I met Michele at the beginning of my homeschool journey eight years ago. Over the years, our paths have often crossed as we have shared experiences in homeschooling or in ministry. It was no surprise to me to hear that she was working on setting up a new homeschool resource in the Northeast Columbia community.
I have eagerly followed her journey from dream to reality this past year and was delighted that she could take the time to answer my questions about her journey with homeschooling and now setting up a new community resource for others.
Tell me about your family and your home. What do you enjoy doing?
We came to Columbia in 2005, when my husband was assigned to Fort Jackson, and our family has been here in this area, in a variety of assignments, ever since. We live in Northeast Columbia. Our son Shane just finished high school. He wants to join the Columbia Fire Department in July. Larkin is a junior in high school and enjoys working at our church in the media department. Darby Lynn, our seventh grader, sings on the worship team.
Our family practices Tae Kwon Do together. We have three German Shepherds, four cats, and twelve chickens. We love to travel and spend time walking our dogs and playing games. I love baking bread, gardening, canning, and training my dogs. I also love volunteering with A Moment of Hope, a ministry that provides help for women considering abortion. We provide information about other options and set them up with churches who would like to support them for the first year of their babies’ lives.
In my free time, I read. I missed it so much when my kiddos were younger. They are a different kind of busy now. They are in the “crowded years”. High school is a different kind of busy. I see the clock running and am trying to be more mindful of what I focus on in our lives because of this.
Why and when did you begin homeschooling?
Our boys attended private school for several years and they were just not thriving. Shane was struggling in every subject academically while Larkin was just bored. They were tested with a local psychologist and had some significant special needs. The Lord placed it on my heart to homeschool them shortly after that. I admit I lamented for a year. I thought I would mess them up, even though I actually had a teaching degree. A good friend looked right at me one day and said, “If you can teach in the classroom, you can teach your children.” He was right and we have homeschooled our children ever since then.
How has your homeschool journey changed over the years?
I tried homeschooling alone for the first two years. We struggled because even with my teaching experience, I had no idea what I was doing at all. I was craving community and honestly felt so very alone, even more so when my husband started traveling with the Army. He had three deployments from Fort Jackson and a duty station in Washington, DC, for two years. I missed my best friend.
I tried a few co-ops, but nothing really felt like home. There was one particular homeschool group we tried that did not work for us either. After they would go to the group, I felt I would have to teach them all over again. For that and other reasons, we left there and I enrolled my boys in Midlands Homeschool Resource Center in Lexington.
It was great to see my boys being fed by other Christians and in a school situation, but still being homeschooled. It was wonderful to see them gain some independence from me and start to enjoy school again. It was a win-win situation for all of us, except for being so far from Northeast Columbia. There was nothing on this side of town, so after a couple of years of making that drive, we organized a very small co-op with another family. Then COVID hit.
How did you start Trinity Homeschool Academy?
I have often found myself in leadership. Many years ago, I felt called to start a Moms of Preschoolers (MOPS) group in Northeast Columbia. I started it and directed it for a year. When we were in a different homeschool group, I felt drawn to direct a program with them, until I learned a few unsettling facts about their business practices, so I pulled out of that and out of the group. I chalked up my call to direct a homeschool program as something that would not happen.
When COVID-19 hit, we were in the middle of our small co-op, and I felt a stirring from the Lord to start a homeschool academy. I went home that night and drew up plans for Trinity. I even took pictures of the poster boards full of post-it notes with all the ideas on it.
Jeff and I approached our church leadership about creating this ministry, and they were so excited! Bishop Doyle Roberts and First Lady Sylvia Roberts used to homeschool their children. All along, they have supported us and walked us through becoming a ministry of the church. Every single step of the way, God has provided what I have needed to start and continue this ministry.
Tell me about Trinity Homeschool Academy.
Trinity is a ministry of International Praise Church, in Northeast Columbia on Percival Road. We have three legs so far.
Our first leg is a support group that meets for a potluck dinner, a devotion, and fellowship on the first Sunday of every month from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The second and third legs are classes through a co-op that meets on Mondays from 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., and a resource center for middle and high school students that will meet Monday through Thursday. The co-op has grown from four to twenty-one families with over seventy people!
What do you love about what you do now?
I feel privileged to be walking in my calling with Trinity. I love being able to teach. I am passionate about history and math, and it is a joy to teach those subjects in the co-op and resource center. I love being able to minister to moms as well as be ministered to by them. I don’t feel so alone anymore. I don’t feel so isolated. I don’t feel so weird. It took years, but I finally found my tribe!!! All the years my husband was deployed, I felt like I was on an island. I don’t feel that way anymore. I am so grateful to be in this season!!!!
For more information about Trinity Homeschool Academy, visit their website at www.trinityhomeschoolacademy.com.