In 2002, GEO earned the right to open one of the first charter schools in Indiana. Indianapolis’s then-Mayor Bart Peterson, and then Charter School Director David Harris, approved our first charter school (and our second). They approved our applications which detailed our aspirations of graduating students from high school on time and ready to be successful in college. Today, while we don’t operate schools in Indianapolis any more, we can say with certainty, our original goals are being realized in Gary, Indiana and Baton Rouge, Louisiana tenfold.
The pictures above represent our powerpoint presentation in real life today. The students on the left are from Baton Rouge. They represent our inaugural class of 9th graders in GEO’s Next Generation High School. They all completed college level classes this past summer BEFORE starting their 9th grade with us. We are in Baton Rouge because the State of Louisiana’s Department of Education recruited us after seeing a Stanford University study showing GEO-managed schools are in the top 25% of the country in academic growth.
The picture on the right is of several of our 2019 21st Century Charter School graduates–all of whom earned either an associate degree and/or a career certification BEFORE graduating from our high school. We are in Gary, because leaders in Gary recruited us to help address the city’s chronic high school dropout problem back in 2005. Back then, only 50% of students graduated on time. We regularly post graduation rates of 90% or better.
Taking a powerpoint presentation and making good on all its promises isn’t easy. Indeed, we’ve made our share of mistakes over the years. We learned from our past mistakes, and today, we are gaining so much traction with our research-based model–our Baton Rouge schools are among the highest performing and highest growth schools in Baton Rouge and the state, and our Gary school has one of the highest college and career ratings in the state of Indiana–that we are being invited to Texas and Nevada and other states. And yes, communities in Indiana and Louisiana want us to expand, too.
And yes, others are copying what we’ve been doing for years, too. That’s perhaps the biggest compliment of all. We encourage more schools to learn what we are doing and to get busy doing it, too.
The 2019-20 school year is off to a great start. We are serving 3,000 students in our network–20% more this year than last year. We are building off our past success of graduating students with associate degrees and breaking the glass ceiling to allow our students to earn bachelor’s degrees while in our high school. We’ve already done that once, we will do it again, too. Yes, you read that right. Students can do so much more today than when I was in high school.
So while we are headquartered in Indianapolis, we are having an impact in communities far and wide directly with our schools and indirectly through public policy changes and schools replicating what we do.
I was asked recently if I could start all over and do things differently with my life, would I? My answer was emphatically, no. Why would I? I love helping others and I love seeing the results of our efforts. We are impacting lives like none other. I like that!
Yes, it’s fun changing the world together!