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Author Topic: Paso Robles [CA] Public Schools Home School Program  (Read 2529 times)

Pat McCotter

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Paso Robles [CA] Public Schools Home School Program
« on: January 21, 2009, 09:11 AM NHFT »

Home School Program: providing families with an education option
Posted: Monday, Jan 19th, 2009
Matthew Fox

Not all the students in the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District convene with classmates, teachers and staff at a site each day.

For about 45 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, the school day looks a little different, and doesn’t require a bus, a classroom or a trip to the cafeteria for lunch. Students in the Paso Robles Public Schools Home School Program work with district teachers, but most of their learning is done through one-on-one instruction from a parent at home.

How it Works

The Home School program has been a part of the PRJUSD since 1990. It’s an independent study program that provides district lessons, curriculum materials and support to parents who’ve decided to educate their children at home. According to the district fact book, in 2000 the Board of Trustees showed its support for the program by establishing it as an individual school.

A trio of teachers — Mary Jo Anderson, Paula Warnes and Karen Bockelman — help oversee the program and offer support to parents and students from the Teacher’s Center, located on Union Road adjacent to the Culinary Arts Institute and Support Services Facility.

As part of the program, “the parent assumes responsibility for executing the appropriate grade-level curriculum for the student which has been prepared by the home school teacher.” Daily instruction is done by parents with resources, methods, coordination and supervision offered by teachers in the program.

“We follow the state standards and use all of the district curriculum,” said Anderson, who’s been a teacher in the Home School program for 17 years. “Each student that enters the program is assigned to one of the teachers. We write lesson plans every week for them based on the trimester schedule the district gives us. We follow along with what is being covered in the classroom, and we help the parents by teaching them how to use the teacher’s additions.”

Parents teach the lessons and hand out assignments. Students do the work, then it is corrected by their parents. The corrected work is brought to the assigned teacher, who meets with the parents and students every other week to go over the work and make sure they are meeting their educational goals.

“If there are any problem areas we’ll give them extra help or re-teach the lesson if the parent didn’t feel they were successful in getting the lesson across,” Anderson said.

On the weeks where teachers aren’t meeting with students to go over work, there are enrichment classes and field trips offered to round out students’ educational experience.

“We have a computer lab, so the kids come in to learn computer skills, and we have enrichment club, which we usually base on children’s literature and use that to branch off into other enrichment activities such as art, writing or drama,” Warnes said. “We read one book where the boy who liked science, then we had a science day and a mini-science fair.”

The enrichment groups are arranged in groups by similar grade levels. The enrichment activities and field trips also provide students with a chance to bond with peers.

“It a way for them to come in and get to know other students in or near their grade level,” Warnes said.

The program has also evolved over the course of its time in the district. Prior to setting up at the Teachers’ Center, educators in the home school program used to go house to house to meet with the families in the program.

“We used to do everything out of the trunk of a car,” Anderson said. “Now the families come to us, so it’s much more efficient.”

Sometimes students will even come to the Teachers’ Center to work for the day because it offers a quiet place to study and they have the support of teachers on-hand.

The educators said what they enjoy about being part of the Home School program is a chance to connect to students in a deeper way.

“I like working one-on-one with the students,” Anderson said.

“And we get to know our families so well,” Bockelman said.

At the end of eighth grade, families have the option of sending students to Paso Robles High School or one of the district’s alternative education sites, such as Liberty or Independence high schools. The teachers said students move on to both options in about equal numbers.

A Different Kind of Education

The teaching team said there are many reasons that parents enroll in the Home School program and different families use the program differently. There are some families who’ve had one or all their children in the program for years, and others who try it for a year or two before moving back to a traditional campus setting.

Warnes said what she likes best is that the Home School program gives parents an option.

“I love that we offer an alternative for the kids,” she said. “If school for any reason is just not working out for students and parents, it’s a really great feeling to be able to say to them you don’t have to go back to that. You can come here. And for some families, whatever the situation was, it’s great to be able to offer an alternative for them.”

Bockelman said the program also gives students a chance to turn it around.

Some students who’ve struggled in a traditional system are able to get back on track through the Home School program.

When Jack and Aimee Oliver were looking at how to proceed with their daughter’s education following her graduation from elementary school, they turned to the Home School program.

“With sixth grade and eighth grade being such a vast difference, I saw it as being a big difference in maturity levels, I just thought we’ll give [Home School] a try,” Aimee said. “It’s just been a great experience all the way around. She’s improved in everything she’s doing.”

Chelsea Oliver, now a seventh-grader, is in her second year with the program and said she has really benefited from it.

“It’s a lot different, but it’s better because you don’t have the distractions [you would at traditional school],” she said.

Aimee said she also enjoys the time she spends teaching her daughter and working with her on a daily basis.

“I enjoy teaching her and seeing her do well,” she said. “The program is so clear and easy to follow, I feel she is learning better because there is the one-on-one.”

The Olivers have three other children, a second, third and fifth-grader at Kermit King Elementary School and, based on their experience with Chelsea, are planning on taking a similar path when they reach middle school age.

“We’ll probably bring all the kids home,” Aimee said. “That’s the plan right now and depending on what there is for high school, we might continue that way.”

Sydney Moore serves as the teacher for her twins, second-graders Mandy and Mitchell. She originally entered the Home School program because of health reasons and said it was a difficult but rewarding decision.

“As a parent, there’s never any surprises,” Sydney said. “I know their test scores, I know if they’re missing any assignments and I know what they excel in. I really gotten to know them as individuals, which is fantastic.”

Sydney said the teaching team that leads the program is what really makes the program work.

“I don’t think this team gets the recognition that they deserve,” she said. “They know my kids personally and individually. They know their strengths and weaknesses and they find things that will help with both. I can call them with any questions and they’re always full of encouragement.”

Because of the close working relationship, there is greater communication among program teachers and the families they work with.

“We have all taught in the regular classroom, where you have parent conferences once or twice a year,” Bockelman said. “[In this program] we have parent conferences every other week, so we get the opportunity for communication constantly.”

From the parents to the students and teachers, being part of the Home School program has been a great experience for those involved.

“It’s great that the district offers a Home School program because we were probably going to find one anyway,” Jack Oliver said. “The great opportunity here is that they stay in the same location, so if we wanted to go back we don’t have to worry about transferring any records. And it’s a great group that work’s here, they’ve made everything real easy for us.”

For more information on the Home School program or any other site in the PRJUSD, visit the district’s Web site at


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Re: Paso Robles [CA] Public Schools Home School Program
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2009, 02:17 PM NHFT »

Sounds like the state has pretty thoroughly co-opted the whole idea of homeschooling and turned it into just an extension of the same government indoctrination one would get in the "public" school.
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