by Katie Rohe, Michelle McKissick, and Kim Hartman
“I will never homeschool.” Those were the exact words Tresh Parker uttered to her husband Ken nearly eight years ago. With their firstborn daughter about to turn five, Tresh (pronounced Trish) and Ken knew they needed to make some educational decisions, but home schooling was not up for consideration. Tresh explains, “We didn’t really know much about home schooling, but we did have some of the same misconceptions many people have about it. Thankfully, God knew better than we did though!”
Tresh and Ken checked out local schools, both public and private. However, none of their options seemed to be the right choice. All the while, God kept calling them back to the concept of home schooling. “Boy, did I resist that idea,” laughed Tresh. “I kept telling God that there was no way I was going to homeschool; honestly, I was scared of the prospect of being completely responsible for my children’s education. I kept coming up with excuses, but God kept knocking them all away.” Finally, Tresh found herself one evening at a local home school support group meeting. “After attending that meeting and visiting with a few of the other home schooling moms, I came home ready to truly submit to God’s plan of education for our family. I remember being so elated that the other people there were very similar to us and all very . . . normal!” Tresh continued, “Once we finally submitted to God’s plan, we had a real peace about our decision to homeschool. In honor of that, we named our school ‘Peace Academy.’”
In the seven years since, Tresh and Ken have not only embraced home schooling but also have wholeheartedly embraced service in the home school community. Tresh continued, “Since making the decision to bring our schooling home that evening at the support group meeting, I have also ended up being very involved in the support group as well.”
Home schooling has also given the Parkers the resources to deal with a learning challenge that had yet to be identified so many years ago. As their first daughter encountered increasing difficulty with the written word, Tresh found herself feeling frustrated and responsible, convinced she was doing something wrong. She recalls, “Ken came home one day and found me in tears. I told him I just knew I had broken our daughter. Through Ken’s reassurance and the support of our home school friends, we eventually discovered that our daughter actually had dyslexia, and we were directed to a program that worked beautifully for overcoming her challenges. Interestingly, because Ken was so involved in our daughter’s treatment, we ended up discovering that Ken, too, struggled with dyslexia, something even Ken did not know. Because he was able to accompany our daughter to therapy, Ken also was able to gain skills to deal with the challenges.” Tresh said she and Ken credit the decision to homeschool and the generous amount of time they were able to give their daughter with rapid identification and intensive intervention.
Over the past seven years Tresh and Ken have volunteered and worn many hats in serving that same home school support group, West Houston Home Educators (WHHE). “I’ve answered phones, planned meetings, sought out and trained other volunteers, managed membership rolls, organized family gatherings; and Ken’s even cooked hot dogs and hamburgers in support of our fellow home schooling families,” Tresh explains. “After much prayer and consideration, Ken and I took on the mission of serving WHHE as support group leaders this past year. Through this position we have been so blessed. Our family was really able to connect with other families on our leadership team. We truly feel that those friendships will be life long, regardless of the direction each of our families takes in the future. This year also allowed Ken the opportunity to start a group called Men on a Mission, which has been a great resource for dads in our area. As the group has grown, God has led Ken to open his group to all of the home school dads in our community as there is a strong need for a group like this one that supports home school fathers on a local level.”
Peace Academy has grown over the years to include not only the Parkers’ oldest daughter Lauren (12) but also daughter Abigail (9) and son Matthew (3). Tresh and Ken have been married for twenty-two years and enjoy spending time with the blessings God has given them through their beautiful children. Ken works for Cameron International as a Level Three draftsman, and Tresh has and maintains her Texas cosmetology license. (She worked as a hairstylist before the children were born.) They are very active in their local church, and the entire family is also very involved in a homeless ministry in downtown Houston. The ministry, Feed a Friend Ministries, provides the homeless of the downtown area with a meal every day. As Tresh explains, “My family has enjoyed being the hands and feet for Christ through serving and cooking meals on a regular basis. What a blessing it has been to know we are helping to provide spiritual and nutritional food, clothes, blankets, backpacks, and much more.”
The Parkers’ dedication to serving home schoolers and the community—and the voluminous gifting of their time—led to the Parkers being awarded the THSC’s Support Group Leaders of the Year award this year, an honor they richly deserved. “We are very humbled and honored,” Tresh and Ken stated. “The Lord has richly blessed us with great friends, encouraging members, and an amazing support system. Although it has been a blessing to serve as leaders of WHHE, the Lord is leading us in a different direction for next year. We can’t wait to see what He has in store for us next!”
Katie Rohe, Michelle McKissick, and Kim Hartman leapt at the opportunity to work together on this article. They, along with WHHE leadership team members Joann Schmidt and Valarie Marchbanks, have so enjoyed working with the Parkers during the 2010-11 school year.