CONTINUED FROM HOME PAGE: Did you know, however, that the St. Augustine Homeschooling Program isn’t any of these things? It is a classical school that provides opportunities that are useful for its students to learn that many other schools don’t teach. In fact, pupils at St. Augustine start learning Latin words in first grade, and everyone takes Bible as an actual subject. And, starting in seventh grade, Logic is taken and learned to build strong reasoning skills, useful for making strong future arguments.
Homeschooling at St. Augustine is a great opportunity for Christian families. No one is ever excluded, and everyone reaches out to each other. Each student gets a weekly assignment sheet from his or her teachers, telling them what to complete each day.
Going to St. Augustine is a rare opportunity for children with rare passions and talents, such as music, poetry, or writing. There are many social activities too, such as tennis, soccer, flag football, cross country, and robotics.
Basically, St. Augustine is an organized school program, two days a week, that complements our home studies.
Each St. Augustine family is assigned to one of four houses, like in the Harry Potter books, but named after Latin words. There’s Veritas (truth), Gaudium (joy), Prystantia (excellence), and Sapientia (wisdom). Though everyone is in a different house, it does not separate any of the kids' relationships. For instance, if someone in Gaudium is friends with someone in Veritas, that’s fine! St. Augustine also has something we call The Gryphon Games. During the games, all the houses compete in different, friendly events to win the Gryphon Cup. St. Augustine is not a strict environment, but a loving, joyful community.
“There is no better school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent,” said Mahatma Gandhi. If you believe Gandhi, then the homeschooling kids of St. Augustine may be on to something.
John Holt, an American educator, also notes that learning at home is a special opportunity. “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it is not a school at all.”
Experts say that there are 2.3 million home-educated students in the U.S. Also, it may be the fastest-growing form of education in the America. Homeschooling students also score above average on academic performance. St. Augustine and homeschooling may not be for everyone, but it is a great one for folks like us.
CONTINUED FROM HOME PAGE: Show choir is such an amazing opportunity. Many people find out who they are and find some of the best friends they’ll have in their whole life. So, why would someone give that up?
Well, believe it or not, there are many excuses people make. “I can’t sing” and “I can’t dance” are just a few of many basic excuses people can come up with when asked, “Why don’t you do show choir?”
Well, this is what the director of a show choir is for.
The director has been taught to give constructive criticism. “Show choir directors take two years of ear training and go through college learning music theory and education,” says Ms. Amy Arinder, director of Showtime at Jackson Academy.
If you supposedly “can’t sing," your director will help you elevate the level of your skill. If you supposedly “can’t dance," it’s a choreographed show. You aren’t in any way forced to dance freestyle in front of a huge crowd and judges.
If you are worried about other activities interfering, the director can help you manage your insanely busy schedule so you will be able to do show choir.
So, conflicts are easy to avoid and easy to settle. “Like the show, there are participants who straddle the jock world and the music world," says Christopher Landis, show choir director of Broadway Bound, a high school show choir.
So, what else is holding people back?
Well, many people are familiar with that one group of classmates who are simply too cool for school. You know exactly who that is. Many people are influenced by this group’s decisions. What if that group said that show choir kids are weird?
Well, they’re not. You can guess that they are successful due to the fact that the writers of this article are, i
n fact, show choir kids!
If you are affected by wanting to follow this “too cool” group, you are officially challenged to step out of the box.
You are now challenged to sing, just a little bit, or even to try to go see a show choir somewhere, and to seize the opportunity right outside the door.
When they were young, Mrs. McKey’s four daughters loved playing house and games with dolls. Her youngest son had turned four years-old and decided he was too big to play the part of the baby in his sisters’ games. Where were these four girls going to find a baby to play with? Mrs. McKey’s solution was that she and her husband Keith would become foster parents.
Peggy McKey (pronounced Mackey) has lived almost all of her in Mississippi and she is a farm girl at heart. Involved with many organizations and activities that help Mississippi and the world, she is a Christian who also serves as a missionary and Bible teacher. As if that weren’t enough, she has been a foster parent to over fifty children.
