2019 #CharterSchoolsWeek Recap

As part of National #CharterSchoolsWeek (May 12-18), Options shared stories and news about its teachers, students, supporters and more in an effort to help more people #ExploreOptions and be aware of what can be provided through an individualized approach.

Monday (School Leaders)

Tuesday (Teachers)

Wednesday (Appointed Officials)

Thursday (Supporters & Advocates)

Friday (Alumni & Students)

 

Ask an Alum: Kim Sams

As part of National #CharterSchoolsWeek (May 12-18), Options is sharing stories about its teachers, students, supporters and more in an effort to help more people #ExploreOptions.

We sat down with 2004 Options graduate Kim Sams to talk about her experience as a charter school student at the start of the charter school movement in Indiana.

How did you first hear about Options?

I knew about it when it was initially The Matrix School and was tied in with Carmel Clay schools. Once the charter school law passed, my mom went to a city meeting to hear more about Options and we decided it would be a good fit.

What was it about Options that attracted you to it?

Carmel High School was just so large. I had 1,000 kids in my graduating class and if you weren’t involved in something like sports or band, you kind of just fell by the wayside. I had a good group of friends at Carmel, but I just felt like a number and not like a person.

What was your path to enrolling at Options?

I had lived in Carmel since the age of two, so I had attended Carmel Clay schools all the way up until my sophomore year of high school when I started at Options-Carmel in 2002. I ended up enrolling with a couple of close friends (Jessica Davis and Michelle Funkhouser) and we all transferred together during the first year of Options.

What was the public perception like with students going to a charter school?

It was just an entirely new concept. At the time, it was either public school or private school and nothing else. This was a huge deal because we were the kids that were doing something new and different. It was a new frontier. The perception of Options was it was where the “bad kids” went, but that wasn’t the case at all and it still isn’t the case.

What was the environment like as a student at Options from early on?

Classes were held based out of an office complex and they converted different rooms into classrooms. There were 12 students in each class, if that, and my graduating class in 2004 was made up of 28 students.

What were some of the major differences between Options and your former schools?

It was fun. We called teachers by their first name, which was new and different. It is easy to forget that teachers are people when using formal names, but using the first names made it a lot easier to talk to teachers about what was going on in our lives. Without all of the formalities, the teachers were much more approachable. At Options, they treated you like an adult just like it would be in the real world. The teachers just supported us so much and in any way we needed to be successful. I don’t know how to explain it, we just had fun. You could tell the teachers were having fun because they were doing something different and were making a difference for the students.

What is something you’re most proud of from your time as a student?

For our Senior Institute project, me and Michelle Funkhouser worked with the NICU at Riley Children’s Hospital. We were able to raise over $2,500 and held a banquet at the Ritz Charles in Carmel where we presented a big check and everything. It was a big deal as a senior in high school to have to plan out every aspect of a major project, but it taught us a lot. I even remember what I wore to the banquet. It was a black pants suit with pink stipes and its crazy that I even remember that.

What is your current position with Options?

I’m the Human Recourses & Payroll Specialist and have had that position since 2016. I returned to Options in 2013 as the Administrative Assistant for our Options-Noblesville campus. I graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a B.S. in Journalism.

What is it like to have the perspective of a student and now as an employee?

It is kind of crazy to think about, especially now being on the administrative side of things with more of a bird’s eye view. Options helped me and it is just insane how connected I am to this school. They were able to hone in on what you care about and your passions and they worked so hard to help students pursue that.

How do you view what Co-Founders Kevin Davis and Barabara Maschino did by starting Options?

It is just amazing what they did and what they created. Back then, nobody really knew what ‘charter school’ meant. It was just very wild, wild west. I just felt so supported in ways that I didn’t even know I needed. We were like a family. It was what I needed and it has helped so many kids. I owe a lot of who I am today to the Options staff and Kevin and Barbara, honestly. They put their hearts out there.


Breaking the mold: The Options origin story

Circa 2005: Special Education Director Michelle Olsen (left) with Kevin Davis (right)



As part of National #CharterSchoolsWeek (May 12-18), Options is sharing stories about its teachers, students, supporters and more in an effort to help more people #ExploreOptions.

