Dunagan debuts first Principal blog in Year 2

For Principal Dunagan’s first Principal Blog of the 2020-21 school year, we discussed a trio of topics in video form!

 


  • How has the first month of the school year gone with things being different due to the COVID-19 pandemic? How have the students & teachers adapted to new circumstances?

 

  • With the small size of Options, students are able to attend schools five days a week. How has that been beneficial over having students only on campus for two days each week?

 

  • You first joined the Options team in July 2019 as Principal of Options-Carmel. How has your first year been & what are some of your thoughts as you enter your second school year?

 

Notable Upcoming Dates:

  • Oct. 9: End of Quarter 1 / Grades Final
  • Oct. 12-16: Fall Break!
  • Oct. 20: Picture Retakes
  • Oct. 29: PSAT Testing

 


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.

 

 

Passion, creativity & integrity: meet Dr. Silverman

Following the departure of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in the fall of 2019, Options Schools was left with an opening in a major role. The search for a new Director of Curriculum and Instruction began immediately and the result was the addition of Dr. Anita Silverman in December 2019.

A native of central Indiana and graduate of North Central High School, Silverman made an immediate impact with her demeanor and approach to the position. The source? A winding journey that provided a wealth of experience and knowledge along the way.

A first-generation college student, Silverman started her secondary education at Ball State University, with the goal of becoming a teacher.

Required to take a speech & hearing test in order to proceed in BSU’s teaching program, a speech impediment prevented Silverman from passing the test and with the Disabilities Act of 1990 not yet in place, Silverman was forced with a choice: forfeit her dreams of working in education or leave the state of Indiana.

“All I had ever wanted to be was a teacher, I wanted to be just like my elementary school Principal,” said Silverman. “I just picked Ohio State because it was out of state and it was random. I didn’t understand the concept or cost of out of state student fees, I just wanted to go somewhere because I couldn’t teach in Indiana. It ended up being the best decision I ever made.”

After her time at Ohio State, Silverman learned of an opportunity that would assist in paying her student loans if she spent time teaching in an urban environment. She selected Chicago, packed up a U-haul & off she went. Silverman’s next stop was Thornwood High School, her first experience in alternative education and working with at-risk youth.

“I was on the south side of Chicago and early on I experienced my first student death, via gang violence,” Silverman said. “After experiencing the funeral, I learned a lot about things I previously knew nothing about and it taught me that I needed to learn about the students. Not many teachers take the time to learn about their students, and we have to take time to do that. That was a big lesson for me at age 23 and ever since, I’ve been really involved in making sure teachers understand what our kids live, not just what they learn.”

After a five-year span in Chicago, teaching courses that included Family and Consumer Science & Graduation Reality and Dual Role Skills (GRADS), Silverman was ready to return to Indiana. As her family grew with the addition of two children, Silverman wanted them to be closer to their grandparents.

With courses including Home Economics & Family and Consumer Science having been cut in certain areas, Silverman felt the need to build on her resume and went back to school to earn her Master’s Degree in School Leadership. Silverman’s career then led her to Indianapolis Public Schools, where she served in a myriad of roles, including Dean of Students and Principal at one of IPS’ first alternative schools in 1999, where she realized alternative education was where she fit. Much of Silverman’s time was spent working at schools where “something needed to be done, whether it was an increase in test scores or motivation, that was kind of my niche.”

That very “niche” has helped Silverman thrive in previous roles, but also makes her a major asset for Options Schools and the students it serves. She also brings a student-first perspective that meshes well with the mission of Options.

“We have to respect students for being who they are…I can’t ask them to become part of my world and I can’t be a part of their world, we have to be in our world together, and I think that is really important because we have to create our community,” Silverman said. “I think we often make the mistake in forgetting that the younger generation knows how to think, so we have to respect their processes & their mindset. It is our job as educators to introduce us to the world, not to try to change their upbringing.”

The experience Silverman carries with her also comes from her dissertation, as she earned her EdD from Ball State University in Educational Leadership. Silverman completed her dissertation on the Cultural Competency of Teachers, and despite potential drawbacks to her dissertation topic, Silverman carried on.

