The state of school choice in the U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Students of the Month – Sept. 2019

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

 

Marshall

Marshall Millard
(Options-Carmel)
Grade: 10th

When did you enroll at Options?
I started here at the beginning of this school year.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I used to be a competitive wrestler, so I enjoy wrestling and also watching wrestling. I also like to play all types of video games and spend time with my friends.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
With less students in my classes, the teachers can help more with each student if we need help with something. I also like that you can work at your speed. I want to graduate early, and I can do that here.

What is your favorite subject in school?
Definitely history. It just comes easy to me and that makes it really enjoyable.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
My grades are better. I am getting better at handling what I have to do while I’m at school so that I don’t have to worry about a bunch of work when I get home every day. 

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
The teachers are kind of similar to my old teachers, but Options teachers have more time to work with students. I used to have a class with 45 students in one room and the teachers didn’t really know students’ names, but all the teachers know my name here.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I am thinking about going into the Marines. I have wanted to do that for a while, and I would also be able to go to college & have it paid for.

 

Emily Edwards
(Options-Noblesville Middle School)
Grade: 8th

When did you enroll at Options?
I enrolled over the summer and started in August 2019.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I’m a dancer and really enjoy every type of dancing. I’ve done it for a long time. I also dance competitively on a hip-hop dance team and we make songs into stories. I also like being outside with my friends.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I like a lot of things so far, but probably having more 1-on-1 time with my teachers because it helps me more. I also like that when you meet other students, they are nice and easy to start conversations with.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I would say math. My family says I have a math brain because I have always been interested in math and it has always come easy to me.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
My social skills are getting better. I used to be really bad at talking to people I have never met before, but I have already improved a lot.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They don’t go as fast when they teach harder subjects, like math.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I have wanted to be an EMT for a long time. A lot of my friends’ parents are in the medical field, so I have learned a lot about it and I really like it.

Savannah

Savannah Montgomery
(Options-Noblesville High School)
Grade: 12th

When did you enroll at Options?
In August 2018.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I just got a job, so I don’t really have much free time anymore because I’ve been working a lot. I work at Big Apple Bagels and they have me do a bunch of different things, but I like it a lot.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
It isn’t really close to a regular school. In other schools you can just feel along being one person in a giant school.

What is your favorite subject in school?
English because I’m good at it. Mainly with things like grammar and language. I really enjoy reading and I like (our English teacher) Michelle (Kemper), so I enjoy being in that class a lot.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
My people skills are much better now. With a smaller environment and less students, I was able to become more outgoing and comfortable than I was previously.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
I could literally ask for help in Science from my English teacher and they would still try their hardest to help me. They are always happy to help and appreciate when students try hard.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I want to go into some type of youth education or special education, on the teaching side. I enjoy interacting with younger children and like that they can be helped in major ways at a young age without even knowing it.

 

Friday Feature – Lisa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~ Lisa ~~

 

Connor & Maddie Reiff featured in Noblesville Magazine

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

The full article can be read at the link below:

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

 

Students of the Month – August 2019

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

 

Ryker Huffman (Options-Carmel)
Grade: 12th 

When did you enroll at Options?
During the second semester of my sophomore year, so I have been at Options for about one and a half years.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I really enjoy nature, so I like to go hiking and bird watching. I also watch tv and play video games.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I came here because I was struggling with some subjects in school and with all of the homework on top of it, it was hard to handle the workload. At Options, the teachers are easier to talk to because they are just more approachable, so it is easy to ask them for help.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I would probably say anatomy or biology. I’ve always been interested in animals, nature and the sciences behind things.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I used to have bad social skills, so I have really grown socially. I used to keep to myself a lot but got better at opening up more. Other students helped me with that because there was no judgment from anyone.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
Since we call teachers by their first name, they are just more approachable, and they are always willing to help if someone needs something. The teachers are just comfortable to be around, which isn’t really common.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I’m not sure what I want to do exactly, but it could be something nature-related like working at a park or studying ecosystems. I also have thought about law enforcement as another possibility.

