Today we feature a homeschool graduate who is also an “Ask the Grad” family member. But, as every girl knows, “little sisters” can grow up to do big things. Mary Evelyn (Mev) McCurdy is from the Notgrass family, yet she has made her own name on the drama stage. Mev shares how home education gave her a start on becoming a theatre producer, and a homemaker.
When it was time for me to begin kindergarten, my parents enrolled me in a half-day program at the public school a couple of blocks away from our home, where my older brother and sister were already going. I went half-day because my mom was always a homeschooler at heart. She wanted to keep me home as much as she could for as long as she could! My kindergarten year wasn’t the greatest. My teacher could be rather mean, and on different occasions one of the class troublemakers spit glue in my face and kissed me on the lips. My brother’s experience that year included some rough spots, too, and my parents decided that it was time for a change. In August they decided they would give homeschooling a try. My mom consoled herself and others by saying that surely she wouldn’t ruin us in a year. Mom was determined that she was going to do school right, all the way down to putting up a bulletin board in our den and having us say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. Even though parts of it were a bit rigid, we did some really fun activities and made some great memories. I enjoyed being at home. When Dad had a business trip to Michigan, we all went along and made it a field trip. It was great!
After two years of trying so desperately hard to do it right, though, Mom was burned out. My parents decided to try the local Christian school. It was a fine experience, but my mom had to get a job to help pay for our tuition. Her working outside the home for the first time in my life was really hard on me.
The next year we moved to another state and my parents decided we would try the public schools in our new hometown. It wasn’t long before my brother and I were asking if we could please start homeschooling again. The next year, we did. When we came back to homeschooling, my parents had a very different mindset. They weren’t set on recreating public school at home. They were determined to give us a good education, but they were more relaxed about it and gave us opportunities to pursue our own personal interests as a part of our learning experiences. Spiritual things had always been at the top of the list, but my parents realized anew how crucial this priority really is. It truly became the basis for all of our learning.
I am deeply thankful to my parents for the sacrifices they made to educate me at home. I am thankful that I was able to use learning tools that strengthened my faith, instead of tools that could have chipped away at it or torn it down. I am thankful that my fellow students were my brother and sister because it gave us so much time with each other and fostered deep, meaningful relationships. I am glad that I was able to spend so much time with my parents as I learned from them. I am eternally grateful that my parents took their God-given responsibility seriously and gave of themselves freely to lead me in the everlasting way.
One of the biggest undertakings of my high school years was writing and directing plays to put on with other homeschooled children. I did this my junior year, and again the next year, and again every year since. This past September was production number twelve with a cast of eighty-seven children. I love acting myself, and I am thankful God has given me the opportunity to provide other homeschooled children with opportunities to participate in theatrical productions with an eternal message and purpose.
I continued my education at home until I graduated from high school in 2001. While I was in high school, my family began operating a family business, Notgrass Company, in which we write and publish homeschool curriculum. I began working with them in that from the beginning and continued in it after graduation. I decided not to go to college because what I really wanted was to be a wife and mother and homeschool my own children. I hoped God would make that happen right away and decided that in the meantime I would continue to live at home and work in the family business. During these years I also helped care for my grandfather who lived with us and became a big sister when my parents adopted a sibling group of three children who were ages 12, 9, and 7 at the time.
I spent many anxious years hoping that Mr. Right would pop up and being disappointed when he didn’t. I wish I hadn’t been so set on this happening according to my clock and had instead relaxed and enjoyed the wonderful experiences that God brought my way as a twenty-something. I also wish I had been more deliberate in the decisions I made for my course during this time. Having a clear vision and plan for after high school, whether it includes college or not, is something I would encourage all homeschoolers, especially girls, to seriously think about and plan for. God worked these years out for the best, though, as He always does. Three separate month-long trips to Germany with my sister to help a homeschooling missionary family were absolutely wonderful. Being able to work with my family in our business was a tremendous blessing. Having time to continue my dramatic pursuits was dream-fulfilling.
And Mr. Right finally did come along! He was definitely worth the wait. Things didn’t happen in my time, but they happened in God’s time, and it was much better that way. I received a proposal this past Valentine’s Day. We gave ourselves (and our parents!) a mere ten weeks to prepare for the wedding and were married in April. I have continued as a partner in my family’s business, and now my husband is a partner, too. I have already reserved the local theatre for my production next year. It will be a little different with a four-month-old baby on my hands, but I’ll have plenty of help!
After experiencing public, private, and home education, I can say with confidence “home all the way!” My husband and I are looking forward to training at home the child we have on the way, along with the other children we hope God gives us. We believe that it is our responsibility to train our children. We don’t want to hand that responsibility over to anyone else. We want to train our children how to be the salt of the earth while protecting them from the filth of the world around us. While I was growing up, our homeschool journey was not without its bumps and unexpected turns, but all in all it was wonderful. Now I am looking forward to starting a brand new homeschool journey with a family of my own.
And now for our reader-submitted “Ask the Grad” question!
Did you feel left out from other kids at church since they “went to school” and you were homeschooled? If so, how did your parents help you deal with that?
The church we were a part of when I was a teenager had a large youth group. At first we were very involved with it and did a lot of the activities. Over time, though, my family came to realize that this wasn’t the best way for us to be spending our time. Some of the influences in the group were not the greatest. My sister and I became teachers of children’s classes at the church, and we really enjoyed that. Sometimes it does feel nice to fit in with and be admired by others, and little children are good at fostering those feelings in us big kids!
One of the best things about homeschooling is that children aren’t stuck all day with a bunch of other kids who are the same age. Some of my dearest friends through the years have been a whole lot older or a whole lot younger than I. Spending time with people of all ages provides great opportunities to learn and grow, as well as great opportunities to teach.
Mary Evelyn (Mev) McCurdy works with her family in Notgrass Company , writing and publishing materials for homeschoolers. She also directs the Homeschool Dramatic Society (http://www.christianmusicaltheatre.com). Mev and her husband Nate live in Middle Tennessee. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.