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The Simon Youth Academy (SYA) at Circle Centre Mall is
closing out its first year strong! 

 

The accelerated program, a partnership between IPS and Simon
Youth Foundation, is designed for high school juniors and seniors who have fallen behind in
course credits — because of various life circumstances — but are ready to get
back on track for graduation.

 

Operated and
staffed by IPS, SYA combines face-to-face learning and online education methods
to meet the needs of our students. Under the guidance of the district’s Career Technology
Center, students have the opportunity to participate in an engaging
non-traditional school model with an emphasis on work-based learning and career
readiness.

 

SYA “My favorite experience this year has been working with our
photography teacher and learning all the tricks and trades of photography,”
said SYA student and early graduate Kelveena B. “I found that I have a knack
for it and it will be my major in college.”

 

The program motto at SYA is: “Meeting you where you are;
taking you where you want to go.” The staff and students are achieving that
goal.

 

When the program began during the 2015–2016 school year,
more than 30 students were enrolled. Nearly 20 will graduate in June and attend
a college or university this fall! 

 

“The best and greatest experience with my students this year
has been watching their perspective on the world change,” said Teresa
James-Robinson, SYA coordinator. “To see them go from ‘I might not graduate’ to
‘I’m going to college’ has been the most amazing thing.”

 

Here’s snapshot of some of the major successes at SYA this
year.

 

CityWay YMCA
Partnership

At the start of the school year, most students didn’t have enough of the required
physical education credits to graduate.
Through a partnership with the new CityWay YMCA
located in downtown Indianapolis, and with help from the IPS Education
Foundation, students with missing credits in Physical Education now have YMCA
memberships. Not only have they acquired the needed credits, but as a group
they have collectively lost a total of 200 pounds.

 

Simon Youth
Foundation Grant

At the start of the school year, SYA applied and was awarded
a nearly $5,000 grant from the Simon Youth Foundation, which has supported
academic excellence, physical and mental health as well as community building
opportunities.  Some of the money was
used to purchase Kindle E-Readers to create a tech savvy and text-rich
environment. Program leaders are currently making strong connections with local
libraries to provide content and leisure reading material for students in the
upcoming school year.Yoga at SYA

 

Improving Mind, Body
and

Many students within the program have troubles with conflict
resolution. By using restorative justice practices
to resolve problems and by fully immersing themselves in yoga through community
partners Indy Yoga Movement and Ella LLC, SYA students have a new outlet to
improve their mental, physical and spiritual health. 

 

The combined efforts from community partners have allowed
students 20 yoga sessions to date, with nearly a third of student
participation.

 

The team at Simon Youth Academy at Circle Centre Mall are
truly dedicated to the success of their students, providing them with
meaningful professional and educational opportunities designed to help build
confident and successful individuals.

 

We are extremely proud of our SYA students and congratulate all
of our graduates. We can’t wait to see what the new school year brings!