When Options was founded in 2002, there were three important figures who each played an integral role. One of those three not only remains active in the charter school movement, but also remains involved in Options Schools to this day.

The son of a superintendent of schools, Kevin Davis always had his eyes on a career in education and he has made the most of that career, every step of the way. That career began in 1981 as he served as a teacher and coach for football, wrestling and baseball at Carmel Junior High.

After having worked his way up to the Principal role at Speedway and later Carmel Junior High, the largest middle school in Indiana at the time, Davis was presented with an opportunity in the late 1990s.

“I was asked to help grow an alternative school for Carmel Clay schools,” said Davis. “They had brought in Barbara Maschino from Colorado because she had experience with alternative school programming.  We worked together to help develop the program. They also brought in Debi Morris who was a social worker in Carmel.  So the three of us worked together on the unique educational philosophy.”

Known as The Matrix School at the time, the first class consisted of six students for the 1999-2000 school year and provided an alternative for students in need of something different. With aspirations of doing things differently, the trio was able to find success and grow to serve 45 students. Courtesy of new legislation, Davis, Maschino and Morris had a chance to expand their mission further.

“The charter school law was passed in 2001 and we decided as a group that it would be the best way to continue pursuing the purpose and dream,” Davis said. “Then in 2002, Options became one of the first 11 charter schools to open in the state.”

How did Co-Founders Davis and Maschino settle on the name ‘Options?’

“We talked through the fact that what we wanted to do was treat students individually,” Davis said. “There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all school, so we wanted to give students different ways to get from where they were to where they wanted to be. That is how we chose the name”

Backed by supportive legislators, that group of 11 schools was able to help students succeed without having to worry about traditional constraints and regulations.

Having witnessed a steady and consistent climb in enrollment during the first few years, with students from Noblesville and Fishers expressing interest, an expansion opportunity presented itself. The result? Options-Noblesville opened its doors in August 2006.

“We knew during the 2003-04 school year that what we developed was working,” said Davis. “There was never a fear of it not working because we were always in a position to grow.”

In 2012, Davis decided to step away from his role as President of Options Schools. His tenure at Options also happened to be the longest of his career in education.

“We made some enemies along the way, but we had to be firm in our beliefs at times or else it could ruin the dream,” Davis said. “That is the dream, that you get things to a place where you can leave and everything will still be standing strong.”

After vacating his position at Options, Davis still remained active as an advocate and supporter of charter schools. By virtue of being part of a small group to form charter schools in 2002, he was frequently asked to assist newer charter schools with building a strong foundation for sustained success.

Initially with the Indiana Public Charters Association from 2012 until 2014, Davis has founded his own company, Indiana Charters, which assists charter schools in the state with numerous operational processes including star-up support and back-office services.

Having been in the thick of the charter school movement from the beginning, Davis has seen the landscape of education shift to include charter schools as they break the traditional, cookie-cutter approach.

“I have always seen it as a partnership because charter schools are a piece of public education system,” said Davis. “I think we’re all involved in a continued fight for the autonomy of charter schools so teaching can be done in a different way.”

For Davis, the journey through the charter school movement all began with a goal – to help struggling students find success. Since August 2015, Davis has also served as the Director of Technology for Options. In that role, he helps manage the school technology and networking services. Davis is also a valuable resource for consultation regarding operational services and school development.

Maschino now serves as a Board Member for Dynamic Minds Academy in Indianapolis, while Morris serves as a Substitute Teacher at Options on a regular basis.

 

Beyond the Board

As part of National #CharterSchoolsWeek (May 12-18), Options is sharing stories about its teachers, students, supporters and more in an effort to help more people #ExploreOptions.

For Stacy Segal, the road to the role of Board Chair on the Board of Directors for Options Charter Schools began back in 2013, unbeknownst to her at the time.

After a persistent approach from former Board Member, Scott Bova, Segal joined the board without much background information about Options Schools and how it fit into the educational landscape. That soon changed when she was presented with the opportunity to serve on a committee for the Options In Education Foundation.