“I was told that there wasn’t much research out there (on the Cultural Competency of Teachers) or that it wasn’t valid, or people don’t care, but now it’s so important to discuss race, and respect, understanding, and that was about 14 years ago,” Silverman said. “I was always told it was going to be a difficult topic and people may not be interested in that topic, but it has been and continues to be an important issue.”

With Silverman’s passion rooted in alternative education, she has used a creative mindset to present Options students with new experiences.

“I’ve always been really crafty and learning needs to be engaging for our students & shouldn’t be something that bores them,” Silverman said. “Not all students can learn sitting at desks in rows. I like to stay current with technology, and I like to still be involved with kids to see what I can do to connect with them and how I can help teachers to connect with them. I use drums because I know it can help with emotional regulation and kids are so dysregulated with everything going on in the world right now.”

Certified by Remo Drums in Healthy Rhythm Drumming Coordination, Silverman discovered the new-found passion in August 2019 and has since used it as a beneficial tool in the classroom, while improving her own drumming skills in her free time.

Along with the importance of education, Silverman also puts a lot of value in honesty and integrity.

“I think the best thing we can teach kids is integrity and model that for kids,” Silverman said. “Integrity has always been a big thing for me. It is the one thing you can’t ever get back, once you give someone your integrity, you can’t get that back. Even if you apologize after lying to someone, for example, you can’t just fix it and it’s the same with your integrity. I need to know that when I go to sleep at night, I was always myself.”

Silverman has loved the ability Options has provided her, to work with multiple schools and have full team involvement, working towards a common goal. Silverman shared that she is looking forward to strengthening and improving the sustainability of dual-credit program partnerships with Ivy Tech, J. Everett Light Career Center and others.

With the students always in mind, Silverman provided an “old phrase” that she believes speaks volumes in a school setting and serves as a reminder for all educators.

“They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”

 


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.

 

 

Q&A with Melanie, Principal of Options-Noblesville

With the 2020-21 school year underway, we caught up with Melanie Martin-Terrell to see how things have been in her new role as Principal of Options-Noblesville. Martin-Terrell has served in numerous roles during her tenure with Options Schools, most recently as Counselor at Options-Carmel.


How have your first few weeks been serving as Principal of Options-Noblesville?
My first few weeks as Principal of Options-Noblesville have been quite enlightening. I have been well received and met some wonderful families and gotten to know staff members and reconnect with former colleagues. I am learning how to navigate the enrollment process and investigate all the changes to the building. My days are full and productive.

What are your thoughts as you begin a new school year in this role?
Wow! What a time to take on new responsibilities. I welcome all challenges placed before me. I hope to focus on the school motto of Belong, Believe, Achieve. Our students need to feel accepted, safe, supported, encouraged and educated, and in that sequence. Relationships matter. Students are the number one priority of any school environment and we must see from their viewpoint. While some may disagree with this concept, this is what has been effective at Options.

You’ve been with Options for over a decade. What’s it been like to see the growth and evolution of Options Schools?
I am one out of a handful of staff members that have had the pleasure of working at both school campuses, in Carmel and Noblesville. Structurally, the buildings are completely different, but relationally, everything is the same. There are fantastic staff members at both campuses and we all have great rapport within our buildings and now amongst one another, as we are enhancing curriculum standards and providing synchronous instruction. I really believe I have come full circle and that is what makes my journey particularly interesting. I definitely hope to stay connected with all of the students I have worked with. I believe in their ability to succeed and our staff is equipped to assist them along the way.

What is it about Options Schools that has appealed to you for over a decade?
Options has a unique school environment that gives a place for students who need something different. Students can be who they are while developing the skills necessary to become productive citizens. To be able to build positive relationships with students 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.

As you take on this role as Principal, is there anyone you want to acknowledge or thank?
My parents have definitely laid the foundational work as prime examples of excellent educators. They each had 40 plus years in the field of education. With that, I have ingrained and embraced working with youth. I thank the Options executive team for extending their confidence in me to lead the Noblesville campus. My family has supported me throughout all of my academic endeavors and I greatly appreciate their sacrifices and encouragement

Is there anything else you want to share or say?
Let us F.L.O.A.T. through this year and be Flexible, Level-headed, Outstanding, Adaptable, & Triumphant!

