Last week we sat down the Statesman Journal reporter Geoff Parks to chat about our plans for the Cooperative. One we were able to assure him that we weren’t a bunch of crazy hippies (well, we sort of are, really) Geoff asked a ton of great questions and even managed to get a flattering picture. Heartfelt thanks to Geoff and the Statesman Journal for such a positive spin on alternative learning models.
Here’s the link to the article: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014301220011
And here’s the text:
Learning model includes parents’ help
Written by Geoff Parks Special to the Statesman Journal
Jan. 21 statesmanjournal.com
Three moms and one stay-at-home dad are riding the crest of a September 2013 lunchtime idea to form a new kind of learning experience for children in the Dallas area.
Wendy Sparks, Erin Miller, Rebecca Rutan and Casey Sparks had their meal last fall and “started thinking about what we could do that would fit the needs of our kids (school-wise), and it just developed from there,” Wendy Sparks said.
The idea they came up with was to create a combination home-schooling/guided instruction learning model they call the Mahonia Learning Cooperative — also called a “parent-driven collective” and a “homeschool mixed with a cottage school” in their promotional literature.
The cooperative is, in effect, an open learning “program,” not a school at all, said Casey Sparks. Mahonia Learning Cooperative is listed as a non-profit entity, and should have its 501(c)(3) designation by this fall.
“We consider the Mahonia Learning Cooperative to be a creative hybrid between what a home school provides and the learning community that a public school provides,” Wendy Sparks said.
Mahonia will limit enrollment to 17 students entering grades K through 6 when it opens in the fall of 2014, she said, adding that the school’s “basic vision” notes it is not a private school, but a model that makes the parents “ultimately responsible for the education of their children.” Management of the cooperative is the duty of a Council of Parents.
The Mahonia Learning Cooperative morning curriculum from 8 a.m to noon will be led by a
tutor/facilitator/instructor (not necessarily a certified teacher), and will use the Moving Beyond the Page homeschool curriculum. That “interdisciplinary,” literature-based curriculum is said to stimulate critical and creative thinking through independent and small-group learning. Sparks said it was developed “for children who are either gifted or tend to learn with their hands or learn creatively.”
In the afternoons (from noon to 3 p.m.), the cooperative hopes to get the kids all STEAM-ed up with
activities led by parent and community volunteers with expertise in subject areas such as Science,
Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM).