An interview with Scholé Academy parent Debby Anderson
Debby Anderson has 3 children and has been homeschooling for 15 years. The Andersons live in Delafield, Wisconsin, and have been a part of Scholé Academy (SA) since 2016, when Debby discovered our online learning community while looking for a summer course for her eldest daughter. A 4-year veteran SA parent, Debby recently shared some reflections on her time with our community and the story of her family’s decision to embark on an online learning journey—one that has helped them discover restful learning and an ability to reflect on the truth, beauty, and goodness found in what they are studying.
How did SA become part of your homeschool experience?
This all began for us at the Great Homeschool Convention in Ohio in 2015, where I heard Dr. Perrin speak about Latin. After hearing him at the conference, I raced over to the CAP booth to purchase the Latin for Children curriculum. I loved the material, and it gave me faith in CAP. The following summer, I was looking for a summer course for our eldest, Natalie, and through an Internet search I found SA’s How to Be a Student online summer course with Joelle Hodge. Natalie then added Rhetoric 1 and a monthly tutoring session with Mrs. Hodge to her senior-year schedule. We received much more than [just] academic support that year through our relationship with Mrs. Hodge. That was the beginning of our SA journey, and I cannot imagine being able to homeschool as well as we are without SA and all that it offers.
Was transitioning to SA difficult? Did you have to sacrifice a sense of community to do online learning?
Transitioning to SA classes was very natural, as we went from meeting with our weekly co-op program for a few subjects to being in our home during our SA classes. With how personalized and “alive” the classes and community are for us, we continue to feel like . . . we found an engaged online community with whom we could walk and learn alongside. For the last 4 years, our family has been able to welcome a class and a teacher “into our home” during class time. It’s a homeschooler’s dream to be able to walk confidently alongside your children and learn with them. SA makes this possible!
What impressed you about the SA staff?
The SA staff are very kind and available, meaning they are approachable and responsive to any question. They want to help parents homeschool well and offer guidance on how to look toward the future for our students. We have experienced many personal connections with the staff and teachers. It is evident that the teachers care about each student and they make themselves available to parents and students as needed. My husband and I have been blown away with how the instruction and the connection seem so individualized. They really get to know the students through their work and [in-class] responses. We have witnessed how the Zoom platform used by SA allows for online face-to-face relationships to develop across the miles.
How has SA helped you experience restful learning (scholé)?
Before being a part of SA, I did not feel like I was experiencing much “restful” learning. At one point in our homeschool journey, I had the responsibility of learning [about] and leading discussions on multiple areas of study with several students [once a week] in a class setting. I was not prepared to do that well. Since joining SA, I have found a partnership, which has allowed me to continue to learn alongside my children and stay engaged as a homeschool mom and teacher. Each of us has grown in our understanding of learning from a place of rest while being offered choices and support in choosing our schedule and areas of study.
How has online learning helped you with your confidence as a home educator?
Presently, being a part of SA has given me confidence in knowing we are on a path of excellence as we currently walk through high school with Rebecca. We see our daughter learning how to engage well with higher-level material and grow in [her] understanding of how things fit together within God’s creation. The support received has given me confidence to go forward in our homeschooling through high school.
Another area [in which] homeschool parents can struggle is effectively enforcing deadlines, especially when it is “only for mom.” Our SA courses take that burden, hold our students accountable with grace, and teach them a little bit about how the real world works.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a “hybrid” homeschool family?
[As] a “hybrid” homeschool family . . . we work with and very much consider ourselves a part of SA while still leading some courses in our home and one outside our home in a local class. From the beginning, our intention was not to put our children in all online courses, but to be engaged in their learning and to partner with an expert— Scholé Academy—in areas [in which] we would like see [them] educated with excellence. There are certain online classes that I wish we could’ve had when our children were younger, [so] I could have learned alongside and helped them learn within a purely classical model while undoing my own broken education. I wish that I understood the idea of teaching from a place of rest sooner. The idea of joining SA and participating in classes is not a handoff; the idea is to form a partnership with them. By having a relationship with the SA staff and teachers, everything about online learning becomes easier and a more natural part of homeschooling. We have been privileged to grow with them over the past 4 years.
What advice do you have for families considering online learning?
It’s okay to accept help because sometimes we think we have to do it all by ourselves, and that can be exhausting. Online help can be enriching to the student, the primary homeschooler, and the family overall. First and foremost, you receive a reliable sense of support. I have been encouraged and engaged by the SA community. I don’t feel alone, and I actually feel like I’m accomplishing a lot by being able to [step] aside and listen to other teachers speak into both my children’s and my own understanding of various areas of study. The connectedness found here should not be underestimated. To young homeschooling families, starting on this path early will be a blessing. I have seen an awareness of our world expanded and excellence achieved through our Scholé Academy experiences.
I hope it is clear that by allowing SA into your homeschool and family, the primary homeschool parent will be abundantly blessed (and not stressed)! I have witnessed challenging coursework given to my children, followed by problem-solving and accountability, and finally joy. I could not offer all this on my own. The beauty is that as homeschooling parents, we get to be a part of it all.