 

 

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.

 

 

Current Openings with Options Schools

Options Schools is currently hiring for four teaching positions, two with Options @ HYCA and two with Options @ Growing Minds. Interested applicants are welcome to apply immediately by contacting the respective program leader (information listed in each posting).

Open Positions:

  • Options @ HYCA English Teacher
  • Options @ HYCA Math Teacher
  • Options @ Growing Minds Teacher (Special Education preferred)
  • Options @ Growing Minds Teacher

Job Descriptions & Qualifications:

Options @ HYCA Teacher (1 English & 1 Math opening)

  • The English/Math Teacher is responsible for teaching and/or overseeing all English/Math courses required for graduation and remedial programs. In addition, all teachers at Options are responsible for a small group of students in an advisory role and other possible courses.
  • The Indiana Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy 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 and located in Knightstown, IN, the academy offers military-based training to unemployed/underemployed, crime-free and drug-free high-school dropouts 16-18 years of age. HYCA empowers youths to embrace responsibility, achievement and positive behavior, while also instilling confidence, fostering ambition and increasing employment opportunities. The free program is a 17.5-month commitment, including an in-depth screening process, a two-week acclimation phase, a five-month residential phase and a yearlong post-residential mentorship phase to help graduates with career and life goal achievements.
  • All teachers at Options Charter Schools must be highly qualified to teach their assigned subject areas, grades 6-12, as well as show field experience in working with at-risk students. Applicants must be able to execute developed lesson plans based on the Indiana Academic Standards utilizing project-based instruction and authentic assessment of learning. He/she must be willing to work collaboratively with the other team members in the organization and, most importantly, must have a good heart and be willing to develop strong relationships with his/her students.
  • Interested applicants can email their resume & cover letter to Adam Barr, Principal of Options @ HYCA.

 

Options @ Growing Minds Teacher (2 openings, Special Education preferred)

  • The Options @ Growing Minds Teacher will work out of the Growing Minds campuses located in Fort Wayne and Columbia City, IN. The position will work with grade 6-12 students in a much smaller school setting and will work in collaboration with the Growing Minds staff.
  • The Options @ Growing Minds program is a hybrid school model for students in grades 6-12 located in and around Ft. Wayne and Columbia City, IN (Allen County). Options @ Growing Minds offers students the relationship-based educational approach unique to the Options schools partnered with the wrap-around services Growing Minds offers its clients. Students attend school physically on-site at Growing Minds for a minimum of 3 hours each day. Students can also elect to enroll in an online program.
  • All teachers at Options Charter Schools must be highly qualified to teach their assigned subject areas, grades 6-12, as well as show field experience in working with at-risk students. Applicants must be able to execute developed lesson plans based on the Indiana Academic Standards utilizing project-based instruction and authentic assessment of learning. He/she must be willing to work collaboratively with the other team members in the organization and, most importantly, must have a good heart and be willing to develop strong relationships with his/her students.
  • Interested applicants can email their resume & cover letter to Beth Hodges, Principal of Options @ Growing Minds.

 

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.

 

 

A Letter to Options Families (June Update)

The following email was distributed to parents/guardians, students & additional members of the Options family the week of June 15, 2020

Options Families –

We hope this email finds you and your families well and enjoying some of this beautiful summer weather we are having in Indiana! It was such a strange and emotional ending to the school year, but we are all working on getting the necessary rest and relaxation to be ready for a new school year come August. We hope your students are as well.

As you know, COVID-19 school re-entry guidance plans from the CDC, County Health Departments, and the Indiana Department of Education are very fluid right now.  As of today, we are planning to open on time, August 5, 2020, for all programs in-person and virtual.  Student and staff safety are being considered to the highest level as well as the need for everyone to return to some normalcy in their educational platform in order to further develop the strong relationships that make up the backbone of the Options’ educational platform of Belong. Believe. Achieve.  Our teams are taking into consideration the academic and social-emotional needs of our students as we prepare the curriculum for the fall as well.  We are working to provide even smaller group settings than in the traditional model and limit cross exposure yet still allow students the opportunity to return to in-person classes with virtual options for families that need them. The many factors associated with starting school are being discussed and will be shared with families as soon as decisions have been finalized.

