Steve’s eLearning Update (March 27)

With Options Schools closed until May 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our educational structure has transitioned to eLearning. With all Options students, teachers and administrators working from home, we wanted to share some blog posts on how the change has been going for different members of the Options family.

Next up is Steve Bowers, social studies teacher at Options-Carmel since 2017! Yesterday, Stacie O’Flaherty (Options-Noblesville science teacher) provided an update.

How has the transition to full eLearning been for your students?
Steve: The students have been resilient, if somewhat hesitant. We are charting new waters for a lot of them, and they just need to get comfortable with the new format. The students are still involved, producing high-quality work, being engaged, asking questions, just like in their school classrooms.

How has the transition to full eLearning been for you & the rest of the Options-Carmel team?
Steve: I believe we have all done very well making the transition, having the built-in eLearning Days already for our half-day/full-day Professional Development’s has helped us be ahead of the curve, unlike some of the bigger school corporations. Personally, I have taught virtually before so it was a pretty easy transition for me (and from conversing with my colleagues, for them as well). We have been sharing different ideas, apps, websites, resources to make the transition that much easier for the entire staff.

What has been the most successful part of eLearning thus far?
Steve: For me, seeing the students be able to embrace it. Some students have a natural fear of the unknown (we all do), but this was something that they were able to take in stride and still be successful students. The continual conversations that I and the other teachers have with our students via the different social media apps, emails, texts, phone calls, etc, it’s just like we see them in hallways and have a nice little conversation with them. Its “business” as usual, just in a different location.

How are you staying connected with your students during eLearning?
Steve: I text, use google hangouts, email, and make some phone calls.  I will leave comments on the assignments I grade, just simple things, like “nice job,” “keep up the good work,” “hope you and your family are doing okay,” “let me know if you need anything.” Things like that. It sounds cliche, but we are family and our students really, really buy into that here. We need to make sure that we continue that in this particular time of uncertainty.

What have you been doing to keep to a routine while teaching through eLearning?
Steve: Well, to be honest, I don’t get up as early as I did, as my kids are home as well and I don’t have to take my oldest to band practice. But what I do, I make sure I get dressed like I’m going into work. It’s fine to sit in your shorts and t-shirt, but that can be distracting. I put on clothes that I would wear to work. I don’t sit near my desktop, as my games and other distractions would be calling me, I set up class hangouts to correspond to the time I would actually have class. I connect with my teacher friends, like I would at school, eat lunch at the same time. Just to make myself realize that I am still at work.

Have you & your family been doing anything creative at home to stay active?
Steve: Well, my kids go for walks/play outside. My youngest (7th grader) has to do ‘Just Dance’ for his Gym class. My oldest (10th grader) is constantly practicing his bassoon or saxophone. We have family dinner, play board games, etc. Sometimes we do separate because being cooped up for an extended time period can be grating on your nerves, especially if your father is a history teacher and you are a teenager.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Steve: Just that as bad as it is, and while it’s bad and may get worse, if the scientists are correct, we will get through it.  We have a unique school that takes care of each other. We have the ability to do the right thing for our students and staff, and we are doing so to help our students because we believe in them. They know they belong to a school that cares for them and together we know they will achieve because we believe in them.

 

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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

Stacie’s eLearning Update (March 26)

With Options Schools closed until May 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our educational structure has transitioned to eLearning. With all Options students, teachers and administrators working from home, we wanted to share some blog posts on how the change has been going for different members of the Options family.

First up is Stacie O’Flaherty, science teacher at Options-Noblesville since 2014!

How has the transition to full eLearning been for your students?
Stacie: It’s been easier for some than others. Our students are so close and really great at helping each other. Being isolated is difficult, but I know many of them are reaching out to each other during this time. Many are working hard on assignments and we teachers are on our computers all day, and many of us into the evening hours as well. So, we are able to clarify and explain assignments as needed.

How has the transition to full eLearning been for you & the rest of the Options-Noblesville team?
Stacie: We have such a strong group of teachers and counselors. It’s been very challenging for me because I do so much hands-on work in my science classroom and the transition to online is difficult for me. The students are real troopers though. I respect and admire the teachers and all the effort that everyone is putting into reaching out to students and parents to try to keep our students on track for credit attainment. Also, I want to shout out to Elizabeth Essig, our Instructional Assistant and volunteer in the pantry, who has been absolutely heroic in staying in touch with our students who are going through difficult financial times with the quarantine. She is doing so much to get needed food and toiletries for these students and their families.

