sizes and an individualized academic approach, the outstanding and highly trained instructors and staff of Options propel students to achieving academic success in middle school, high school and their future endeavors. Applications are now being accepted for the 2019-20 school year, but space is limited so interested applicants should apply ASAP in order to secure a seat.


#OptionsGrad Spotlight – Isabella Isenberg

For Isabella Isenberg, her Options journey began in August 2018 and that journey has turned out to be one with life-altering results.

Having previously attended a traditional, public high school in Fishers, IN, Isabella reached a point where she needed a change and that change was made possible at 530 W Carmel Drive in Carmel, IN.

“When I first walked into Options, I was unsure and nervous,” said Isabella. “Then, the second I met (Principal) Camille, I knew I was going to school here.”

From the first day of school, Isabella was amazed by many of the things she experienced in the hallways of Options.

“I didn’t believe Camille when she told me it was a family environment, until I experienced it for myself,” said Isabella. “All of the teachers knew me, even though I wasn’t in all of their classes. They also showed that they believed in me.”

Once Isabella noticed the impact Options was having on her, she took it upon herself to convince her brother to enroll. For Isabella, a ripple effect could be seen throughout.

“Everything turned around for us and we were doing really good,” Isabella said. “It just changed everything for our entire family and helped improve our mindsets, too.”

Active in the community, Isabella prides herself on giving back and was able to do just that on multiple occasions. Two instances include working with the House of Representatives Page Program for Advocacy Day and serving as a member of the Walk Out of The Darkness committee with the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. In each of those roles, Isabella was able to spread awareness surrounding mental health and also advocate for those that are unable to have their voices heard on the subject.

While Isabella graduated from Options on May 29, 2019, she hopes to bring things full circle with her career path.

Having been accepted into Ivy Tech-Downtown Indianapolis, with plans to transfer to Indiana University Bloomington, Isabella intends to major in Special Education so that she can return to Options as an employee.

“Because of everything Options provided for me, I just want to be able to give back to future Options students and help them in the way that I was helped,” she said.” It was a really great experience and I just can’t express how grateful I am for it.”

 

Options expands 2019 Open House schedule

In order to continue the efforts of serving as many students as possible within the state of Indiana, Options Charter Schools will be hosting six additional Open Houses from July until September.

Each Open House will run from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. and attendees will be able to tour the respective campus and speak with Options Principals, teachers and other team members.

After hosting six well-attended Open Houses in the spring, Options is adding dates to provide more students with the opportunity to see what can be accomplished with a small, personalized approach to education.

Open House Schedule
Wednesday, July 24 (Noblesville)
Wednesday, July 31 (Carmel)
Wednesday, August 14 (Noblesville)
Wednesday, August 21 (Carmel)
Wednesday, August 28 (Noblesville)
Wednesday, Sept. 4 (Carmel)

The addresses for each campus can be found here. 

Unable to attend an Open House? Visit OptionsSchools.org to schedule a private campus tour and you’ll also have a chance to have any questions answered by an Options team member.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2019-20 school year, but space is limited so interested applicants should apply ASAP in order to secure a seat.

About Options Schools
As free, public charter schools, Options Schools are designed to support the academic and social needs of students that haven’t found success in the traditional public school environment. At Options, students are encouraged to explore and embrace their individuality in a caring, supportive, and inclusive environment.

Through small class sizes and an individualized academic approach, the outstanding and highly trained instructors and staff of Options propel students to achieving academic success both in high school and their future endeavors.