Aya Academy of Excellence

Raising Google Kids


“You can’t understand Google unless you know that both Larry and Sergey were Montessori kids. It’s really ingrained in their personalities. In Montessori school you go paint because you have something t express or you just want to do it that afternoon, not because the teacher said so. Do something because it makes sense, not because some authority figure told you. This is really baked into how Larry and Sergey approach problems. They’re always asking, ‘Why should it be like that?’ It’s the way their brains were programmed early on.” – Marissa Mayer

At Google, employees have the option of using 20% of their work time autonomously. This is how Google has been able to foster an innovative culture. When teaching children, removing the barriers of a prescribed outcome encourages inspired learning and creativity.

Homeschooling can and does enable independent thinking. However, our public school children, under the tutelage of a teacher open to less restrictive academic approaches can as well. The outcomes can be amazing.


Legacy Living


Each week, my girls and I pick up a slew of biographies from the library. These stories enlighten us to a time and place worth exploring and of the personal challenges remarkable people have triumphed over. Last night, my daughter selected a biography about Mary McLeod Bethune, the Black Rose, to read.

The Black Rose was an amazing woman. Her dedication to ensuring that African American children were educated prompted her to open her own school with just merely 5 children in its first year. The following year, she had twenty times that amount enrolled and three teachers. Her success, which later included having the ear of the President of the United States, is an example of the power of faith. The first building erected on her campus, which initially included boxes for desks, was named Faith Hall. She could not have known that her life, the embodiment of commitment and faithful stewardship would have later resulted in so many, including myself, to stay faithful in serving others. The lesson learned from her life is that our living our purpose builds an inspired legacy. And, tantamount to that, that this living may require the most humblest of starts.

Ava has expressed that she would like to see a black rose in person. Upon learning that black roses existed, Mrs. McLeod Bethune had several black rose bushes planted on campus. A visit to Bethune Cookman College in Daytona Beach next week may now be in order.

Don’t Give Up


“One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.”

In business and in relationships, knowing how and when to apply ‘long-suffering’ is tricky. Giving up and moving on may very well result in an opportunity to get things done faster, healthier, more stress-free. But dealing with challenges, making the most of a daunting situation, grows your heart, your character and your spirit.

The best movies, the ones that tug on your heart strings, are the ones in which people hold on and press forward even in the most daunting situations. That’s why sports movies are so popular. Rudy is a testament to endurance. And who didnt succumb to the guilty pleasure of singing off-key to Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On,’ as they pictured Jack holding on until the end for Rosé.

The greatest love story I’ve seen in sometime was a 22 photojournal story on Pinterest chronicling a couple’s relationship after the husband lost his limbs while serving as a Marine overseas. The most poignant image was of his wife carrying him on her back up the stairs. They didn’t give up.

Don’t give up. Not on your family, your purpose or yourself. Ever.

Top Five Sites for Homeschooling on a Shoestring Budget


I have yet to meet a homeschooling family that isn’t pinching a few pennies. For our family, to make this work we have foregone some of the extras others indulge in normally. To fill in the gaps, we rely upon community resources quite heavily. Here are a few of our favs.

1. I love Goodwill. We just picked up an UNUSED Discovery kids volcano science kit from a nearby location today. For, get this…$2.02 AFTER TAX! Since we’ve been meaning to create one together as a connection to our Ancient Rome (Pompeii) unit, this was a Godsend.

2. The library system in our county is amazing. The activities, including yoga, are free and are often presented by community businesses.

3. The parks and rec department is also an outstanding resource. The varied green spaces and playscapes provide ample opportunities for learning and play.

4. YMCA – a monthly membership to the Y provides additional recreation activities indoors. This going to be most helpful as temps dip.

5. The homeschool education associations have a plethora of tips and resources. In the beginning, they were most helpful as we sought a co-op to join. The state association has a page for field trip information that alerted us to the GA Aquarium’s homeschool days. Tickets for tree would normally exceed $90. We picked up tickets for a total of $26!

***Bonus #1: Pinterest has been a great help in drilling down resources and activities. A quick search leads to numerous activities. The teachers and moms/dads on the site have fun, inventive activities.

***Bonus #2: http://www.homeschoolshare.com has free unit studies for a wide range of topics. It was a really helpful when we began the lap booking journey.

Road Tested: When God Gives You a Tune Up


I’ve been plagued with doubt recently. During quiet moments, I’ve been lamenting over the valleys of leading a social entrepreneurial endeavor. Although I have not been doubting my purpose nor our mission, I’ve been in doubt whether I possess the capacity to make the impact that is much needed. It took a ten-hour, 400 mile journey for God to reaffirm that my doubt is needless and that when you do the work he commissions you to do, you will be successful.

While enroute, I kicked myself for not taking the car to get serviced before we departed. As the car ages, little quirks are springing up. So after a few days into our trip, I headed futilely to two Walmart locations to get an oil change. I ended up at one of several area Jiffy Lube locations in front of an affable check-in coordinator. He inquired, “Are you still teaching?” After mentally running down the contents of my car and realizing that he could not have known that from the debris tucked into the side door compartments, I studied his face to see if I recognized him. I didn’t. Was he part psychic and part psycho? How did this complete stranger pick up on the fact that I was once a classroom teacher? He shared that one of the crew was a former student. God never ceases to amaze.

After ten years and a few dozen teachers, this young man I shared a sixth grade classroom with remembered me. I am humbled by that. After hugging, chatting and mild coercion, my former student allowed me to snap a pic of him with his crew.

Impact. Whenever I write a grant to raise funds, engage a community partner or meet with our board, I discuss how we impact the lives of others. During my recent contemplation, I’ve been weighing the peaks of impact against the valleys of incremental progress. Is this journey worth it? Can I profoundly make a change within the community? With one brief, ‘coincidental’ encounter God reaffirmed that what I’m doing matters and that the reach of our work must continue.

Bed schooling


It’s funny…very funny how old adages still ring true. When I became a parent, I picked up every learning toy imaginable for my daughter. I should have taken out stock in Fisher Price! My mom and others told me that kids are creative and would find as much joy or even more with a cardboard box. This is still so true.

Before we began homeschooling, I spent considerable time revamping our home. The never used living room became our learning center and our diningroom doubled as our writing space. After a few trips to Ikea, Target and a salvage shop we transformed our space so that we could learn. And guess what? Over the past few weeks the girls have spent just as much time in the family room to read and have even done what most kids do, worked right from bed.

Learning doesn’t have any boundaries. It doesn’t require goo-gobs of stuff to be dynamic. I love the story of Diogenes who sold all of his stuff, ‘Men think they own possessions but truly possessions own men.’ Letting go of the material expectations, including space allocation ‘requirements’ keeps the focus on the true mission: making learning inspired.

So today, as Ava pilfers my iPad to learn French on her volition, I realize that I am learning just as much from homeschooling as my children are…what a blessing!

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