What has been the most successful part of eLearning thus far?
Stacie: The most successful part is definitely how we are all growing and learning to do more online. It’s definitely a learning experience for me, and I know we try to get creative with online assignments. 

How are you staying connected with your students during eLearning?
Stacie: We are emailing, Google Meeting, Google Hangout including Hangout audio and video, Google Classroom comments and texting. We have a high school google hangout chat and a middle school hangout chat. We are doing any and all methods to reach as many as often as possible. 

What have you been doing to keep to a routine while teaching through eLearning?
Stacie: Definitely have to go to bed and get up on a regular schedule. I know we all have been putting in a good bit of extra time on getting as creative as possible with online assignments and keeping up with attendance and grading. Some of the teachers have young children at home. They really are my heroes.

Have you & your family been doing anything creative at home to stay active?
Stacie: You’re going to make me confess that I’m finally getting some use out of the treadmill I bought last spring. I have college students and a working husband. We are working a lot. But, we are also exploring and expanding our cooking skills while we are stuck at home.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Stacie: We teachers and counselors at Options are really all about the students. Our mission is to help these precious young people ‘Belong, Believe and Achieve’ in their academic career and to graduate on time. This quarantine doesn’t change that and there is a lot of love and care still occurring while we are apart just the same as when we are together.

 

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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

Student Schedule Following Spring Break

Parents and Students,

The last couple of weeks have challenged each of us in some similar and unique ways. We have been so fortunate, as a school family, to have a group of students and parents that have been patient and incredibly flexible with the changes in learning platforms. We have heard so many positive stories already of how you are all continuing to build community in alignment with our Relationships-First mission yet keeping the appropriate social distancing requirements. We recognize that while this situation is not ideal for students, staff or parents, it is important for the health and safety of our overall community. Our students and teachers continue to show us how resilient they really are!

We hope you will use the upcoming spring break as an opportunity to rest and heal, both physically and mentally. We know many of you have had to cancel family plans and normal busy schedules have slowed during this time at home. We encourage you to continue to schedule time each day to take care of yourselves and your family as a whole unit. If we are not careful and intentional, we can begin to feel isolated. Your Options family is here to walk with you and ready to help in any way we can. Please let us know if you or your family have any needs with which we may assist.

Options Charter Schools are on spring break beginning Monday, March 30, 2020, through Friday, April 10, 2020.  We will return to eLearning, Monday, April 13, 2020. At that time, all courses will have been set up in such a way that students may complete at their own pace with the goal of completing all currently assigned courses by May 1. We are hopeful this will excite students and encourage focused work with the reward of an early summer break!

Beginning May 4, 2020, through May 27, 2020, Options will run a 4-week credit recovery session for all students that need extended time past the May 1st deadline or that are credit deficient and would like to enroll in an additional course or two. If we are able to return to the buildings at that time, this session will run from 8:00 am-12:00 pm each day. If not, we will continue through the eLearning platform.

At this time, we are holding off on making any decisions about spring events such as the spring picnic, prom, or graduation. We are hopeful we are able to be together again before the end of the year but will follow the lead of our health agencies and government officials.  Summer school will continue as planned, beginning June 1, 2020, through June 26, 2020. If we are able to be in the buildings, this will be held at the Noblesville campus and will run from 8:00 am-12:00 pm. Students are able to enroll in up to two courses for summer school. More information and sign up sheets will be sent out in April.

Thank you, again, to each of you for being part of the Options’ family and trusting us to provide your children a sense of belonging in our schools, a belief in themselves, and encouragement to achieve their highest potential. We do not take that gift lightly. Also, our sincere thanks to all the dedicated people at all of the County and State Health Departments, the local and state officials, and to our staff at Options Schools who have been working tirelessly to prepare and plan for our students and families.

 

Quick Guide Calendar

March 30 – April 10 Spring Break – No School
April 13 – May 1 eLearning, Courses set to At-Your-Own Pace
May 1 End of Semester 2
May 4 – May 27 Credit Recovery Session 1
June 1 – June 26 Credit Recovery Session 2 (Summer School)
August 5 First Student Day, Fall 2020

 

Point of Contact by 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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Options Schools closure update (March 19)

As was announced Thursday by Governor Eric Holcomb, all Indiana schools will be closed through May 1 and all state standardized tests have been canceled.

