College Isn’t the Only Inspiring Path for Kids. Local Charter Schools are Teaching Students That They’ve got Options.

Moxie, Montessori & Mentors Drive Charter School Students to Succeed

I know a lot of people who can’t stand the idea of sitting behind a desk for a profession. Yet the overarching theme of high schools across the nation is to prepare students for college. 

What about those smart kids who aspire to do something else? Who is encouraging them to explore their passions and skills in whatever form that takes?  

I’ve found some local charter public schools that have been turning the college prep idea onto its head and offering kids more options. They’re opening up the world of possibility to their students and developing students with character, curiosity and perseverance. These are things you take with you your whole life, and not just to college. 

“No matter what path kids choose to pursue once they graduate from high school, they will need to understand and utilize the specific character values that fuel success in any setting,” says Michael Cousins, the manager of communication for GVSU’s Charter Schools Office.

“Kids who have the time and space to nurture these traits will be better prepared to make good choices and follow through on commitments as they progress through high school and beyond.” 

Kids can Explore New Paths With Adaptive Curriculum like Montessori and STEAM 

Did you  know what career you wanted when you graduated high school? I certainly did not. I had like six career ideas in mind. What a gift would it have been to go to a school where you could have tried anything that interested you, well before graduation? 

I love that schools like Black River Public Elementary School allow kids to explore what interests them, and give them space to direct their own learning. Their Montessori curriculum allows kids to dive headfirst into topics they like at a young age.

“Kids may be learning material well above the traditional grade level content simply because they can’t get enough of it,” says Cousins. 

And if they develop interest in something else along the way, they can change that course and pursue the new idea. I really wish I could have learned more about interior design as a kid. And also computer programming. And photography careers. 

Another way that charter public schools can connect kids to their passions is through career-building pathway programs. STEAM learning has become quite popular, so charter public schools have partnered with GVSU to offer the STEAM Pathway Program. 

Here, students learn about various health and science careers while trying hands-on activities. Because it’s middle school, if they decide that this field isn’t for them, they have time to change their study path. 

If another new exciting way for students to learn comes around, I’ve no doubt that some of our local charter public schools will give it a try! They’re constantly surveying the horizon and looking for the best ways for kids to learn today. 

Got grades? How about Good Character? National Heritage Academies go Beyond Test Scores When Developing Students

A kid can know all the equations and proper grammar in the world, but if they don’t understand hard work and strong character, they won’t get far. 

“As important as it is for kids to do well on homework and tests, it’s equally important for them to learn about the values that make for strong character-building blocks,” says Cousins. 

Local families have been turning to charter public schools within National Heritage Academies‘ network of schools because they want their children to build both strong moral character and good grades. 

Each month, students at NHA schools explore a new Moral Focus virtue that builds great communities. This unique curriculum feature shows kids how to live out positive traits like respect, courage, integrity and perseverance. 

“They’ll know how to prepare for success in everything from complex group projects to tasks like setting an alarm to wake up on time!” says Cousins. 

Young Adult Mentors Connect with Kids in Ways Parents and Teachers Can’t 

Mentorship is huge in every area of a kid’s life. I love for my kids to have safe adults to look up to at home, school and in the community. But sometimes they just need to look up to someone who is not that much older than them. Someone who has been in their shoes more recently. 

GVSU’s charter public schools have an incredible mentorship program opportunity that connects their students with college student volunteers. These college-age mentors work 1-on-1 with K-8 students. 

Dr. Barry Hall II, the manager of charter through college programs at the GVSU Charter Schools Office, oversees the mentorship support. Dr. Hall says each mentor meeting is centered around positive messages of growth. 

They encourage students to not only stay on track academically but to build upon the behaviors that lead to personal success. Many also come from similar backgrounds (or even the same community), so they may understand exactly what the young students are feeling in that moment. I remember when I was a teen, and the adults that I listened to the closest were the men and women who were in their early 20’s. They still seemed “cool” but also to know more about the world than I did. They were that perfect beacon for me as I searched for my future. 

“Connecting kids to a real-life example of who they can be when they grow up allows them to envision what their life could look like in the near future,” says Hall. 

If You Want Schools That Think Outside the Box, Schedule a Tour With a Charter Public School

Take a good look at that adorable child sitting next to you. How will you give them the education that pulls out the best in them and gives them the opportunities that will drive them to happy, confident success? Maybe it’s a Montessori-type school. Maybe it’s a STEAM-based middle school. Maybe it’s just a place where character, and how you treat others, is heralded as highly as an A on that spelling test. 
Chances are, a local charter public school has that unique angle you’re looking for for your child. You can find all of the GVSU charter public schools here.


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