That opportunity provided Segal with additional ownership and responsibility over different areas within Options and served as the turning point for her tenure on the board.

“It took me some time to fully understand the mission and the potential of Options Schools, but everything became clearer after having served on the foundation committee,” said Segal. “By being involved beyond the board, I was able to learn more about the students we were serving and how we were serving them.”

While her involvement on the committee played a pivotal role on her level of understanding, her attendance at an annual event opened her eyes even further to the difference made by Options.

“When I attended graduation for the first time, it left a strong impression on me,” said Segal. “After hearing students speak about how their lives were changed by enrolling at Options, I was truly able to understand that we are making an enormous difference for a population that was previously underserved.”

Segal’s understanding of the impact made by Options only increased as she was appointed to a new position. Following four years as a general board member, she was elevated to the role of Vice Board Chair in 2016.

“When I was appointed to the Vice Chair position, I became even more aware of the ins and outs of day-to-day operations and also developed an even greater appreciation for everyone on the Options team,” said Segal. “In that position, I was able to gather more details and became more involved in the daily conversations that were happening.”

For her, serving on the board provides a chance to make a positive impact in an area that she had not previously been involved. Segal’s community outreach is rooted in non-profit work, involvement in the Jewish community and sorority board membership that began during her time as a student at the University of Georgia.

In Spring 2018, Segal was appointed to serve as the Board Chair for Options.

“It has been really exciting to see first-hand the growth Options has made,” said Segal. “As we grow, we are focused on serving one more student at a time in order to make a difference in their lives and keep them from getting lost in the shuffle. At times, it has been challenging to pinpoint how we make a difference, but the evidence is found within every student who enrolls. We are able to serve students in a way that is rarely seen, through our ability to specialize in what each individual student needs to be successful in the classroom and in life.”

Outside of her role as Options Board Chair and additional community involvement, Segal works as a human resources professional, overseeing employee relations and payroll for American Health Network that spans Indiana and Ohio. Segal is also currently serving as the International President of Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority, Secretary for the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis and Executive Board Member for Hooverwood, Indianapolis Jewish Home.

 

Teacher Spotlight: Gretchen (Carmel)

As part of National #CharterSchoolsWeek (May 12-18), Options is sharing stories about its teachers, students, supporters and more in an effort to help more people #ExploreOptions.

Now in her 13th year as an English teacher at Options Charter School – Carmel, Gretchen Taylor isn’t afraid to admit that she wasn’t quite sure what she was signing up for in the fall of 2006, but everything has worked out along the way.

Having grown up in Carmel and attended Carmel High School, Taylor attended Hope College in Michigan because it provided her with a chance to attend a smaller school than she experienced in high school.

After teaching English at multiple levels in a traditional high school, she was presented with an opportunity in her hometown.

“I was actually late to my interview because I couldn’t find the building,” said Taylor. “When I was in high school, I knew what ‘The Matrix School’ was doing before it was changed and named ‘Options,’ but now I had the chance to work with a cross-section of students that I didn’t know existed when I was in school.”

By teaching at a charter school, Taylor was able to teach the subjects in the way that she felt was best. For a young teacher, that ability was new and somewhat daunting.

“I wasn’t used to being able to create the curriculum, but now I embrace that control and use it to make the classes the best they can be,” Taylor explained. “It is great to be able to customize the coursework to include student interests and what is popular because it is more engaging.”

As Taylor became more familiar with how to structure her courses, she also became more familiar with the faces and the people that were taking those classes.

“I really enjoy being able to get to know the kids,” Taylor said. “I can honestly say I know every student in the building by name and that is an awesome feeling. The staff are able to form relationships with them and truly get to know them; it is a really cool thing to watch these kids grow and evolve.”

It took nearly four years for Taylor to fully understand the impact made by her, and all Options teachers, on students.

“Once I saw the first class that I taught  as freshman  go on to graduate, I realized how cool what we were doing truly was,” Taylor said. “Being able to see those students persevere and improve was so rewarding, and it is the same for every graduating class. The longer I’m here, the more I fall in love with what we’re doing here.”

While Taylor’s 13-year career has made her well aware of how Options Schools fit into the educational landscape, some of the general public isn’t so fortunate.

