Press Releases | June 28, 2021

The Mind Trust, IPS, & Mayor’s Office select new Innovation School Fellows; Circle City Prep capacity building award

teacher walking around classroom while teaching lesson

The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit, today announced the eighth cohort of Innovation School Fellows, as well as a capacity-building award to support the growth of Circle City Prep, a local public charter school. The investments will help create three high-quality public school options for Indianapolis students by the fall of 2023. The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 38 public schools in Indianapolis. 

An individual Innovation School Fellow and Innovation School Fellowship team will be added to the eighth Fellowship cohort. Brandon House will develop a K-8 school that will grow students into local and global leaders through a rigorous academic program supported by strong community partnerships and social emotional development. Amy BernsFallon Cuthrell, and Nathan Tuttle will work together to replicate the successful model of Edison School of the Arts, an Indianapolis Public Schools’ (IPS) Innovation Network School that gives students an arts-driven education through experiences, exposure, and community partnerships. The incoming Fellows join Morrise Harbour and Francisco Valdiosera, who are developing schools that will launch by fall 2022. Circle City Prep will receive a capacity building award from The Mind Trust of $300,000 to support the addition of middle school grades to the existing K-5 school, to be led by Tyrone Bottley

“The Mind Trust is proud to support the growth of more high-quality school options for Indianapolis families through our Innovation School Fellowship and investments that expand the impact of existing schools,” said Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust. “We are excited to welcome Brandon House back to Indianapolis and to invest in talented teams from Edison School of the Arts and Circle City Prep. These passionate school leaders have a track record of success in driving academic outcomes for students, a vision for an equitable, innovative school model, and an inspiring drive to make a positive impact on our education system and city.”

The Innovation School Fellowship is a partnership between The Mind Trust, IPS, and The Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation (Mayor’s Office) to attract best-in-class educators to develop and lead high-quality IPS Innovation Network Schools. Innovation Network Schools are schools within the IPS district that give building-level school leaders full academic and operational autonomy to make decisions based on the needs of an individual school community to raise student achievement. Innovation School Fellows will present a full plan for their school to the IPS Board of School Commissioners for approval to become an Innovation Network School.

In the 2021-2022 school year, there will be 30 Innovation Network Schools within IPS, collectively serving more than 11,500 students. In 2020-2021, 37.4% of students within IPS attended an Innovation Network School. Fifteen Innovation Network Schools have been founded by The Mind Trust’s Fellowship alumni. According to a 2019 study from Stanford University, students in Innovation Network Schools are achieving 2-3 months of additional learning in reading and math. 

“Ensuring high-quality school options in Indianapolis, especially for Indianapolis Public Schools’ students and families, is critically important,” said IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson. “The community — including our families — has often asked us to replicate some of our most successful school models. Through their participation in the Innovation School Fellowship, the Edison School of the Arts team will develop a plan to add a second arts-focused school to our IPS family of schools. Research bears out the positive impact a strong arts education can have on students, and I’m excited by the prospect of growing the number of students to whom we’d be able to offer this opportunity.”

“OEI values the partnership and collaboration among The Mind Trust, IPS, and our office that supports current and prospective school leaders as they find the best ways to serve their students and communities,” said Patrick McAlister, Director of the Office of Education Innovation. “We’ve seen how resilient and resourceful our leaders have been, especially over the past year, and we applaud efforts that allow them to continue their important work in our city.”

Brandon House, Innovation School Fellow
Brandon House is a native Hoosier who has spent the last seven years in leadership at Young Audiences Charter School in New Orleans, most recently as Head of Schools. He has also held teaching positions in Indianapolis at IPS and Wayne Township schools. House’s leadership at Young Audiences Charter School led to significant increases in student academic achievement, student enrollment and retention, and teacher retention. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Taylor University and a Master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Ball State University. 

House will spend two years developing a school model that aims to develop students academically through a rigorous academic program supported by strong community partnerships and socio-emotional development. The school will cultivate creative, compassionate, civically-engaged learners who are active within their local and global community by providing a place-based instructional approach, partnerships with local community organizations, and a focus on supporting the whole child. 

Edison School of the Arts, Innovation School Fellow Team
The Edison School of the Arts Innovation School Fellowship team consists of Amy Berns, Principal of Edison School of the Arts, Fallon Cuthrell, Assistant Principal at Edison, and Nathan Tuttle, Executive Director of Edison. 

After converting to an Innovation Network School in 2017, Edison was able to leverage autonomy to increase student enrollment and academic achievement. The school uses data-driven strategies to drive student learning. The Edison team plans to use the time and resources provided by the Innovation School Fellowship to replicate its model to serve additional students at a second school. 

Circle City Prep, capacity building award
The Mind Trust is also awarding $300,000 to Circle City Prep to support the growth of a middle school at the K-5 public charter school located on the far eastside of Indianapolis. With a commitment to college preparation, Circle City Prep prioritizes rigorous academics, individualized supports, diverse enrichment and extracurricular activities along with growing their Scholars socio-political critical consciousness. The school was founded in August 2017 by current Head of School, Megan Murphy. Circle City Prep opened in 2017 serving 78 K-1 students and has grown to serving 280 students in grades K-5 during the 2021-2022 school year. Under Tyrone Bottley’s leadership, Circle City Prep will open their middle school in 2022 and serve 450 K-8 Scholars on the Far Eastside by 2024. 

Circle City Prep will spend one year scaling their model to serve middle school students. The award will support professional development for the school’s current leadership, as well as support to recruit additional middle school staff and teachers.