Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bridging the Gap - Foundations to Challenge - Meet the Mom Series #2

Today is the second in the series - Meet the Moms!  Our special Mom we are speaking to today, is the Foundation's and Essentials Director for my local Classical Conversations® Community.  While she doesn't yet have any children in Challenge, she does work together closely with the Challenge Directors and has been around Classical Conversations for several years.  I believe she brings yet another perspective to the discussion regarding the gap in understanding for families in Foundations level, that are looking towards Challenge in the coming years.  So let's meet Dawn Hogan...

Tell us about yourself, your background and your family?
I’ve been married for fourteen years to my husband David and we have three wonderful little guys, Luke (11), Drew (9) and Dane (6).  I’m one of the few true Southerners around- I’ve lived in the Raleigh area my entire life.  I attended a private Christian school in the area and after my freshmen year of college, I took a year off to attend a little known Bible College near the Lake District in Carnforth, England. Eventually, I found my way to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I majored in Mathematical Sciences/Computer Science.  I spent my time before boy-rearing as a server engineer and security systems programmer for AT&T Business Services.

Tell us a little bit about how you got involved with Classical Conversations® with your children to start with and your journey so far.
My oldest son Luke was about to go into kindergarten and I had just taken a pension package from my company because working part-time was becoming very difficult with three small children.  I wanted my children to go to a private Christian school, but it wasn’t in the budget.  When Luke would come home from preschool, I would spend time teaching him to read. I started to sense that homeschooling might be an option but never thought my husband would agree.  To my surprise on our way home from church one day, my husband said “Why don’t you homeschool Luke next year?”.  I almost fell out of the car with shock.  My husband had always defended his public school education.  I share all of that to say, that God can change your husband’s or wife’s heart if He is leading you to homeschool.  That was the first of many impossible hurtles our God overcame in our homeschooling journey for us.  We spent a great year at our church’s co-op and enjoyed the fellowship, but I was invited to check out Classical Conversations® by my friend and neighbor.  We did and I was so thrilled to find something that could guide us through the ins and outs of homeschooling through high school, if that’s what God had in mind.  I really didn’t know much about the Classical method, but watching 4 year olds play periodical chart bingo and realizing the accountability CC provided, I felt it would be a great fit for us.  I knew I would never get around to having my kids memorize all of those facts if left up to my own devices, and while my primary reason for homeschooling was to raise my kids to know a God of grace and love, I wanted to make sure that I was preparing them academically for God to use their intellect as well.  I spent one year watching our tutor handle a busy class of little ones and decided I wanted to tutor the next year to get to know some of the other women in the group and feel more connected.  I ended up tutoring for 3 years before becoming director.

What is your biggest challenge being a Foundations Director?
The biggest challenge is to lay every decision before the Lord in prayer before responding or agreeing to something.  Sometimes God wants us to wait patiently for an answer or for Him to work out the impossible, but I find myself trusting in my own abilities too often. I have to do what He has called me to do to build our community and let Him have the glory.

What made you step up in your Community to become a Director?
I felt so honored to have the opportunity to love on other homeschooling mamas and share Jesus’love with the children He brought to our community. I was thrilled to be able to serve them and for God to use me in whatever way He wanted.

If you could wave a magic wand and change anything in your Community, what would it be and why?
I wish I could stop everyone’s busy schedule for a time so that every mom could have a chance to get to know all the other moms in our community.  The best part of my job is being able to connect with the moms and learn from those who are further down the homeschooling journey than myself but I also feel privileged when I can share encouragement with those who are just starting out.  I think God wants to do so much through our community and the unity He builds through His body, but we miss out when we don’t try to connect to those around us and be His hands and feet.  Our community is my outreach at this point in my life and I pray that God guides my conversations and social time to be used for His glory.

What are the key things you think prevent parents from feeling like they can become a Tutor or a Director for their Community?
I think the biggest thing is fear of failure or the pursuit of perfectionism.  God doesn’t pick the most organized, creative, articulate or intelligent person to use all the time (I’m proof of that!). He picks those with a willing heart- who leap at the chance to be used by God.  I’m convinced that the opportunity to mentor other families through the Foundations and Challenge years is an opportunity to influence them for Christ.  I know that when God does call me back to the work force, I may never have the opportunity to sit with kids who might not know Christ and explain how God is integral to this beautiful world and how much He wants them to make their lives His workmanship.

What is one of the biggest misconceptions that you previously, or others you’ve talked to, have about the Challenge levels?
I think we are fearful of what we don’t understand.  I’ve been excited to be able to explore more of the Challenge programs through Window into Challenge and by talking to moms who are going before me.  The more I hear, the more excited I am to continue on the journey.  I’m excited to be working with our Challenge directors for next year on some “Lunch and Learn” opportunities during our Classical Conversations® days, to allow moms to view the next level of Challenge and see the rich and rewarding path laid out before them and their children.

What do you think accounts for the drop off with families, beyond Challenge B level and how would you encourage them to stay in Classical Conversations® and why? 
Again, I think exposure is the key.  Parents are understandably unsure of a program that they don’t see in action or don’t know enough of to see the value that Classical Conversations® offers.  From what I’ve seen of Challenge in comparison to what I know of public and private school offerings, I don’t know of a better way to educated your children in the integration of subjects, develop critical thinking and prepare them for college in a more rigorous and cost-effective manner.