“It has also been interesting to listen to people try to figure out what  ‘charter school’ means,” Taylor said. “Some people view it as competition, but we’re here to help serve students that need it. We’re a public school that welcomes students from all walks of life.”

 

An open letter from President Mike Gustin

My name is Dr. Mike Gustin and I am the President of Options Charter Schools. Options has been serving Indiana students in grades 6-12 who are at-risk of not graduating high school since 2002. We are a small grassroots charter organization. For a while, it was nice to be known as one of the “best-kept secrets in Hamilton County,” but we are working to become more well known in order to carry out our mission and serve as many Indiana students in need as possible.

As one of the five original charter schools in Indiana, we have seen the charter movement grow in our state and nationally. In fact, the first few years that Options operated as a charter school, we served only about 100 students. The great need for high quality alternative education, however, continues to drive our growth. When I took over as the president in 2012, Options served about 300 students in and around Hamilton County. Since that time, we have grown our programming to serve about 550 students across Indiana. The students access Options programming in a variety of formats: brick-and-mortar, credit recovery, virtual, hybrid, vocational training and dual enrollment.

Options leadership and staff focuses on two primary objectives to achieve our mission: (1) By Intentionally building strong and positive relationships with students and parents we can begin to rebuild the trust that is necessary for students to graduate high school. It is part of our Options’ motto: Belong, Believe, Achieve. Our belief is that once a student and family have developed strong and positive relationships, the Options staff can use those relationships to help the student realign their beliefs about themselves, identify professional and personal growth goals, and begin to achieve academically. (2) By intentionally building strong and positive relationships with area traditional public school leaders, teachers, and counselors we are able to provide a stronger support across educational programming choices that promote better outcomes and reduce the “cracks” that students often slip into.

Because of the strong political support the state’s charter schools have received and because we have been able to build several positive relationships with area traditional school superintendents, Options Charter School’s future is looking brighter than ever. We have plans to open a new Options campus in Westfield by the fall of 2021 and we continue to serve an ever-growing student population each year. Our strategic plan includes eventually having the capacity to enroll any student in grades 6-12 in Indiana that is at-risk of not graduating high school.

Our growth in student enrollment and in the quality of services we can provide is possible because of the leadership offered by the National Alliance of Charter Schools and the National Alternative Education Association. It is also possible because of the support we receive from colleagues associated with our local special education cooperative, state alternative education association, state principals association, and several key employees of the Indiana Department of Education. We are very thankful to the National Alliance of Charter Schools for being the first of all these partnerships to lead in the fight for high quality charter school options.

Mike Gustin


Options-Carmel picks Kristian as April Student of the Month

A senior at Options, Kristian Bear has been selected as the April Student of the Month for the Options-Carmel campus.

Kristian enrolled at Options during his sophomore year of high school in January 2017.

His hobbies include playing sports like basketball and football, fishing for bass and catfish and weightlifting. Kristian has also been able to travel to Cuba and Mexico, and considers himself fortunate for being able to experience different cultures.

If you ask Kristian to identify his favorite thing about Options, he’ll immediately say “it’s a small community.” That small community allows for one-on-one help from teachers when students need it and it also allows for everyone to know each other.

U.S. History is Kristian’s favorite subject in school, mainly because of how the course material allows him to adventure into the past.

Since enrolling at Options, Kristian has not only seen an improvement in his grades, but also in his self-confidence. Thanks to the teachers at Options, Kristian has regained his passion in the classroom through their approach of making sure each student fully understands what is being discussed in class.

After he graduates high school, Kristian is planning on attending Vincennes University in Lebanon, Indiana. He plans on specializing in Vincennes’ carpentry program with aspirations of one day building and renovating homes.


Aimee Gonzalez featured in March issue of Westfield Magazine

A freshman at Options-Carmel, Aimee Gonzalez was featured in the “Student Spotlight” piece for the May issue of Westfield Magazine. She was the Options-Carmel Student of the Month for March.

The full article can be read at the link below:

Options is hosting a pair of Open Houses in June and will also host a Summer School program that is also open to non-Options students.

