Our Story (Part 1 of 4)
After so much thinking, praying, and writing I had decided to start a one-room schoolhouse. (You can read my reasons here.) I was over the moon with excitement, but I had no idea how to begin. This is what I learned during my one-room schoolhouse journey.
My accreditation experience
Previously, I had taken a school from an old house to a fully accredited private school. That process went so well, that at the accreditation visits, the supervisor asked if I would accompany him on other such visits. On these visits, I saw a wide variety of schools with varying degrees of readiness for accreditation.
These experiences taught me that accreditation does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that a school is a quality educational organization. A school can have the lowest level of accreditation approval and the general public would have no idea unless they did a lot of research. Furthermore, colleges would have no idea either, unless a very curious admissions officer did a lot of Googling!
The schools that fall at these lowest levels are NOT quality educational organizations. I would never recommend ANYONE attend these schools. The curtain had been pulled back on accreditation and I knew it was not something I wanted to deal with!
I wanted something different for my one-room schoolhouse. I did not want to jump through someone else’s hoops to design an educational program. But, if not standard accreditation, WHAT?
A religious school wouldn’t work as I had no sponsoring church, nor did I want to lock myself into a specific denomination. A charter school had so many state regulations that it gave me flashbacks to the accreditation experience. Hum….
My first inspiration
I was on my weekly Friday trip to library storytime with my kids when inspiration grabbed me. In the new release display, something caught my eye: Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education by Susan Wise Bauer.
I checked out this book and devoured it. It spoke to every one of my concerns about public education! (I talked about my concerns in this post.) After feeling completely validated, I read the chapters on educational choice. A new idea was presented: a hybrid school.
What is a hybrid school?
Simply stated: a hybrid school is a mix of other types of educational models. This is a very new, cutting edge school model. It melds the best of private, character, public and homeschool together.
Example of hybrid models…
- In most states, according to state law, your child is a homeschool student.
- The student attends for some of their academic instruction.
- Some hybrids do a half-day in the classroom and a half-day at home.
- Other hybrids do a partial week in the classroom and the rest at home.
- Even others offer a whole week of classroom instruction with the parents actively participating in the hybrid on a regular schedule.
- Hybrids are often set up as nonprofit homeschool support groups to avoid heavy state regulations.
- They do charge tuition but rates usually lower than private schools due to less time being spent at the hybrid and significant volunteerism.
- Hybrids often are centered around a specific educational model, homeschool philosophy, or religious denomination.
After reading about this option, I knew that this was the structure I wanted to use for my one-room schoolhouse. Finally, I had the general structure, but I had no idea HOW!
How do you start a hybrid?
I started by doing what any modern mom does: I turned to Google. I found a few hybrid schools in my home state of Pennsylvania. Next, I started emailing and calling some of them. I received so much valuable advice from these educational pioneers. I will forever be in their debt.
One of the best pieces of advice I got was to check out HomeschoolCPA run by Carol Topp, CPA. This website is full of information for the homeschool support group! Furthermore, Carol Topp has published four e-books that I would highly recommend.
Below are some of the resources I found most useful on HomeschoolCPA:
- Under the Recourses tab, start by clicking on Articles. The tab even says start here. This is great beginner information to get your feet wet in the process.
- Next, visit Checklist under the same tab. This will take you through the three phases of setting up any homeschool support group.
- The third click down under Recourses is a goldmine! The sample documents will help you write up all the important legal supports for starting your group.
- The FAQ tab is also very helpful. Many of my burning questions were answered here!
- Also, check out HomeschoolCPA’s blog, podcast, and videos. These have been so useful to our group.
- Finally, Carol Topp offers her professional services. These consultations can be priceless!
Armed with this information, I had a basic game plan for starting a one-room schoolhouse. My to-do list looked something like this:
- Start a nonprofit homeschool support group. (see this post)
- Select a curriculum and clarify educational philosophy. (IE: work out all the millions of logistics!) (see this post)
- Find people who are crazy enough to join me in this process. (see this post)
With that list, I started my journey. Three easy steps! (right….) Each of these steps had ten or more sub-steps, which became overwhelming at times.
Expect some potholes…
My journey was not without potholes. When I began I had three children, aged three and under. Then I got pregnant with child number four about half-way through the process. At that point, I had to put the whole project on hold while a barfed for a few months due to severe morning sickness.
Many people thought I was nuts. The paperwork was totally overwhelming. I often thought about how much easier it would be to just put my kids in public school or just homeschool!
However, as I write this, I am very near checking all three items off my to-do list. The dream is in sight. And yes, it has been totally worth it!
Let me hear from you!
In the next few posts, I will talk in detail about the three steps of starting a one-room schoolhouse. First up, I will write about starting a homeschool support group. After that, I’ll tackle choosing an educational philosophy and curriculum. Finally, I will write about engaging other people in this process.
In the meantime, click over to our hybrid overview. I would love to know what you think about our model!