Tell us more about your family, and your current school age kids.

Zachary’s a junior at Cactus Shadows High School
Judson is a Freshman at Cactus Shadows High School
Emma is a 7th grader at Sonoran Trails Middle School
Will is a 5th grader and Josiah a 3rd grader at Black Mountain Elementary School
All public schools within the Cave Creek Unified School District

Josh is a student at California Baptist University

What is your family’s current model of schooling, and share with us some of the reasons why you chose it.

We homeschooled very early in our children’s education. At the time I was teaching 1st and 3rd and kinder/pre-k curriculum to our children with a toddler and a newborn. We decided to place the children back in public school. The Lord opened doors immediately for my husband, who is a pastor, to begin mentoring young boys who had one or two parents that were incarcerated. That went on for two and a half years. Placing our children in public school also opened our hearts to take in an orphaned neighbor boy after his father died. We would have never even been open to this if I had still been homeschooling and under all the pressures that littles bring to a home. God used the public school system for good in our lives. When we moved to AZ 4 years ago, we placed our children in the schools they were zoned for. We struggled immediately with that particular district and some of our children’s teachers. We began exploring options, we even considered homeschooling again. When talking to another member of our church, we learned of Black Mountain Elementary School. Even though a public school, it is also a fine arts school. We began the process of enrolling three of children in that school. I learned that there was an open position for Records Secretary at the same school. My husband and I had been talking about me going back into the work field. I applied and got the job! The children immediately began to flourish at this school. Some of the courses they take weekly are Dance, Drama, Music, Art, and PE. We decided to switch our older children to the Middle and High schools in the same district.

How do you feel this model of schooling best meets the needs of your children? How have you seen them grow and thrive in these environments?

I have seen HUGE growth in self – confidence and fine motor skills in the children that attend BMES. Our daughter fell in love with the drama department and auditioned for 3 separate productions, getting a larger and larger role each time. Our 2 younger athletic boys love the dance classes! Both of which did not think they would enjoy upon arrival at this school. We have a very involved and passionate principal. He truly desires for each student to learn in an environment that aides them in their education. Knowing that not all children learn the same way he strives to find the niches that each child needs. Fine arts have been an immeasurable asset for our children.

I have seen huge development in my middle son (now going into 9th) with leadership and wanting to get involved with community service. We learned that he needed an IEP for math and we were able to get testing done and a plan in place for the rest of his high school education. Where before I felt he was just being shuffled along. Our 16 year old joined a robotics club and drama club and went from an extreme introvert to a much less timid young man. I know that these opportunities would not
have been the same if we had just followed the flow of the education our children were “zoned” for.

How do you feel that living in Arizona, and the school options you have in Arizona have helped your children in their academic and life pursuits?

I love that AZ is an open enrollment state. I enjoy seeing the benefits of not having to go where the district tells us to go. As mentioned above, we have seen such tremendous growth and development in our children since choosing the schools best for them. I am thankful that others have the choice to homeschool their children or go to a charter school.

What do you love the best about your current school environment for your kids? What advice do you have for other families considering this option?

I love that the arts are an integral part of the curriculum here. My advice would be first pray. Seek wise counsel from many different sources, not just those that think exactly as you do. Explore. There are SO many options!

Anything else about your school / education decisions that you would like to share or mention? Any other questions we didn’t ask?

We are still accepting enrollment at Black Mountain for the 2019/2020 school year!