A Unique Approach to Homeschooling: Texoma Learning in Denison Texas

Katie and Mark Radcliffe moved from Illinois to the McKinney, Texas, area in 2018 to escape high taxes and so Katie could stay home and homeschool two of their five children who were still at home. The Radcliffes have six children, four of which they adopted from the Illinois foster care system. 

Upon moving to  Texas, the Radcliffe’s had two kids not yet in school, two in middle school, one finishing up high school and their eldest had already graduated and moved to the east coast to pursue her dreams. 

They decided to homeschool the two youngest kids, but to avoid excessive disruption would have the three older kids finish out their K-12 education through the public school system. Katie commenced on her homeschooling journey in the fall of 2018.

Then, in the spring of 2019, Covid-19 turned everything on its head. Once all four kids were schooling from home, it just made sense for them to continue. 

The Radcliffe’s moved from McKinney to Denison in November 2020 and joined a waiting list for a homeschool co-op, but didn’t see an opening becoming available quickly enough to meet the needs of their newly homeschooling teens. 

They investigated other homeschool co-ops and groups, but for one reason or another, these groups weren’t a good fit for the Radcliffe family. So, Katie went to work creating her own homeschool co-op.

By September 2021, Katie and friends had opened their first homeschool co-op with 50 children. From this small group, Texoma Learning was born and the group has successfully finished their second semester in the spring of 2022 with more than 70 children.  

The First Baptist Church of Denison eagerly hosted the fledgling homeschooling organization during the school year of 2021-22.  The church provided all the necessities for the families who were enrolled, but as the demand for homeschooling resources has grown, so has the demand for enrollment in the co-op.  

The co-op enrollment has grown by almost 80% from its start less than a year ago with more than 90 kids enrolled for the fall semester.  As a result, Texoma Learning has outgrown their  host church’s spatial landscape. 

Other area churches are happy to help, but none of them have enough space for the expanding demand for schooling outside of the current public school framework. Texoma Learning needs 12 classrooms, a lunch room for 130 children and parents, a gym, and an outdoor sports/play area.  

Where Will Texoma Learning Exist?

For now, this question remains unanswered and so close to the beginning of the fall semester, Texoma Learning needs some prompt solutions. All 34 families enrolled for the fall semester are actively involved in searching for a new home for the co-op. 

Texoma Learning has found the ideal space to rent, the old Denison City Hall Building at 500 West Chestnut Street. However, this is a significant undertaking with a steep ramp up in expenses and the Texoma Learning fundraising campaign only recently  began on July 21.  

You can contribute to their efforts through their Indiegogo campaign here.

This prospective location is owned by Los Hermanos, LLC. Tommy Sue Homuth of Tracy Realty is helping to manage the rental of the Old City Hall. The owners and the realtor are very supportive of Texoma Learning and would be extremely satisfied to see the Community Learning Center at this location.

The old Denison City Hall has approximately 10,000 square feet, 18 offices to be used as classrooms, and a place for the kids to eat lunch together. It is as if this is a building that was custom made for the purpose of a learning institution and even has an extensive history right in downtown Denison. 

However, this building is much more expensive to rent than the church space and has the added cost of utilities. At this time, Texoma Learning does not have the funding to simply take a leap and sign the lease. However, there is still time to raise the money needed in time for the fall 2022 semester. 

What Value Does Texoma Learning Have for Texomaland?

The State of Texas respects the rights of parents to educate their children with the values, ethics, and morals they deem essential to their children’s education. As a result, the state does not collect statistics on how many children are homeschooled, so it is hard to say how many children are actually homeschooled in the state or specifically in this region. 

The growing demand for participation in a viable homeschooling organization like Texoma Learning says it loud and clear - this is a growing demographic that is outpacing the available resources. From September 2021 to September 2022, Texoma Learning has almost doubled in size, enrolling 40 additional, eager children. Katie says that it is not about her, and she is resistant to taking credit for the success of Texoma Learning’s first year. 

What Does Texoma Learning Actually Do?

Currently, the Homeschool Co-op is run cooperatively by the parents who are also the teachers.  In its first year, Texoma Learning had no paid teachers. A parent remained on site on each of the Thursdays throughout the Fall and Spring on which the co-op met and each family was responsible for teaching at least one class to a group of the co-op children. 

The Homeschool co-op is a program where parents must be heavily involved. In its first year, Texoma Learning did not host a program where a parent could drop their child or children off and then pick them up after their classes.  

Through the co-op, Texoma Learning offers an enrichment curriculum taught by participating families. The co-op offers enrichment (or extra curricular) class content and the opportunity to socialize for homeschooled students, answering the oft asked question “How will homeschool kids learn to socialize?" 

Each age group in the co-op has classes in four categories: STEM, language, gym/movement and “fun.”For the coming school year, Texoma Learning will hold co-op sessions 12 days during the fall semester and 12 days during the spring semester for a total of 24 days throughout the school year. Children have four classes on those days and their parents teach at least one class and remain on site to help out during the other class periods. 

So many parents in Texas are desperately looking for other avenues of education outside of public school education, which will give their children the education they need to pass college entrance exams while maintaining their family’s values. Many Texomaland mothers and fathers must earn a dual income to support their children, so they cannot homeschool, and yet cannot afford a private school that matches their value systems. 

