Ball State University has approved a new charter contract for 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Indiana. In doing so, the school will continue to defy all odds and show the nation that it can and should expect more from students in K12 public schools.

Last year, 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Indiana became the first high school to graduate a student (Raven Osborne pictured with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos) who earned her bachelor degree while in high school and before earning her high school diploma. Raven did so free of charge to her and is now fully employed with retirement and health and dental benefits–and she is debt free (no college debt!).

This is no small feat and even more surprising that the first student to do this in Indiana’s history is from Gary, Indiana, not the more affluent neighborhoods of Zionsville, Carmel, Fishers and others in the state.

At GEO, we are fiercely focused on beating poverty and to do that, we must go beyond the talk of closing the achievement gap and actually exceed the achievement of most others in the state. Last year, we had 43 graduates and six of these students earned their Associate Degree and Raven earned her Bachelor degree. Our 2017 graduates earned an average of 17 college credits while in our high school. Pretty impressive!

Raven was inspired by our first Associate Degree student, Vincent Pena. And today, Raven has inspired another generation of students. Erin Lewis (pictured to the right) is a freshman who completed 15 college credit hours in her first semester of high school. How many freshmen anywhere in the country have done that? According to Erin’s professors, she is among the top students in her classes. Erin aspires to earn her bachelor degree while in our high school, too. Rest assured, we will do everything we can to help Erin achieve her goals.

We are forever grateful to Ball State for the chance to go beyond a traditional school and to break the mold and help students achieve much more than traditional students, and experienced school leaders, believe possible.

At GEO, we believe students are capable of doing so much more than we allow them to do in traditional schools. And our students are proving us right every day.