 

Grey Grumme (Options-Distance Education)
Grade: 12th
Hometown: Syracuse, Indiana

When did you enroll at Options?
September 2018

 Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
Playing games online and listening to music.

What is your favorite thing about the Options Distance Education Program?
It’s easy to understand.

What is your favorite subject in school?
Science, just because there are a lot of interesting things that have to do with science like the stuff that I like to watch or play.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
Not only with academics, but overall. Yes, I have. At Options I am actually accomplishing and doing things whereas my freshman year at high school, I got pulled out because I just refused to do anything at all.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They are more about actually helping the students succeed than most other teachers I’ve met. 

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I don’t have anything set in stone as of yet, but I know for sure that I want to do something in the musical field. No matter what it is, I want it to be music related because I love music and creating things.

 

Nevaeh Woods (Options-Noblesville Middle School)
Grade: 7th

When did you enroll at Options?
I started at Options at the start of this school year.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I enjoy crafting. Most of the time I make braided bracelets.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I like a lot of things about it. The teachers, students and that I don’t have to wear a school uniform anymore.

What is your favorite subject in school?
I enjoy anything that includes reading. My favorite books are Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I made new friends really fast, which is different. The other students are nice and easy to talk to.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They don’t go as fast when they teach harder subjects, like math.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I might be a Paramedic.

 

Taylor McKinney (Options-Noblesville High School)
Grade: 9th

When did you enroll at Options?
This is my first year at Options.

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I really enjoy different kinds of art, but mainly painting and drawing. I am also big into music. I listen to all types of music and used to play the cello, French horn and percussion from 5th grade up until 8th grade.

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I like that it is smaller and easy to get to know everybody. The teachers are really helpful and go above & beyond to help in class and with whatever else students need.

What is your favorite subject in school?
Science

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
I’ve improved with talking to people because with not as many people in classes or on campus, it is easy to be comfortable around everyone.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
They are very understanding of things going on in people’s lives and if you’re having a bad day, they don’t mind giving you space to be yourself and feel comfortable.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
I am really into forensic sciences, so I might do something with that.

 

Friday Feature – Ryan

My name is Ryan Morphew, and this is my 5th year teaching math at Options-Noblesville. I have been in education for 10 years now, and I’m proud to have spent half of my teaching career here! I enjoy being a part of this team and I am very proud of the work we do for our students.

The first few weeks have been a blur, but have been a great start to the school year. In my advising class, students have been reconnecting and building new relationships. It’s been great to have conversations about what we did last summer, what’s new in our lives, music, football, and whatever might be on our minds that current afternoon. We’ve also recently begun to start thinking about what our goals will be for the school year. I’m looking forward to discussing goals with each student over the next couple of weeks!

In each of my math classes, we having been diving into the first units for each respective class. We’ve discussed and explored the building blocks of Geometry, identified and reviewed concepts to be successful in Algebra 1, and tackled different types of complex numerical expressions in Algebra 2. I’m proud of how well the students have gotten started and how hard they’ve been working! It’s been wonderful to see the collaboration between students and how willing they are to help each other out and work through some of the more difficult concepts. I’m excited for the rest of the semester!

 

 

A New Year

Now in the midst of our third week of a new school year, we have had a great start to the 2019-20 school year. There has been a lot of excitement throughout the building… ESPECIALLY from the students.

I am excited for my first full year as Principal of Options-Noblesville after having served as the Interim Principal for the final four months of the 2018-19 school year. We have a great group of teachers and team members, including some new additions that are off to a great start.

Seats still remain for the 2019-20 school year, so any interested applicants should visit our website to learn more or submit an application. We’re hosting an Open House on Wednesday, August 28 at Options-Noblesville (4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.) and no RSVP is required to attend.

Any current Options student can also participate in our Student Referral Program and reap the rewards of being a Student Ambassador. There are so many great things going on within every aspect of Options, so I am excited for the upcoming year to unfold.

