A small group gathered together at Pike High School this February for our second Sparking Conversations session. Pike’s McKinney Vento Liaison, Tonya Monnier, and two Pike seniors joined Karen Routt, Education Director of School-based Services, and Stefanie Thomas, Brightlane’s on-site Education Support Coordinator, for an in-depth discussion. They explored how we’re supporting credit recovery and graduation and the unique hurdles that high school students who face instability experience. Through all this, they celebrated the deep relationships that have helped make some incredible student successes possible.

Pike High School has a 93% graduation rate — and a 95% graduation rate for students experiencing homelessness! The Indiana Department of Education recognizes it as an “A” school. Of the more than 3,200 enrolled students, 60% are economically disadvantaged, which can negatively impact academic achievement.

Brightlane has partnered with Pike High School for the past two school years and has grown from one staff member having a presence three days each week to this year having one staff member providing four days of support weekly, primarily to seniors, with a second staff member supporting Freshman one day a week as they navigate the transition from middle to high school. We are currently serving 55 incredible students at Pike.

Key Takeaways

“It’s hard for me every day to get up and go to school, so it’s reassuring to have them in my life. Because when I wake up, I don’t want to deal with what the day has, but I know that they have my back and are there for me.”

Brightlane Learning Senior, Pike High School

Showing Up for People Matters

  • The pandemic not only negatively impacted academic progress, but contributed to mental health challenges. Tonya is one of two social workers at Pike, and the Brightlane staff and volunteers who are on-site each day ensure that Tonya and Pike students have the support they need.
  • Both students shared that they lacked critical support systems during different periods of their lives. Knowing that there are adults who care and have their back waiting for them at school each day motivates them to show up. When students are excited to come to school, their attendance improves.

“When you help elementary school students, it’s so easy to pinpoint where that student has deficiencies. When the older kids come to us and are in geometry or in algebra, it is so hard to go back to find that missing piece.”

Stefanie, Brightlane Learning staff

Catching Up is Hard to Do

  • No one person can be an expert in every high school subject. Our focus on learning together is important as Stefanie helps students with English, math, chemistry, history and more while also helping with credit recovery, FAFSA applications, college applications, and choosing the next steps that are right for them after high school.
  • Both students had a rocky academic start to high school. One moved to Pike during the spring semester of his sophomore year. When he started, he had barely attended school due to the pandemic and hadn’t completed most of the credits he needed. He started working with Stefanie, and over the past two years, they have recovered all his missing credits, and last semester, he made the honor roll for the first time!

“(I’m most proud of) The people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve made coming to Pike. I’m not from here. The people here are – the teachers and the adults here — are so supportive. I feel like they’ve supported me through everything I’ve done. Like Ms. Monnier, Ms. Stefanie, and Dr. Johnson with my cadet teaching program.”

Brightlane Learning Senior, Pike High School

Celebrate More Than Academics

  • When asked what everyone was most proud of, no one focused on one moment or a single accomplishment. They focused on the steps and the relationships that have helped them.

At Brightlane Learning, we believe that every student has the right to an education and Sparking Conversations illuminated that we share that belief with our extraordinary partners. We are grateful to Pike High School and Tonya Monnier for making our programs stronger as we ensure students’ needs are met.