“I must take issue with you, Mr. Paterson. Your arguments, sir, are ill-conceived. The most populous states must have proper representation for all of their people to insure that the voice of each landowner is fairly heard in our legislative body. Anything less will be unacceptable to the Virginia delegation.”
The sentiments of a white-wigged James Madison (aka Jordan Hulcy) in knickers and lace blouse are only a sampling of what Jessica calls “real teaching” that has taken place in the Hulcy home school for the last twenty-one years, with not only the four Hulcy boys but with literally hundreds of other children who have joined Jessica’s home school co-op groups over the years. In fact, Jessica’s way of teaching has had a significant impact on the way home school children are being taught in homes around the world today. How is that possible, you ask? Let me digress.
After college and graduate school, Jessica and I both taught in minority schools in the Dallas Independent School District for five years. Jessica resigned her teaching post to become a stay-at-home mom, and I resigned my newly appointed position as an assistant principal to enter private business. Desiring the neighborhood school environment, we moved to Richardson to take advantage of the superior schools. Public kindergarten went fine for Jason, our eldest, where he met a neat, Christian kid named C.J. Thaxton; however, the next year when C.J. was a no-show for first grade, Jason informed us that C.J. was being home schooled. Jessica, being the crusader type, headed over to the Thaxtons immediately. “C.J. is too cute a kid to be ruined by home schooling. How could Carole be so crazy?”
Carole, a former counselor, listened patiently as Jessica argued against home school. She then showed Jessica what she was going to do for the year, and Jessica had to admit it was impressive. Jason was going to be put in a special class at school, because he was the only reader in the first grade. After six weeks, the class never formed and young Jason was becoming bored at school. He appointed himself assistant teacher. How was he to know that his teacher did not need a six-year-old assistant! (Typical first born, right?) There was one other problem at school. Jessica, the homeroom mother, started planning for holiday celebrations. She was informed that no Christmas theme could be used in December. The kids could sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” but not “Away in a Manger.” As Christians, we wanted to teach our children from a Christian worldview. With much prayer and trepidation, we wrote a letter to the principal on stationery created on this new-fangled device called a personal computer, informing him that Jason was being transferred to KONOS Academy. The very week we took Jason out of school, the Short family, who had their children in the very same school district in which Jason had been enrolled, was prosecuted for home schooling. Those were unsettled times.
Jessica taught Jason the basics, and Carole took C.J., Jason, and their three-year-old little brothers, Carson and Jordan, for KONOS day each Friday. They did hands-on activities, made costumes, went on field trips, and had a great day at co-op once a week. There were no book fairs or support groups in 1981. We were on our own.
Jessica and Carole looked at the curricula that were available at the time and were unimpressed. Their response was, “These are the same teaching methods they are using at our corner elementary school…workbooks/textbooks and fill in the blanks, Pete and Repeat, tell and regurgitate.” They wanted hands-on, fun stuff taught multi-level to include Jordan and Carson and to build the bond between brothers. With nothing available, they wrote their own lesson plans integrating character, Bible, science, history, art, music, literature, and practical living skills. Other homeschoolers heard what they were doing, and these two home-schooling moms quickly became popular speakers at support group meetings in the Dallas area. Many mothers wanted copies of their lesson plans, so they could teach the same way. Soon our Xerox bill skyrocketed!
The next year Carole called Jessica and asked her to help develop their teaching methods into a formal curriculum manual. Jessica remembers asking Carole, “Who would buy it? Doesn’t everyone teach this way?” Reluctantly, Jessica joined Carole in the summer of 1984 to bring KONOS Character Curriculum to life. They wrote their first little, bitty “Volume I” and took it to the first national homeschool convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Carole and Dr. Raymond Moore were the two keynote speakers at this first national home school conference. This one-two punch of educational philosophy that stressed using real-life experiences, reading great books, and making school hands-on and fun struck a cord with these brand new home schoolers. Carole and Jessica sold all the books they had printed, selling the last book to the Moores. Their curriculum company was off and running. Luck? Nope, God’s providential hand of blessing. They quickly added other products. Looking back, Jessica wonders how she managed to write, speak, teach, and still maintain a home.
Soon the Thaxtons moved to California and then to the Czech Republic to work in full-time ministry. This left Jessica running the business alone. My mom helped her ship orders from our laundry room. When the phone orders came in, they would answer the phone, turn off the washing machine, and attempt to respond, “Marketing,” without cracking a smile. However, it soon became apparent that Jessica was not able to do all that she was trying to do – writing, marketing, speaking all over the U.S. and Canada, home schooling our three boys, and nursing a newborn. More often than not, she was in tears by the time I arrived home from the office each night. She would say, “I am doing everything in the world but what God has called me to do – teach my children at home.” I had a great job as vice president of Highland Park Cafeterias in Dallas but in 1989 offered my resignation to take the reigns of this little curriculum company. I have been CEO of KONOS ever since.
If ever a family was engrossed in home schooling as a lifestyle, it was ours. It has been our sole source of family income since 1989. I have taught physical education (PE) to hundreds of kids in the North Dallas area for the last fifteen years. My college-age sons have taken the mantle and done a great job teaching the PE classes for the last three years. Of course, Jessica has spoken in nearly every state, written scores of magazine articles, mentored hundreds of new homeschooling mothers, authored a dozen curriculum volumes, been interviewed on radio and TV, and still honored God’s calling on her life to be a wife and home school mom.
Jessica has to chuckle at all those arguments she gave Carole about “ruining children by home schooling them.” As far as socialization, our sons have had more extra-curricular activities than the law should allow. They have danced ballet, played tackle football and other sports, attended a number of public school proms, traveled overseas on mission and educational trips, and performed Shakespeare. Jason is an Eagle Scout. Rhett has written enough songs to cut his own CD. Jordan and Rhett have taught PE to more than 100 home school kids for the last three years and have led youth Bible study groups and praise singing while in college. Each has traveled to almost all fifty states as Jessica took them with her on “field trips” wherever she spoke. All the boys have been intimately involved with KONOS! Jason has graphically designed three books, Jordan has run the office, Rhett has illustrated four books, and Jared has been and is the consummate salesman.
Our sons have had an incredible education beginning with a focus on godly character. Jason, our little first grade assistant teacher, is twenty-six years old and is in the computer business in Dallas. Jordan is twenty-three; he teaches history and Bible and coaches football and basketball at Texhoma Christian School in Sherman. Rhett, twenty, is in his third year of college studying art at the University of North Texas. Jared, fourteen, takes care of his parents and shoulders four times as much work on the farm now that his brothers have left him. But there is more to that incredible education. Those brotherly bonds that Carole and Jessica sought to build have proved exceedingly strong. Each Hulcy boy chose to room with his brother in college, and they continue to be each other’s best friends.
Who would have guessed that the Lord would call us to a wonderful ministry to the home schooling community, when Jessica and I were so vehemently opposed to it in the beginning? We have been blessed beyond measure as we have been allowed to serve the home school community through KONOS and on the board of directors of the Texas Home School Coalition.
Wade Hulcy serves on the THSC Board of Directors and its Leadership Support Committee.