Students of the Month – Nov. 2019

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

 

Kyleigh Brownell
(Options-Carmel)

Grade: 9th

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Zachary Kramer
(Options-Distance Education)

Grade: 12
Hometown: Yorktown

When did you enroll at Options?
September 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dalton Hart
(Options-Noblesville Middle School)

Grade: 6th

When did you enroll at Options?
October 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chris Mullins
(Options-Noblesville High School)

Grade: 11 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Coming Full-Circle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pen Pal Across The Pond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what would a true cultural experience without tea?

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

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

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

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

Students of the Month – Oct. 2019

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

 

Riley Tynan
(Options-Carmel)

Grade: 11th 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chloe Keeling
(Options-Distance Education)

Grade: 10th
Hometown: North Salem, Indiana 

When did you enroll at Options?
January 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bella Ott
(Options-Noblesville Middle School)

Grade: 8th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leah Beach
(Options-Noblesville High School)

Grade: 12th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Next Up: November

I know people say this all the time, but it is just wild how the first three months of the school year have flown by, and the holiday season will be here in a matter of weeks! With Fall Break now in the past, we are looking forward to seeing everyone finish the semester and 2019 calendar year on a high note. Our annual Halloween Party will take place Thursday afternoon, so the students and staff are all excited to get in the spirit.

Yesterday, our Senior Institue students that have already committed 15 hours of community service towards their organization took a trip to Muncie for a visit to the Planetarium at Ball State University.

Please take note of some important upcoming dates:

  • October 31: Halloween (festivities from 1 PM-3 PM)
  • November 5: Picture retakes
  • November 6: Full E-Learning Day 
  • November 27-29: Thanksgiving Break

We still have seats available at Options-Noblesville for anyone who could benefit from smaller class sizes and a more individualized approach. Anyone interested in learning more about Options or scheduling a tour can reach me via email at abarr@optionsined.org.

Enjoy your week & make it great!

– Adam –

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)

 

The growth of Options

The start of the 2019-20 school year is here! Students are returning to school with their hope of gaining more ground towards graduation and their plans for a bright future. This year is especially exciting for me as it represents some significant milestones in the history of the organization. One of the most important milestones is our organizational goal to serve more students throughout Indiana with the same high-quality service that our past students have enjoyed. When I took over as President in 2008, Options Charter Schools was serving 270 students in two brick-and-mortar locations. This year we will serve more than 550 students throughout the state!

The growth of Options Charter Schools has allowed us to build a stronger infrastructure of programs and staff. We are better serving our students by offering such programs as a comprehensive lunch program, a broader-based counseling program, partnering with the Hamilton-Boone-Madison County Special Education Cooperative to provide more extensive special education support, and hiring safety personnel for both of our brick-and-mortar locations to better improve school safety. Beyond those program changes, we continue to identify strong leaders both inside and outside the organization. In July, we promoted former Options-Carmel Principal Camille Scott-Tolliver to the position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction. To replace Camille at Carmel, we hired Mike Dunagan, formerly a principal with Charter Schools U.S.A.

The development or implementation of new programs and our commitment to find and hire high-quality candidates demonstrates our commitment to make Options Charter Schools a high- quality educational option for students. The Options’ board and leadership team continue to work together to build and execute a vision for Options Charter Schools that begins with students and teachers in mind. The future is certainly bright for Options Charter Schools.

I hope that every student and family have a very positive and safe school year. Please take full advantage of all of our programs and take time to get reacquainted with returning staff and get to know the new staff. At Options, we are all family – Belong, Believe, Achieve!

Dr. Mike Gustin, President
Options Charter Schools

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.

 

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.


Options Co-Founder Kevin Davis shares his 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: 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.”


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


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.


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