School Launch Fellows selected to replicate four high-performing charter school networks
The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit, has selected six Indianapolis school leaders for the School Launch Fellowship, which provides proven leaders with one to two years of support to grow an existing charter school network. Leaders from Adelante Schools, Circle City Prep, Girls IN STEM Academy, and Purdue Polytechnic High School were selected for the Fellowship.
“The Mind Trust is proud to invest in the growth of four high-quality public charter networks that have proven results for Indianapolis students,” said Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust. “The School Launch Fellows will build on a solid legacy of educational leadership in our city. The Mind Trust is proud to continue increasing access to great public school options, especially as data continues to show autonomous schools as the main drivers of student learning gains. As students continue to recover from pandemic-related learning loss, we are committed to growing innovative solutions that drive student achievement.”
About The Mind Trust’s School Launch Fellowship
The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 49 public charter and innovation network schools in Indianapolis. The majority of public charter and innovation network schools in the city have been founded or expanded through The Mind Trusts’s Fellowships and investments. The School Launch Fellowship builds on this strong foundation by focusing on networks that are already serving Indianapolis students and families well, giving talented educators and network leadership sufficient planning time and resources to grow or replicate an existing charter school network.
In close collaboration with their network leadership, Fellows will launch a new campus of an existing network or significantly expand the number of students an existing school can serve. Schools were invited to participate in the Fellowship based on their academic results and organizational capacity for growth.
In the 2022-2023 school year, 58.3% of public school students within Indianapolis Public Schools’ (IPS) boundaries attended a charter or innovation network school. On the 2023 ILEARN, independent charter schools made larger proficiency gains than the state overall and for Black, Latino, low-income, special education, and English Language Learner student groups. Innovation charter high school students achieve college-readiness rates at 7.5 times higher than their peers in direct-run IPS high schools. With growing family demand and strong academic results, the School Launch Fellowship aims to meet our city’s need for more high-quality, autonomous public school options.
Adelante Schools is a nonprofit charter school operator that manages Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School. Adelante Schools was founded by Eddie Rangel and Matthew Rooney through The Mind Trust’s Innovation School Fellowship and began operating Emma Donnan in the 2020-2021 school year. Adelante Schools leverages best practices in instruction, school culture, community engagement, and staff development from the nation’s highest-performing schools to provide a high-quality neighborhood school education.
In 2022-2023, Emma Donnan served 350 students, 69% of whom identify as students of color, and 93% of whom qualify as low-income. Black, Latino, and students qualifying for free or reduced lunch at Emma Donnan outperformed their peers in district-run schools on the 2023 ILEARN state assessment.
Garrett Gammons and Kyle Gavin have been selected as School Launch Fellows for Adelante Schools. Gammons is currently the Middle School Principal at Emma Donnan and brings more than a decade of experience to the role, with a strong background in special education. He has served as a special education teacher and coordinator at several local public schools. Gavin currently serves as a Principal Fellow at Emma Donnan and has nine years of education experience. Prior to his current role, he served as a 6th grade math teacher at Emma Donnan.
Circle City Prep
Circle City Prep is a K-7 public charter school located on the Far Eastside of Indianapolis. The school will grow to serve K-8 students by the 2024-2025 school year. In addition to rigorous academics, Circle City Prep takes pride in offering scholars scratch-made meals, quarterly field trips, and numerous club and athletic offerings after school, with 75% of scholars participating in extracurriculars last year.
Within IPS boundaries, Circle City Prep has the 7th highest ILEARN proficiency for Black students and the 9th highest ILEARN proficiency for Latino students. In the 2022-2023 school year, the school served 320 students, with 90% identifying as students of color and 96% of students qualifying as low-income.
Alise Dalstrom and Sami Hyde have been selected as School Launch Fellows for Circle City Prep. Dalstrom is the Assistant School Leader of Student Supports, where she has served since the school’s founding year in 2017. Previously at Circle City Prep, she has been an Academic Support Specialist, Manager of Student and Family Supports, and Director of Student and Family Supports. Sami Hyde is the Assistant School Leader of Academics at Circle City Prep. Prior to her current role, she was the K-2 Instructional Coach and Senior Instructional Coach at Circle City Prep. Through her ten years in education, she has also held instructional roles at KIPP Indy and Tindley Accelerated Schools.
Girls IN STEM Academy
Girls IN STEM Academy will be an all-girls public school for grades K-8 opening in Fall 2024. The school will be operated by Paramount Schools of Excellence (PSOE) in partnership with Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, Every Girl Can STEM™, and Purdue Polytechnic High School. PSOE currently operates three locations in Indianapolis and an online academy, along with two campuses in South Bend and Lafayette, IN. The PSOE Indianapolis campuses are consistently some of the highest-performing public K-8 schools in the city and state.
PSOE uses a research-based curriculum to maximize each child’s potential against measurable standards, empowering all students to achieve academic success in a culture of excitement, inclusion, and community collaboration. Girls IN STEM Academy will build on this academic model and infuse STEM into its curriculum and extracurricular offerings.
Chrystal Westerhaus will launch and lead Girls IN STEM Academy. Westerhaus has more than 10 years of school leadership experience. She founded and launched Avondale Meadows Middle School in 2017 through The Mind Trust’s Innovation School Fellowship. She has previously served as an assistant principal and teacher at Tindley Accelerated Schools.
Purdue Polytechnic High School
Purdue Polytechnic High School (PPHS) inspires students to pursue their passion through the lens of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, hands-on and project-based learning, industry partnerships and a flexible, personalized learning environment. PPHS has two Indianapolis campuses and one in South Bend. The network was founded locally by Scott Bess, Shatoya Ward, and Dr. Keeanna Warren through The Mind Trust’s Innovation School Fellowship. Since launching in 2017, PPHS has more than doubled the average number of public school graduates from Indianapolis who enroll at Purdue University each fall.
Lacey Beatty has been selected as a School Launch Fellow for PPHS. Beatty is currently the Director of Leadership Development and Support for the network and has more than 25 years of education experience. She is a former math teacher and was a founding faculty member at PPHS .
About The Mind Trust
The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit that works to build a system of schools that gives every student, no exceptions, access to a high-quality education. The Mind Trust does this by building a supportive environment for schools through policy and community engagement, empowering talented, diverse educators to launch new schools, and providing existing schools with the support they need to hire world-class talent and achieve excellence. Since 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 49 schools, 15 education nonprofit organizations, and has helped place more than 1,800 teachers and school leaders in Indianapolis classrooms.