The last image Calli Wilson drew, a black rose in charcoal, is displayed in her family’s living room. She loved roses. They were her favorite flower, and she doodled them whenever there was a pencil and a blank sheet of paper.
Calli wasn’t interested in art until she took classes at Crossroads Christian Academy, a homeschool cooperative done through Shiloh Church. She threw herself into drawing and photography after taking art classes from other parents and professionals, but sadly Calli wouldn’t grow up to be the next Georgia O’Keeffe.
Her life was cut short in November 2016 when Callie, then 16, was driving and went off the road. She over-corrected, lost control and hit a fence post causing the car to flip. She was less than a mile from her home.
Cynthia Hill, Calli’s mom, said the teen loved her time at Crossroads Christian Academy.
When Calli was in sixth grade and her sister, Cori, was in kindergarten, Cynthia started to explore different education options. The public school where Calli started middle school put her in two math classes—one to teach new concepts and the other to reinforce those skills. Still, Cynthia found she had to re-teach the lessons again every night. Soon, she made the decision to continue teaching her kids—during the day.
Cynthia decided to enter the homeschooling world.
Two years later, Cynthia discovered Crossroads Christian Academy—a co-op where parents and professionals with certain skills and qualifications get together and teach classes based on their specialties. For example, parents who homeschool but have a degree in finance teach the home budgeting class.
Michelle Giers, the leader of Crossroads Christian Academy, said the school has been open for seven years. They have classes for kindergartners through high school seniors with a special preschool class reserved for the siblings of older students.
“We have classes ranging from art classes taught by professionals in the community to music classes to our high school chemistry and biology and the core science and history courses and literature courses,” Michelle said.
Crossroads Christian Academy also focuses on real-world skills—cooking, budgeting, sewing and finance classes students will need later. Recently, they had a class based around Dave Ramesy’s Financial Peace University, a big topic for students who are starting to look into financial aid for colleges.
“Since it is a cooperative program, and it’s primarily parents coming in, they use the tools that they have been equipped with, what they have the greatest knowledge in, to lead classes,” Michelle said. “It’s actually a good opportunity for our students to be introduced to different learning types and learning styles and learning methods. So, whether it’s more hands-on or more of a thinking class or more structured or unstructured, we get to see what environment they thrive in.”
An Eclectic Style
Michelle describes the mix of hands-on, interactive and structured classes as an eclectic style of learning methods that allow parents to relax in the idea that the diversity of teachers and classes has prepared their children for college or the job market.
“It’s parents working together so that we can confidently know that we are equipping our children for their future,” Michelle said.
For the younger grades, Crossroads mostly focuses on fun classes—art and music. When students get into high school, the co-op focuses on credit-based classes students need to graduate. They are more structured and include assigned homework and tests, Michelle said.
Picture this: Your teenager is interested in going pre-med in college. To do that, he’s going to need a strong foundation in science and biology. You, as a parent, can do a frog dissection at home on the dining room table, or you could go to Crossroads Christian Academy and have him take anatomy classes.
The professionals who teach these classes work alongside the parents to determine which activities need to be completed in the classroom versus those that can be completed at home.
“It may be more important to complete a chemistry lab at the school where the equipment is, or a biology dissection where the equipment and the specimens are, do that in class and let the parents do the testing at home,” Michelle said.
Helping Others, Making Friends
After Calli’s death, the parents of Crossroads Christian Academy joined forces to make sure Cynthia and the rest of her family were taken care of. They brought meals, made donations and even set up a scholarship in Calli’s name.
“She would have really loved that,” Cynthia said of the scholarship. “She was always a giver. If she had something, she would give it. She was always thinking of others.”
Michael Walters, Associate Pastor of Shiloh church calls the homeschool co-op a ministry. It revolves around the idea that the parents and children can get together to encourage each other in good times and bad. Homeschooling can easily become a lonely activity, so it’s this idea of a community based around a school that meets the need for socialization and relationships.
“You can see when a mom is struggling with something or a student is struggling with something,” Michelle said. “We are a like-minded body of parents who are called to bring up our children in the Lord. We are there to support one another and help one another as a ministry.”
If you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund in Calli’s memory, you can go to any Wells Fargo location and make a check payable to “Calli Wilson Scholarship Fund.” One student will be chosen each year to get this scholarship.
Registration is open through the summer, but the co-op is limited to 70 families. Last year, Crossroads had 60 families, and spots are filling up fast this year.
You can learn more about Crossroads Christian Academy here.
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