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Mary Hood Liz Koon TOS: In the summer 2011 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, we had an interview with you that discussed relaxed homeschooling in general. Today, we’d like to learn a little more about your organization, especially the new project you’ve begun called “The Titus Brigade.” First, can you remind people what you mean by relaxed homeschooling and tell us a little about your organization? Dr. Hood: To me, relaxed homeschooling is a mindset, not a philosophy. It is simply a means by which families can take charge of the education of their children, while doing it in a family-centered atmosphere, where the children are treated as individuals. These are the basic tenets: You are a family, not a school; you’re a mom, not a teacher; you’re a dad, not a principal; and you have individual relationships with your children, not a classroom. We do not consider ourselves unschoolers; we just believe in setting our own goals and losing all the assumptions we are bringing with us from an institutional school setting. TOS: What is the name of your homeschool organization? Dr. Hood: Our organization is called ARCHERS for the Lord, which is an acronym for the Association of Relaxed Christian Home Educators, and also comes from Psalm 127, about children being arrows in our quivers. We are a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization based in Atlanta, but we are trying to help people start programs all over the country. We had one large resource center in Atlanta for nine years but shut it down in 2006 in order to try to train and plant more programs, rather than just focusing on one area. TOS: What is the Titus Brigade? Dr. Hood: The Titus Brigade is our new mentoring program. We’re just beginning, hoping to help many young homeschooling moms connect with older, more experienced moms in their communities. TOS: What inspired you to create the Titus Brigade? Dr. Hood: A group of experienced homeschoolers were sitting around one day bemoaning the “old days” at the start of the homeschooling movement, when there were fewer resources but much more creativity and genuine homeschooling taking place. We were talking about how the younger moms often seem to be floundering, asking questions that we’ve answered years ago, and we realized we needed to make use of the tremendous resources available in the older moms who are just completing their homeschooling journey. TOS: How will the Titus Brigade help younger moms who are homeschooling right now? Dr. Hood: We want to encourage younger mothers to take control of their own homeschooling efforts, to relax and enjoy their families, and to stand up to the frequent pressures they are facing now from outsiders and the educational bureaucracy. TOS: How have older women been mentors to you?
Dr. Hood: I started homeschooling in the first place due to an article in The Birmingham News. That was back when homeschooling was illegal. The courage of those women, being interviewed in public, was largely responsible for my becoming a homeschooler. You never know how much influence you might have in another’s life. Those women started my own crusade for homeschooling, and I know I’ve in turn helped hundreds of homeschoolers over the years. If they had just sat in their houses and been silent, things could have worked out very differently. TOS: Why should older women get involved in the Titus Brigade? Dr. Hood: It’s very fulfilling to be able to share the knowledge we’ve developed over the years with others. Plus, it will keep us young if we stay involved with younger families! TOS: What benefits are there for inexperienced moms to be involved in the Titus Brigade? Dr. Hood: In our society, many times younger moms are away from their own mothers, or their own mothers may have different ideas about education. It always helps to ask questions of someone who has “been there, done that.” TOS: What types of programs do you suggest for people who want to become mentors? Dr. Hood: As far as the Titus Brigade goes, we recommend that a group start with putting on programs, such as a “back to school information night” for the community; a monthly mom’s night out program where the younger moms can be assured of the presence of at least one older, more experienced mom; and possibly partnering specific people in a mentoring relationship, if someone has the time and energy to coordinate that. TOS: If someone is interested in getting involved with your organization, how can she get started? Dr. Hood: In order to be involved with ARCHERS as a part of the Titus Brigade, the process is extremely simple. Start by contacting me via email. We’ll ask a few questions to get some basic information about the leader. Then we recommend the leaders/mentors get some Tshirts from us (available from our website) and begin some of the programs listed above. If the group takes off and wants to become an actual ARCHERS support group, there is a slightly more involved process, but basically we operate a lot like La Leche League. We need to get to know the leader very well in order to be able to trust her with day-to-day management of the group. The main benefit of being an ARCHERS group is that the bureaucracy is already in place at the national level, so it frees the moms up to just have fun with each other, without a lot of organizational hassle at the local level. Keep in mind that all money donated to ARCHERS or money spent on books and CDs on our website goes directly into the development of more programs, and that donations are taxdeductible, minus the cost of any products that are received. If a group wants to order more than two T-shirts, email us and we’ll work out a reduced price for larger quantities. One of the best ways to get things started in your own community might be to invite me to speak at a fair or come to do one of my own Relaxed Home Schooling workshops. That way, I can get to know the prospective leader, and we can find a few others who are interested to get you started. This should never be just a one-woman show. TOS: Are you working on any other projects right now?
Dr. Hood: Our biggest project right now is just in its infancy. We are trying to raise money to purchase land in the Georgia mountains for a conference/retreat center. Ultimately, we hope to have many more resource centers, support groups, and programs, but right now most of our programs are still centered in Georgia. However, I speak nationally (and have even spoken overseas, in Africa and Korea) and hope to eventually spread the word about relaxed homeschooling all over and grow the Titus Brigade into a truly national/international organization. TOS: How can people contact you to learn more about mentoring and the Titus Brigade? Dr. Hood: Through our website, www.archersforthelord.org; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or through Facebook. We have a group (relaxed homeschoolers-ARCHERS) on Facebook, and I also blog weekly at www.therelaxedhomeschooler.blogspot.com. TOS: Thank you, Dr. Hood for sharing about the Titus Brigade. Homeschooling is a big step to take, and new homeschooling moms certainly need the advice and encouragement of moms who have “been there and done that.” On behalf of homeschool moms who need a listening ear, I thank you for working to make mentoring a priority in the homeschool community. Liz and her husband, Craig, have three children--two homeschool graduates and one to go! Plus they’re enjoying being grandparents. Liz’s greatest desire is that her children and grandchildren always walk in the truth (III John 1:4). Liz is an assistant to the publisher at TOS and a freelance writer. She loves learning new things and creating dried flower crafts. You may contact Liz at LizKoonWritingandEditingSvcs@gmail.com. Mary Hood, Ph.D., and her husband, Roy, homeschooled their five children since the early 1980s. All have successfully made the transition into adulthood. Mary has a Ph.D. in education and is the director of ARCHERS for the Lord, Inc. (The Association of Relaxed Christian Home Educators). She is the author of The Relaxed Home School, The Joyful Home Schooler, and other books, and is available for speaking engagements. Contact her via her website, www.archersforthelord.org. Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
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