Karen Canon’s homeschooling journey began in 2002 with the eldest of her five children. It was not long before an obstacle reared its ugly head; her oldest had a strong aversion to any tasks that required a pencil. While searching for help, Karen was introduced to the practice of narration. Very quickly, what had begun as a practical, short-term solution, was bearing fruit far beyond any expectations.
Narration had opened a door to a new world. This was Karen’s first introduction to Charlotte Mason. Having perfected the art of being a successful student herself in high school and college, Karen had experienced a crisis in confidence upon graduation; contrary to the story her grades told, she felt she truly did not ‘know’ anything. There had to be something more. Charlotte Mason was the answer she had been looking for, both for herself and her children.
Since then, she has not looked back. She graduated her eldest son, still somewhat pencil-allergic, this spring. By the grace of God, he survived Karen’s apprenticeship into Charlotte Mason homeschooling. This fall her youngest is a kindergartner and Karen is excited about the prospects of yet another student to enjoy this learning lifestyle with.
In her spare time, Karen enjoys reading, diving into the Charlotte Mason digital archives, and sharing the good news of a living education with others. She has spoken at the Midwest Parent Educators Conference in Kansas City and leads a local CM study group. You can visit her study group’s online home at cme-kc.com.
Sarah Lancaster is wife to one college sweetheart and mama to three funny, smart, beautiful girls. Unlike some women, she didn’t know from birth that she would homeschool her children. In fact, she used to joke that if God had a calling to homeschool for her, He had better contact her on the phone. Well, that phone call never came, but when kindergarten rolled around for her eldest, there was no doubt in her heart that it wasn’t time to send this precious child off… at least, not yet. They would try a year, and then reevaluate. Then “just one year” turned into “definitely one more.” After a year and a half of curriculum hopping (although stumbling and slogging might be a better description), she finally took a deep breath and leaped into the Ambleside Online (AO) curriculum. Despite her fears that it would be too hard, too confusing, or too much, AO turned out to be a delight. Miss Mason’s principles of education opened a kind of joy in homeschooling that neither she nor her kiddos had known before.
These principles have not been limited to the children’s schoolwork, either. Over the past four years, they have trickled down into Sarah’s parenting, teaching at church, and her own personal reading. Despite a background focused mainly on fluff novels and too much TV, she has dived into the challenge of history, biography, educational philosophy, poetry, natural history, and theology with gusto. There are stumbles and frustrations (and still a few fluff novels), but Mother Culture provides a beautiful way to integrate her roles as mama, educator, and woman of God.
Beyond teaching her own children well, Sarah’s passion is to help CM communities expand, both online and in real life. Too many moms are feeling lonely and isolated. There are beautiful opportunities right now to develop systems of support, friendship, prayer, and encouragement. In the online world, Sarah has been a moderator on the AO forums for the past two years. She moderates the Form I (Years 1-3), Meet and Greet, and Art areas, but you can usually find her wherever the conversation is buzzing, books are being discussed, or there is mention of chocolate. Off the web, you can find Sarah involved with her local homeschooling group. For the past four years, she has been a part of a book group reading and discussing Mason’s volumes. Last year she helped to start and lead a Charlotte Mason co-op. This kind of face-to-face interaction has blessed not only her heart, but the hearts and lives of her children as well. Whether it’s Shakespeare or barbeques, it’s a joy to see CM families come and do life together. Sarah is excited to see how this regional retreat will open new doors for moms to pursue their own learning, build relationships, and encourage each other in this exciting journey we are all on.
Dawn Rhymer has always had a passion for education. When she graduated from the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and started her first job as a physicist, she used every free moment to earn her Master’s Degree, which was her key to returning to USAFA to teach in the Department of Physics. There she spent over two years teaching undergraduate physics courses, coordinating physics demonstrations for the community, and creating Science Pals, a unique program which allowed college physics students to invest educationally into the lives of local grade school children.
Upon completing her assignment at USAFA, Dawn separated from the Air Force and followed her husband to Georgia, where they started their family. Building on her love of education and science, Dawn taught many high school science and math classes for homeschoolers in her home and offered short science workshops for elementary age children. Balancing young children and teaching the local youth was a challenge and a joy, but it came to an end when her family moved to Ohio.
In Ohio it became time to formally begin teaching her own children. Dawn and her husband took a test to see what educational philosophy best suited them, and they were both off the charts with Charlotte Mason. However, neither of them had ever heard of her. A friend directed her to the Ambleside Online (AO) website, where upon seeing the material, Dawn panicked and headed in another direction. It would be a bumpy six-year journey back to Charlotte Mason.
