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40 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 11.16 would say, "Oh, no, please don't take me to school!" Apple, sitting on the sofa with her feet dangling above the floor, shrugs and says, "I just liked being home and not really having to go anywhere in the morning." "She's never been in school," Toya says of Apple, "whereas Ian, he knows what's expected. She never knew that every day children were getting up at 7 or earlier and getting dressed, getting their break- fast, going to school, doing their school- work for so many hours of the day." Ian and Apple politely shake my hand, smile and stand tall when I visit them at their Jeffersontown home. It's a chilly rainy Monday morning, and the kids are in T-shirts, shorts and socks. Today Ian is finishing a lab report from an experiment in which he observed what happens when solid butter is put in liquid butter and when ice is put in water. As a freshman, Ian now mostly works independently, and he's taking courses with the Air and Space Academy at Bowman Field — his goal is to get into the Air Force. Apple, in sixth grade, still needs direction, so she and Toya sit at the kitchen table and work on Apple's writing skills before diagram- ming sentences and labeling parts of speech. Toya spent two hours the previous evening watching a DVD to learn how to present the material to Apple, though they try to keep evening studies to a minimum. at's when Toya's husband Rudy is home from his job at Reynolds Aluminum, where he's a maintenance manager. e Guerreros have switched up their home-schooling methods and curriculum over the years. For the past several years, they've used a common home-schooling curriculum from a Christian publisher named A Beka. (e Guerreros, like many home-schoolers, didn't set out to home- school for religious reasons, but Toya likes that her children can now talk about God in an academic setting.) Toya decided to have her kids tested to see if they met academic standards for their grade levels, so she found a home- school group that uses the Stanford Achievement Test, employed nationally by many private schools. Ian did average or above average in most categories. Apple struggled a bit. At the testing, Toya met other home-school moms who raved about a co-op called Classical Conversa- tions. "I didn't understand what a co-op was," Toya says. "I felt like, you're taking your children out of school to be with you and to teach them. Why would you take them to a building with a group of chil- dren? Basically, I felt like you were getting back into the same situation as public or private school, but this is not like that at all." Every Friday, the kids join 47 other students at Jeffersontown Baptist Church and break up into different classes. ey then work on assignments throughout the week based on what's learned in class. Even with the more scheduled, formal setting, Toya and the other home-school teachers have the freedom to commit at whatever level they want. And Toya doesn't grade. If Apple does her math work wrong, Toya will make sure she understands it and tell her to correct it. "I feel like with home school, it's not so much about the grade as it is learning." Jackie Hawkins, like most parents, wants the best education for her daughter Jooniper. To her, that wasn't going to happen at their "resides" schools when they were thinking about kinder- garten. She chose Brandeis because of its reputation as a high-performing magnet school. She gathered the application requirements, the recommendations from preschool teachers, the samples of her daughter's preschool work. When Jooniper was accepted and started school, it wasn't what Hawkins and her ex-hus- band hoped it would be. "Her kindergar- ten teacher yelled at students. What kind of kindergarten teacher yells at people?" Hawkins says. Jooniper also dealt with a bully, and the way the classes were set up, she'd remain in the same class as her bully through fourth grade. Hawkins wrote letters and was on the PTA, but says that nothing was done about the bully and that her daughter's cocooned demeanor reflected that. One afternoon, Jooniper was supposed to stay after for a math and science class, and Hawkins got a call from the school 45 minutes after school let out saying they hadn't seen her daughter since before school let out. "I freak out, I mean, who wouldn't?" Hawkins says. e school bus arrived late with Jooniper mistakenly on it. is was in November 2007, when the girl was in second grade, and the school had already accidentally put her on the bus three times that year. "I realize that there are a lot of families who have great experiences at that school. We just weren't one of them," Hawkins says. e cost of private school eliminated that as an option, so she decided to home-school. I visit her in Clarksville, where the family is in the middle of unpacking from a recent move. At 11 a.m., the kids are in their pajamas. Joshua, 10, and Jayceline, 9, sit at the kitchen table with laptops open. ey get up every so often to quietly ask permission for a piece of gum or a Jell-O pack or to play outside in the graveyard that they erected for Halloween. Jooniper keeps to herself, curled up on the couch in the living room with her laptop. Now 16, she's studying geometry and chemistry this year. It took her less than a semester to finish her last algebra class, so if she finishes geometry before the end of this semes- ter, she will likely enroll in some classes at Indiana University Southeast for dual credit. (Among the home-schoolers I meet, most have taken the ACT by the time they are sophomores and enroll in classes at U of L or JCTC to get a head start on college credits.) "is is Frank Cardulla," Hawkins says, reading the back of a DVD case. "He has a master's from the University of Illinois. He received the National Catalyst Award for outstanding chemistry teacher — you get to hand-select the people that teach your kids with the things that you outsource." She bought the chemistry lesson used for $45 (it's $400 new) at a curriculum sale that home-school groups host every year. Jayceline comes up and taps her on the shoulder. "Yes, sweetie?" Hawkins says. "Here, you can set the timer. Do you want to take my phone?" She turns to me. "Jayceline is taking a test. She's doing a read-and-think skill sheet." Each of her kids learns differently. Joshua likes to do his favorite subjects first, then his least-fa- vorite subjects. Jooniper likes to read out loud. Joshua needs complete silence. "en we have kids like Jayceline who are like, 'I "Parents come in all the time and say, 'I've signed up to home-school. Where's my curriculum?'" JCPS director of pupil personnel Brent Lynch says. "Well, no, you're the home-schooler. It's up to you to decide."