The Current features Options on Westfield cover

The following article was featured as the cover story in the August 4, 2020 edition of The Current in Westfield. The full Aug. 4 publication of The Current can be found here.

Another way to learn: Alternative learning provides avenues for struggling students

By Anna Skinner

Options Charter School CEO Mike Gustin doesn’t advocate a one-size-fits-all approach to alternative learning.

“Alternative programming is like any other consumer item you would go out and purchase and try to access,” he said. “There’s options and choices, and what we do in Indiana is, there’s a difference in Indiana coding between an alternative school and an alternative program.

“They serve uniquely different purposes within the alternative spectrum of student.”

Although Westfield Washington Schools is refining a new alternative program, Gustin said there’s still a need for Options, and vice versa. Options Charter School broke ground on its Westfield campus last month at the northwest quadrant of Gunther Boulevard and Ind. 32.

“So within alternative programming, and we are aware Westfield Washington Schools is ramping up some alternative programming, is they focus their programming on one or two types of students, but they don’t provide programming across the bandwidth of alternative learning that might suite the needs of all alternative kids facing challenges,” Gustin said.

Gustin said Options Charter School works with local superintendents about ways to keep students enrolled in the district.

“If (students) have something in their school like a co-curricular or extracurricular activity, or if the student has a positive adult relationship, that is a hook for that kid to stay in school and perform well, even though they may temporarily be going through some difficult times,” Gustin said. “That student should stay in school and attend that programming if it’s designed to meet their need.

“We step into the void when things are absent, when the student doesn’t feel connected to school or the community or has no real connection to the people or programming there.”

If a student is connected with their district through clubs, relationships or sports, they generally see success within the alternative programming, whereas when those connections aren’t present, the student can feel disconnected in the district and may be better suited for something like Options.

“To me, the biggest difference really is that when a student is a Westfield student, there are so many different resources we have available in the entire district,” WWS Supt. Sherry Grate Said. “The whole idea is that we are trying to create the best academic experience we can for students and provide a wrap-around, so if a student can stay and we can provide all of those resources to help them be successful, then that’s a huge success.

“Options is a great partner for us. It’s finding out what’s the best fit for each student, and the more we can keep our students in the Westfield school system by meeting their needs, the better off they are.”

Connor Reiff completes his Options Charter School assignments at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)

An Options Charter School example

Noblesville resident Connor Reiff benefits from Options Charter School education because the alternative learning school is flexible when it comes to Reiff’s medical needs.

“I have to travel to Stanford (University) for treatment and Southern California for clinical trials to help with my sleep disorders, and (Options) continues to be accommodating over the three years I’ve been there,” said Reiff, 16. “Those three chronic illnesses have kind of affected everybody in my family, and Options accommodated my sister, who sometimes had to fly with us out to Stanford.” 

 

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

Small Groundbreaking Ceremony held for Options-Westfield

On Tuesday, July 28, a small ceremony was held to mark the groundbreaking of the Options-Westfield campus. In attendance were select members of the Options Executive Team, Options Founders, Options School Board, SA Berg Company, Axis Architecture and the City of Westfield.

One of three speakers at the event, Options President/CEO Dr. Mike Gustin spoke passionately about the project and shared the following words. “A new building for Options Schools has been a part of our plan since 2014. It’s not just a building, it’s trust that the parents know we will give their kids the very best & trust from the kids in the faculty. This project is all about fulfilling a promise of trust & hope.“

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Options Shares Operational Plan

View Options Schools’ Operational Plan (PDF)

Options Families & Staff,

As we approach the start of another school year, we have developed an Operational Plan that allows for adaptations to the number and how often students participate in-person versus virtually in order to be able to adapt as the situation changes regarding COVID-19. We are looking forward to beginning the fall semester on Wednesday, August 5 in Stage 4 of the Options Operational Plan.

As we continue to work together to get our students back in school safely, we ask that you continue to keep open lines of communication with us and help support and encourage your students to attend, in their selected platform, each day. Attendance is one of the most important components to ensure students are able to continue to learn and do not fall behind. Opening schools during a pandemic requires all of us to be flexible and considerate of each other, and please keep in mind that guidance from state and local authorities can change quickly in this environment.

