A homeschooling boom in America’s Pacific Northwest has led to the creation of a huge homeschooling business to help parents in the region teach their kids at home and at their specialised centre.
20 years ago, Heidi and Jay St John started The Firmly Planted Family Homeschool Resource Center in Vancouver, Washington State, just across the Columbia River from Oregon’s biggest city of Portland. It has been growing ever since and now runs like a massive homeschool co-operative.
During the covid pandemic demand for its supplies and services skyrocketed so high the couple needed to raise A$24 million for a new building to quadruple the size of their operation. Miraculously, they raised the money to support hundreds of students and parent-teachers.
“We took it to the Lord. And at several points along the way, we brought families over here to pray for the building. People walked the perimeter of this building, putting their hands on the bricks, and just saying, Father, you see what’s happening to your children, we need your help, we need your help,” explained Heidi St John.
CBN News reports God showed up in a mighty way with enough money to cover all the costs so they could move forward debt-free. “Nothing is impossible for God,” she proclaimed.
The St Johns say the whole story of their homeschooling business is a miracle story. What began as a small, humble homeschool ministry has now outgrown two locations thanks to the boom in demand. “God just kept putting on our hearts, ‘step forward in faith and I will bring the people and the resources and He’s done that,’” says Jay St John.
The miracle has expanded into a super-sized building with a couple of hundred classrooms providing everything from the basics to woodworking, music recording and dance. It includes a huge auditorium, a coffee shop and a bookstore. It seeks to match kids’ interests with parents’ teaching expertise so students can have more ‘lightbulb moments.’
The Firmly Planted Family Homeschool Resource Center promotes itself as a non-profit, full-time facility dedicated to equipping and encouraging homeschooling families. It offers students classes, field-trips, special events, tutoring, hands-on learning and chapel. For parents there are workshops, counselling, a curriculum store, classes, and fellowship. For families it provides a school community.
Staff Director at the Homeschool Resource Center, Haley Choate explained: “When you’re around people that are amongst the same mindset as you, it just emboldens you and it makes you validate that I’m not alone. Today’s [woke] culture, especially in the Pacific Northwest, is the main catalyst, and the students understand what’s happening.”
“The public school system is having a really hard time right now,” says student Saylor St. John. “They’re teaching a lot of things that are not true and things that kids should not be taught.”
CBN News reports the numbers back up that concern. Americans overall are losing faith in public schools. A Gallup poll reveals an all-time low of just 26% of Americans having a great deal of confidence in them. A separate poll shows that nearly half of the parents who homeschool their children believe public school systems are influenced too much by liberal and woke cultural viewpoints.
“You would never pack your child a sack lunch and send them to the frontlines of a literal war, you would never do that. Yet, every single day, we give hundreds of thousands of students sack lunches, we pat them on the head, and we put them on little yellow school buses and they take them to the frontlines of the culture war.”
Conservative Christian parents in Washington State understand what’s at stake. “If they get the hearts and minds of the children, then they can run the country,” says Carlene McKinley, an administrator at the Homeschool Resource Center. “We’ve seen years of indoctrination already.”
The St. Johns know first-hand that the homeschool plunge can be daunting. “I was the mummy who was like, ‘What woman in her right mind would want to stay home with her kids for 18 years when a yellow bus comes and takes them away for free, right?'” Heidi St. John recalls.
But she and her husband saw the effect on their children at the time, which led to prayer and a conversation that Heidi had with her husband in the middle of the night. “I’m kind of leaning over him you know, ‘Wake up, wake up,’ and he woke up. I said, ‘What would you think if we homeschooled our kids?’.
The Homeschool Resource Center founders say they are giving parents and children a lifeline: “We’re building Noah’s Ark, Noah’s educational ark. We’re saying get out of the waters of woke. Get out of these broken schools. If God can do it here in the Pacific Northwest, then He can do it anywhere.”