The Metro Opportunity Center at Handley takes a restorative approach to learning, giving students the tools, space, and skills to creatively approach challenges, build relationships, and solve problems.

Big Thought partnered with Fort Worth ISD to redesign alternative education through The Metro Opportunity Center at Handley, striving to combat obstacles students may face through trauma-informed interventions and disrupting the traditional behavior model by teaching students how to navigate their emotions and lead successful lives.

When students join us at the center, we want to give them the ability to direct their own academic learning. Students work on what they really care about. We want them to transition back to a FWISD home campus with an advanced toolkit in their pocket. These tools will guide them to navigate their best lives and world.

– Evan Cleveland, Senior Director of Programs, Big Thought

Goals for Metro opportunity at handley Students

Gain Social-Emotional Learning Skills

We focus on social-emotional learning to encourage greater self-awareness. When students recognize how their emotions drive behavior through social-emotional learning, they are able to improve their academic performance and attitude while reducing emotional stress with a focus on the results of positive conduct and peer interaction.

Become Active Drivers of Their Education

The Metro Opportunity Center at Handley first honors the brilliance and voice of these students. We ask the student to direct their own education through project-based learning focused on topics directly connected to their unique interests and goals.

Take Responsibility for Actions Through Restorative Care

Trauma-informed care works against the traditional punishment-focused model for negative behavior, instead restoring students’ ability to manage their emotions and conduct. Students are directed to identify the root cause of behavior and understand the impact of their actions.

Learn to Reset When Emotions Take Over

When behavioral issues or stress get in the way of a student’s participation in learning, we provide a “reset” as intervention. Rather than just being punished, students are removed from the classroom to spend time with a counselor, employ coping skills, and reflect on how to handle the situation before returning to class.

The Student Journey

The Metro Opportunity Center at Handley is not an application-based program; students are directed to the school after receiving disciplinary action at a Fort Worth ISD campus. The alternative school helps students build on their innate strengths, gain confidence, and focus on creativity for short-term placement periods of 30 to 60 days before returning to a home campus.

During their time at Handley, students continue taking core classes while developing social-emotional and creative learning skills.






“…No matter the hardships you grow up with, you will be labeled, you go through so much, your parents and these labels don’t describe you. You are not your parents. You are not a loser, you are a chooser because you decide what you want. I learned so much here and I feel like I can make better decisions now. I’m going to concentrate on me.”

– MOCH Student

Frequently asked questions (FAQS)

Students are referred to The Metro Opportunity Center at Handley when they have been identified as needing an alternative learning environment. This may stem from behavioral issues in their traditional classroom.

Our core subject teachers are all certified educators who have been trained in trauma-informed care, social-emotional learning, and reset-based behavioral interventions. The program is also supported by Big Thought team members who work with the teachers and students for certain elements of the program.

Trauma-informed care considers the difficult background and experiences a person might have when managing behavior. Rather than punishing a student for their behavior, trauma-informed care guides a restorative focus that teaches students to understand the root cause of their emotions and actions to ultimately better manage future behaviors.

Parents are encouraged to join students on their first day during the intake procedure. We are also happy to share what students are learning and their progress during their time at Handley.

Contact Us

We welcome the opportunity to share more information about our work with Fort Worth ISD to develop an alternative school program founded in trauma-informed care. Whether you’d like to discuss how to build a similar program in your district or you’d like to work with The Metro Opportunity Center at Handley, please contact: [email protected]

If you’re a parent of a Handley student who would like more information about the school or additional support services, please contact: [email protected]