Flushing's High School's Independent Voice

Homeschoolers Come to FHS

March 27, 2017

Photo Credit: Emily Peterson

Photo Credit: Emily Peterson

On her first day of high school, Mandy Jaster thought, “Wow. There really are all the stereotypes.”

“You could see the jocks,” she explained, “You could see the goths clustered in the hall.You could see all those super preppy, gorgeous girls, and that group of nerds… everyone does have their group and that’s been hard.” This was a far cry from what Mandy was used to; not only was it her first day at FHS, it was her first day of school. After years of homeschooling, the senior was coming to public school for the first time.

Mandy’s father, FHS math teacher Bob Jaster, and his wife decided to homeschool their four children “Mostly because of the social environment it seems the direction the world was going,” even though both are certified teachers and attended public schools themselves. As Mandy put it, “Christianity is a big part of our family, and they wanted to keep us away from certain influences… it was to keep us sheltered.”

Although the Jasters began homeschooling for moral reasons, Bob believes there have been academic benefits; “The biggest pro (of homeschooling) is that you don’t have to wait for anyone else… you don’t have to teach to the middle of the class, you teach to the individual” citing his oldest son, who came to Flushing to take AP Calc as a junior, after surpassing his mother in math. Jaster says,“I feel really good (about the decision to homeschool his children) because of my wife. She’s very academically-oriented… and dedicated. I don’t think you need to be a certified teacher to be a good homeschooler, but you do have to be dedicated and you have to have set priorities. You have to not go shopping when you should be schooling.” His wife did not teach alone though. The Jaster Children all regularly attended co-ops, groups of homeschoolers meeting and learning together, with different parents specializing in different subject so “ It wouldn’t be just one mom trying to be very good in everything just to teach her family,” according to Mandy.

But there is much Mandy says she did not learn in homeschool, “When you overhear homeschoolers, you hear that their cow just gave birth, or about the new curriculum they just started. At high school, you overhear normal conversations, but you also overhear about having ecstasy the day before, or what their favorite sex position is. That is something I was not at all used to.” She now believes her parents were “probably overly cautious” and admits there may be truth in homeschool stereotypes, explaining “everyone I know (through homeschooling) is Christian, and they all homeschool for religious reasons… and the parents tend to be overly-protective…and it’s kinda home-ec all the time.”

Elizabeth Collins was most shocked by “profane language’ when she and her seventh-grade-sister came to FHS. “I’m not used to swearing,” the homeschooled ninth-grader said, “But the first day I came to Flushing, there were people swearing and I thought ‘why are they doing that?’ My mom said it’s just how they were raised.” Elizabeth is only exposed to swearing for two hours of the day though, when she and her sister participate in both Advanced and Concert Orchestra. The Collins were encouraged to join Flushing’s orchestras by their friend and fellow cellist, Rachel Earhart, who graduated from FHS in 2016.

Though switching to public school has been difficult, Elizabeth says “I’m not really social, but I think it’s a good idea to be in a public school orchestra, so I can try to connect with others.” Mandy also is glad she came to Flushing for the 2016-2017 school year, actively participating in the fine arts program, something not available to homeschoolers and enrolled in two AP classes. But when asked if she plans to homeschool  any children she may have, Mandy answered with a resounding “yes.”

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