A charter school with a unique take on education may come to Ardmore, but its fate is undecided as of now.
   Brett Stidham, a former Ardmore City Schools teacher, proposed the Ardmore Community Academy to the ACS Board of Education in June, but the board has not yet given an answer. The charter’s application must be either approved or disapproved within 90 days, giving the board until Sept. 1 to decide.
   Stidham is a fellow with the Native American Community Academy Inspired Schools Network, a New Mexico-based organization that aims to create charter schools based on the Native American Community Academy’s alternative model for education. Stidham said the schools’ approach would emphasize physical, mental and emotional health as part of a full education.
   “First and foremost, we begin our day with social and emotional wellness,” Stidham said. “We use a tool called the Mood Meter to let children check in with themselves, recognize and ultimately regulate their own emotions and where they are that day.”
   Stidham said that as far as NACA is concerned, those skills are just as important as academic skills.
    “Everything we implement is to support our students to the fullest extent possible,” Stidham said. “Having those tools available in your toolkit is exceedingly important to succeed.”
   NACA Inspired Schools Network executive director Kara Bobroff, who is working with Stidham, said this approach also takes a student’s individual language, culture and identity into consideration by letting students conduct their own research and learn about themselves.
    “I think when we think about holistic wellness and serving students as far as social and emotional development, their intellectual development, their connection to their community and nutritional background, all of those things contribute to academic performance,” Bobroff said. “When you have people coming together around all aspects of a child’s wellbeing, you see that schools are much more able to succeed and able to sustain the academic outcomes longer.”
   Stidham said he plans to request a special meeting from the school board, where he hopes they’ll make their call. In the meantime, he’s been reaching out to families of students for input.
   “We’ve had an excellent opportunity to reach out and interact with families through small forums and in large spaces,” Stidham said. “We’ve met several families who have children who attend the school and we’ve continued, through social media, to reach out and get facts about what a community academy is and what charter schools are.”
   Bobroff said community outreach, pooling resources and asking for parents’ input are just another part of NACA Inspired education.
   “Everybody in the community has something to offer,” Bobroff said. “Whether it’s a faith-based organization or a nonprofit organization, or just a group of volunteers - when a whole community gets involved a lot of good things can take place.”