Can a student add work in to make one of your classes an "honors class"?

Certainly. See the honors requirements in the course descriptions of ML and BL classes here on my website.


Which aptitude testing/career counseling group do you recommend?

Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation, with an office here in Atlanta.

Should I supplement my child's work in your class with grammar and vocab study?

I think vocab is helpful, if learning lists or however you do it is actually how your child learns. Some students absorb well with memorization, and some do better with contextual learning (I had a son like that!). Grammar brings similar thinking to me--some students can practice rules and patterns, but outside of being able to converse about grammar terms sometimes in class, this learning may not transfer to their writing. Since you know your child well, I would choose what has been working for her and continue if you wish. If you want to try something different than textbook study, she might better spend her time reading or listening to interesting books, podcasts, etc. so that she can hear good patterns of standard English and practice discerning definitions of words she doesn't know. I've see this kind of learning really help many students who are not "workbook people."

How do your classes fit with others to make four high school English credits?

The last page of this linked document lists a number of classes that can count toward the four English courses required for a student to enter GA universities: click here. Multicultural Lit can fill in for any class, even when a parent or teacher supplements literature to make a certain "flavor" of class (9th Grade, 10th Grade, American, World, etc.) I have students from 9th-12th grade (8th in a certain class at MAS) in ML since it is a practical skills course and covers a variety of accessible, quality works of literature. AP Lit and AP Lang can slide into any slots after ninth grade, depending on the background of the student. My AP Lit is a world lit course and can be labeled so if needed. My Brit Lit is great for 10th-12th graders. I would be happy to discuss options with you since there is no state-mandated progression of classes that homeschoolers must follow. Accreditors have various expectations, however, so if you go the accredited route, check ahead with the program you join.

Does Multicultural Lit count as American Lit?

I am happy to discuss how you and your student can add additional reading to my ML course to have it count as Am Lit. We do cover a number of Am Lit writers in ML such as Frost, Welty, King, Singer, Walker, and Eliot, and I can mark up an Am Lit survey text of your choice so that you can add appropriate reading at home. I also have a useful "American History through reading nonfiction, high-interest books" list derived from a WORLD magazine article here, if you'd like to reference that as a possibility for Am History.

Does Multicultural Lit count as Ninth Grade Lit?

Yes! It can also count as Tenth, Junior, and Senior Lit, and a number of other comprehensive high school English courses that various accredited groups require. I am happy to discuss options with you, and provide grade reports with appropriate course names.

Does AP Lit count as World Lit?

Yes! And we can adapt AP Lang and ML to count as well.

Can I rename a class?

Yes-- that is your right as the lead teacher in your child's education. I can adjust the name of a class on a grade report if needed.

How much homework is given? How many hours per week?

AP students have the most homework, needing to work independently about 4-5 hours a week outside of class. Brit Lit and Multicultural Lit students may spend 2-4 hours outside of class per week.

Do you write letters of reference for students?

All the time! This is where my building a relationship with each student as well as good observation of each student's work provide positive anecdotes regarding his or her potential for college work, summer camp counseling, scholarship or award qualification, honors program participation, part-time work, Eagle Scout merit, etc. I really enjoy writing these letters. This is where I get to do the essay writing! If for some reason I cannot write a positive letter, which is rare, I will let the student and parent know so that they can choose another recommender.

What is your theory of teaching writing and grammar?

Following the lead of Mina Shaughnessy and others in the writing theory wave I encountered in grad school, I have adopted the theory that every student has a self-created, logical approach to writing rules and style; however, individual logic does not always line up with Standard American English. At the high school level, it is my job to determine how individual students don't line up with what is acceptable writing in the academic world. Rather than having students do exercises in workbooks and learn patterns of paragraph and essay structure that may not be useful in college and life work, I study each student's writing, rather like a doctor looks at symptoms. Then I target activities and materials designed to bring a student or whole class in line with the expected standard. I keep my ear to the ground for what is happening at GSU, GT, and other colleges to make our goals practical. Throughout the year we work on handouts of peer writing (collected anonymously), learning how to strengthen it with stronger style choices, edits to poor grammar, and techniques of professional writers. Students learn, with some measure of intellectual dignity, how to adapt their own writing styles to the standard, yet still have room for their personality and individual ways of thinking. The goal is to encourage, improve, and provide real audiences for student writing whenever possible.