Important Dates:

  • September 3 – No School (Labor Day)
  • September 25 – ASVAB Testing

 

– Adam

 

A Parent’s Perspective

— The following is a letter written by the parent of two Options Schools students —

When we were first introduced to Options, we thought, “Throwaway school, delinquents, marginalized children, poorly performing and there is no way we would send our children there.” — However, nothing could be further from the truth. Historically, this has been the public’s perception. But the insider view shows nothing less than miracles happening every single day.

The emphasis academically is not just testing, but rather on completion and mastery. The students build relationships with peers and adults which is the cornerstone of being able to function in society. You can attend the best schools in the world, perform well on standardized tests, and still not be able to get along with people and ultimately maintain employment. The social-emotional piece is just as, if not more important than the academic prowess.

Options has become a school of choice.

Our children have found their place.

They laugh every day.

They talk with and have friends.

They want to go to school.

They believe their teachers care about them.

They are being taught at their academic levels.

They like the small classes.

They are succeeding.

Both of our children started with Options during their middle school years. Our son was critically ill, which required multiple flights across the country for a clinical trial and treatments. His homebound instructor mentioned the newly started middle school at Options and their flexibility after our son had missed almost 18 months of formal schooling.

We had a good kid — did we really want him to be around “those kids”?

The staff helped him to catch up academically, helped him to re-integrate back into a school routine and provided compassion, humor, and understanding of his illness.  His favorite memory is of his social studies teacher buying him a Dr. Pepper. That one gesture of human kindness caused our son to be understood, recognized and ultimately connected.

Our daughter struggled after the Noblesville school shooting and refused to attend school. Her homebound instructor suggested the newly opened sixth grade at the Options middle school.

We had a good kid — did we really want her around “those kids”?

The goal was to physically get her back into a school one step at a time. If she could not feel safe in her environment, she could not learn. She started attending Options Middle School for one hour a day. Soon that one hour became three hours. Now she attends full days. The staff did whatever it took to ensure her well-being, addressed her learning challenges, and collaborated with us strengthening the development of her as a whole child.

Every child needs a place where someone believes in them, accepts their uniqueness, and enjoy their gifts.  Every child deserves to be respected and to feel safe. Every child wants a place where they can achieve.

“Those children” are miracles. “Those children” are the most incredible, talented, funny, Avant Guard and outside-of-the-box thinkers. “Those children” learn differently with just as much intelligence, capability, and capacity as traditional school learners. “Those children” are cherished and valued by teachers and staff whose goal is to ensure their success.

Our son is no longer marginalized but included.

Our daughter no longer is crushed in spirit but being restored.

Our children are rediscovering the love of learning.

Our children are thriving.

Our children are proud to be one of “those children”.

 

Sincerely,
Sarah Reiff (Proud parent of two Options students)

 

Continued Growth

Over the last four months, I have had the privilege of serving as the Interim Principal of Options-Noblesville and have learned a lot in the role. While the time has opened my eyes to what it takes to succeed in the role, I have also been able to utilize my position to build stronger relationships with our students and teachers. Since taking over in February, I have most enjoyed the ability to effect change and growth throughout the entire building.

When I look back at the 2018-19 school year, I am very proud of our 2019 graduates. It has been so rewarding to see those students go through the process of wrapping up their high school careers, and also working through their Senior Institute projects and presentations.

Since I joined the Options team in 2016 as a Health & Physical Education teacher at Options-Carmel, it has been a fast-paced journey. Midway through year two, I became the Assistant Principal and Director of Middle School at Options-Noblesville and after starting year three as Assistant Principal, I am ending the year as Principal.

It definitely has been a whirlwind of changes over the past three years, but I am very proud of where I ended up. I love my team of teachers, students and being able to serve as the Principal of Options Charter Schools-Noblesville.

As I look to the 2019-20 school year, I am excited to continue my journey as a member of the team as the Principal of Options-Noblesville. I really enjoy being a part of all the growth that can be seen within the students that walk through our doors. Students enroll at Options for various reasons, but they stay with us because they become a part of our family.