All Options Schools students will remain on their current E-Learning curriculum at this time. All Options campuses will remain closed, with Spring Break scheduled for March 30-April 10.

Options will collaborate with Hamilton County school superintendents, along with state and local health officials in order to coordinate a plan through May 1.

Information and news will be shared once a plan has been prepared.

 

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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

Options Pantry makes immediate impact amidst school closures

With more than 200 Indiana school districts having closed in response to COVID-19, students throughout Indiana are experiencing a change in their daily schedule. One of those changes is the access to lunch and other meals that are available to students when at school.

In an effort to ensure no students would go hungry during the extended break, Options Schools looked to its recently-renovated food pantry.

With the Options-Noblesville Pantry already in place, the foundation was set to make an immediate impact when staff learned Friday that Options Schools campuses would transition to E-Learning, beginning Monday, March 16. With help from students Symone and Jocelyn, Options-Noblesville Instructional Assistant Elizabeth Essig was able to prepare 100 bags of non-perishable foods. 50 of the bags were transported to Options-Carmel.

Some of the supplies were provided by the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank, while others were purchased by Options. In addition to the 100 bags of food, White River Christian Church supplied Options with perishable and non-perishable items for 10 more families.

With additional supplies remaining, Options teachers and administration will distribute remaining supplies in the following days & weeks.

 

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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Options Schools Transitions To E-Learning For COVID-19 Safeguard

NOBLESVILLE – Amid growing concerns surrounding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and a recommendation by the Hamilton County Health Department, Options Schools will close through Spring Break (March 30 – April 10).

The closure will be effective Monday, March 16 and Options administration will reevaluate the closure prior to April 10. All Options Schools students will transition to an E-Learning format for the remainder of the closure. Options will begin E-Learning for ALL PROGRAMS beginning Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, 2020 for a total of 10 days. Students will access the curriculum from home, virtually. Access to the building will still be allowed, but by appointment only.

Options administration also announced that all events with large attendance were postponed. The list of postponed events includes: Options-Noblesville Senior Institute Gallery Walk (March 17), Options-Westfield Groundbreaking Ceremony (March 18), Options-Carmel Open House (March 18), Options-Carmel Senior Institute Gallery Walk (March 20) and Options-Noblesville Open House (March 25).

An email was sent to all Options parents outlining details of the closure and E-Learning Days. The email can be viewed here in its entirety.

 

Options Schools Postpones Events For COVID-19 Precautions

NOBLESVILLE – In order to remain committed to the health and safety of students and faculty, Options Schools has postponed upcoming events with large attendance, through the end of March with the current threat of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The list of postponed events currently includes: Options-Noblesville Senior Institute Gallery Walk (March 17), Options-Westfield Groundbreaking Ceremony (March 18), Options-Carmel Open House (March 18), Options-Carmel Senior Institute Gallery Walk (March 20) and Options-Noblesville Open House (March 25).

As originally scheduled, Wednesday, March 18 will remain an E-Learning Day for all Options students.

“After consulting with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and local officials, we feel that it is in the best interest of our students and staff to temporarily postpone Options Schools events,” said Dr. Mike Gustin, Options Schools President. “At this time, we do not feel school closure is necessary. However, we are encouraging all students and staff members to practice good sanitation habits and to remain home if they are feeling ill.”

Students concerned about their own welfare or potential exposure to family members may elect to participate in the Options’ Alternative Classroom Experience and learn from home. Parents should contact their building principal for more information on this option.

Currently, there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any Options Schools campuses. If a case were to occur, Options would notify staff, students and parents from the involved school(s) and follow the recommendations of local, state and federal authorities. In the event schools would need to be closed for an extended period of time, Options would utilize E-Learning Days and postpone in-person meetings for Distance Education students.

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on Wednesday. The ISDH and Centers of Disease Control (CDC) have shared guidance based on what is known about the transmission and severity of COVID-19. Per their recommendation, Options administration will continue to collaborate, share information, and review plans with local health officials.

