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Different Students, Different Needs

Finding the schooling option that best suits your child

Different Students, Different Needs
February 2013

The right academic fit for a child can make all the difference in how he or she feels about learning. Those students who may have struggled in a traditional public school setting may thrive in a different environment better suited to their individual needs. The Indianapolis area has a variety of schools that offer alternative educational choices – with a few of these options described here.

The Montessori method

Dr. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator who began her teaching methods in 1897. Montessori's mission was to help children achieve academic success at a natural pace, while possessing positive work habits and solving problems themselves. Her philosophy encouraged children to be confident and joyful, work well independently as well as collaboratively, and respect and appreciate the community.

Geist Montessori Academy follows the innovative philosophy of Dr. Montessori. The school has received a four-star community rating, which, according to Director Sue Fries, is the highest distinction for academic achievement. "We believe in an Education for the whole child," she says. Fries attributes the success of Geist Montessori to its independent and cultural learning philosophy, as well as the students' participation with a large number of community and service activities through the school.

Students are placed with the same teacher for three years at a time, which allows for a closer, more comfortable relationship. Students learn at their own pace; an advantage for those who have the option to advance a grade level. "Each student has a personal work plan that allows them to move forward in each subject area as they are ready; there is no need to wait for peers to 'catch up' or to be forced to move forward unprepared," says Andrea Preston, parent to fourth-grade twins who attend the school.

Virtual learning

In 2005, Indiana Virtual Academy opened its "virtual doors" to all Indiana high schools and students. Director Allynn Swensen says, "For students who are looking to catch up or get ahead, Indiana Virtual Academy is the answer. Any student in the state of Indiana can take a course with Indiana Virtual Academy with the approval from the student's home school."

The virtual school works well for a variety of students, including those who are behind in earning credits to get an Indiana high school diploma, those wanting to take courses that aren't offered through their local high school or students who have not been able to attend classes due to an extended illness, an injury or work demands.

In addition, the online school is beneficial for college-bound students who need specialized or advanced online coursework, for athletes who need NCAA-approved online courses and for students planning to take summer school.

Students interested in a virtual learning option should speak with their guidance counselor for further information.

College prep school

A university-preparatory is a private, independent secondary school created to prepare students for a college or university education. These schools are funded by tuition fees and philanthropic donations and governed by an independent board of trustees. University High School, located in Carmel, emphasizes community diversity and excellence, personal responsibility, stewardship, creativity and personal trust. Every student is known by name by the staff.

"Each student has a mentor that meets one-on-one for 30 to 40 minutes every ten days," says Director of Admissions, Nancy Webster. "Last year 60 graduates were awarded 7.6 million dollars in merit scholarships."

"The individual attention these students received was amazing—whether from coaches, teachers, mentors, faculty or staff," says parent Joan Scherer of her daughter's experience while attending University High School. "This was one of the best decisions we ever made."

Right fit + right student = success

Children don't come with cookie cutter personalities and abilities—which means their education should ideally be suited to their unique needs. Different learning styles, special circumstances and individual preferences all play a role in determining which educational option is the right one for your student. With the best match between student and school, parents can provide their child with a springboard of success for their future.

Tags: Education, In This Issue

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