Special Guest Contributor Message from Kara Tupy

When I made the decision to homeschool my three children nearly a decade ago, it wasn’t an easy one. Plagued by all of the “what ifs” and overwhelmed by the choices, I wondered if I really had what it would take to create a learning environment in which each of my kids would thrive. What gave me the courage to make the leap? I held an image deep in my heart and in my mind’s eye of the world I wanted to give to my kids, and this image helped me name the things I valued most for our approach to education.

I envisioned a space where my highly social daughter with ADHD would learn to tell time by jumping around a chalk drawing of a clock, counting by 5s, a whole host of friends chanting the numbers with her. I imagined my son, whom I had a sense was extremely gifted in math, being challenged daily, his mind-stretching, his skills compounding; not waiting until high school to tackle advanced math. And for my quiet, nature-loving daughter who loves to read and write, I pictured an approach that would integrate the outdoors and lean heavily on literature. Most importantly, I didn’t want to do any of this alone. My family and I dreamed of learning in community with other homeschooling families whom we had yet to meet. Diversity in our learning approach. Community at the center. These values anchored us, giving us hope and courage as we faced the unknown.

Each year we’d reevaluate our choices, from curriculum to classes, community partners to co-ops. We’d get an email about signing up again for a class, or a friend would reach out about something new, and we’d sometimes find ourselves right back in that place of uncertainty. Revisiting our homeschooling values always helped reconnect us with what mattered most.

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in an activity alongside the staff at Cottonwood that helped me name my personal values. I weighed each choice, whittling it down from fifty to five. In the end, this exercise revealed to me how the things we value most aren’t situation-dependent. My values shown in the picture below show up whether I’m talking about my family’s educational choices, my work as the Associate Director of Instruction for TK-8 at Cottonwood, or how I invest my time with friends and family. Like a lighthouse on a foggy coastline, they call me home.

I live out my values each and every day as I oversee the TK-8 Instructional Programs at The Cottonwood School. From creating diverse learning experiences for our middle school students in RISE to fostering opportunities for social and academic connection in Boost, from modeling empathy during TK circle time to ensuring that every student who is learning to read has a place to belong, we at Cottonwood approach instruction with creativity leading to wider choices for parents as home educators.

And that’s where you come in – you, the home educator. What are your values? Why did you choose to homeschool your children? I’d personally love to hear from you at one of two Info Sessions in May where we will explore options to live out your family’s homeschooling values through the myriad of classes and learning approaches that are offered in our TK-8 Instructional Programs. We have news and updates to share with you (unabashed teaser here!) and we can’t wait to talk about all that is in store for the 24-25 school year.


Kara Tupy
Associate Director of Instruction, TK-8