Serving through Organizations
Mrs. McKey helps lead several other organizations. She says, “now that all my children have grown up and I don’t have foster kids, I believe this is how I can serve other people. I have the time and energy to do what God calls me to do. I pray hard before committing to something, but I feel like I find my happiness in doing what God calls me to do.”
She is a board member for Bethany Christian Services, which promotes adoption and foster care; she also is on the board of African Scholarship Exchange, which gives scholarships to African students going to school in Africa.
Another activity dear to her heart is farming. She is passionate about farming because she grew up working on a farm. She is a board member of Hinds County Farm Bureau and has an elected position with Mississippi Farm Bureau.
She says, “I think Farm Bureau is a wonderful organization because if our children don’t understand where their food comes from, one day we won’t have any food because no one will want to grow up and be a farmer.”
Serving through her Church
Mrs. McKey can also be seen frequently at work around her church, Edwards Presbyterian Church. She provides transportation and teaches Bible lessons for children at the church’s Tuesday Bible Club. The Bible club is a ministry to mostly at-risk children in Mrs. McKey’s hometown of Edwards. She also takes regular mission trips to Africa and Cambodia, where she ministers to children in very difficult circumstances.
When asked why she loves serving others in the church, she said, “I love the church because Jesus Christ loves the church. It’s his church. He loves people and so he calls us to love people. Serving with children, whether as a foster parent or teacher, is a way of doing Christ’s work of loving people.”
Serving as a Foster Parent
During Mrs. McKey’s years as a foster parent, she fostered thirty-five babies and nineteen pregnant teenagers. Many people know Mrs. McKey as an amazing woman who tirelessly served as a foster parent for so many needy children. She thinks adoption and foster-parenting are important.
She says, “Most of the young women who came to live with my husband and me didn’t know their fathers. In fact, only one of the nineteen who lived with us ever knew their fathers, so they weren’t in a happy home with two parents. And they weren’t married themselves, so they were facing the same type of lives for their children than they had when they grew up. Most of them were not out of school and didn’t have a way to earn a living. Many of these girls were counseled and realized their babies would probably be better off with a family with a mom and a dad and a job.” By foster parenting, Mrs. McKey helped both the mothers and their children by allowing them to find stable homes.
Mrs. McKey finds her inspiration for serving others through her faith. She thinks parents should consider adopting both for the happiness of children and for themselves and because adoption is a picture of what Christianity is all about: “I think you can look at the Bible and see that we are adopted into God’s family. His only begotten Son is Jesus, and the rest of us, through Christ, are adopted into his family. So I think the Bible gives us a picture of adoption. And there are many couples who can’t have children, so adoption completes their family and brings them happiness. So I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful event on both sides – both for the woman who is not ready to parent and for the couple who is longing for a baby.”
Devoted to Others
Not many people serve in the way Peggy McKey does. Maybe you think you are only one person and you can’t make a difference in this world. But imagine what the world would be like if we could all find things we are passionate about and instead of just using or enjoying those things for ourselves, we used those things to help others.
Hurricane Irma was coming quickly, Brittany and her 17-week-old son had to get off St. John as soon as possible. All her friends were calling airline after airline to come rescue Brittany, putting her life before their own. Eventually, a six-passenger private jet zoomed over to the frantic island. Six people and a dog were able to squeeze in.
Brittany was extremely thankful to have boarded. She broke into tears of sadness as the jet roared off, leaving her husband to help others prepare for the biggest and strongest hurricane tiny St. John had ever faced. She sobbed throughout the whole plane ride; all she could do now was trust the Lord.
"I was very sad and upset," Brittany says. "I was praying for safety. For two days I didn’t hear anything from my husband, and I didn't know if he was even alive." It was her idea to leave her home. Some of her friends told her it would be fine if she stayed, but Brittany felt like God, and her “mommy gut,” were trying to tell her to leave, and get her son RJ to safety.
