When I asked New Options Assistant Principal Tamika Henry the first word that came to mind when thinking of senior Katy Key, she didn’t hesitate in answering.
“Perseverance,” she said. “Katy has overcome a lot of difficulties to be able to graduate, but she has absolutely persevered.”
The joy was evident in Katy while we sat talking; her eyes positively sparkled. It’s obvious that she has worked hard and has made the choice to lean into a bright future that she can be proud of — a bright future that she’s built with the help of New Options.
Tamika continued, “Katy has a lot of character — a lot of integrity. She’s very honest and forthright. If she sees something that’s “not right,” she comes and talks to me. She still has fun…she’s still a teenager, but she makes the right choices. Katy really is a model student.”
For students like Katy, New Options is not their first high school home, but for many of them it becomes the one for which they’ve longed. It’s a place of smaller class-sizes, flexible learning atmospheres, and best of all, second chances.
“My favorite thing about being a student at New Options,” Katy explained, “Is that it’s more laid back. There are smaller classes which makes it easier to speak to teachers. I needed that when I came here. This is a great fit for me.”
But of all the staff members who have reached out to Katy, it’s Tamika whose love has left the ripple effects of a changed life. Katy looked over to Tamika, whose eyes blurred with emotion. Breathing deeply, Tamika shared how so many students over the years have returned to New Options, have sought her out, and have said, “Tamika, if it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have made it.”
Katy nodded in agreement. With just ninety kids enrolled, teachers are able to give the special attention that New Options students desperately need, whether that be in the form of new learning strategies or extra emotional support to those struggling through very difficult circumstances.
I asked Katy what she’s learned about herself while at New Options. She gave it some thought and then looked at me with hope glowing.
“I’ve learned that I’m able to achieve any goal as long as I put my mind to it.”
We believe she will!
We applaud Katy Key and wish her success as she presses on toward graduation and life beyond New Options.