What are your qualifications to teach language arts?

I graduated from Berry College with the intention of becoming a pharmacist in grad school (ergo my interest in science!), but ended with a secondary English education major and renewable, 7-12 GA teaching certificate. I received a master's degree from Bowling Green State University, OH, in speech and theatre, taking graduate-level courses also in literature and theories of teaching writing. While at BGSU, I paid my way by teaching college speech classes and working in summer stock theatre. Since graduation, I have taught in two public schools, two private schools, and the hybrid education world. The College Board has approved me to teach both AP Literature and AP Language, and has hired me to score SAT essays. I have also led seminars in drama, AP English, speech, SAT prep, and writing at professional teacher development conferences and for various homeschool groups, and led the steering committee for triple accreditation of SACS, GAC, and ACSI at a private school in Atlanta. Since obtaining my teaching certificate and master's degree, I have taken approx. 30 additional hours of continuing education credits in teaching AP courses and reinforcing fine art and drama in the classroom. Besides all of this, I have had excellent mentors who have taught me to love teaching!

How do you accommodate special needs students?

I love to work with families. Parents often know best how their students react to a learning environment, so a meeting time between us can form a partnership that will benefit us all, especially the student. We adults can agree on the level of involvement of the parent in coursework, and set healthy goals for the student. Students in my classes have been previously diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, vision impairment, audio processing issues, autism, cerebral palsy, heart ailments, depression, disabling allergies, and other situations. My classes are richer for this diversity. I am not certified in special needs education, but I will work with you!

What do you offer gifted students?

All of my classes can challenge students in some way since I work with them individually through the week, not just in the classroom. For example, there are sometimes seniors in ML or BL who have already had an AP Lit course. They study the same skills as freshmen, but can work to a higher level because I learn how to push them in a healthy way. There is always interesting work that can be done, if a student is not feeling challenged. Summer reading provides a good opportunity for some students to add to curriculum, and AP courses are designed to challenge all. You can find details about an honors option for ML and BL in their course descriptions at this website.

Do you give discounts on class fees?

Feel free to discuss this with me. Also see fee and discount info attached to the course descriptions on this website.

Where do we get textbooks?

They can be found on the Internet used (or some new) at a good price. You will find ISBN numbers in course descriptions.

What are DOE course numbers?

The GA Department of Education assigns course numbers to public school classes. Many accredited hybrid programs also use these numbers. You can find a complete list here.

Do you grade papers and give tests?

Yes--I actually enjoy giving feedback to students, having conversations with them right on their assignments as well as in informal conferences. I grade all of my students' work myself, tracking the progress of each student and building relationships because I care about what each one does in my class. Through EngradePro, I provide constant grade averages, based on plenty of assignments evaluated and returned weekly.

How do your students behave?

I expect them to be respectful to me and each other--they get to see my "other side" if they don't, but that is very rare. We stay busy in class--there is little time for getting in trouble. My classes are interactive and students have a chance to work together and learn that we all need encouragement and some healthy competition to improve our skills. I love my students!

What do you think of joint- and dual-enrollment?

Some parents like to move their students into the college environment earlier than their peers. Dual enrollment, however, should not be a pat goal. Given the good quality of instructors in many hybrid programs, one might not find better teachers in freshman college classes, or better peer students to study alongside. It's always best to visit classes before one enrolls in them, even college classes.

You homeschooled your own son, K-12. Would you do that again? How did he do in college?

I loved the homeschooling experience, perhaps learning more than Perry! He graduated from the College of Computing at GA Tech in May 2014 and now works full-time in Austin, TX.

Your classes meet in churches, and you are a Christian. How does that play out in the classroom?

