Home school program offers expanded learning for students

MISHAWAKA, Ind.-- One Michiana couple is taking big strides to create different opportunities and resources for homeschool students and parents. The Heritage Meeting House opened up just last month in September, which makes this Kelsi and Rusty Rea’s second adventure to help out the homeschooling community.

It’s something that the Michiana area has never seen before. Kelsi and Rusty, who are the owners and founders of the Heritage Meeting House, have been homeschooling for the last 12 years, but it wasn’t until 5 years ago when the idea came to mind, after their daughter was entering high school.

In 2019, Kelsi and Rusty opened up their very own private, hybrid school for homeschoolers on the campus of Bethel University, called the Heritage Christian Academy. They starting out with only 50 students in their first year, but since then, their numbers have only grown, and now have around 130 homeschool students in their program. Because of the increased demand and enrollments over the years, they decided to continue to support the local homeschooling community by creating the Heritage Meeting House.

“I’m a homeschool mom, I’ve been homeschooling for almost 12 years. I wish I had this when I was homeschooling my kids. So, we wanted to offer this as both a ministry and a resource to the community so you can come in, check out our books, you can read here. I also do curriculum consults, so if you’re new to homeschooling you can come in and we can craft a curriculum that’s unique to your family and your child. We’ll get you resources on how to get plugged into other resources or co-ops in the community, or other extra curriculums. So, if you're new to homeschooling, we can help you do this,” Kelsi Rea said.

Heritage Meeting House is filled with the couples’ very own collection of literature to provide students a different way of learning than what you see in a normal school corporation classroom, as well as private learning and teaching rooms, comfy places to lounge, sit and read, and even their very own cafe inside, where you can enjoy a nice brewed coffee and snack, which is all fresh and micro-local. Local artisans can also apply to sell their goods inside.

Their mission is not just to provide opportunities for artists in the community, but to provide a safe and effective area for homeschool students and parents to come to get the help they need to succeed locally; and it’s gaining attention from others across the nation.

“Our mission was just to help the community,” Kelsi said. “This is a really unique concept. I’ve never seen this done before. I’ve been a business owner before but this was an adventure that I didn’t have a model to go on. So, we’re actually now at the point where we have about 8 different schools across the nation who are actually coming to us to tour own program and get consults to start their own program like this all across the U.S.”

Bringing this new building to life during the global coronavirus pandemic, is something Kelsi says, was a blessing in disguise.

“At the end of 2020, they estimate that there were about 3 million homeschoolers nationwide. And at the start of last school year, there were 10 million,” Kelsi said. “We had no idea that when we started our school back in 2019 that it was going to be a year of a global pandemic, honestly it probably would’ve been too scary I think, I’m glad that I didn’t know ahead of time! But we really got in on the ground floor before everyone started homeschooling. When we started nobody knew what a hybrid school was, and now everyone has done hybrid to some degree with their schooling experience so it was just perfect timing.”

You can visit the Heritage Meeting House regardless if you are a homeschool student or family, however, if you want to use their resources, you will have to pay a monthly fee of $10, or $100 for the whole year. For more information you can visit Heritage Meeting House’s Facebook page, or their website by clicking here.

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