Charter school students benefit from weekend sessions

Indiana Math and Science Academy students get extra mentoring every other Saturday.
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One of the city's newest charter schools is making its mark on student achievement.

Like most schools, students at the Indiana Math and Science Academy West spend their weekdays in the classroom. But every other week, dozens of students come back to class on Saturdays.

Other students are off on school field trips to destinations like Chicago, St. Louis and even the nation of Turkey.

"Their perspective on life has grown. It's not just my home, my small community. It is now the world," said teacher Teruko Knight-Gavia.

Student travel is just one program that the school's director says has led to overall academic achievement here.

"Our school has earned exemplary rating in the last three years," said school director Guray Taysever.

The Math and Science Academy opened on the west side three years ago. It opened in what used to be the old Toys R Us store. Twelve students will make up the first graduating class this year. They'll be adding another 100 students in the next school year.

One of the standout programs is the Ivy League Mentoring Program. It pairs students with mentors, meeting every other Saturday.

"When I first heard that, I did think, 'Well, that's my time to be out of school,' but I knew it was going to help me and I knew it was going to be very beneficial for my future," said junior Laura Johnson.

"I think that even though they're coming to school on Saturday, it's a little bit more relaxed, but they know that it's beneficial for their future. They know they're getting enriched and helping them to be successful in the future," said Spanish teacher Ann Klaus.

Students agree it has opened their eyes to achieving their dreams.

"Right now, I'd like to be a doctor," said Kendrick Washington.

"Beyond high school, I want to go to Ball State to study business," said sophomore Larissa McFarland.

"If I were to go to college, I would be the first person to graduate in my family and that would just be amazing for me," said sophomore Marlene Mayren.

There is a waiting list for students to attend the school, where kindergartners are looking to read 5,000 books in 100 school days. Teachers say by summer, kindergartners will be reading at a second grade level.