— Adam

 

Valedictorian Spotlight: Joshua Swisher

On Wednesday, May 29, another group will receive their high school diplomas and join the #OptionsGrad Family!

Options Campus: Noblesville
Enrollment Date: August 2017

How did you hear about Options?
I found it online when I was searching for some other schools. My mom works with exchange students, so she also knows of a lot of local schools.

What were you thinking when you first stepped on campus?
Initially, I wasn’t sure about it working. I was shy just like for starting at any new school.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of school?
I have a passion for shuffling playing cards. This summer, I’m traveling to Portland to attend a conference for creatively shuffling playing cards. I also enjoy solving rubix cube puzzles and playing board games. I also know how to play the drums and have been playing for almost seven years. I am totally self-taught and used to play at my church.

What did you enjoy most about Options?
The best part was just the opportunity to have a flexible schedule and learn at my own pace. That helped by giving me a big advantage going into college since I already have 12 hours of college credits.

Did you have a favorite subject or teacher?
I always enjoyed math because it comes naturally to me since I am detail-oriented and meticulous. It is easy for me to wrap my mind around things because I am systematic and enjoy working with patterns.

In what areas has Options helped you improve?
I have certainly improved my self-esteem and my outlook on things. I approach everything with a more positive mindset and have been more social.

How are Options teachers different than teachers you’ve had at other schools?
Because there are less students, they can get to know students better and they try to be more personal. They make sure to cater to what the students need to succeed.

What are your plans and aspirations moving forward?
I am going to attend Anderson University and study finance as a student in the honors program.

How does it feel to be one of the top students in your graduating class?
I found out when Adam called me to let me know and I was surprised, but excited. Right now, I’m mostly nervous for the speech.

How would you explain “The Options Experience” to a non-student?
It is a flexible, non-traditional environment with teachers that truly care about their students.

How has Options helped you prepare for life after high school?
I took a College Readiness & Careers course earlier this year that had us read a book that was really informative. It was even helpful in preparing me for the college courses I took this year and was a good foundation for me moving forward.

 

Salutatorian Spotlight: Kerria Lytle

On Wednesday, May 29, another group will receive their high school diplomas and join the #OptionsGrad Family!

Options Campus: Noblesville
Enrollment Date: August 2017

How did you hear about Options?
A friend at my church was a student at Options, so she was the person to tell me all about it. We both were used to small towns and didn’t like being at a big school.

What were you thinking when you first stepped on campus?
I remember being really excited when I was driving to campus for the first visit and I was surprised with how the environment was as small as they said. After meeting Jake (Brandau) and Adam (Barr), I just loved everything they said and knew I was going to enroll there.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of school?
I really love art and music. I enjoy making cartoon-type drawing and I just love classic rock, it just puts me in the best mood. I also used to sing at church.

What did you enjoy most about Options?
The atmosphere was just so unique and enjoyable. By calling teachers by their first name, things were so much more personal and teachers are able to get to know students for more than just a number in their class.

Did you have a favorite subject or teacher?
I really enjoyed taking math classes with Ryan because I have always been good with numbers.

In what areas has Options helped you improve?
I was able to grow up a lot and become a better decision maker.

What makes Options teachers different than previous teachers you had?
They are all just so invested in the students and they just feel more personal because there is always a mutual respect. The teachers are all great at getting to know the students so they can learn how to relate to them and get the most out of them.

What are your plans and aspirations moving forward?
I am starting at Tricoci University of Beauty Culture on May 21. I have always been into makeup and special effects, including hair and beauty makeup, so I want to eventually move to Covington, Georgia where they film a lot of shows and movies. I want to work on special effects on the sets.

How does it feel to be one of the top students in your graduating class?
I worked hard so I know I earned it. It is cool to think about and I am definitely happy that it happened.

How would you explain “The Options Experience” to a non-student?
Everyone is really, really close because it is a small community and because of that, everyone is just cool with each other.

 

Teacher Spotlight: Stacie (Noblesville)

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 Stacie O’Flaherty, the path to teaching wasn’t traditional, but it provides her with a chance to make an impact in a way she had always hoped.

