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IndED Academies offers alternative homeschool education

From 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at First Friday on September 4, the Learning Library will open its doors so parents and students can learn more about the micro-school from its leaders. Courtesy photo/IndED
The number of homeschoolers in Loudoun County is growing, and there’s a demand for an alternative education. IndED Academies is one of them.

“Parents should be able to decide what mode of education is best for their child and as long as we maintain that choice, Loudoun is headed in the right direction,” said Jill Turgeon, director for instruction and curriculum at IndED Academies and School Board member representing Blue Ridge. “Options are essential and we need to make sure that we keep those open.” Turgeon said her involvement with IndED is unrelated to her role on the School Board.

IndED Academies is Loudoun’s first micro-school and will follow the homeschool model under the Virginia Standards of Learning, but isn’t done at home or by the parent.

See it for yourself

From 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Sept. 4 First Friday in Leesburg, the Learning Library will open its doors to its “Young Entrepreneur Lab.” Parents and students can learn more about the micro-school from its leaders at the event. The Learning Library is located at 7 Loudoun Street SE.

Right now, IndED Academies is offering a nine-week citizenship class that teaches the fundamentals of how to be a good citizen, focusing on government, entrepreneurship, economics and communication skills. They plan on offering other single classes, including citizenship, entrepreneurship, science and art as an after school activity starting in January.

They have opened a few classes to interested guests as an opportunity to see how a micro-school would work in small doses. The free classes will cover government, entrepreneurship and economics at the Learning Library in late September and October. Parents and students can attend by invitation only, so interested families should contact IndED Academies for further information.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, Loudoun had 1,303 homeschooled students in the 2012 to 2013 school year. The county has the fourth highest homeschool population in the state, after Fairfax, Chesterfield and Prince William counties.

Turgeon and her co-founder, Butch Porter, are trying to change the paradigm of the Loudoun school system, because all children learn differently.

“We have a good school system in Loudoun County, but you still run into parents who are frustrated with it,” Porter said. “That doesn't mean the teachers or the school system is bad, it’s just not fit for everyone.”

The micro-school difference

The goal is to open Loudoun's first full micro-school in the fall of 2016 for up to 10 students ages 9 to 12. The focus is on individual learning plans; small, multi-age classes with individualized and self-paced instruction; and flexibility to be out in the community.

Unlike traditional homeschools, the micro-school provides the instruction, resources and one mentor who works individually with the students to offer the the main education. They will also have additional specialists depending on the students’ needs.

This option is for parents that are looking for the homeschool model of education, but can’t provide it themselves because they don’t have the time in their work schedule or feel unqualified to teach.

“Parents can be more involved and engaged but don’t have to be the singular sole teacher,” Porter said.

Related coverage:

-Loudoun parents plan micro-school

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