My fellow teachers and I are Christians, though we come from different Christian churches. Many of my students are Christians, belonging to over 50 different churches at last count, but some students and families are not Christian and come from either a different faith group or are not sure about the actual existence of faith and God. I do not have a "Christian format" for my classes, as in starting every class with verbal prayer or writing Scripture on the board. Coming from a variety of secular teaching environments and my own mostly public/secular education, I value the freedom to share my perspectives as one who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However, I want all of my students to know they can share their own views on paper and verbally in class without being judged. God is powerful to reach into a person's life at any moment if he or she is asking questions, whether acting religiously or not; my goal is to create an environment that is respectful of where each student is coming from.

What's "accreditation"?

There is an organization independent of the GA Dept of Education that accredits some schools in GA. This private organization is called the GA Accrediting Commission. Some homeschooling families have joined programs and schools that provide a transcript that has the GAC seal for those who have followed GAC procedures.

‚ÄčAre there families that do not choose accreditation services, but create their own transcripts? Are their students accepted into colleges?

Yes and yes. Many families do not choose to accredit, for various and sound reasons. Each year their students are accepted into GA colleges and universities as well as many institutions outside of GA, including Ivy League schools.

Are some families using accreditation services other than Georgia Accrediting Commission?

Yes, Customized Education Designs accredits through Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. You can find more about CED here.

What's new for students graduating in 2015+ and the HOPE scholarship?

There is a new "rigor" requirement that requires a student to prove he has taken some advanced classes. AP classes are not the only ones that qualify, especially in the maths and sciences. You can find more here.

AP-related Questions:

Are your AP courses authorized by the College Board?

Yes, you can find the authorization letter here. Each year, my syllabus is updated and approved by the College Board.

What are the benefits of Advanced Placement classes?

To have "AP" on one's transcript, your instructor must be approved by the College Board. Students often get 5-10 pts added to their GPA course value for an AP class. APs are helpful for the new HOPE rigor standards for 2015 grads. Students also have the opportunity to sit for AP exams given only in May. Though the test is not required for one to receive class credit, and one does not need to take an AP class to take an AP exam, an exam with a good score can reward students course credit in college. A talk with college representatives or a look at a college website can determine how valuable AP classes and tests may be for a student. Some universities offer credit for up to two English classes for a good score on the AP English exam.

What is the difference between AP English Literature and Composition and AP English Language and Composition?

AP Literature employs a traditional approach to fiction, using literary analysis tools to determine theme and style of poetry, short stories, novels and so forth. This is how most of us adults were taught to study literature in school. My AP Lit creates more focused writers and readers, and exposes students to a wide range of themes, cultures, and "isms" that they should have to be discerning citizens and thinkers. AP Language takes a rhetorical approach to discovering how nonfiction is persuasive--not just what is being proposed or inferred, but how it is indeed acting on us. It's a fascinating study, and students are using this approach daily in real life, whether confronted with advertising, religious messages, movies, debates, or podcasts, to name a few examples. I have found homeschool students very good at rhetorical discernment, given a focused environment to practice their analysis skills. AP Lang can make our students better writers, thinkers, and speakers, and subjects such as debate, mock trial, and Model UN can make students excellent AP Lang students (and vice versa). Having tutored a GSU student for two years and having my son at GT, I see that the AP Lang and AP Lit objectives and methods are useful in not only college English but most of the subjects covered in core classes.

Should a ninth or tenth grader take AP? How about juniors?

Some ninth and tenth graders have done very well in AP. I like to screen ninth graders to be sure they want to be in the class and will be engaged in the material, not just checking off assignments in a mindless way or expecting lots of rote work. They need to have a good background in language arts and not be afraid of criticism of their writing. Both sophomores and juniors have the advantage of having their AP test scores available to share on college applications, since scores come back in July, which is another reason for taking the class before senior year.

Can my student take AP class and not take the national exam?

Yes. We do a number of practice tests (about 6) during the year and if this is not a good type of test for a student, he or she can opt out of taking it. One can also take the exam without taking the class.