Jenifer Shahda and I are excited to provide a new non traditional education center to support students outside of a traditional school model. We both come from an Orton-Gillingham tutoring background and we have both worked as general ed teachers in public and private schools.
Like so many others, the pandemic shifted how we interact with education both in and out of schools. We had our own children home, we saw different families respond to the pandemic in different ways, and we started to see the possibility for education to be more flexible and adaptable.
For me (McCalla), I was struck during the pandemic by the obvious necessity of Wellness Wednesday when my own kids were attempting to return to the virtual/in-person hybrid at a local Dekalb County Public School. Why had we not always carved out time to rest and reboot? Then, when my family attempted to return to 5 day a week in-person school, coaxing 3 kids out of the house, 5 days a week, brought a stark awareness of some of the benefits of “Wellness Wednesday.”
Furthermore, I returned to teach as a reading specialist in a local private school and was reminded of how much time is spent in “classroom management” and attempting to have large groups of children doing the same thing at the same time for 8 hours a day. This led to frequently reflecting on the charts that circulated during covid homeschooling. These charts indicated how much time a child should spend homeschooling per day by age. This chart indicates how much can be done when groups are small and the teacher to student ratio is limited:
Ultimately, my love of alternate pedagogy, my experience with my own children, and my experience attempting to return to the classroom lead to the increasing sound of a voice in my head saying “what if there are some families and children who would do better with less?” Of course, many of my homeschooling friends already knew this.
Jenifer and I connected and found we have both worked with kiddos who do better in small groups. We have a passion for supporting students and families where they are with evidence-based best practices in education. We believe children deserve a childhood with freedom and creativity (Jenifer’s children attend the local Waldorf School), and we both had a voice asking us if we could build something to support families who wanted to do more with less.
McCalla and Jenifer