We know you may have specific questions about safety precautions we’ll be taking and what the school day will look like. We’re currently drafting a comprehensive return-to-school plan with input from the various regulatory agencies and will have it ready to share with you mid-July.

We know this is an unprecedented time and the Options family feels very fortunate to have strong in-person and virtual programming as well as small class sizes, evening programs, special-focused programs, and the most amazing team of teachers, counselors, and administrators working to serve our families in unique and specific ways.  Even before the pandemic, Options has made it our mission to serve every student and every family with strong educational programs that meet their needs exactly where they are and are able to adapt as the student’s needs adapt. We will continue to provide flexible programming as we all navigate our way to the new normal.

As always, word of mouth is our number one way of sharing with others about our programs. Below is a list of open programs for August 20/21. More information is available on our website. All programs have open seats at the moment, but are filling quickly.

For more information, visit OptionsSchools.org

  • Options Carmel – daytime and evening programming available grades 6-12
  • Options Noblesville – daytime and evening programming available grades 6-12
  • Options Indiana – virtual programming only, grades 6-12
  • Options @ BACA – located on-site at BACA of Fishers, serves students in grades 6-12 who need part-day ABA therapy and part-day school
  • Options @ HYCA – located on-site at the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Knightstown, IN, serves grades 9-12 who are seeking high school credits/graduation and are participating in the HYCA 22-week program
  • Options @ Growing Minds – located on-site at the Growing Minds campuses in Ft. Wayne, IN and Columbia City, IN, serves grades 6-12 in need of therapeutic support alongside education

 

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.

 

New Principals & Exciting News for Options @ BACA

NOBLESVILLE – With the 2019-20 school year complete, Options Schools has announced the appointment of three experienced team members to the role of Principal for Options Schools programs, in addition to the growth of another program.

Melanie Martin-Terrell will serve as Principal of Options-Noblesville, Adam Barr will serve as Principal of Options @ HYCA and Beth Hodges will serve as Principal of Options @ Growing Minds.

Martin-Terrell first joined the Options team in September 2007 and has most recently served as Counselor at Options-Carmel since 2018, having dedicated over a decade as a member of the Options team. Barr will transition from Options-Noblesville Principal, to that of Options @ HYCA, and has been on the Options team since 2016. After having held the teacher role with Options @ Growing Minds since early in the 2019-20 school year, Hodges previously served as Director Education for Growing Minds.

After a successful first year as a pilot program that served 11 students in 2019-20, Options @ BACA had its’ ‘pilot’ tag removed and will provide up to 24 seats for students in 2020-21. With over a decade of experience in alternative education and a member of the Options team since Feb. 2019, Lisa Chandler will continue to lead Options @ BACA as the Program Director.

 

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 @ HYCA is a partnership between Options Schools and the Indiana National Guard Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy in order to provide students with an opportunity to continue progressing towards their high school diploma. Options @ HYCA students are able to continue to earn credits towards their high school diploma while attending HYCA in Knightstown, IN.

The Options @ Growing Minds program is a hybrid school model for students in grades 6-12 located in and around Ft. Wayne and Columbia City, IN (Allen County). Options @ Growing Minds offers students the relationship-based educational approach unique to the Options schools partnered with the wrap-around services Growing Minds offers its clients.

 

Science with Stacie, “A ‘Meme-orable’ Pandemic”

Options-Noblesville science teacher Stacie O’Flaherty tasked her Earth Space class with a project called “A ‘Meme-orable’ Pandemic.” The results have included some great Google Slide presentations from students.

“I’ve seen several really excellent submissions from my Earth Space students with some really mature and well thought out remarks,” said O’Flaherty when discussing the work of students. “The perspective of this age group going through the present times is very enlightening.”

 

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 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.

 

 

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