Class of '97
Home Schooling Two Generations
A typical morning at the Payne home in Crofordsville, Indiana, seems not unlike the homes of many other home schooling families. Sherrie Payne spends the day teaching her eighth grader, tenth grader, and two twelfth graders. Like many other families, home schooling is not a new idea for the Paynes. Sherrie has been teaching her children for fourteen years, and her oldest three have all graduated from home. However, this family is not quite as typical as you might think. The oldest student is sixty-four years old. That's right, sixty-four! Sherrie is teaching her three children and her mother, Delores.
When Delores Runyan was sixteen years old, she dropped out of high school. She always thought that someday she would get her GED, but things kept getting busier and there never seemed to be enough time. About three years ago, Sherrie noticed how much Delores enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren. That's when she came up with the idea for her mom to begin home schooling with them. It would be a wonderful opportunity for her to earn her high school diploma, while also spending time with her grandchildren. Cathy, the oldest of Sherrie's children still at home, was just finishing her sophomore year of high school. In the fall, she would begin her eleventh grade year-the year her grandmother had never completed. So Sherrie asked Cathy how she would feel about finishing high school along side her grandmother. Cathy thought it was a great idea, but her grandmother didn't share her enthusiasm. Delores had only recently realized the benefits of home schooling. There was no way she was willing to consider it. But then several months later she surprised Sherrie by asking, "So, when do we start?". In August 1995, the Payne children began the school year with a new classmate. Delores Runyan went back to school after dropping out forty-seven years earlier.
Sherrie and her mother designed the curriculum together building on what Delores already knew. They focused on remedial work in math and included history, government, and literature from a Christian perspective. They added these new credits to those she had previously earned, including a "life-experience" credit for consumer math! The curriculum and schedule were flexible, yet similar to that of any other high school student.
Home schooling her mother has brought some challenges for Sherrie, including increased time and preparation. But Sherrie would recommend it to anyone in a similar situation. "To me, it's just another arm of home schooling," she says. "I think any family who attempted it would find it to be a great experience." Even in the middle of a busy schedule, Sherrie and her mother still find time to laugh together-including the time Delores threatened to spank Sherrie if she gave her a bad grade! Every member of the Payne family, from the youngest student to the grandmother, agrees that this has been a wonderful experience. "Home schooling has brought us all closer together," affirms the oldest Payne student.
The Paynes are already planning a graduation ceremony that will take place on June 4, 1997. June 4 is a significant date for the Payne family. Sherrie and her husband graduated from high school on this date, their three oldest children held their graduation ceremonies on this date, and now Cathy and Delores will join the ranks. The soon-to-be graduates are planning to send announcements to family and friends inviting them to join the Paynes as they celebrate on this special day. The ceremony will be complete with praise songs, a graduation message, and the presentation of the diplomas. HSLDA congratulates the graduates and their teacher!