Cedaredge has had a fairly large concentration of homeschooling families for many years. When we moved here from Denver area 7 years ago, we met with a group of families, first as a co-op where moms in our group taught classes they had experience in or felt children in our group needed/wanted to learn, and then later as "clubs" through American Youth Leadership Institute (AYLI). These were rewarding for both students and moms who were involved!
A few years ago, my family discovered an online leadership education school (http://leadershipeducationacademy.com/), where my three oldest children began taking classes. My oldest daughter began by taking their scholar classes and completed four of those classes/projects (Key of Liberty, Shakespeare Conquest, Sword of Freedom and Pyramid Project). She gained so much from these projects, and I saw tremendous growth in her personally and in her educational skills, knowledge, and abilities.
When one of the moms of our group talked about her experiences in Eastern Colorado with a Commonwealth School, some of us became interested in pursuing this opportunity for our area, especially for our older children. I was especially interested as most Commonwealth Schools teach the same scholar classes my daughter had been taking from the online school. The online classes were great, but there were many technological problems and limitations that were frustrating. I thought about how much better of an experience we could provide if we offered these same classes/projects "live" for our children.
Three of us trained for about 9 weeks through http://newcommonwealthschools.wordpress.com/. It was fairly intense as none of us had ever done anything like this before, but we felt inspired and excited through the whole process. We felt God guiding us and performing many small miracles on our behalf. We then attended a very intense three-day training a year ago through http://www.lemimentortraining.com/ to learn how to mentor the scholar classes we wanted to offer for our first year. We teach our youth that each person has at least one personal mission that God desires for them to accomplish with their life. Many of us as mothers who are part of this school feel we are accomplishing our own personal missions through this school.
Now that our first year is complete, I can look back and say it was stressful, wonderful, inspiring, educating, challenging, and exactly what we were suppose to be doing. I truly came to love each of the children and moms in our school, and consider them extended family. I rejoice in their accomplishments and am saddened by their difficulties. Most of our children said that one day of "school" was their favorite of each week, and that makes our efforts entirely worth it! Not only did our children learn, but we as moms did as well and we are excited for the new classes we will be mentoring in the upcoming year.
So to recap why I'm thankful we took the step to create GMSA and why I want it to continue for many years--
1) We are able to offer the same wonderful classes my daughter took online in a more ideal setting.
2) We have created a totally unique opportunity in this area that meets the needs of the families who desire this type of education for their children.
3) We all love the social/support aspect of meeting with others on a weekly basis. We have developed a closeness that is beautiful and look forward to adding new friends to our circle!
4) We are all growing by leaps and bounds by this educational experience, and we feel fulfillment in accomplishing our own personal missions.