OUR HOMESCHOOLING STORY: THE JONES FAMILY
Our own home schooling journey began back in the mid 1970s.
Julie had earned a B.A. in English Education with minors in History and Bible at Baylor University before she and Pat were married. After several years of teaching at local middle and high schools in the Pensacola area (Pat is a native), they moved to Mississippi. Julie earned a M.S. in English/Guidance and Counseling, and Pat earned a B.S. in History Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie taught English at the community college there for several years, but after starting a family with the birth of Cori in 1971, she soon came home to be a full time mom.
Mary Beth was born five years later, and Cori attended public school in Tennessee until forth grade. Julie spent every evening teaching Cori her basics and homework. Meanwhile, Mary Beth developed strabismus (lazy/wall eye) at two years old. At the time, many of our friends encouraged us to consider home schooling her to avoid the stigma and harm of her being exposed to ridicule at school. During a short period of time, we read Raymond and Dorothy Moore's books Home Grown Kids and Home Spun Schools and heard them interviewed on Dr. Dobson's radio program Focus on the Family. As Mary Beth turned six years old, with several years of preschool studies at home with Mom, we officially launched our home education program by incorporating as a private school (Fellowship Christian School) in Tennessee.
At the time, home education was not popular or really even considered to be an education alternative. There were no home education laws on the books, because most states had not formed statutes governing home education. Many of our homeschool friends were taken to court over their right to home school. Needless to say, we did not publicize the fact that we home educated our children! In fact, the kids remember hiding when people came to the door, not answering telephone calls, and not telling anyone about our school program for several years! By this time, Tricia had joined the family, followed by Daniel and Sarah. By 1985, when we moved back to Florida, all five were being home educated.
Cori entered high school, and during her senior year we enrolled her in one of the only schools issuing diplomas to home schooled students at the time, Living Heritage Christian Academy in Texas. Umbrella schools had begun to pop up all over the country by the 1990s. An organization of private home schools, FCCPSA, contacted us to start a school, but since we had young children, we felt it was best to focus on the task at hand until they were older. Dual enrollment in local colleges started as Mary Beth and Tricia were finishing high school. After observing and hearing several godly young people who spoke at a seminar we attended and at the encouragement of family friends, we enrolled in ATIA, the Advanced Training Institute of America. Over the next several years, our children were able to be involved in several ministry opportunities with ATIA. One of the most invaluable experiences that they had was from 1995-1997 when Mary Beth, Tricia, and Cori worked at a juvenile rehabilitation center in Indiana as trainers for several years. Daniel spent time at the Eagle Mountain cabins in Arkansas as well, followed by a year street preaching in London and outreach missions in the Philippines.
As our children grew older, more and more we were called upon to share our home schooling experience and knowledge with the local community. Julie held home education workshops for Globe Missionary Evangelism missionaries in the late 80s, and gave curricula workshops to the local support group, WFHESL, for many years in the 90s. She also did private consultations and testing for dozens of families in the local area before we were given the opportunity to take over CIAS. Christian Institute of Arts & Sciences was started in 1997 by Rocky and Lynn Clement. Due to some health difficulties, they needed someone to take over the school, so they approached us. By the fall of 1998, Cori had developed a Handbook, and CIAS started to grow. What came to us in one file box is now the CIAS that you know today!