I have long been involved in my community in a variety of ways:
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers
Director, 2001-2008. President, 2004-2007. Vice President, 2007-2008. Registered lobbyist, 2006, 2007.
In the spring of 1998 I heard about The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (formerly VHEA) and, because I appreciated its inclusive, member-directed operation, invited one of the group’s speakers to make a presentation at my homeschool support group meeting I was highly impressed by the speaker’s knowledge of material and her dedication to protecting and promoting homeschooling in Virginia, so I began to share information about her organization. It wasn’t long before I started volunteering for VaHomeschoolers.
I began to help with organizing the VHEA Day mini conference in early 1999. The event was held in September of 2000. After that, I joined the 2001 Conference Committee, and those of 2002, 2004, and the VaHomeschoolers Day at SMV event in 2005, and spoke at the 2006 Conference. In addition, I created and hosted the first Beginning Homeschooling seminars, and assisted with hosting other VaHomeschoolers’ seminars around the state. I have also helped with yard sale and curriculum sale fundraisers, headed VaHomeschoolers’ PR team, assisted with general Web administration, three Web site revamps, and developed the “Guide to Beginning Homeschooling, the Starting Homeschooling Mid-Year section, the Religious Exemption from Compulsory Schooling page, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, and the online bookstore.” Additionally, I handled layout of handouts, event publications and the bimonthly Newsletter for 5 years. I also served as Managing Editor of the VaHomeschoolers Newsletter.
When speaking to legislators and others, I dispel the myth that homeschoolers are all of one mind. In 2006 I obtained the patron for VaHomeschoolers’ PSAT bill in the Virginia General Assembly. (The bill sailed through the House and Senate, was approved by Governor Kaine, and became law on July 1, 2006.)
Though I retired from the board in January of 2009, I continue to enjoy assisting VaHomeschoolers to protect and promote homeschooling in Virginia.
FOLC Eclectic Homeschool Group
In the fall of 1997 I helped found the Family Oriented Learning Cooperative (FOLC ) eclectic homeschool group in Prince William County, VA, and was the leader until dissolving the group in late 2005. FOLC met monthly at the library, welcoming all interested in homeschooling, and our meetings encouraged attendance by children. Aside from our regular meetings, we hosted numerous events, such as swap meets, talent shows, parties, theatre workshops, special interest clubs, candidates’ forums, guest presentations, park days, and an Indian food tasting. In addition, we created several exhibits for the library’s glass display case. FOLC included over 150 families, and provided an avenue for homeschoolers of all stripes to come together, share with each other, and make good things happen.
VA Eclectic Homeschool
Not feeling comfortable with the existing statewide homeschool discussion lists at the time, I founded the VaEclecticHomeschool e-mail list on April 28, 1999. It grew to become the largest, most active statewide discussion list in Virginia. On July 2, 2005, Yahoo shut down VaEclectic, as part of “deactivating” my Yahoo ID. This was apparently due to a bogus Terms of Service complaint which many saw as an attempt to silence the inclusive homeschool community in Virginia. However, Susan McGlohn, my incomparable co-moderator, and Stephanie Elms, who is also now Chief Moderator, immediately ressurected the list, and together we attained a membership of 400 subscribers in 4 weeks–which must be a record. The new VaEclectic list is still growing, with membership now topping 1,300. I am continually amazed by and thankful for the conscientious list members, who make VaEclectic a community of caring people that is welcoming to all.
Grassroots Homeschool Coalition
Organizer, 2003 – 2005
In 2003, I spearheaded the Prince William County grassroots homeschool coalition that created a good partial-enrollment policy. I wrote the draft regulation, which the Prince William County School Board unanimously adopted nearly word-for-word.
With the grassroots coalition I also worked to achieve the “PW County VA Victory” which worked with the Prince William County School Board to eliminate the onerous “approval before removall” clause that imposed a 3-day waiting period on parents who wish to remove a child from school to begin homeschooling and resulted in some school division personnel’s harassment of parents who chose to remove a child from school to begin homeschooling. This victory was deemed worthy of 5 articles in the local press, which were published in the News & Messenger, the Gainesville Times, and the Washington Post, County Eases Rule For Home Schooling. Reporting on these events, Home Education Magazine published an interview with me and fellow coalition activist Amy Wilson in its “Support Group Newsletter.”
Sea Scouts, BSA
Skipper, 2007 -
In late summer of 2007, the chair of the Ship’s Committee for Sea Scout Ship 7916 of Occoquan, VA asked if I would be the leader of the then-unformed unit. I agreed, and started to build a new organization.
Since then I have planned program, organized- and led events, garnered support from the community, developed training, taken training, handled boat acquisition and insurance, repaired boats, garnered publicity, planned- and participated in fund raisers, filed tour permits, handled membership- and other paperwork, kept spreadsheets, announced meetings, kept the calendar, hounded scouts, hounded parents, hounded our boat procurement officer, responded to “boat adrift!” alarms at 7AM, planned menus, and much, much more that falls far beyond the skipper’s job description. It has provided great enjoyment in learning and in learning about my scouts, in providing good things for them, and in seeing what it does for them. (Read my Skipper’s Log blog.)
Recently, a maxillofacial surgeon, whom I knew when he was a Sea Scout in our youth, told me that the Sea Scout program gave him experiences and opportunities he never would have had otherwise. He recognizes that being a Sea Scout molded him in a positive way that has deeply affected his life. Having been denied the opportunity to be a Sea Scout due to sex discrimination, I find it very gratifying to be capable of giving that opportunity and these experiences to young women and men today.