Students of the Month – February 2020

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

 

Daelyn Presswood
(Options-Carmel)

Grade: 10th 

When did you enroll at Options?
Over a year ago in October 2018

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I like to play basketball, play video games & read comic books. I mainly play sports video games like NBA 2K and UFC. My cousin showed me the TV show “The Flash” and that got me hooked on comic books.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
Definitely the teachers. They make sure to help you succeed and they don’t let you fail. I also like being able to play basketball with friends at school during lunch.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I really like Social Studies with Steve and English with Gretchen. The way they teach and how they approach things is really helpful. I really enjoy reading and working on writing prompts. I also have learned a lot about history.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I have learned a lot more since I have been here compared to at my old school. Personally, I used to be super serious about everything, but small classes helped me learn how to be a little more laid back.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They pay attention to each student and take interest in you as an individual because they don’t want to see me fail. Everyone is helpful, even down to our security guard. They try to help in the best way they can.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I’m not sure yet, but I want to do something where I can help other people.

 

Ethan Howard
(Options-Distance Education)

Grade: 12th
Hometown: Indianapolis

When did you enroll at Options?
December 2018

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
My passion is playing video games, making videos and listening to music. I also enjoy learning about airplanes and collecting airplanes. 

What is your favorite thing about the Options Distance Education program?
My favorite thing is how I can work any time to fit my schedule. This has made school better because I feel less rushed and can focus on one class at a time.

What is your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject is business because it’s interesting and I’m getting good grades in the class. This class is preparing me for my future as an entrepreneur.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I’ve improved my work ethic and my constructive writing skills. Overall, I am better at planning and managing my time.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
The teachers offer more 1-on-1 help to students to make sure they fully understand. They also help you set goals for yourself.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
After graduation, I would like to make my own company and become a pilot. If I were to make a company, it would produce movies. One day I would like to fly myself to Japan.

 

Basim Kahn
(Options-Noblesville Middle School)

Grade: 8th

When did you enroll at Options?
At the start of this school year in August

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I enjoy playing video games, mostly Nintendo games.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I actually like going to school. You can voice your opinions; your voice Is heard, and the teachers are funny.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I would say math. I am good at it and it’s kind of easy for me.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I go to school a lot more now. I didn’t use to go as much.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They have time to help you and answer questions that anyone has. The classrooms aren’t big, so nobody is embarrassed to ask questions and the work is attainable. 

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
Probably something with building or technology. I like working with my hands and playing video games, so something that has those things would be fun.

 

Tori Symons
(Options-Noblesville High School)

Grade: 10th

When did you enroll at Options?
In the middle of this past November

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I love photography and have been doing it for the past two years. I also know sign language and started learning that in 6th grade.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I like the extra help from all my teachers. They make time to further help me and make sure we get the best grades we can.

What is your favorite subject in school?
English is my favorite subject. I love writing, especially poetry.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I have definitely become more outgoing and I’m better at speaking my own voice. I used to be shyer and I have also improved in math & have a better understanding of it now. The smaller school helps me be more comfortable with speaking up and being in my own skin because you can ask questions without judgment.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
Here they take extra time to help with whatever is needed, even if they have to go over a thing in class again. Having resource teachers help me too because there is more support than I used to have.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I want to be a Sign Language Interpreter and I am planning on going to IUPUI because they have a good program for that.

 

 

 

Options Schools sets dates for 2020 Open House schedule

View Open House Schedule (PDF)

In order to provide families with the opportunity to see what can be accomplished with a unique and personalized approach to education, Options Schools will be hosting 10 Open Houses in advance of the 2020-21 school year.

Scheduled for March through May, each Open House will run from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Attendees will be able to tour the respective campus and meet/speak with Options Principals, teachers and other team members in order to learn more about the high-quality approach and small class sizes found at Options Schools.

Open House Schedule (View PDF)
Wednesday, March 4 (Carmel campus – 530 W Carmel Dr)
Wednesday, March 11 (Noblesville campus – 9945 Cumberland Pointe Blvd)
Wednesday, March 18 (Carmel)
Wednesday, March 25 (Noblesville)
Wednesday, April 15 (Carmel)
Wednesday, April 22 (Noblesville)
Wednesday, April 29 (Carmel)
Wednesday, May 6 (Noblesville)
Wednesday, May 13 (Carmel)
Wednesday, May 20 (Noblesville)

Directions to each campus can be found here, while additional information about Options, including “Our Story,” can be found here. 

Unable to attend an Open House? No problem! Visit OptionsSchools.org to schedule a private campus tour and Principal meeting.

