It takes a village to raise a child or, in this case, a base. For families who home-school their children on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, finding that village can seem daunting. If the School Liaison (SL) office’s first Homeschool Park Day was any indication, the base community is there for one another.
Homeschool Park Day took place at Hospital Point Park, Oct. 18. In total, 53 families registered for the event. According to Julie Fulton, a SL, that number continues to grow.
“We know there has been an increase,” said Fulton. “We held a meeting and asked families what dates and times worked best for them. What we learned was morning events don’t get as much attention since that is when they are doing their schooling.”
A key player in helping coordinate the SL office with homeschool parents is Sandra Velarde, a self-described homeschooling advocate. Velarde has been educating her children for the past 13 years, with her first set to graduate this summer.
“People choose to home school for different reasons,” said Velarde. “We moved 11 times with my career in the Navy and my husband being a corpsman. It’s something we have been able to hold onto as a kind of a foundation for the family.”
As a young mother in Okinawa, Velarde was helped along by mothers who had been home-schooling for longer. When she came to MCB Camp Lejeune, she saw it as her turn to take on that role, which she affectionately refers to as “homeschool moms.”
“My homeschool moms helped me grow as a teacher and a mother,” Velarde said. “I’ve been talking with (SL’s) about developing some incentive programs or a way to work in extracurricular activities.”
For other students and parents, those activities and forms of learning are also accessible through SL resources. Hybrid model classes are available through entities like Grace Classical School or even DoDEA schools.
“DoDEA lets us attend base school part time,” said Michelle Greuel, who uses the hybrid model with her kids. “They get their own lives at school and their education at home.”
The model works by allowing parents three days with their kids at home and two at school.
“We handle the things like math, science and such at home,” Greuel said. “At Bitz they do their things like STEAM, art or music.”
Along with resources like the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) were games and a photo booth to give homeschool kids a school picture. Marines were on hand to volunteer and keep things running smoothly.
“I enjoy seeing the smiles and getting to talk with the families,” said Lance Cpl. Chase Cain, 2nd Maintenance Battalion.
“We’re very grateful to 2nd Maintenance for their help,” Fulton said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Moving forward, Fulton hopes to have more activities available for home-schooling families. Right now, the idea of a graduation ceremony is being considered but no final decision has been made.
For more information, visit https://www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/schools. Additionally, the SL office can be reached with questions regarding homeschooling at (910) 449-9915.