Having always wanted to do something in science due to her passion for the experiments, she found her calling when she was one of just three girls in her ninth-grade science class.

“That experience made me want to make science a more approachable subject for girls,” said O’Flaherty. “I guess being a child of the 70’s just made me that way, but I didn’t like that people easily dismissed science because it was viewed as too difficult.”

Her passion for science led her to study environmental studies in college, followed by a position in an environmental lab where she assisted with work related to the Environmental Protection Agency.

After taking time away from work to raise her children, the landscape of environmental labs changed, but O’Flaherty’s mission remained the same.

“I wanted to finish my professional career by helping break down negative stigmas around science and be part of the solution for students,” O’Flaherty said. “I completed a transition to teaching program and became certified by the Department of Education.”

Her first experience in the classroom came as an Instructional Aid and soon after, she heard about an alternative charter school in Noblesville.

“I interviewed with Michelle (Walden) and Linda (Cunningham) in August 2013 and the next thing I knew, I was in the classroom for the first day of school,” O’Flaherty said. “That first year was such a blur because I was learning so much each day about Options, the students and being a teacher.”

Fast forward to today and there’s been a great deal of growth by Options and by O’Flaherty, all of which is made possible by a team dedicated to serving students.

“We’ve come a long way in five years,” O’Flaherty said. “It is a mission to help as many kids as you can while you’re still on this earth and we have the support to do that. I know we back up the talk because I’m surrounded by people that have the best interest of the students at heart.”

For O’Flaherty, her role of science teacher stretches far beyond with her mission-minded approach to life. Over the years, she has seen numerous students come through the doors and exit them with a strong foundation for future success and a high school diploma in hand.

“This is a really special place and we have so many successes,” said O’Flaherty. “We are able to get to know the students as people and that helps us connect with them on a different level. This truly is a school that has every type of student and we come together to form a great environment.”


Freshman Honored for Volunteer Service with National Awards

Connor Reiff with Noblesville Deputy Mayor Steve Cooke


NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – Connor Reiff, 15, of Noblesville, a ninth-grader at Options Charter Schools, has been honored for his exemplary volunteer service with a Certificate of Excellence from The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, and with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Presented annually by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honors young people across America for outstanding volunteer service.

“Across the United States, young volunteers are doing remarkable things to contribute to the well-being of the people and communities around them,” said Prudential CEO Charles Lowrey. “Prudential is honored to celebrate the contributions of these students, and we hope their stories inspire others to volunteer, too.”

Certificates of Excellence are granted to the top 10 percent of all Prudential Spirit of Community Award applicants in each state and the District of Columbia. President’s Volunteer Service Awards recognize Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country.

Options Schools nominated Connor for national honors this fall in recognition of his volunteer service. Known as the “Can Opener Project,” Connor’s most-impactful service project involved his sister Madeline and benefitted the White River Christian Church food pantry. In order to make canned goods more accessible to food pantry guests, Connor and Madeline worked together to raise money and awareness, before donating over 355 can openers to food pantry guests. Connor has served as a volunteer at the WRCC food pantry since the fall of 2015. The project also extended to benefit Noblesville Schools’ food distribution program.

“Connor Reiff has been a valuable member of the White River Christian Church Food Pantry volunteer team for several years,” said Fred Knoll, White River Christian Church Missional Living Pastor. “He overheard a food pantry guest mention that he would accept canned food from our food pantry if he owned a can opener. In response, Connor has collected hundreds of can openers and donated them to food pantry guests to ensure they are all able to open canned food to help feed their families.”

“During the project, I found myself creating friendships with both the volunteers and the people I was able to help,” said Connor Reiff. “Whether they were guests or volunteers didn’t matter, what mattered most was that nobody went hungry. I didn’t do this just to benefit the food pantries, I did it to help the food pantry families, the guests and their families and my family.”

Active in Boy Scouts of America, Connor is close to beginning his Eagle Scout service project and has been involved in numerous service projects both as a Boy Scout and Cub Scout. Along with his sister Madeline, Connor ran a lemonade stand at New Hope Presbyterian Church and raised over $600 for the church’s library in three years.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), recognizes middle level and high school students across America for outstanding volunteer service.

“Connor is a very hard working and compassionate student here at Options Charter School-Noblesville,” said Options-Noblesville Principal Adam Barr. “He continues to put himself before others and seeks to make other feel accepted in their own skin. Here at Options we strive to allow all students to Belong, Believe and Achieve. Connor has been a great asset in assisting in this goal.”

 

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

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

 

About Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
Prudential Spirit of Community Award application details were distributed nationwide last September through middle level and high schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and Affiliates of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network. These schools and officially-designated local organizations nominated Local Honorees, whose applications were advanced for state-level judging. In addition to granting Certificates of Excellence and President’s Volunteer Service Awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists. Volunteer activities were judged on criteria including initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.


Tamara named Noblesville Student of the Month for April

Tamara Morrison, a high school freshman at Options, has been selected as the Student of the Month for April at the Noblesville campus.

Having enrolled at Options during the fall of 2018, Tamara really enjoys the smaller environment of Options and how it has allowed her to get to know every student and teacher on campus. Tamara has noticed self-improvement in a couple of areas since enrolling at Options, including her grades and her willingness to help classmates whenever they need it.

Science is easily Tamara’s favorite subject in school because of how the experiments allow for hands-on learning and the opportunity to put things to the test. Plus, having a warm-hearted and veteran teacher like Stacie O’Flaherty as a science teacher only makes the experience better.

Whether it be the welcoming environment or the individualized academic approach, there is plenty that Tamara enjoys about being a student at Options. Not long after enrolling, she realized that the close-knit community was going to help her improve just as it has.

Outside of school, Tamara is an avid lacrosse player who began playing the sport about two years ago.  With a few years remaining until she graduates high school, Tamara is currently considering cosmetology school.

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One month remains…

With exactly one month until the final day of the 2018-19 school year, the final month is sure to be an action-packed one at Options-Noblesville.

In case you missed it, we previously sent out a letter about our new arrival & dismissal procedure.

A new Student Referral Program is also going into effect on May 1, which will help in recognizing students that serve as ambassadors of Options.

Registration is now open for our Summer School program, which will take place at Options-Carmel in June.

Important Dates:

  • May 1-2 – ILEARN Biology testing
  • May 1-2 – ILEARN Middle School
  • May 3 – Spring Picnic and Prom (more info to come)
  • May 6-10 – 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
  • May 29 – Last Day of School and Graduation

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 complete it here, but will need your SnapCode in the email we sent earlier today. If you are having trouble, please contact Adam Barr (abarr@optionsined.org) or Michelle Walden (mwalden@optionsined.org).

– Adam

Options Debuts Student Referral Program

NOBLESVILLE – With the addition of a new student referral program, both current and prospective students of Options Schools will have opportunities to be recognized for taking an active role in growing the impact of Options.

This program was created in order to acknowledge those students and families that continue to promote Options by spreading the word about how we serve students. Through this new program, students will be able to earn an assortment of items that include lunch account credit, Options gear and more.

The program will go into effect on May 1, 2019.

How it works:

1.) Who can participate?
Any student who is currently enrolled at Options Charter Schools can participate in this program.

2.) How do we take part in the program?
In order to receive rewards, you must spread the word about Options Schools to your neighbors, friends and co-workers. Tell them what you love about Options and encourage them to schedule a tour. For every student you refer to us that attends our school for three months, the referring student will receive a $10 lunch credit!

3.) How are the different recognition levels determined?
Each new student, along with the student who referred them, will also receive Options gear. Lunch credit will be capped at $50 for each student, even if having referred more than five students. The student with the most referrals on March 1 and October 1 will also receive an Options Prize Pack, which will include Options-branded gear and more. (Value of prize pack contents will be less than $50)

4.) When will lunch credit be applied to each student’s account?
At the beginning of each month, qualifying students will have credit added to their lunch account.

