Trine University and Education One, the university’s charter school authorizer, are
partnering again on Trine Pals, a program that allows charter school students the
opportunity to trade letters with Trine students.
This semester, 57 Trine students from various majors have been matched up with 58
students from Dynamic Minds Academy, an Indianapolis-based charter school that serves
K-12 students who have autism spectrum disorder.
“Our students will have the opportunity to practice important communication skills
they will need for adulthood by writing to their Trine Pals,” said Samantha Bandy,
education director at Dynamic Minds Academy. “We normally participate in Best Buddies
(an organization that partners volunteers with people who have intellectual and developmental
disabilities) and our students have missed out on that opportunity to connect with
neurotypical peers this year. We are excited for this opportunity!”
Students from Trine and Dynamic Minds will take part in three letter exchanges throughout
the spring semester. The first round of letters will be delivered to Dynamic Minds
students on Feb. 11, along with a Trine pencil they can use to write their return
Trine students will be able to demonstrate proper letter writing and communication
while sharing information about their chosen college pathway, hobbies or sports, as
well as life on the Trine campus.
“We are thrilled with the growth of our Pen Pal program and that more Trine students
volunteered this year,” said Brenda Mescher, assistant director of community connections
and compliance for Education One. “This program is a wonderful way for our Trine students
to mentor younger scholars and truly impact their lives for years to come. The younger
students get the opportunity to become acquainted with a college student, as well
as practice important daily life skills.”
In the past, Trine students have visited classrooms to meet their charter student
pen pals. Due to COVID-19 precautions, that meeting will occur on a virtual platform
Bianca Johnston, an elementary education/special education major who has participated
in the program and is doing so again, said the experience is “wonderful.”
“It was amazing to hear how happy the children were to be writing the letters to us
and to get to know us,” she said. “It was also great to get to know them as well.”
Alli Smith, another elementary education/special education major, said she has kept
everything charter students in the program have sent to her in a folder.
“It makes me smile every time I come across it,” she said.
She said a favorite interaction was one of the first letters she received from her
“They were telling me about themselves and they drew an adorable self-portrait,” she
said. “They pointed out that we both had blue eyes and they were sure to mention that
in all my other letters. It was cool to see them making connections and remembering
little things like that.”
One of eight charter schools currently sponsored by Education One, Dynamic Minds Academy
opened in 2019. The school aims to bridge the gap between treatment and education
for students with autism spectrum disorder by providing evidence-based practices for
personal growth within an optimal learning environment, including therapy on-site
during the school day.
Last Updated: 02/09/2021