Response to the Storm
Brittany MacNealy Gonzales is a Christian woman who grew up in the Mississippi Delta, but has lived in the Bahamas for 7 ½ years. She compares the two places, because they are both very small. Two-thirds of St. John is a national park.
She is married and has a baby named RJ. All her family lives in Mississippi, so, during the storm, she had a place to find refuge. She is grateful because others who grew up on St. John their entire life had no place to find refuge in the U.S.
Many teams have responded to the island's desperate calls and needs. Two celebrities brought water and food to St. John. Country singer Kenny Chesney has a house on St. John that was quickly wiped out by Hurricane Irma. He was able to set up a foundation to raise money, because of his huge fan following. He is helping the island by bringing food and supplies.
Former professional basketball player Tim Duncan grew up on the island. He was devastated to see his hometown wrecked. He sent an airplane full of bottled water, inspired by all the support shown by the states.
The U.S. government could have supported St. John more quickly. Hurricane Irma struck on a Wednesday, but the government didn't show up until Sunday. That's 96 hours without shelter, food, or water.
Some of Brittany's friends, many with infants, weren't able to fly off the island. Their children clung to their mother's breast, wailing in fright. Hurricane Irma was too strong for their little minds and tiny eyes to encounter. It would have been so much better if the government decided to do a humanitarian flight, then many more people (especially infants and elderly) could have left for safety.
Brittany now travels back and forth between St. John and the states—her whole family again united; but everything she owned was destroyed in an instant. She had massive plans for how RJ would grow up on island, but God's plans for her boy wasn't what she expected.
The family ran a vacation home business, but now they have no way to make a profit, because there are no tourists and the rental homes are unlivable. Her husband is now going to practice law as they rebuild their homes to reopen their vacation rental business.
A way you can help is send money and necessities to St. John. Make donations to the St. John Community Foundation at http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate. It would mean so much to see their ruined island rebuilt strong with the help of loving neighbors.
The smell of the famous chicken nuggets is floating through the air in Chick-fil-A. It is a very busy place and there are a lot of people here for lunch. Mr. Rob, the manager, stands outside in the hot sun checking on his employees as they share a smile and interact with the customers.
Mr. Rob is someone who many people know and admire. His commitment to Chick-fil-A reflects his personality and strong character.
Meeting Mr. Rob
He is happy and talkative, and interacts with his workers and customers. He knows a lot about his job and would be able to tell you many interesting details about it and he has many funny stories to tell.
“Here is one terrible experience I’ve had while working at Chick-fil- A. We have tea pitchers that are up on a shelf, and one time I reached for it but the nozzle popped of and about three or four gallons were pouring out all over me. It was shooting out like a hose and it got all over my clothes and the floor, but I kept on going. After I had cleaned all of the sticky mess up, I had to borrow an old T-shirt from the office to wear the rest of the day,” Mr. Rob said.
Mr. Rob has many customer experiences. “My favorite part of working at Chick-fil-A was meeting with the customers. A man who works nearby brings his mother, who broke her hip, and we wrote her a get well card.” Another favorite customer of his was an older couple who come almost every day for lunch. “I like seeing them sitting with their friends.” Chick-fil-A is not just a restaurant it is the center of community for many families.
Mr. Rob also displays his faith in Jesus by how he treats his employee. He is patient in training them, and he has new and experienced workers. He enjoys working with high school students and he is a good mentor for them. He arrives each day with a good attitude and is a good team builder. He was a former school teacher and his leadership in the classroom was displayed thru his management position. He is a loving father and a good friend.
A Better Community
Our community is filled with men and women like Mr. Rob. We benefit from their hard work and commitment that make our community stronger.
The Well Writers Guild (501c3)
109 N State St. Jackson, MS 39201
Board of Directors:
Bishop Ronnie Crudup / David Fowler / Mo Leverett / Doug McDaniel / Leisha Pickering / Angie Thomas / Jim Wilkirson