Applications for 2020-21 enrollment will soon be open to students new to Options Schools. For those interested, a limited number of seats remain available for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

 

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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Pantry grows to provide additional benefits to those in need

In an effort to provide students with assistance beyond the scope of education, one Counselor at Options Schools began a pantry program that has grown immensely over a short period of time.

Started by Options-Noblesville Counselor Devin Hines, the Options Pantry began at the start of the 2018-19 school year, roughly 18 months ago.

With initial support from Grace Church, the pantry consisted of non-perishable items that were available to students and their families. When Hines left her role with Options in December 2018, the future of the pantry was up in the air before Instructional Assistant Elizabeth Essig volunteered to carry on the cause.

“It was such a positive thing for all of our students to have access to food and other items, if they ever needed them,” said Essig. “I didn’t want it to end and with my role, I have some time to assist, and I didn’t mind helping since the benefit was evident.”

Following overseeing the pantry through the end of the 2018-19 school year, Essig not only wanted to see the pantry continue, but grow.

After learning that the pantry would no longer receive assistance from Grace Church, Essig received a recommendation to reach out to the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank. With help from Anita Hagen, Executive Director of Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank, the Options Pantry had secured the support it needed to increase its reach.

“I went with (Options-Noblesville Principal) Adam Barr to meet with Anita (Hagen) and discuss some possibilities,” said Essig. “Anita was really excited to talk about the pantry because of the uniqueness surrounding a school having its own pantry. She came in to look at the space we had, and things took off from there.”

By moving the pantry’s location to a room in the heart of campus, any interested students could easily access items they needed before or after the school day. Essig also saw an opportunity to increase the benefits of the pantry by expanding selection choices.

Having started with non-perishable foods, the pantry has since added perishable foods, hygiene products, gently used clothes, a book exchange and educational flyers on vaping, second-hand smoke and other important topics.

“There have been a number of supporters in addition to Anita and the rest of the Hamilton Country Harvest Food Bank team,” said Essig. “We receive a weekly donation of fresh produce and other perishable items from the White River Food Pantry through Options parent Sarah Reiff. I also was able to obtain monetary donations from a relative and through employee contributions to the Options In Education Foundation. We even have some students bringing in donations.”

If you are interested in making a contribution to the pantry, donations can include non-perishable foods, hygiene products, books, gently used clothes and monetary contributions to be used to purchase additional items. To learn more how to get involved, email Elizabeth Essig to help make an impact.

 

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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Options Schools, Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy announce partnership

KNIGHTSTOWN, In. – In an effort to continue making a positive impact on students across the state of Indiana, Options Schools and the Indiana National Guard Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy have come together in order to provide students with an opportunity to continue progressing towards their high school diploma.

The Indiana National Guard Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy (HYCA) is part of the National Youth ChalleNGe Program which was established in 1993 by the National Guard and has graduated over 90,000 Cadets. Founded in 2007, the Youth ChalleNGe Program was developed to change the life path of young men and women between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of high school or are severely deficient in credits by bringing structure and discipline with an emphasis on the eight Core Components. HYCA empowers youths to embrace responsibility, achievement and positive behavior, while also instilling confidence, fostering ambition and increasing employment opportunities. HYCA is a 17 ½ month, two phase, quasi-military training academy, with the first 5 ½ months of the program referred to as the Residential Phase in which Cadets live at the HYCA campus in Knightstown, Indiana. The program has been based in Knightstown since 2010.

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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

As is the case within all Options Schools programs, flexibility for students remains an important focus. Options @ HYCA students are able to continue to earn credits towards their high school diploma while attending HYCA. Students will have the ability to graduate from Options if eligible, transfer back to their home high school following HYCA graduation or continue with one of the many Options programs available.

“There are many similarities when it comes to the mission and focus of Options Schools and the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy, which makes it exciting to be able to have the two organizations work together,” said Mike Gustin, Options CEO/President. “We are excited that our partnership with the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy is going to help provide more students with a high-quality education and benefit the lives of young people across Indiana.”

 

 

Amazon John shares passion and expertise with Options-Carmel students

On Tuesday, students at the Carmel campus of Options Schools were able to learn a great deal from a rather entertaining and extremely knowledgeable source, Amazon John of Silly Safaris. With Silly Safaris serving as the leading provider of live animal conservation education, Amazon John spoke to all Options-Carmel students on a number of topics.

