Homeschooling program provides expanded learning for students

MISHAWAKA, Ind.– A Michiana couple is making great strides in creating different opportunities and resources for homeschool students and parents. The Heritage Meeting House opened its doors last month in September, making it Kelsi and Rusty Rea’s second venture to help the homeschooling community.

This is something 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 12 years, but it wasn’t until 5 years ago that the idea came to mind, after their daughter entered high school.

In 2019, Kelsi and Rusty opened their own private hybrid school for homeschoolers on the Bethel University campus, called Heritage Christian Academy. They started with just 50 students in their first year, but since then their numbers have only increased and now have around 130 home students in their program. Due to increased demand and enrollment over the years, they decided to continue supporting the local homeschooling community by establishing the Heritage Meeting House.

“I’m a homeschooled mom, I’ve been homeschooling for almost 12 years. I wish I had this when I was teaching my kids at home. So we wanted to offer that 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 consultations, so if you’re new to home schooling, you can come along and we can put together a unique curriculum for your family and child. We will provide you with resources on how to connect with other community resources or co-ops, or other additional study programs. So if you’re new to homeschooling, we can help you do that,” Kelsi Rea said.

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

Their mission is not just to provide opportunities for artists in the community, but to provide a safe and efficient space for homeschooling students and parents to come and get the help they need to succeed locally; and it is attracting the attention of others across the country.

“Our mission was just to help the community,” Kelsi said. “It’s a really unique concept. I have never seen this before. I’ve owned a business before, but it was something I didn’t have a role model for. So we are actually now at the point where we have about 8 different schools across the country coming to us to visit their own program and get consultations to start their own program like this all over the United States.

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

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

You can visit the Heritage Meeting House whether you are a student or a homeschooling family, however, if you wish to use their resources, you will be required to pay a monthly fee of $10 or $100 for the entire visit. ‘year. For more information, you can visit the Heritage Meeting House Facebook page, or their website by clicking on here.