Texoma Learning Has a Vision for Its Future

Under its current model, Texoma Learning has operated solely as a Homeschool Co-op. The families involved in establishing Texoma Learning have a vision that is much larger than just operating a homeschool co-op. Texoma Learning wants to rent the old Denison City Hall to expand in several ways to meet the demands of the ever growing community.  

First, they will continue to offer the Homeschool co-op on Thursdays.  Second, they will start a Hybrid Model Academic Academy which will consist of two days of classroom instruction by paid teachers each week throughout the school year with the remainder of the academic work being completed at home on the three remaining days of the week. 

Additionally, they have their sights set on starting an Academy of the Arts, offering homesteading classes and offering other ad hoc classes based on community demand. The goal of Texoma Learning is to teach the children how to learn and think critically rather than to teach from a specific world view.

The cornerstone of the services Texoma Learning wants to offer is the hybrid academy which will be a low-cost, hybrid-model educational institution where the operating philosophy will be to to leave discussions of all social, political, and religious issues outside of the academy doors, leaving the instillment of values up to the parents of the children. 

Texoma Learning will be looking to find paid teachers, likely for the school year of 2023-24 and will be interested in applicants who are retired teachers, people with teaching or professional experience in the subject to be taught, business owners who want to share their expertise, and other qualified individuals who believe are aligned with the philosophy of teaching to a pluralistic group while allowing parents to be the primary teachers of family values.

Texoma Learning is currently supported by the 34 families involved and is a State of TX non-profit corporation as well as a 501(c)(3) organization. 

Another dream that Texoma Learning envisions under its new model is that if a kid shows an interest in learning about something that is not yet offered at the Learning Center Texoma Learning will see if this is enough demand within the community and will look for a teacher who can satisfy the curiosity of the students. 

On the flipside, if an interested party wants to teach a skill, Texoma Learning will see if there are enough interested students to warrant a class. The sky's the limit on the breadth of topics that can be covered at the Learning Center. 

Texoma Learning plans to offer a wide range of extracurriculars including Band, Choir, Art, Theater, Foreign Languages, Career Exploration...and the list could go on forever because the only limit is our community’s collective imagination!

As an example, Texoma Learning hopes to offer career readiness to teens who are preparing to graduate from high school. There are already businesses offering job training and apprenticeship programs and Katie looks forward to forming partnerships with these businesses to serve the needs of the students and the employers. 

It Is All About the Three RRRs! Reading, Writing, Arithmetic

The bold future of our children, is, was, and always has been how to raise our children to be contributing members of society. To let them explore their own talents and develop mentally and physically into well adjusted and capable members of society.  So far the volunteer and financial support for Texoma Learning has been contributed to by the parents who trust their children to the Texoma Learning co-op. 

Renting the Denison Old City Hall will be quite an increase in the overhead for the organization.  Texoma Learning has laid out a business plan and budget for the future of the group and estimates that with this first infusion from the community of $50,000, the Learning Center will become self-sufficient after its first year.  Academy tuition, co-op enrollment and ad hoc class tuition should more than cover the monthly and annual operating costs.  

For the upcoming fall semester, there is a waiting list for enrollment of new students in the co-op simply because of space limitations, which breaks Katie’s heart as she stated her greatest desire is to be able to find a place for every child and family who is hoping to find a learning community of their own.  If the necessary $50,000 is raised for the fall 2022 semester, the co-op will be able to lift the wait-list and will be able to provide opportunities for all members of our community. 

What Is in it For Donors Who Give to Texoma Learning?

Texoma Learning is a 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax deductible. Texoma Learning is raising funds to rent 500 West Chestnut Street in Denison. There are so many ways to donate. No donation is too little.

Texoma Learning offers dynamic, low-cost, and impactful learning to Texomaland.

Texoma Learning also administers the Texoma Area Homeschool Association Meetup Group which is a Facebook outreach group for all Homeschool families in the Texomaland Region and members do not have to participate in the more formal co-op to join this group every week for an event or lake day and host teen get-togethers with bonfires, movies, bowling, arcade outings, putt putt golf, etc. 

There is every reason to contact Texoma Learning or theTexoma

Area Homeschool Association Meetup Facebook group if you are looking for educational options for your child or children, and here’s how:

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GOOD. Water normal stain; 67 degrees; 4.91 feet above pool. Striped bass fish are great using live shad on deep flats 50-60 feet of water and on humps along river ledges in 30-50 feet of water. Small schools of post spawn stripers with a lot of over 20 inch fish. Topwaters early along the rocks where shad are spawning as well. Bass fishing is good using live shad and top waters along the bluffs and dam wall in the clear water. Mudline is north and west of Washita Point with clear water on the southern end of the lake. Catfish are good on live shad and cut shad along the bluffs in 20-30 feet of water. Channel catfish are on the rocks in 5-10 feet of water, prepared baits and live shad are working. Crappie fishing is good on brush piles in 12-18 feet of water using jigs and live minnows catching them suspended around the structure and boat docks. Report by Jacob Orr, Guaranteed Guide Service Lake Texoma. Lake is flooded with floating debris so navigate with caution. Stripers can be caught along the mudlines, where the clear water and muddy water converge, with swimbaits and topwaters. Fish are moving around a lot but limits daily can be caught. Bait anglers are reeling in larger sized fish catches in deeper water. As the water starts to drop back down fish should return to the banks. There is sporadic bird action. Report by John Blasingame, Adventure Texoma Outdoors.

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