Applications are also being accepted for those looking to enroll for the 2019-20 school year.


Six more weeks!

Wow! We have less than six weeks before the end of the school year.  Students will be wrapping up projects, preparing for their final exams, and our seniors will be walking across the stage before we know it!

All families were sent an email inviting them to fill out the Intent to Return form for the 2019-2020 school year.  All students, including graduating seniors, need to have this form submitted. If your student is graduating, please mark the form indicating they will not be returning next year. The link you will use to fill out this form is on the bottom left side of your Parent Portal in PowerSchool. You can also use https://registration.powerschool.com/family/gosnap.aspx?action=15675&culture=en  but will need your SnapCode from your email if you choose to use this link.  If you are having issues or have not received an email and/or snapcode, please email cscott@optionsined.org.  Please make sure you complete the form as soon as possible.  We will have open enrollment in June and we want to make sure your student as a seat for the 2019-20 school year.

Here are some very important dates at the Carmel campus as we progress towards summer vacation:

  • April 24-25 — ISTEP+ Testing for sophomores  
  • May 1-2–ILEARN Biology testing for Biology students
  • May 3—Spring Picnic and Prom (more info to come)
  • May 6-9–NWEA testing
  • May 10– Full Day E-Learning (students will be working from home on E-learning assignments)
  • May 17–ASVAB at Noblesville campus from 9:00 am – 12:00pm

Have a great holiday weekend!


Carmel Student of the Month – March

A freshman, Aimee Gonzalez has been selected as the Student of the Month for the month of March at Options-Carmel.

Having enrolled in December 2018, Aimee’s attitude and work ethic have captured the attention of Options teachers during her first few months.

In her spare time, Aimee enjoys being around animals, creating art through painting and drawing, listening to music, playing guitar, singing and playing basketball & lacrosse.

The small, personalized learning environment is Aimee’s favorite thing about Options, because the teachers are able to provide individualized instruction and become truly invested in the progress and success of all students.

Since enrolling at Options, Aimee has been able to improve her grades with help from those very teachers that help ensure everything that is being taught, is also being retained.

What makes Options different? For Aimee, it is definitely the teachers. The level of dedication and care that the teachers provide trickles down to the students, which results in students becoming more invested in themselves.

Her favorite classroom subject is science, and her love of animals could very well lead her into a future career. Aimee hopes to attend Purdue University and study veterinary medicine, while holding the long-term goal of opening her own animal sanctuary/rescue for all types of animals.

Currently, Aimee spends time volunteering at a local animal clinic where she is able to get an up-close look at what her career path will involve.

Eric Walden makes instant impact as Director of School Safety

One of the newest members of the Options team is just three months in to his tenure, but has already made a major impact on both campuses.

Director of School Safety Eric Walden joined Options in January 2019 and helps in a number of areas that directly and indirectly impact the safety and well-being of every student and staff member.

In addition to assisting administration with maintaining safety inside Options-Carmel and Options-Noblesville, Eric has been an integral part in updating basic emergency procedures and creating an even safer environment at Options.

Other aspects of Eric’s role include maintaining strong relationships between Options and law enforcement/emergency response officials, serving as a positive influence for students through mentorship program and monitoring campus cameras.

By establishing and maintaining rapports with students at both Options-Carmel and Options-Noblesville, Eric has been able to gain additional insight into what all Options students need in order to create a fully inclusive and secure setting.

While Eric has already helped Options make major strides over the past few months, he’s already working on ways to improve Options for the 2019-20 school year and beyond.

Eric is certified in CPR, CPI (crisis prevention intervention), Stop the Bleed (trauma care) and safeTalk (suicide prevention).

Click here to send Eric an email

 

About Options

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

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

 

Spring Break is near!

It’s been another busy week at Options-Noblesville!

On Tuesday, Options-Noblesville held its first Open House of 2019 and there are more dates in April & June when both the Noblesville and Carmel campuses will be holding Open Houses.

On Thursday, we had our Senior Institute students take part in a learning gallery on their service-based projects & they are working with a number of great organizations that will really benefit from their volunteer hours.

