By Pamela Ahearn-Chalfant – Close to 10 years ago, things changed permanently for my family. On his way home from work, my husband, Thad, was involved in a car accident just a block from home. His car was hit from behind. Thad’s spine was fractured, and he sustained a spinal cord injury. Yes, my husband, the chiropractor, had broken his back. This was ironic and heartbreaking all at the same time. When it became apparent that Thad could no longer physically do the work of a chiropractor, he shut down his practice and lost the career he had known and loved for years. While he scrambled to find a neurosurgeon, and I scrambled to find a teaching job, I prayed for guidance. Along with the worries about Thad’s health, we worried about our children’s education.
At the time, Carrie was an 8th grader, Kate was a 4th grader, and Hannah was a 1st grader. I had loved being a home schooling mom, and I could not imagine sending my girls to school. However, I knew that sending them to public school would be the most affordable option. This was such a time of worry and stress, yet I was certain that God was with me during every difficult moment.
As I weighed our options, I thought about the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS). I had joined SCAIHS because I had heard that it was helpful to have their guidance, especially during the high school years. Originally, I did not think that I needed SCAIHS. I was an experienced school teacher. My Masters of Education was in school leadership, qualifying me to be a school principal. However, the moment I joined SCAIHS, I realized what I had been missing. I was missing a home school community and family. I was missing the guidance that only SCAIHS counselors can give, based on their years of experience working with home school families. For example, my girls have learning disabilities, ranging from a math disability to dyslexia. The SCAIHS Special Needs Department has been crucially important in helping me meet their needs. I knew there were less expensive ways to educate my children, but I truly could not think of a better way to educate them than through SCAIHS.
As my husband and I pondered over whether or not we could continue home schooling, and while we thought about whether or not we should quit SCAIHS in order to save money, I prayed and tried to see what God wanted me to do.
Several months after my husband’s accident, Thad decided that he could manage the home schooling while I worked full time as a teacher. I was overjoyed. However, I knew I had to face whether or not we could afford SCAIHS. For whatever reason, I just knew that I had to stay with SCAIHS. No matter what I had to do – borrow money, go on a payment plan – I felt strongly that home schooling without SCAIHS would be a mistake. We signed up for SCAIHS again, and I have never regretted this decision.
Fast forward to 2017. Praise God, my husband has had two successful back surgeries, and he is able to work again. He is now a realtor and investor. I am back to doing what I love – full time home schooling. My oldest daughter, Carrie, is graduated from college. She has attended the University of South Carolina at almost no cost to our family. Carrie was a Palmetto Fellows, plus she earned other scholarships that were so helpful. My middle daughter, Kate, will attend the same college. Kate also has earned the Palmetto Fellows and other scholarships, which will allow her to go to the University of South Carolina without having to worry about tuition costs. Hannah, my 10th grader, is an excellent student, pursuing her goals and passions while earning her high school degree. It is my strong belief that home schooling with SCAIHS was a big factor in my children’s success.
I feel certain that God was guiding Thad and me as we made the decision to stay with SCAIHS during difficult financial years. I also feel certain that God knew that I would need the love and support of my friends at SCAIHS as I struggled to home school while working full time. The SCAIHS staff has become a family to me. As I look back on the last several years, I find great comfort knowing that SCAIHS has been there with my family, every step of the way. Thank God for the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools. I truly cannot imagine home schooling without them.