Principals will be sending out additional information to families in the coming weeks on plans for Chromebook pick up, schedules, drop-off, arrival, and other program-specific protocols.

Parents/students have many choices within the Options programs. Please speak directly with your Principal to make any changes to your program option:

    • Brick and Mortar Campuses (Carmel, Noblesville, BACA and Growing Minds) will offer in person and remote options in their day programs. Carmel and Noblesville will continue to offer evening programing with both in person and remote options.
    • Options @ HYCA will continue to operate in person, on site at the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy and will serve all cadets choosing the high school credit option.
    • Options Indiana (Distance Education) will continue to provide virtual, alternative programing designed to best serve students that need to work on fewer classes at a time and at their own pace. This may be the best program for students/families needing an asynchronous option.

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Thank You Sherrie!

Sherrie Bly is retiring from Options Charter Schools after 14+ years of valued service to our schools. She was the sole member of the finance department for a majority of those years and did the thankless job of tracking every penny that was spent by the corporation. Due to her hard work and diligence, in all the years that Sherrie oversaw our finances, we have always had amazing audits and avoided financial pitfalls. One of Sherrie’s daughters, Lindsay, graduated from Options Schools in 2011 and was also named a Senior Institute Scholarship winner. Options Charter Schools will forever be thankful for Sherrie’s watchful eye as we have evolved into a place that now educates over 700 students throughout Indiana. Sherrie will be moving on after July 17th as she helps us transition into an era without her.

If you would like to reach out to thank Sherrie for all she has done behind the scenes, you can email her here.

Congratulations Sherrie on a great career at Options Charter Schools and we wish you all the best in your retirement!

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

A Letter to Options Families (June Update)

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

Options Families –

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit OptionsSchools.org

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

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

#OptionsGrad Spotlight: Zoe Daniels

A student at the Carmel campus of Options Schools, Zoe Daniels graduated on May 27 with the Class of 2020. She also was named the Senior Institute Scholarship Winner for Options-Carmel.

 

When did you enroll at Options?
My sophomore year

How did you hear about Options?
My mom found Options on Facebook

What were you thinking when you first started at Options?
I was excited that I would still be able to graduate on time.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of school?
I like to spend time with my family and friends.

How did you complete your Senior Institute project? Tell me a little bit about your project and how you obtained your service hours. (Please explain in 3-5 sentences)
My Senior Institute project was to get Best Buddies to be a part of Options Schools. My goal was to get Options to be promoters of Best Buddies. Unfortunately, I was not able to complete my senior institute project due to COVID-19. However, I was able to devote 15 service hours by phone calls, meetings and surveys.

Did you have a favorite subject and/or teacher?
I had the ability to have many favorite teachers who have helped me during my high school years. Melanie (Martin-Terrell ), Elizabeth (Lloyd), (Principal) Dunagan, and Steve (Bowers) are just a few of the people that have helped me.

What have you enjoyed most about Options?
I enjoyed having a group of people, peers & adults, to just be there for me, help me, and just guided me.

In what areas has Options helped you improve?
Options has allowed me to want to further my education and gave me a platform to accomplish and succeed in life.

What are your plans and aspirations following Graduation?
I am going to college but I am still undecided about what I would like to do. Options allowed me to take Ivy Tech courses and study business and those courses intrigued me to want me to be an entrepreneur.

How would you explain Options to a non-student?
I am constantly spreading the news about Options on how Options helped me to graduate and how Options may not have a football team or a cheer team but they do have the same goal, which is a community, a family, that helps and guides you in ways no other school does or did for me.

Is there any advice you would like to offer other Options students?
Options staff are there to help not make things worse. Everyone at this school believes in you even if you don’t believe in yourself.

New Principals & Exciting News for Options @ BACA

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

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

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

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

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

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

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

 

2020 Graduation Info – May 27 (6:30 PM)

Graduation Program (PDF) | Watch Graduation

As regulations around the state will prohibit Options Schools from holding a traditional Graduation ceremony at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, this year’s Graduation is going online for an event that will be streamed on Facebook Live at this linkFacebook.com/optionscharterschools/.

