Bright Spots in Home Schooling

January 6, 2006  

Homeschooled essayist honored

by Andrea Longbottom

On October 18, 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) honored Emily Lockwood (then 17) for an outstanding essay, which she entered in the NEH's third annual Idea of America Essay Contest. Emily received $1000 and a medal, joining five other finalists and the grand-prize winner at the NEH awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Guest speaker Josiah Bunting III, a noted author and former college president, presents Emily Lockwood with her medal.

The contestants, all juniors in high school, answered this question: "How were the tenets of . . . totalitarian movements different from the ideals that unite Americans? How did the ideals embodied in the American founding prevail?"

In her essay, "The Success of the American Way," Emily discussed the tactics of totalitarian regimes and contrasted them with the democratic practices of the American government. "It helped me realize how hideous the totalitarian regimes are," says Emily. "They [totalitarians] don't give the people any voice, and they take away all their power." She was inspired to enter the contest for the scholarship and felt confident with the essay topic because she had written a high school paper on totalitarianism. "I figured in competitions like this, there were so many people entering, I just didn't have a chance," she says. But the evaluation panel of 16 history teachers, National Council on the Humanities members, and NEH Chairman Bruce Cole thought differently. "This gave me hope for the future in applying for scholarships!" says Emily, laughing.

Emily has been homeschooled since the 7th grade, having also attended public and private schools. She says her mother, Robin Lockwood, began homeschooling because she wanted their family to have more time together. Emily's four younger siblings have been schooled at home since kindergarten. Emily says her mother helped her with her essay by talking over ideas and helping her brainstorm, and also by teaching her a government course. "My course in government definitely helped me be ready for this," Emily says. "I think it was much more in-depth than many government courses."

Now a freshman at Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls, Georgia, 18-year-old Emily is thinking about majoring in counseling or psychology and possibly working at an overseas school after she graduates. She also enjoys sports, mainly swimming and softball.


For more information about the 2005 Idea of America Essay Contest, as well as the 2006 question and guidelines, go to www.NEH.gov.

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