EDUCATION CHOICES

My Home-Schooling Adventure
by Peggy Baillie, Parent

Twenty years ago, I was a career woman. Business suits, project meetings and program management filled my days. I never wanted to have children, so naturally, I never dreamed that homes schooling could be in my future.

My first experience with home-schoolers was a wonderful family whose four home-schooled daughters were flower girls at my wedding. They were the most delightful, engaging children, who had no difficulty holding conversations with anyone.

Nine years later, I had an October-born daughter who missed the cutoff for kindergarten, and I realized I couldn’t send her away … she still had chubby fingers! She was, however, ready to start “doing something serious with her life,” so we started schooling at home. I bought a home-school box of curriculum and she soared.

We made each day an adventure by playing games with numbers, counting, patterns, shopping, housework, nature walks and more.

I now have three children, all home-schooled. The oldest is 18, the youngest is 10. Has it been easy? Nope. Some days I gaze longingly at the yellow school bus chugging down the street. Has it been worth it? Absolutely. Do I miss the accolades of working in corporate America? Of course. During the toddler years, no one ever came up to me and said, “Hey, Peggy, nice diaper change!”

But through the daily work of schooling, I was there for the “aha!” moments when the light bulb flashed on. I had the privilege of seeing each of my children explore God’s creation and marvel at the amazing design of his world. Best yet, my husband and I have been able to keep our children’s hearts. Their primary influence is not their peer group, but our family. My daughter’s chubby little fingers have grown into long, lovely tapers. She is now applying to colleges — which actively seek home-schoolers — and I believe her heart will stay where God has planted it.

Why I Chose Home Schooling
by Karen Bond, Parent

Even before I entered kindergarten, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Today, when asked if I am a teacher, I laugh. After earning a degree in elementary education, I began to teach my most favorite kids in the world — my own.

For the last 18 years I have had four to 10 students spanning preschool through high school. Students from other families have often joined my classes — the more the merrier!

With home schooling the pay is nonexistent, but the benefits can’t be beat: flexible hours, academic choice, spontaneous field trips (no permission slips required!), fantastic student/teacher ratio, personalized instruction. All the best components of a school.

The model for home schooling in Arizona is not rigid. From traditional schooling to “un-schooling” and everything in between, parents can choose the method they feel works best for their students and family. For parents who may feel overwhelmed at the task of teaching their children there are countless resources available both in our community and online. Never before has home schooling been so accessible or supported then now.

Inevitably the questions comes up: How can children kept home during the day possibly be socialized? If we go by one definition (acquiring the knowledge, language, social skills and values to conform to the norms and roles required for integration into a group or community) then home schooling can provide the ultimate opportunity for socialization.

When children have the chance on a daily/weekly basis to interact with people of all ages, babies to seniors, in a variety of ways they are preparing for integration into society. Home schooling isn’t just an isolated academic endeavor, it is an integrated life endeavor.

The saying goes that “you can’t have it all.” For us, home schooling has challenged that saying as we feel we truly have the best of all worlds by having our children taught at home.

One School District Offered All We Wanted, Needed For Our Kids
by Nicky Indicavitch, Parent, Northern Arizona Region Director at Arizona State PTA

This year I will see my last little one off to kindergarten in the Humboldt Unified School District — our schools of choice. This will include a senior and freshman at Bradshaw Mountain High School (BMHS) and kindergartener, fourth grader and sixth grader at Lake Valley.

When looking for schools for my kids, I considered their educational career as a whole, and one thing I learned as a mother was just like with everything else involving raising small humans, this would be unpredictable and bumpy.

My choice school needed to be prepared to not just celebrate my children’s high test scores and capitalize on my good parenting decisions but also walk with me as they struggled at times in social settings, developed speech delays and behavior issues.

I needed a school that recognized that each child’s education would be unique from day to day and year to year, one that celebrated my kid’s success with the same veracity as they tackled my child’s struggle. Happy to report I found all this and more for my kids in our local district school.

My family, and all children in Humboldt, have support and a promise that every day this district will keep their needs in the forefront of every decision, and that years from now this same promise will exist for many other families looking to their community schools.

My kids are successful in Humboldt because Humboldt won’t settle for less for them and any other child who walks through their doors.

My kids are comforted by the fact they will be Lake Valley Cubs in elementary, and they will all grow into Bradshaw Bears. Along the way they will have a crowd of teachers, principals, bus drivers, a superintendent and school board members cheering them on because here in Humboldt kids come first, and that is a legacy I want my kids to be a part of.

School Choice: Benefitting Students, Schools & Our Community
by Dianne Jacobson, Operations Manager, Skyview School

As a native Prescottonian, parent and school administrator, I know school choice makes Prescott an ideal home for families. Not any one school can provide the needs of all children, whether it be a school district, a publicly funded charter school or a private school.

