I want to take this time to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you and the entire staff of University School for the wonderful learning journey you have taken Kilbey on in the past year. I homeschooled Kilbey for 10 years. My husband and I knew that he was gifted at an early age and didn’t want him to go through school unchallenged. So we made the decision early on to keep him here. Self-directed learning and freedom to explore learning passions were the hallmarks of my homeschool.
As Kilbey matured and our family grew, first by one brother and then another, it was clear that he needed to spread his wings and enter the schooling world. He was eager to be around children his own age every day and, though he didn’t realize it, was ready for a school-based setting. However, I was completely opposed to sending him to any old school. I required somewhere small, somewhere that respected his gifts, somewhere that would give him a modicum of freedom in his learning experience. Kilbey and I were both frustrated with the state of our homeschool and I didn’t think there was an alternative.
And then a fellow homeschooler, Jeanette Parker, told me about University School. It was only a few months before the beginning of school. We were both on the board of a local homeschool group and she was resigning as she was sending her children to USL. She told me about her interest and joy at finding a school that fit for her and gave me the web address.
I ran home, looked at the website and called my husband in. We were both duly impressed with the curriculum, the philosophy and the credentials of the school. I couldn’t believe such a progressive learning environment existed in Charleston. Of particular interest were the Learning Outside the Classroom and community involvement events and the Flex-Time afforded to the children to work on what they required. I was overwhelmed and really felt that this was a gift to us just when we needed it most. Thankfully, he was accepted and entered USL as a 6th grader in Fall, 2008.
Last year, Kilbey really spent the year learning how to be “in” school. He learned, the hard way in some cases, about the social dynamics of being around different types of kids all day, every day. He learned how to navigate different teachers’ requirements and to be more organized. He learned to appreciate different perspectives and to work in groups. The change in him has been dramatic. He is more confident, more mature, and more compassionate.
This year, he is thus far enjoying his experience even more. Having more responsibility in mentoring seems fulfilling to him. Knowing what is expected of him is allowing him to truly focus on the subject matter and not worry about the “how” as much. He has made some good friendships and my introvert is finding that there may be a little extrovert to him after all.
For all of these things, and more, I offer my heartfelt thanks. You made the transition from homeschooling to formal schooling so painless, for Kilbey and for me.
Paige and Chuck McCormick