With ISTEP & WIDA testing now complete, Part 1 of ISTEP+ Grade 10 testing will run until March 22. The testing window for Part 2 of ISTEP+ Grade 10 will begin on March 25.On Wednesday, March 27 our high school juniors and seniors will take the ASVAB as part of their graduation qualifier.

Don’t forget, Spring Break is not far away (April 1-12)!

It may seem far away now, but on Friday, May 3 we will have our annual senior picnic from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Holland Park in Fishers, which will include games, fun, food & more! Senior Prom will take place the night of May 3.

– Adam

Warm weather is on the horizon!

Thank you for allowing your students to participate in our ISP goal field trip to the Newport Aquarium.  I am excited to announce that 84% of our students are progressing towards meeting 2 or more of their ISP goals. The teachers and I appreciate your partnership in ensuring each student has the opportunity to succeed academically, behaviorally and social-emotionally.

We are now working towards a new goal…every student passing every class by Friday, March 29th! Please make sure you check your email as teachers will be communicating with you about student grades, after school tutoring opportunities and other resources to help your student pass their classes.

Last night, we held our first Open House of 2019 and had a chance to introduce Options to a few Hamilton County families. We’ve still got five Open Houses between now and June!

Here are a few important announcements for the last few weeks before Spring Break:

  • March 11th – 22nd—ISTEP+ testing for all sophomores
  • March 25th—ASVAB testing
    • All juniors and seniors who have opted out of taking the ISTEP+ need to be at the school no later than 8:00 AM to begin testing promptly at 8:30 AM.
  • March 25th – March 29th—”Options’ Got Game!” Spirit Week!
    • Monday: Candy Land – Sweet Dreams Pajama Day
    • Tuesday: Scrabble – Dress up as something that starts with the same letter as your name or wear your first letter of your name and make words with your friends!
    • Wednesday: The Game of Life- Dress as your future career
    • Thursday: Guess Who – Dress as a TV show / movie / book character and see if we can guess who you are!
    • Friday: Battleship – Battle of the classes! Freshmen and sophomores wear blue. Juniors and seniors wear gray/silver.
  • April 1st – 12th—Spring Break!

That’s all for now!

~ Camille

 

Millennials Are More Likely to Support School Choice

via The47Million.org // by Kate Stringer

Millennials may loathe diamonds and scorn grocery shopping, but there’s at least one thing they seem to like: school choice.

According to recent polls, adults who were born between 1981 and 1996 tend to think favorably about charter schools, vouchers, and other types of education options for parents and students. That could be because millennials were raised in an era saturated with choices, from ride-sharing apps to online shopping retailers to music streaming services.

That was the theory posed by a panel discussion Wednesday at South by Southwest Education called “Millennials Matter: Ed Reformers Need to Hear Us.” The panel was presented by the nonprofit advocacy group EdChoice and moderated by The 74 Senior Editor Emmeline Zhao, and it included panelists Mendell Grinter of the Campaign for School Equity, Lalla Morris of Families Empowered, and Evy Valencia Jackson of EVJ Consulting.

According to a 2017 GenForward survey, nearly three-quarters of millennials across ethnicities support school vouchers — public money that pays for students to attend private school — for low-income children, and about two-thirds support this option for all students. African Americans are the most likely group to support charter schools — which are independently run and publicly funded — with 65 percent in favor. Whites were the least likely, with 55 percent supporting charters. Another poll, from the American Federation for Children, found that 75 percent of millennials support choice, compared with 64 percent of baby boomers. But not everyone is a fan of school choice: Support often depends on how a question is phrased. For example, when a 2016 Education Next poll tried to test support for vouchers, it found that 45 percent of respondents were in favor when the question was framed around giving people choice, but only 29 percent were in favor when it was framed around using public money to fund the program.

While the internet is full of memes that love to hate on how millennials are changing the world (avocado toast > mortgages), the conversation becomes more serious when looking at the effect of this demographic on the labor market and government. Zhao noted that these young adults represent the largest segment of the U.S. labor force, with 56 million workers. While millennials made up only 1 percent of the members of the House of Representatives in 2017, that number jumped to 6 percent this year.