After two years of literally hating homeschooling and buckets of tears from all and a move to Colorado, Dawn and her husband almost enrolled their oldest child in an Ambleside International school. Ultimately they chose to keep him home, but the grueling decision process brought Charlotte Mason back into their lives. Dawn read For the Children’s Sake, and she began to implement Charlotte Mason ideas into their homeschooling. However, challenges at home with the adoption of their youngest child kept her from completely taking the plunge into a Charlotte Mason education all at once, and for several years she made gradual changes as she was able.
Finally, in 2014, when Jennifer Taylor (you can find her bio below) moved to Colorado and started a Charlotte Mason Co-op and reading group, Dawn completely embraced a Charlotte Mason education. It took the building of community to provide the motivation Dawn needed for the inspiration of self-education for herself and her children. She chose AO and laughs now, saying, “If only they had those PDF schedules six years ago. My scientific brain would probably not have run the other direction.”
She laughs, but she trusts in God’s providence and timing, and as best she can, she is making up for lost time. She is managing her children in AO years 6, 4, 2, and 0 to the best of her ability. Although there are still tears, Dawn no longer hates homeschooling. Rather, it has become the passion of her life. She has become an avid member of the AO Forum, joined a CM co-op and book discussion group, attended the 2015 Charlotte Mason Institute Conference and AO Retreat, and is working her way through Ms. Mason’s Volumes as fast as she can. She has an old decrepit blog which she might work on again someday, but for now, you will mostly find her on the AO Forum.
Misty Sena knew from childhood that she wanted to homeschool her children. She would play in the yard with dolls, school books, and chalkboard – teaching. However, her visions of textbooks and desks in the dining room began to shift drastically when her firstborn was placed in her arms. Here was a person.
When her oldest was still a toddler, Misty confided in a group of homeschooling mothers of various methods. She had ideas about what she wanted, but didn’t know how to get it. She shared that she wanted her children to have schooling that treated education as a discipline. She wanted their souls to be nourished rather than merely “filled.” She wanted books that were both interesting and rigorous. And she wanted to make school a part of everyday life. A woman in the group gave an answer, “It sounds like Charlotte Mason would resonate with you. Check out AmblesideOnline. With her very first visit, Misty had found her community of kindred spirits. This was eight years ago. With the confidence and encouragement of her husband, she dove into Charlotte Mason’s writings and ideas.
Now Misty is the mother of four wild and wonderful boys and one sweet and sensitive girl, ranging in age from 1 ½ to 9. She is currently learning much about personal limits, simplicity, and grace while navigating life with these five exuberant little souls.
Misty is passionate about creating community and sharing Charlotte Mason with others. For the past three years she has been a moderator at the Ambleside Online Forum and in the Spring of 2016 started a local homeschooling group which aims to educate and encourage it’s members in using Charlotte Mason’s Principles.
“There is nothing I now desire to live for, but to do some small service to my children, that, as I have brought ’em into the world, so that it might please God to make me (though unworthy) an instrument of doing good to their souls.” – Susanna Wesley
Jennifer Taylor had the unique experience of receiving a Christian liberal arts education from Milligan College, whose philosophy of education states, “We begin with the confident declaration that all knowledge is ultimately unified, brought into being by a Creator. Because knowledge is unified, we can see the connections between history, literature, the arts, philosophy, and the Creator of all these disciplines.” This formative philosophy laid the foundation for her life in education.
Upon receiving her undergraduate degree in science, Jennifer went on to pursue a Master of Education from Milligan and has over fifteen years of teaching experience. She has held teacher licensures in Tennessee and Colorado where she taught at the elementary level in rural, inner city, and suburban communities. She discovered Charlotte Mason when her eldest child was approaching school-age. Mason’s works convinced Jennifer to begin homeschooling her three children (now 7, 8 and 11) using the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. Jennifer has since founded Aspen Grove Educational Community, a community that exists to support local homeschooling families using a Charlotte Mason education. This largely takes place through a weekly co-op and a monthly book study group,”CM in the Rockies”. Jennifer is a regular attendee of the Charlotte Mason Institute national conference and is honored to be a speaker at the first Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat in Colorado. Her passion is teaching children of all ages using Miss Mason’s methods and supporting homeschooling families in this approach through study and community.
Jennifer lives with her family in the beautiful foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Monument, Colorado.