We are no longer living in a society in which educational one-size-fits-all works for our children.  In Prescott, parents have multiple options for their children from kindergarten through high school, and this must be a good thing!

My son was a charter school student from kindergarten through high school and was very happy, especially being in smaller classrooms and having more one-on-one attention from his teachers.

However, though my daughter was a charter school student from kindergarten through eighth grade, she was determined to go to the district high school. She wanted larger class sizes and to experience a larger community of teachers and peers. 

Even teachers benefit from school choice because it encourages innovation. Seeing a colleague at another school succeed using project-based learning, for example, a teacher might be inspired to learn new methods and techniques, enlivening her curriculum and renewing her passion for teaching. 

Perhaps most importantly, if parents have options, they are more likely to choose the school that fits their child, ensuring she is where she’ll learn more successfully.  It also encourages family buy-in, resulting in parent involvement and volunteerism. Because they actively chose a particular school, they are invested in the outcome and want to be a part of that process.

Eighteen years working in education has shown me that educational choice is key to a healthy community. School choice is a powerful draw to new families looking for a great place to live, and Prescott with schools of different shapes, sizes and styles of curriculum is a perfect choice.

Open Enrollment Allows For Flexibility In Choosing Schools To Benefit The Individual Child
by Sheila Mengarelli, Parent, Realtor®

When we moved to Prescott almost 25 years ago, we didn’t have any school-age children. Now, all of these years later we have nine children who have been in seven different local schools at various stages.

I have always appreciated and found it unique that Prescott and the surrounding quad cities have an open enrollment system. I grew up in Kansas City where your address determined which school you went to by a defined boundary. But here in Prescott, even though the boundaries do exist, you have the freedom to enroll your child in any of the public schools you choose as long as you are willing to transport them.

Only in rare instances have I seen a waiting list to get in as they do have to show preferential status to those students within their boundaries.  I have loved this school choice option both as a mom and a Realtor®.

The flexibility of this type of system allows you to assess each of your children’s specific needs and then find a program that works best for them. Some schools and teachers are better equipped to handle various needs. For instance if your child struggles with dyslexia and needs special tutoring in that area, then you can ask each school what programs they provide that might help with this specific need.

Even though we have primarily used the public schools, many other options exist as well. We have an assortment of charter schools and private schools to choose from as well as some great home-schooling co-ops.

We welcomed our deaf daughter into the family when she was 7 years old. The following year the local districts joined forces to create a co-op of sorts for all of the deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the quad cities and beyond.

This new program is housed at Coyote Springs Elementary in the Humboldt District. The goal of the co-op is to pool all of the resources for these students into one school so each student could have more time with teachers specifically trained to teach to these needs. The school district did provide transportation in this instance even though she was in a different district.

While we may not be well-funded and our declining enrollment due to the high cost of living in our area, I feel our school choice options in Prescott make this an excellent choice for education in Arizona.

Having a Choice in Education
by Donna Werking, Parent, Owner Northern AZ Social, LLC, Resident of Prescott, AZ

Having a choice in your children’s educational institution is critical to shaping their future. As a part of my husband’s college education, he was given the opportunity to observe a multitude of approaches to early childhood education, both locally and regionally.

We included the factors that mattered to us and rated our options by class size, grades served, programs, learning, school performance and culture. We took the time to sit in on classes to observe the children and school structure before making our decision.

Our daughter Madison was a product of our areas’ schools. We sent her to Skyview Charter School (K-4), Lincoln Elementary (fifth grade), Mile High Middle School (sixth-eighth grades) and she graduated from Prescott High School in 2018. Madison just finished her freshman year at the University of Arizona, and our son, Brenner, is moving into the second grade at Skyview School.

We encouraged our daughter to move around in the local school system to introduce her to different cultures and programs. The charter school was excellent for early childhood development offering experiential programs, and public schools fulfilled her need for athletics.

Our goal is to develop well-adjusted individuals who can transition fluidly in life. In the future, we hope our children will return to the Prescott area to become leaders, parents and business owners.

There is additional support for those families that need funding for their children’s education with school choice scholarship programs. There are four ways it may benefit your family: educational savings account, school voucher, tax-credit scholarship or tax credit and deduction. Parents can explore educational options through resources provided by the state of Arizona.

Core Foundation:  education.azgovernor.gov/sites/default/files/parent-guide-to-school-choice-combined_2_0.pdf

Scholarships & Applications: schoolchoicearizona.org/scholarship-applications

Charter Schools:  azcharters.org/about-charter-schools

Video about School Choice: edchoice.org/school-choice/what-is-school-choice