5.) How will Options know a student was referred?
The school has a question on our online application asking, “How did you hear about Options Charter Schools?” The applicant should note the first and last name of the student who referred them.

For additional information about the program, email Andrew Piper.

 

 

 

Noblesville Student of the Month – March

A freshman at Options-Noblesville, Jackson McGrayel was selected to be the Student of the Month for March. Jackson enrolled at Options towards the end of the 2017-18 academic year.

Jackson enjoys working out in his free time, as he has run four miles on the treadmill every day for the last year. Why the dedication? He just enjoys running.

His favorite thing about Options is the teachers. Mainly because of how they take the time to speak with students 1-on-1 and create a more personal relationship with the students. Jackson appreciates how all of the teachers truly are invested in ensuring that all of their students retain what is taught in class.

Math is Jackson’s favorite subject mainly because there is consistency in how to solve problems, which he finds relaxing since the sequence for solving certain problems doesn’t change. For him, math comes easy.

After graduating high school, Jackson plans to attend MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He intends to study Mechanical Engineering, as it will let him put all his math knowledge and skills to work.

Rep. Donna Schaibley visits Options-Noblesville

NOBLESVILLE – On the last day of classes before the start of Spring Break, Options Schools hosted Indiana State Representative Donna Schaibley on Friday morning at its Noblesville campus.

A member of the Indiana House of Representatives since 2014, Rep. Schaibley has served the people of District 24 (portions of Boone and Hamilton counties) as their State Representative since 2015.

Having lived in Carmel, Indiana for the past 25 years, Rep. Schaibley plays an important role in Hamilton County as her current legislative priorities include wanting to continue to strengthen and secure our schools, and also develop and educate its workforce so people have the necessary skills for today’s jobs.

During her visit, Rep. Schaibley toured the Options-Noblesville campus, met with students and sat down with President/CEO Mike Gustin and Chief Operating Officer Michelle Walden to discuss how Options and legislators can work together to benefit students.

“We are very grateful that Rep. Schaibley took time out of her busy schedule to visit Options and learn more about our mission,” said Gustin. “I believe she saw evidence of the high-quality services we provide students.”

 

About Options Charter Schools
Options Charter Schools are free, public charter schools that serve students grades 6-12. Options features two brick and mortar campuses, one in Carmel and one in Noblesville, along with a distance education program. Students are free to explore and embrace their individuality in a supportive environment which makes for a positive educational experience. Through our small class sizes and individualized academic approach, every student is given the opportunity to excel in an environment that allows for different types and speeds of learning. With a combination of instructor-led and virtual learning, Options offers flexible approaches for each and every student.

 

Noblesville Students of the Month – February

A pair of 8th grade students, Riley Kim and Dylan Gendron were selected as Options Students of the Month for February at the Noblesville campus.

Still new to Options, Riley enrolled in January 2019 and her hobbies include soccer and art, with a strong passion for painting and drawing.

Riley’s favorite thing about Options is English Specialist Kimberly Massaud because of how much she helps her students and her ability to make English, and other subjects, exciting to anyone in her class.

Naturally, Riley’s favorite class is art because of her love for the subject.

Her biggest improvement since starting classes at Options can be seen in her grades, and she says the teachers have played a major role in that change because of their approach to the materials. For Riley, it helps that the teachers don’t expect the students to memorize the material, but instead focus on the material being learned.

Now in his second academic year at Options, Dylan likes to spend his free time playing video games, hanging out with friends and playing sports.

His passion for sports has led to Physical Education being his favorite subject because he is able to be active.

For Dylan, his favorite thing about Options is Health & Physical Education Specialist Dan Cousineau because he teaches his favorite subject.

With help from his teachers, Dylan has improved greatly in Math and English and enjoys those subjects more now than he ever did in the past. He is grateful for how each teacher approaches the course material in order to ensure that everything is retained.

Still a few years away from graduating high school, Riley & Dylan are still working to determine what they want to pursue after their days in the classroom are done.

