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Academy offers options to homeschool students

By: Sonney Wolfe, Special to The Placer Herald
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Homeschoolers are heading back to class.
Inspired by the desire to support home-education, Mosaic Christian Academy in Rocklin began its third semester of offering unique, life-skill classes to homeschoolers and charter students who seek both supplemental and graduation requirements.
Comprised of multiple denominations and a staff of teachers trained to work with different learning styles, Mosaic Christian Academy models homeschool-teaching methods to create a tangible process of education in the classroom – one that incorporates mentoring, supports parents, melds the community, allows for high academics and connects subject with real-life application to fuel student interest and knowledge and inspire self-motivation and self-government, said Lisa Dunne, Ph.D., Mosaic Christian Academy founder and director. She is also the author of “Emerge: Cracking the cocoon of media socialization.”
“We’re families educating our kids together, and they’ve added experts into the mix,” said homeschooling parent Armandee Drew.
Their enrollment has jumped from 35 students in fall 2009 to 130 in fall 2010.
Classes, taught by professors, credentialed teachers, student teachers, self-proclaimed experts and parents, operate on a mentoring system and run Tuesdays and Thursdays following a 15-16 week semester and accommodating kids from preschool to 12th grade.
“We group together first through third grade, fourth through sixth grade, seventh through eighth, and ninth through 12th grade. Choir and performance classes include first through 12th grade,” Dunne said.
“It’s (Mosaic Christian Academy) a lot more inclusive because it’s not a classroom of 30 kids,” said Mosaic 10th-grade student Chloe Bouslaugh. “It’s a class with different levels (grades) and 10 or 15 kids at the most, and so it’s more individualized. People can get help when they need it, and it’s a lot better.”
Class size is flexible
“We keep a cap on some classes to preserve the learning experience, but some allow for larger groups like drama and choir …We have to be fluid,” Dunne said.
Classes that receive heavy enrollment are divided into two.
“It’s whatever accommodates the kids the best,” said Carrie Rojas, site administrator for Mosaic.
Kaitlyn Henning, an 11th-grade student at the academy, said teachers get to know the students.
“The teachers get a lot more personal, because they can,” Henning said. “It’s a lot more relaxed because it’s not public school where they have to be strict.”
The subjects offered vary
“Many of our core and elective courses remain the same, but it’s a fluid model, and we do our best to accommodate what parents and students want,” Dunne said.
Teachers are able to incorporate multiple concepts with each subject taught. This semester’s classes include Lego Engineering, a class using Legos to build sound architectural structures; Future Foodies, a home-economic/nutrition class teaching how to cook healthful meals; and Global Leadership Track, a class teaching leadership through theology and the developing of emotional intelligence and self-awareness of one’s personal calling. Also taught are Greek, an introduction to interpreting and translating the Greek of the New Testament; DiscoverArt, a class teaching the history of art while also giving students the chance to create art themselves, and many others including math, science, English, theater, choir and Bible study.
Parent Stephanie Henderson, whose three kids started homeschooling this year at Mosaic Christian Academy, said she pulled her kids out of public school because they weren’t being successful.
“You know, you have a desire in your heart to protect your children and to want to give them the most that you can,” Henderson said. “At first I wasn’t sure if I could do it by myself. Adding this (Mosaic Christian Academy) to it made it so much different … My son is taking Greek. That’s a dead language! I would have never been able to teach Greek. My daughter is playing the trombone. I only played the clarinet. It’s that exposure that maybe I wouldn’t have been able to give, and now they have all these cool things.”
Henderson said her son, who was struggling in public high school, is now on track to graduate early, since joining the school.
Classes help discover passions
Rojas said teachers incorporate team building, communication skills and community relations into class projects.
Andrew Green, Lego Engineering instructor, sparked his students with a bridge project. After explaining the physics of arches and discussing their historical overview, he commissioned students to break into small groups and build Lego bridges 12 to 16 inches long, 3 to 4 inches wide, and 6 inches high. Bridge strength was tested first by placing books on them. Next small students stood on the bridges, and finally Green himself stood on the bridges, which held.
Guitar teacher Larry Brohman and choir teacher Brandy Ruscica bring their students into the community. The two classes team together, visiting and performing for different elderly care centers in the region, Dunne said. They also put on a dinner-theatre production at the end of November, which the community is invited to attend. Ruscica’s choir class also performs with the William Jessup University choir at their Christmas performance.
On another class project, Tyler Fujishin, student teacher of Introduction to Speech and Debate, had his students do tribute speeches.
“They prepared and presented a three-minute speech … paying tribute to someone in their lives who had impacted them positively,” Fujishin said.
The assignment focused on expressing gratitude and appreciation, and the videoed speeches were delivered to the person they paid tribute to.
Rojas said the reason they incorporate mentoring and community outreach and give such a great sampling of subjects and concepts is to help students discover their passions.