The panelists argued that without widely available school options, choice is afforded only to those with resources to select which neighborhood they want to live in or the private school they want to send their children to.

“If you are financially constrained, there are lots of choices people make every day that you never have the opportunity to make,” Morris said.

She recalled how her family sent her to several different schools in Texas before she ended up at a middle school where she had access to rigorous academic courses — something not available to many other students of color in her neighborhood. This set her up to attend a prestigious magnet high school in Houston, where she was also one of the few students of color on the Advanced Placement track. This made Morris realize how the choices her parents were able to make set her up for success in ways that many of her black peers without these resources were not.

The U.S. has nearly 7,000 charter schools, enrolling 3.2 million students in 43 states and Washington, D.C. About 500,000 students take advantage of private school choice options such as vouchers or tax-credit scholarships, which exist in 26 states. These numbers are still small compared with the total number of K-12 students in public and private schools: 56 million.

The freedom afforded to charter schools gives opportunities for innovation and allows students to focus on topics outside the scope of traditional schools. Panelists praised the creativity of school leaders who they’ve seen start schools framed around everything from farming to fine arts to financial literacy.

“The purpose of education is to create an informed and engaged citizenry that can live independently, live a dignified life, and also be engaged in our community,” Morris said.

Although nationwide, charter schools have produced mixed results for students, Grinter said parents consider many factors in addition to academics and graduation rates when selecting a school. “What defines a good school for a lot of parents is its safety,” he said.

Some members on the panel pointed out that while charters and vouchers remain controversial, some government-funded programs — such as Pell Grants — that provide students money and choice in education do not receive that kind of criticism.

An audience member pointed out that many millennials also support teacher unions, which often butt heads with school choice advocates. A GenForward survey from 2018 found that three-quarters of millennials say strengthening teacher unions would improve education.

Grinter said that more work could be done to reach out to teachers and have conversations about where their views intersected or differed.

“It’s just talking to them, like, ‘Hey, you have a kid, you want to exercise choice, why is that not OK?’” he said.

But Valencia Jackson disagreed.

“Some of these folks are just not interested in a conversation and haven’t been interested in a while, and that’s OK,” she said. “I think we have to be willing to move on and build new supporters elsewhere that want to be focused on kids.”

Though many leaders in the education reform world are older than millennials, Valencia Jackson encouraged the audience to collaborate across generations so that her peers could also have a voice in the conversations around school choice. “Call me, beep me!” Valencia Jackson said. “Anyone?”

A few people in the room got the joke. You would have too, if you were a millennial.

 

Carmel Students of the Month – February

For the month of February, Zoe Daniels and Seth Anderson were selected as the Students of the Month for the Carmel campus of Options.

Zoe Daniels, an 11th grade student, has been enrolled at Options since August 2017. In her free time, Zoe enjoys food, spending time with her cat, shopping, traveling and watching movies.

Her favorite things about Options are the people and the teachers, because they help create a very welcoming atmosphere. Her favorite subject is Integrated Chemistry and Physics because it is a balanced mix of challenging, but fun. The case studies are one of her favorite aspects of the course material.

Since enrolling at Options, Zoe has seen herself improve in how she interacts with friends, classmates and teachers. She has also become more comfortable in being an advocate for herself.

When it comes to describing what Options teachers provide, Zoe appreciates the level of respect that teachers have for all Options students. They don’t just teach the classes, but also put time towards building relationships with each student.

After high school, Zoe plans on attending college and aspires to be an advertising executive and own a Starbucks franchise. She is currently thinking about attending college in Las Vegas.

A 10th grader, Seth Anderson has been an Options student since August 2018. With a passion for music, Seth enjoys playing guitar and drums in his spare time.

His favorite part of Options is the administration and teachers because of how much they care about the students. Current Events is his favorite school subject because of how it involves healthy debating about real-world issues.

For Seth, the area that has seen the most improvement since he enrolled at Options are his grades.

The difference that Seth sees in Options teachers is that they are willing to assist students instead of immediately giving them a poor grade on an assignment.

He is currently still deciding on plans after high school.

 

 

We are Family!

We are super excited to announce that we have eight new students who have joined our Options Family over the past four weeks!  