Jocelynn Wagy featured in March issue of Noblesville Magazine

A sophomore at Options-Noblesville, Jocelynn Wagy was featured in the “Student Spotlight” piece for the March issue of Noblesville Magazine.

The full article can be read at the link below:

Options has announced the 2019 Open House schedule, which includes six different dates from March until June.

Applications are also being accepted for those looking to enroll for the 2018-19 & 2019-20 school years.

Forward, March!

As the month of February comes to a close, we have had several new additions to the Options-Noblesville family as of late.

It is always great to see our current students be so welcoming to new students because that inclusive environment just leads to a family atmosphere that is so natural and breeds success.

We will soon be launching our brand-new JumpStart program which will help students that are not currently enrolled in an education institute. Interested applicants must apply to Options before being eligible for the program and it must be for a grade level that currently does not have open seats (6th-8th grade and 10th grade).

With the end of another month upon us, we will soon have another opportunity to celebrate students that excelled in a number of areas throughout the month of February.

ISTEP & WIDA testing is currently underway and 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.

We have also announced our 2019 Open House schedule, which includes six different dates from March until June. The entire Options team is excited to meet with prospective parents & students as we work to serve more students, so please spread the word.

Applications are also still being accepted for those looking to enroll for the 2018-19 school year and we are also already accepting applications for the 2019-20 school year.

 

– Adam

Same mission, new position

It is with bittersweet emotion that I say goodbye to the school that has been my home for 13 years. I have dedicated my career to helping at-risk youth.

I have been helping at-risk youth face-to-face, one student, and one problem at a time. I have been lucky to be a part of the lives of countless students as a teacher and principal. They made me smile and cry as well as experiencing the pride that comes with seeing them grow and accomplish their dreams.

I have also never met a more empathic and determined staff of professionals than the team that I have been working with over the last 13 years. They have challenged me when needed and supported me when things were tough.

I would not be the leader that I have become without them. While I am sad to be leaving the principal’s chair and all of the day-to-day interactions that have filled my weeks, months and years. I am invigorated by the mission ahead.

In my new role as the Chief Financial Officer of Options Charter Schools, I will continue helping at-risk youth by finding ways to expand our reach and help bring Options to towns across Indiana. The barriers to success that have blocked our students for years are also blocking students across Indiana and it is our mission to help as many students as we can.

As I exit stage right from the school, I will be working behind the scenes to ensure your student’s experience at Options is the best that it can be. Thank you for all the support and kind words that you have given me over the years.

Options Noblesville will now be led by Adam Barr who has been showing me to take over the Principal role. He is mission-driven and will be looking to push Options to be better and more successful. We have made several staffing moves to help build a strong staff around Adam and I am excited for what the students will achieve this semester and going forward.

Finally, I have a request from everyone reading this. We must, as an Options community, never be shy when it comes to telling others about the great things that our students and staff are doing every day. Join me in continuing our mission of helping at-risk youth across Indiana. Belong, Believe, Achieve.

Jake Brandau

The growth of Options continues

Options – Noblesville

With 2018 now complete, I am excited that the second semester is underway as we work towards making 2019 the best it can be.

Discussions for the future of Options Schools are always exciting to be a part of, whether they take place with the Options staff, students, families or members of our great community.

One of our biggest current focuses is on helping Options continue to grow across Hamilton County and throughout the state of Indiana with the development of programs such as our distance education alternative.

As we grow the group of students we serve, we are also growing our staff in multiple areas, which will allow us to grow successfully and positively by having a strong foundation cemented by a high-quality staff that supports everything we do.

While we work on setting ourselves up to improve the current quality of services we provide, we are also actively targeting additional growth in the programs we offer.

Our eyes remain forward as we look to replicate our successful programs in new communities as we work towards our goal of doubling our current number of students served in the next five years.

Know of a friend or classmate that might be interested in Options? They can email me at mgustin@optionsined.org or learn more by visiting OptionsSchools.org

— Mike