Topics covered during the day included small business ownership in Senior Institute, dietary-related themes in Health and Wellness, and animal communication patterns in Interpersonal Communications. Having started Silly Safaris in 1997 after having previously worked at the Indianapolis Zoo, Amazon John shared his story and also brought along some of his animals. Regardless of the topic, Amazon John made sure to share some valuable advice with students, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep. Whatever you do in life, just do something that makes you happy.”

A photo gallery from the day can be viewed at the Options Schools Facebook Page.

We made sure to catch up with Amazon John & one of his guests, “Twinkie,” to hear more about the day.

 

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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

Students of the Month – Jan. 2020

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

 

Doug Raub
(Options-Carmel)

Grade: 12th

When did you enroll at Options?
During my Sophomore year (August 2017)

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I like going to car meets and looking at different types of cars. I also am into live-streaming gaming on Fortnite.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I like how you have 1-on-1 relationships with every teacher instead of no teachers knowing you. All of the teachers know something about you and can talk to you because they know you.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I don’t really have a favorite, but I have always liked science.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They are respectful of students and show trust in people as long as students are honest.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I am looking at enrolling at Lincoln College of Technology to study something automotive-related. I also could work for my dad’s company.

 

Nicolas Jones
(Options-Distance Education)

Grade: 11th
Hometown: Indianapolis

When did you enroll at Options?
September 2019

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I like playing my PlayStation and working on cars and dirt bikes.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
They are willing to work with you and address your concerns.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I don’t have any favorites. I am just doing my best to succeed.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
Most definitely! I’m more focused & getting more organized

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They actually care.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I’m waiting to enroll in trade school for mechanics or HVAC.

 

Jillian Gale
(Options-Noblesville Middle School)

Grade: 7th

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

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I really like art and drawing pretty much anything free-hand.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
Probably just the friends I have made, the teachers and the other students.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I like math.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They understand you and take time to hear about your situation and they try to help you through it.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I want to be a teacher. I have wanted to do that for a while because I like helping others and I like kids.

 

Joey Kitko
(Options-Noblesville High School)

Grade: 11th

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

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I like to learn about business, and I enjoy wrestling. I make business plans in my free time for all types of companies, but mainly in energy and producing products. I have been wrestling competitively since I was four and it is my favorite sport.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
The respect you get from teachers and the teachers have the willingness to understand situations.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I like math and any business classes.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
The structure is just different and there is some more individual work that lets you work at your own pace.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I am working to save up money to start a business in energy. I want to work with my older brother and he’s also been saving up money.

 

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 additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

2020 #SchoolChoiceWeek Recap

Held every January, National #SchoolChoiceWeek shines a spotlight on effective education options for children

NSCW recognizes all K-12 options, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

Started in 2011, NSCW is now the world’s largest annual celebration of opportunity in education. Over the past nine years, more than 131,000 NSCW events have been planned across the country and around the world.

NSCW is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical, independent public awareness effort. Therefore we are not associated with any legislative lobbying or advocacy. More information can be found at SchoolChoiceWeek.com.

 

Monday, Jan. 27

Tuesday, Jan. 28

Wednesday, Jan. 29

Thursday, Jan. 30

Friday, Jan. 31

 

 

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.

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.

 

Aaron Likens visits Options-Noblesville to spread autism awareness

An author, speaker, and Mental Health Champion, Aaron Likens spoke to a group of 50 students, teachers and guests at Options Schools’ Noblesville campus on Monday in an effort to raise the awareness and understanding of the autism spectrum.

The event came together with the assistance of Likens’ sister, Options-Noblesville English and middle school teacher Kimberly Massoud.

After being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 20 years old, Likens wrote Finding Kansas: Living and Decoding Asperger’s Syndrome. He was named a 2012 Mental Health Champion of Missouri and dedicates his time to raising autism awareness.

15 months after his diagnosis, Likens began to write about not only the what of Asperger Syndrome but the why. One thing led to another and eventually he had a book written, Finding Kansas, and is now the Autism Ambassador for TouchPoint Autism Services. His mission in life is to raise the awareness AND understanding of the autism spectrum because there is hope only if parents, teachers, and society understands.

Following the event, Likens spoke about the day, his motivation & provided some great insight. Watch the full video 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 & 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.

 

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