Local homeschool co-op offers benefits

High school students Austin Kline (left) and Job Savage discuss a math concept presented during a video demonstration, as parent/teacher Tim McGuin (center) observes during class time Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Promise Education Cooperative. The homeschooling cooperative began in August in downtown Huntington.
High school students Austin Kline (left) and Job Savage discuss a math concept presented during a video demonstration, as parent/teacher Tim McGuin (center) observes during class time Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Promise Education Cooperative. The homeschooling cooperative began in August in downtown Huntington. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

A new cooperative venture by parents of homeschooled students has opened its doors in downtown Huntington, offering augmented benefits that individual home-schoolers may not have available.

Promise Education Cooperative opened its doors in late August, and operates in a newly-renovated facility at 37 E. Washington St. in the former Huntington Floor Covering store. In its first year, the cooperative is providing enhanced education to eight students from five area families.

Gary Lenn, the facilitator of the co-op as well as a teacher, says the coop began when a group of homeschool parents wan-ted to provide more advanced learning for their middle school- and high school-aged children, using a group setting and the skills and talents of parents to impart their knowledge.

“We’re trying to create something halfway between home school and traditional school,” Lenn explains. “It is still homeschool; if the kids graduate from here the parents create a homeschool transcript, so it’s not a school.”

Normally cooperatives meet once per week and do a group activity together. Promise Education Cooperative classes are held Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The students, ages 12 to 16, are divided into a middle school class and high school class. Lenn says periods are divided into math, science, social studies and English, with an elective class taught each semester, such as sewing, cooking or keyboarding. There is also time to take special field trips as a group, such as going to the theater.

Lenn teaches classes, but parents also divvy up teaching responsibilities, and are required to take one day per week to teach a class. The schedule encourages pooling the gifts and talents they have to offer a well-rounded curriculum.

“One benefit is, in some cases where parents have home schooled all along, they realize that once they get to middle school or high school they’re not able to teach all the subjects,” Lenn says. “So we’re pulling from other people’s strengths. Say, one parent is weak in math and they recognize, ‘I can’t keep teaching my child through middle school and high school math.’ But yet, math and science are my strengths, so I can help out. We have another parent who is excellent in writing. She comes in once a week and teaches a writing lesson.”

Another goal of the cooperative is to meet the needs of students who don’t fit into the box of public school settings, Lenn says. The class sizes are small, with one-on-one interaction with teachers ongoing during instruction time.

Middle school student Wallace Rowley, 12, says he enjoys learning at the cooperative.

“I like him (he points to Lenn),” he says. “He’s nice, and he actually cares about us. … I like what we’re learning right now, negative numbers.”

For more information, Promise Education Cooperative can be found on Facebook, or by calling Misty Savage at 260-409-3334.