My name is Brett Monk. I’m the Executive Director of the Homeschool Film Festival. Among other things, I’m a filmmaker, a former church-planting pastor, and a homeschooling dad of a teenage daughter. I’m not sure if there’s a “normal” journey into becoming a homeschooling parent, but if there is such a thing, I’m pretty sure I didn’t do it that way.
A few years ago, my wife and I were sitting in our usual seat at church. We were in our early fifties and had never had kids. We naturally assumed, kinda like Abraham and Sarah, that being parents was not going to be a part of our lives. That morning a lady did a presentation on adopting older (teen) children from the foster care system, a thought that had honestly NEVER crossed our minds. We listened politely and didn’t really think much of it… until the end of her presentation. She asked the congregation to just seek God, and to ask Him if we had room in our hearts to have our very own child who would call us “mom” and “dad”.
I felt like the room went dark and like there was a spotlight shining on me. I literally couldn’t move or even turn to look at my wife in the seat next to me. I totally missed whatever the pastor’s sermon was about. My wife and I walked out to our car without saying a word. When we closed the car doors, she said, “Are you going to say it or do you want me to?” I said, “We’re going to do this, aren’t we?”
After about two years of classes, paperwork, and meetings with social workers, we were matched with a beautiful thirteen year old girl who is now the joy of our lives. The day we met, we had told the social workers that we’d like to meet her at a nice restaurant. She chose Chick-fil-A. The song “God of Wonders” was playing over the speakers when she walked into our lives. No really, it was.
For the first year and a half, she was still technically a ward of the state until her adoption was finalized and she was required to attend public school. During her previous life she had missed a lot of classes and was way behind, as is often the case. She was given an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and was given wonderful attention and care from the individual teachers and counselors at the school. But we found that the public school system just wasn’t designed to help her catch up to her proper level. It was designed to push her through to the next level whether she really learned anything or not.
Having been involved in church leadership for many years, most of our friends were homeschooling parents. The decision to homeschool our daughter was actually a pretty easy one. I was in the middle of producing the feature film, “Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s” and most of the cast and crew of the movie were homeschool grads. When our daughter moved in with us she was welcomed with open arms by the crew and they became part of her new family.
My wife and I are both self-employed so in addition to her homeschool curriculum, she gets lots of on-the-job vocational training as we bring her along as often as we can. We work together in our family businesses. We have amazing times together and we are creating memories that will literally last forever.
I have seen firsthand just what a blessing homeschooling can be and part of the reason for this Film Festival is to encourage other creative and entrepreneurial homeschoolers to be all that they can be.