Thoughts on Homeschooling, An Incredible Ceremony!

It is so hard to believe that next month, Michelle will graduate from college.  It was only yesterday that our little girl began her education. We decided that homeschooling was the route we wanted to take.  We just felt it would be a great way for a child to learn.  After all, it is parents who train their children to use the potty, tie their shoes, and many other life skills. Why not reading, writing, and arithmatic ? There are so many different curricula available, and many come with explicit instructions for parents.  Homeschooling is not just for the kids…it is an adventure in learning for all involved if done properly.

Michelle proved to be like a little sponge when it came to learning.  By completion of kindergarten, she had mastered the skill of reading and was well on her way. We had chosen a very work intensive curriculum for her kindergarten and first grades.  She flew through the coursework as though it was playtime.  I must note at this point that both of our kids were very, very active. The best way to settle them down was reading.  Michelle is two years, three months older than Ben and when they were very little, I daily read fifteen to twenty books a day.  That was how we spent our “free time”.  Sometimes, I read so much that my voice would actually disappear! (I always used different voices for each character in their books)

After Michelle’s intense kindergarten and first grade, we changed curriculum to workbooks through another publisher. One of the prerequisites for this curriculum was a survey of a child’s skills to properly place the child, grade-wise.  When Michelle took the barrage of testing, it was determined she was best suited to enter the third grade. This meant she skipped second grade.  Her basic reading, writing, math, and science levels were all well above the grade 2 level,  so we placed her in third grade.  We ordered her curriculum and she began working on computerized coursework. I was a bit apprehensive at first,  wondering at the wisdom of skipping a grade,  but she proved definitely properly prepared for the work she was given.

Michelle was fairly self-motivated when it came to her schoolwork, although there were times when we had to encourage her to “finish up”!  As time progressed, she learned to work almost totally by herself, and by grade 12, she rarely asked questions.  She aced her pre-calculus and physics studies, briefly asking Mark for help from time to time when stuck on a problem or concept. Mark’s Mechanical Engineering background was intense in math and science, so he was more than qualified in these areas.  Michelle never had problems with history and when language arts presented any challenge, I was up for that, loving this area.

Michelle had completed all of her “public schooling career” by age 15 and she began attending Finger Lakes Community College. Before beginning there, she took a test to see if she was properly prepared and when I asked about her results, the administering person assured me I had “nothing to worry about”.  Michelle proved that the work was a “piece of cake”.  She would come home from college and write down each assignment and would then write an amount of time she felt needed to complete the work.  Each day was spent using the allotted time on the assignment. Michelle did a fantastic job at FLCC and was discouraged by one course…Statistics, in which she received an A-. Every other course, she completed with an A.

After finishing up at FLCC, Michelle planned to probably attend one of the state colleges, although she also had her eye on a small private university located not too far away. It was “on a whim” that she applied to Rochester Institute of Technology.  Their E. Philip Saunders College of Business was one of the highly-ranked business schools in the United States.  Michelle was accepted and the rest is history!  She maintained a “perfect” 4.0 average throughout her studies and is set to graduate in May.  (She is actually taking two more courses and finishing in August, but given her record, the school is allowing her to receive her degree in May.)

Last night’s ceremony was entitled Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship 2012-2013. The ceremony took place at the Gordon Field House and Activity Center which is an enormous complex housing tracks, a gymnasium, swimming pools, ice arena, and even more!  It was a very colorful and delightful experience!  It began with two bagpipers…

and then a processional of the Deans of the various schools, the President of RIT, and then the Scholars. The Deans wore the colors of each individual school, resulting in a rainbow of color on the stage!

Note: I could kick myself for not making proper adjustments for the lighting in this building.  Please excuse the excessive orange color, but be advised (this said tongue-in-cheek) that the school’s colors include a lot of orange!!!

There was a brief message by the president of RIT, Dr. William W. Destler.

The presenter of the scholars was Dr. Jeremy Haefner, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs.  In presenting each of the scholars, he read a brief statement given by one of the student’s professors, attesting to the student’s outstanding characteristics. The scholars are chosen from the student body and must have at least a 3.85 of a possible 4.0 average and have completed at least 125 quarter credit hours of study. (2/3 of the total for a baccalaureate degree) Other factors account for selection such as creative work, service, civic activities and research.

Note: okay, so this is a funny picture….just look at the face of that dean looking at Dr. Haefner.  Gads, how did I ever catch this one???

After Dr. Haefner congratulated each student,  the student was then presented a bronze medallion by President Destler, then congratulated by the dean of the college the student attended.  The medallions were designed by the late Professor Hans Christensen who was a renowned silversmith. He chose an Athenian owl which symbolizes wisdom and on the opposite side where the scholar’s name is engraved, an olive branch.  Here is Michelle as she crossed the stage.

We each received a booklet with a listing of the scholars.  This listing included where they attended high school and gave a brief overview of accomplishments.  It was interesting to note that there were four other students who were homeschooled, two of which are studying engineering. Each scholar had been given the opportunity to invite a teacher or professor who made an impact on their life and of the sixty-one who were invited, over thirty were in attendance.

After the awards ceremony, the scholars, along with their guests, were moved into another area of the (amazingly, incredibly! large) gymnasium for a catered meal. We had been sent information regarding the event a couple of months ago and were asked to make a selection of a meal.  The choices were a vegetarian meal, a chicken meal, or prime rib.  We had prime rib and it was delicious!

This was certainly a night to remember! I will post a photo of the medallion later…