One of our new students, Johnathan Cranfill and I had a chance to chat for a few minutes. I asked him specifically about his first three weeks at Options:

“I really felt welcomed and at home.  I have made new friends and I enjoy all of my teachers.  This school is really like a family and I am glad I chose to come here.”

We are still accepting new enrollments and would love to set up a tour for any student interested in knowing more about Options Carmel.  We sincerely strive to make sure that all students “Belong, Believe, and Achieve!”

Looking forward to meeting new families and spending quality time with our current Options staff and students!

Also, we recently announced our 2019 Open House schedule, so I welcome all of our current Options families to spread the word to families that you feel could benefit from all of the great things that we have to offer.

Camille

2019 Open House dates announced

In order to continue our efforts of serving as many students as possible within the state of Indiana, Options Charter Schools will be hosting six Open Houses during this spring and early summer.

Each Open House will run from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. and attendees will be able to tour the respective campus and speak with Options Principals, teachers and other team members.

Full Schedule:
Tuesday, March 12 (Carmel)
Tuesday, March 19 (Noblesville)
Tuesday, April 16 (Carmel)
Tuesday, April 23 (Noblesville)
Tuesday, June 4 (Carmel)
Thursday, June 6 (Noblesville)

The addresses for each campus can be found here.

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

Applications are now being accepted for both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

Working Towards Reaching Goals…Everyday

At Options, we are committed to ensuring your student feels as if they “belong” to our Options family, they “believe” in themselves in order to “achieve” their personal goals.  

This is accomplished daily, through our Individualized Service Plans (ISPs). Every student on our campus created an academic goal, a behavioral goal, and a social emotional goal.  Your student’s advisor has been working diligently to support them in choosing SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time specific) goals. Please feel free to ask your student about their ISP goals and how they plan to reach them.

All students who are making adequate progress on meeting their goals will receive a free pizza lunch on Thursday, February 14.  

All students who are continuing to make adequate progress by the end of the quarter will be invited to travel to Bloomington for full day of skiing and snowboarding on Monday, March 4!

Looking forward to an amazing third quarter!

Camille

Carmel Student of the Month – January

Hello, my name is Daniel and I am a freshman at Options Charter School in Carmel. I enjoy playing video games and am very knowledgeable with computers.

My favorite thing about Options is the smaller class sizes. In my previous school, the classes were much larger making it harder for the teachers to give each student the individual attention they need.

At Options, the teachers understand and acknowledge that not all students learn the same way and they are able to take the time to explain the work to each of us to ensure we understand it.

 

For more information about Options, click here. Applications are now being accepted for both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

NWEA Testing headlines latest announcements

Have you heard the great news?! We are pleased to announce that we will be purchasing land for our new school in Westfield, Indiana!  I will be sharing more detailed information soon.

Please note the important dates/announcements for January/February:

  • NWEA Testing, January 22-January 31 — All students will be NWEA testing daily.  Please make sure your student is present so that we can complete testing in a timely manner.
  • Opt-Out ISTEP+ Forms, Friday, February 1 — All junior and senior students who would like to pursue a CTE pathway or take the ASVAB in lieu taking the ISTEP+ will need to have their parents complete the “Opt-Out” form by Friday, February 1 at noon.  If we do not have an Opt-Out form for any junior or senior, they will have to take the ISTEP+ Test.
  • ISTEP+ Practice Testing, Tuesday February 5 — All sophomores and first time ISTEP+ students will be taking the practice test.  If you have any questions or concerns, please email our school counselor, Melanie Terrell, mterrell@optionsined.org.
  • President’s Day (NO SCHOOL), Monday, February 18
  • ISTEP+ 10th Grade Testing, February 25 – 28 — All sophomores and first time ISTEP+ students will be taking the ELA and the Algebra ISTEP+ test from 12:30-3:00pm daily.  It is absolutely essential for every sophomore to be present and ready to test.  If you have any questions or concerns, please email our school counselor, Melanie Terrell, mterrell@optionsined.org.

We will continue our half-day Friday dismissals at 11:45 a.m.

That’s all for now! Have a super warm January & February!

– Camille –