The year is drawing to a close, the weather turning warm and my thoughts drifting
from academics to beaches and from schooling to strolling outside. While my former classmates sit in school, I am taking the moment to reflect on a year that has changed my life for the better. What began as a joke at the kitchen table one night turned to a year of self discovery and the simple idea that when I put my mind to it, I can do anything.
This year, my family and I made the decision that I was to take my education into my own hands. In the previous year, I had adored school, loved my friends and teachers, but was not learning or being engaged in the class as much as I should have. I quickly grew bored in the classroom, and I felt for the teachers who tried hard to teach both ends of the spectrum, but often fell short with students who were passionate about learning and ready to put in the extra work. When my mother suggested home schooling, I thought it was absolutely crazy, but wonderful, and I quickly became excited about a year of learning at my pace, with material that was right for me.
What began as home schooling soon morphed into something much bigger. This year has not just been about me meeting educational requirements, but I feel it has been wonderful in helping me connect with my world. I have worked with many people in the community of Andover, relatives, close family, and even several high school teachers that I may have next year. All along this path, I have continued to find things that interest me, things that make me passionate about learning and really connecting with others over our shared interests.
Whenever I tell people about my home schooling, I jokingly refer to it as, “home-alone schooling,” because I do a lot of the work by myself. It is not that I am not taught by others, it is that I take that knowledge and turn it into projects and ideas that I feel would be helpful and fun. I love taking the initiative and doing things on my own, and that mind set has really made this year special. Over the course of the past ten months, I have found so much inside of myself and around me that I had never thought of before, and that has been the best part of this experience.
This year, I have traveled alone to meet my great aunt in North Carolina and study pottery. I have sang Mozart and had my first dance performance, published articles for the Andover Historical Society’s blog (www.andoverhistorical.org/blog), volunteered with a charming kindergarten class once a week, written poetry, read autobiographies, entered a national statistics poster competition, had high school level math and German courses in which I received honors grades all year, read five Shakespeare plays, written papers, taken pictures, corresponded with authors about writing and poetry, practiced calligraphy, seen drama productions, learned about the science of sailing, and done many other things that make me smile when I look back on the year. Every moment, every new activity or new book from the library has made me happy, and I love that getting up in the morning ready to learn is fun.
I have learned that although I am the only one to answer to if I don’t do the work, I am capable of buckling down, because answering to myself is not easy. I am a perfectionist who knows how to be independent, and this year has only fueled the fire of my desire to learn as much as possible about whatever interests me. This will be a year to look back on for years to come, and I have loved every second of it. Today, I am collecting a sample of my work in a portfolio, and I will also include links to places where I have different projects online. Thank you to everyone who has allowed this year to be, and to everyone who has made this part of my life so special.