The ceremony can be viewed on Facebook Live on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Following the conclusion of the 6:30 PM live stream, the full ceremony will be available on-demand via Options Schools’ Facebook page.

The stream will start at 6:10 PM EST so families can start viewing the broadcast before the actual ceremony begins & the lead up to 6:30 will feature a scroll through Graduate photos. A PDF Graduation program that contains a ceremony schedule and Graduate lists can be found here. The event will also be available for viewing immediately following its conclusion on Facebook & will also be viable through (OptionsSchools.org) as well, following the ceremony.

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Options Schools Announces Graduation Plans

As regulations around the state will prohibit Options Schools from holding a traditional Graduation ceremony at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, this year’s Graduation is going online for an event that will be streamed on Facebook Live at this link: Facebook.com/optionscharterschools/.

The ceremony can be viewed on Facebook Live on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Following the conclusion of the 6:30 PM live event, the full ceremony will be available on-demand via Options Schools’ Facebook page.

Each campus Principal has already reached out to the Class of 2020 to provide information on how students can obtain their cap & gown, along with how they will be able to participate in the ceremony virtually.

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Student Spotlight – April 29

Tori [far left] spends some time at the park with her siblings
Continue reading “Student Spotlight – April 29”

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

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

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

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

April 14 Update For Student & Parents

Parents and Students,

We hope this letter finds you and your families well as we all continue to Hunker-Down in Indiana and do our part to fight off the pandemic of COVID-19.  On April 2nd, Dr. McCormick, the Indiana State Superintendent of Education, announced that schools will not be allowed to return back to the physical buildings for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Prior to spring break, we shared our plan for instructional days following spring break and that plan has not changed with this announcement.  An explanation of the plan is also included in this letter as well as some additional details for graduating seniors.  

We returned to eLearning, Monday, April 13, 2020 with all courses now set up in such a way that students may complete at their own pace with the goal of completing all currently assigned courses by May 1.  Students enrolled in the Options-Distance Education, Options @ HYCA and Options @ BACA programs will continue to complete courses according to their individual pacing plans. We are hopeful this will excite students and encourage focused work with the reward of an early summer break!  Teachers will continue to provide direct instruction through videos, virtual office hours, Google Hangout and Zoom meetings, and by appointment for individual virtual help.  

Dr. McCormick also announced on April 2nd that all graduating seniors will receive acknowledgment in all spring courses in which they are already enrolled to ensure they are able to meet graduation requirements.  Please note, “acknowledgment” is not the same as credit. In order for seniors to earn the transcripted credit in the courses, they must still complete the content and earn a passing grade. We are encouraging all seniors, along with all students, to push forward with their courses and work to complete all coursework on May 1, 2020. 

Beginning May 4, 2020, through May 27, 2020, Options will run a 4-week credit recovery session for all students that need extended time past the May 1st deadline or that are credit deficient and would like to enroll in an additional course or two.  Advisors and counselors will help students choose appropriate courses and will direct students to fill out this sign-up form.  Sign up forms are not necessary for Options-Distance Education and Options @ BACA students.  In addition, we will still offer summer school, online-only, June 1, 2020, through June 26, 2020.  Students will need to fill out the form for each 4-week term with the courses they wish to take. 

Dr. McCormick’s announcement does require us to also change how we celebrate together through our spring events such as the spring picnic, prom, and graduation.  Our leadership teams will continue to work together to develop alternative plans and will share more information as we have it ready to share. We are very proud of our students and their continued resiliency!   

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

Point of Contact by Program:

 

Quick Guide Calendar

March 30 – April 10 — Spring Break – No School

April 13 – May 1 — eLearning (Courses now At-Your-Own Pace)

May 1 — End of Semester 2

May 4 – May 27 — Credit Recovery Session 1 (Maymester)
Sign-up Form

June 1 – June 26 — Credit Recovery Session 2 (Summer School)
Sign-up Form

August 5 — First Day for Students, Fall 2020

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

Options Schools to Remain Closed Through End of 2019-20 Academic Year

NOBLESVILLE – As was announced Thursday by State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick, all K-12 classrooms in Indiana will remain closed through the end of the 2019-20 academic year. The closure results from the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Options Schools campuses have been closed since Monday, March 16. Students are currently on Spring Break (March 30-April 10).

Options leadership will work with its administration, along with officials of other Hamilton County schools to determine a plan for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.

An update will be shared prior to the resumption of classes following Spring Break on Monday, April 13.

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

Carmel Student of the Month – March

Pictured: Mercedes with her two younger sisters

In celebration of our March Students of the Month, get to know the Mercedes Schneider from Options-Carmel!

Mercedes Schneider
(Options-Carmel)

Grade: 10th

When did you enroll at Options?
January 2020

Do you have any hobbies, passions or ways you enjoy spending your free time?
I enjoy my free time by listening to music or hanging out with my family. Usually, I’ll play games with my little sister or cards with my parents. 

What is your favorite thing about going to Options?
I really like the positive environment, most of the people are positive and very nice. All the teachers are also kind and helpful whenever you need their help.

What is your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject is history. It’s an interesting class where you can always learn something new every day. 

Have you improved in any areas since enrolling at Options?
Yes, I’ve improved with my social skills and putting myself out there to meet new people. Also, with my academics, I feel as if I’m learning more at Options then my last school.

What makes Options teachers different than teachers you had previously in school?
Options teachers make sure students are more productive and ask the students if they need help. They also give more one on one time with students who are struggling in classes.

Do you have any current plans or aspirations for after you graduate?
Yes, I currently plan to graduate a year early, then go to college for neuropsychology, or something like that. Although I still don’t know where I will attend college though.

 

 

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Steve’s eLearning Update (March 27)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

Options Pantry makes immediate impact amidst school closures

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Options Schools Postpones Events For COVID-19 Precautions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dunagan’s Principal Blog (March 2020)

I know it is hard to believe, but we are already into the month of March. As we near the end of the 3rd quarter we have a lot of important dates coming up in the next few weeks!

We had a great end to the month of February by spending a crisp Friday in southern Indiana at Paoli Peaks. While it allowed students to spend a day away from campus, the deeper meaning of the day is to reward students based on their achievement of certain benchmarks and by demonstrating the aforementioned academic skills. You can view a full photo gallery from the day, here. We also named 10th grader Daelyn Presswood as our February Student of the Month.

To signify a major milestone in the history of Options Schools, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Wednesday, March 18 to mark the beginning of the construction project that will result in a Westfield campus of Options Schools! We welcome anyone to attend the event, which will last from 1:30-2:30 PM. The groundbreaking ceremony will commence at 2 PM. The Options-Westfield site can be found off of State Road 32 and Gunther Blvd., behind Huntington Bank (3560 Westfield Rd, Westfield, IN 46074). The location is adjacent to the intersection of State Road 32 & Grassy Branch Rd.

Important Dates:

  • March 10th-11th ISTEP+ English testing
  • March 16th Army Recruiters will be on-site during afternoon advising to speak to any interested students
  • March 17th Practice Gallery walk for SI
  • March 18th Full E-Learning day for students
  • March 18th Groundbreaking ceremony for our Westfield campus at 1:30 PM
  • March 18th Open House from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • March 20th Gallery Walk for SI at 10:30 AM
  • March 24th-25th Cognia Review visit
  • March 30th-April 10th Spring Break

The full 2020 Open House schedule began this week and will last until May. The full schedule of dates can be found here.

Did you know that April 1, 2020 is Census Day? Responding to the 2020 Census is our civic duty and affects the amount of funding for our community’s public resources. To learn more, visit http://www.census.indiana.edu. Counting your child in the 2020 census could mean $10,000 of additional funding for K12 schools over the next ten years.

Options Schools sets dates for 2020 Open House schedule

View Open House Schedule (PDF)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Options Schools, Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy announce partnership

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

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

Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

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

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