Meet the McMinn Family
We began our home schooling journey in the spring of 1983 with modest goals and expectations. We were going to try this bold educational experiment for one year. Little did we know that twenty-two years later our family would still be immersed in the lifestyle of home education, along with the other odd cultural behaviors attendant thereto.
Our story is similar to that of most diehard, committed-for-life-home schoolers, except maybe for a few environments peculiar to that class of “early home schoolers.” There were not too many of us, and when we met together, the secrecy associated with the address list of devotees was right up there with the formula for an atomic bomb. Also, resources were scarce and difficult to find. In those days, publishers like Bob Jones and A Beka would not sell curriculum to those not enrolled in their programs. As if that were not enough, authorities were threatening jail in some Texas school districts for parents so bold as to believe they were actually qualified to teach their children at home.
Before finding home schooling, with two girls in elementary school and two more approaching school age, Dianne and I felt uneasy about the traditional educational track. School was not the same as it was when we were kids. Girls were dressing out for gym and changing classes in the fourth grade; bus rides from our rural location were an hour or more; and, due primarily to the “authority” of things learned in school, our ability to shape our children’s worldview was being compromised.
Our fundamental desire as Christian parents was to see our children and grandchildren understand and accept the saving message of the good news of Jesus Christ and to see them live their lives according to His character. In short, the legacy we desired was one of holiness—without losing even one—to many generations.
About this time Dianne, who is truly the “maker” of our home, encountered a friend who declared that she was going to “home school” her six-year-old in the fall. Dianne was shocked. Can you do that? Is it legal? The friend invited us to a meeting of their small support group. We went. At the meeting we were so taken aback by the polite, articulate, and mature home schooled children that we both decided we must find out more.
After immersing ourselves in the works of Dr. Raymond Moore and other pioneer proponents of home schooling, we purposed to take the plunge. Fortunately, we had little or no opposition from extended family. We enrolled in the Christian Liberty Academy Satellite School; Dianne made blue uniforms for the girls; Tom made school desks for all; and the day after Labor Day at 8 a.m. sharp, we started. This journey has taken us through seven children taught at home, through Christian Liberty Academy, ATI, the Principle Approach, Calvert School, and our own home brew of curriculum. We learned to love our children more than ever; we learned and embraced principles of courtship; through a sterility reversal, we were blessed with three additional children; and Tom now works from home.
Now for the current particulars: Our daughter Melissa (32) is married and has five daughters whom she and her husband Andrew home school. Melissa was in the second Houston-wide home school graduation. She was one of about twelve graduates. Maggie (31) is married and has two children. She home schools her two under the leadership of her husband Matt, who is the director of a Christian camp (Frontier Camp) in East Texas. Sarah (27) has four little ones (with number five on the way). She and her husband Drew home school their young brood. Drew, like Tom, is an engineer, and the two are praying that they will soon work together in the energy exploration business. Rebekah (26) and her husband Lee have a one-year-old son and are expecting their second child this summer. Lee works with his brother-in-law, Matt as the retreat director at Frontier Camp. The four older girls met their husbands and married under the principles of courtship, but that story is for another day.
Tommy (15) and Peter (13) are in the thick of things as home school students. They are both indispensable in the management of the family cattle ranch. Peter will be a front line missions geographer one day, and Tommy will finance the operation. Molly (10) is the icing on the cake of our home school journey. As the youngest of seven, and an aunt twelve times over, she is cool as a cucumber and sweet as a sugar plum. Dianne’s early prayer that through home schooling the Lord would return the years that the locusts had eaten has surely been answered.
Our home school voyage has taken us through many and varied learning adventures. We were present at the Austin TEA Party; we sat through the Leeper v. Arlington trial as a civics lesson, have started two home school support groups, and have helped launch a family-friendly church. Tom sits on the board of the Texas Home School Coalition; Dianne, through her gift of hospitality and her concern for young, home school mothers, has helped and encouraged countless moms through the years as she has shared her vision for what God can do in our families, if we are only obedient to follow His design.