Donna Harp

Meet the Harp Family

The dawn of the new millennium brought many changes into my life. In May 2000, my youngest student graduated. A couple of months later, our two children still living at home moved out together into an apartment. I thought I had prepared for “empty nest syndrome,” but I was taken by surprise by “empty schoolroom syndrome.” As my husband, Eddie, and I  learned to shop for just two, I discovered a huge void in my life. When-ever I encountered those “teachable moments” that are such jewels to share with home schooling students, I discovered I had no one to share my inspiration.  (Photo above: Wedding in October 2005; Travis and BrandiLynn, Larin, Jonathan and Amariah Smith, Donna and Eddie.)

Recently, I acquired fascinating information about John McGregor, the bagpiper at the Alamo. (Our family is very involved in Scottish Country Dancing.) I called our youngest daughter at work and excitedly suggested we study, “In Search of the Alamo Piper” by Zoë Alexander. Amariah quietly replied, “Mom, I have to work.” I explained that I understood, but we could do this in the evening or after church on Sunday. Again, she insisted, “Mom, I can’t do that, I have too much to do.” I pondered her situation. It is true that she is the paid, live-in companion for our deaf and blind son, she was completing a required course as an adult leader for the church youth program, and she works full time at a chiropractic clinic. I reluctantly admitted Amariah did not have time. After twenty years of home schooling, I certainly had a dilemma.

Travis, our oldest student, is married to Brandi and was recently promoted to the engineer ladder as the Unix Systems Administrator at Motorola. He did not have time to learn about the Alamo Piper. I considered Michelle, who joined our school at age fifteen. Michelle and Don Sheffield have a fourteen-month-old son, Eric. As a certified interpreter for the deaf, Michelle was trying to find time to keep her skills up. Certainly she could not study with me either. Our son, Larin, was working full time and adjusting to independent living, while rapidly losing his vision. He already had too much to learn. The Alamo Piper was not a necessity. I discussed my problem with my husband, Eddie, who is a lay pastor and church board member. He is preparing to begin a paid church staff position in July. He also keeps busy supporting us with his lobster tank service business. Yet, Eddie generously agreed to learn about John McGregor as we drove to church one evening.

I work full time for ASERT (Austin Supported Employment and Rehabilitation Technology), a program of Disability Assistance. I help persons with severe disabilities to be successful on their jobs. When I went to work, the management counted all the time I had spent teaching my children, serving as Executive Director of HOPE for Texas and a board member of the Texas Home School Coalition as education and work experience. Although my job creates high stress, working as a supported employment specialist is well suited for me. I have the opportunity to use my creativity and hands-on training experience. The results of my work often change the lives of my clients. I was even able to tell the story of the Alamo Piper to one of my longtime clients. She was fascinated with kilts. So I arranged for this gentle lady who is blind to tastefully examine a kilt with a piper in it!

Friends say that I can home school my grandchildren someday. No, I really want my kids to teach their own children. This year I went back to teaching 12- to 15-year-olds with my husband in Sunday school. Recently, I was involved in teaching people the importance of serving as a precinct chair and how they can influence local, statewide, and national politics. I also worked with Mary James, Lyndsay Lambert, and others in developing a THSC Leadership Manual. Now that I am an “older woman,” many opportunities to teach younger women are coming up. Yet as I look toward the Lord bringing me into this new season of life, I feel very much like a new home schooler-gazing into the sky and pondering, “What about socialization?”