By Megan Erbacher
The Message assistant editor
Erin Smith wasn't happy with the experience her son was having in his previous school, and she knew there had to be other options for him. So, she called the former St. Theresa Catholic School and asked what she needed to do to make the change for him to attend a Diocese of Evansville Catholic school.
Now, all three of Smith’s kids attend diocesan Catholic schools. Zayon, 14, will be a sophomore at Mater Dei High School, Z'Aryn, 11, will be a sixth-grader at Westside Catholic, and Zamyr, 6, will be in first grade at Westside Catholic.
Smith’s family has benefited from Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program, commonly known as the voucher program, since it was established in 2011. The program allows parents and guardians to choose the school they believe is best for their kids.
Earlier this summer, Smith began work as the Regional Outreach Coordinator for My School Options to help inform Southern Indiana families about school choice and financial assistance. My School Options is the community outreach team of the Institute for Quality Education. The goal is to ensure all Indiana students have access to quality K-12 education, Smith explained.
Thanks to new legislation that expands the program, Smith said many Indiana households may now qualify for the state’s school choice program.
“I see firsthand the positive changes that it has brought to my family and the morals and values that have been instilled in my children in their school environment,” she said. “I wanted to be part of an effort to help make a positive impact in the lives of others.”
Smith can’t say enough good things about the benefits of Catholic schools and why she continues to choose a Catholic education for her children.
“As a parent, I want to know that my child is safe and supported whenever I am away,” she said. “There are many reasons why I choose Catholic (education) and here are just a few: faith, morals, values, diversity. It helps knowing that my children are in a safe and supportive learning environment, making positive relationships and are continuously comfortable in the classroom.”
Smith said she’s available to help any parent or guardian who is having doubts, concerns or questions about their school options. My School Options hosts local parent information sessions to discuss available opportunities.