Teen’s success story debunks homeschool myth

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Noah Kutz starts his day just like any other, with the helping of a delicious breakfast to motivate him up and out of bed and fresh duds to conquer the day.

His mom starts the car and they cruise in the direction of Noah’s school.

The next step is where things start to differ from the rest. Noah’s mom is dropping him off at a co-op home school.

This is the moment in the story when most people draw their own conclusions as to Noah’s educational experience.

But wait a minute: Fast forward to a successful and active ASU student, Naval ROTC
member and personable—in fact, downright magnetic—employee of Tempe’s popular Great Harvest Bakery.

If you have preconceived ideas about home-schooled kids, Noah has his own steadfast
opinions on the matter.

“One thing I should make clear is that homeschooling, as a whole, is not the same as how most people see it,” Noah said.

“I didn’t wake up every morning and sit down at the table and eat breakfast while my mom taught me every subject in school, and then spend the rest of my day whittling sticks and making paper airplanes with my siblings. It seems that this is the general idea that many people  have of homeschooling, and it’s not always true. I will concede, there are certainly some people who experienced, to some extent, that kind of homeschool environment while growing up, but many times those people turn out to become smart, successful individuals.

However, there certainly are some people who experience that kind of environment and end up becoming, for lack of a better term, odd.”

Noah adds:
“People tend to have a skewed position on homeschooling because they’ve met a few of those children who give off an odd kind of personality or seem like they’ve lived under a rock their whole life; I have a news flash for those people:
“Many children who have attended public schools for their whole lives turn out the same way, yet nobody blames the system,” Noah said.

“The point is, there are so many more factors that determine the causation of someone becoming odd than just the type of school they attended.”

The long-heated debate of public versus home school will always be present, for everyone has their own perspective on the subject.

For Noah, he can easily identify the advantages and disadvantages homeschooling.

“The greatest advantage to homeschooling is that there is freedom to accomplish so much more than simply an education with a few extracurricular activities,” Noah said.

“Homeschooling gives parents the chance to educate their children in a way that doesn’t conform to other people’s belief systems (i.e. the argument against/for macro-evolution), as well as a chance to give them independence to accomplish more with the time they’re given, rather than sit in a classroom from 8-3 p.m. every day.

“That being said, the greatest advantage to homeschooling is also it’s own disadvantage. The freedom for parents to educate their children in the way they prefer can sometimes lead to things such as sheltering, and then the children experience culture shock once they graduate high school.”

Noah firmly believes that the product of homeschooling primarily relies on the power and
ability of the parents, and the character of the children.

“The outcome of a home-schooler is determined primarily by the amount of effort a parent puts into their education, which is why some parents are good at homeschooling, and some simply aren’t,” Noah said. “I have many friends whose family went with the traditional style of homeschooling (at home, every day, primarily taught by mom), and all of them
went on to different colleges and careers and became very successful.”

Noah has a somewhat unique experience, because he spent a period of time in private schooling as well. He was first home-schooled during his younger years, kindergarten to second grade, and then all throughout high school. In between those years Noah experienced a couple private Christian schools as well as a charter school. From the ages of 10 to 16 he lived in Maryland. Once it came time to enter high school, he began homeschooling once again. During his sophomore year his family decided to return to eoria, where they lived prior to moving.

Then the co-op experience came along.

“In my personal experience with homeschooling,I went to a co-op where there were several teachers, (many of whom were subject-matter experts and homeschooling parents), who taught several different classes each day and provided an education program for home schooling,” Noah said. “It was an alternate form of home-school education where parents could select which classes they’d like their children to take from other teachers, and which classes they’d prefer to teach on their own. Both co-ops I attended in Maryland and Arizona) were Christian-based organizations.”

Noah seems extremely motivated to make his way in this world, and he gives credit for this unmatched drive to his parents, as well as for his character and his educational experience.

“During my time homeschooling in high school I was able to do many different extracurricular activities. I played soccer and golf and ran track and cross country—all varsity teams from nearby schools, one in Maryland, one school in Arizona,” Noah said.

“I played piano and guitar throughout high school, and continue to play to this day. At the home-school co-op, I became a student government officer and volunteered in many different service opportunities that were provided through that program.

“At age 14, I started an inter-neighborhood fall clean-up service which generated $1,000 profit over the course of two months for the remaining fall seasons I lived in Maryland (unfortunately the leaf cleaning business isn’t too big in Phoenix).”

During his time with Great Harvest Bakery, Noah has become what the owners agree is
the most successful farmers markets rep ever, sociable attitude and the endless home-school extracurricular opportunities from his experience.

“At the farmers markets I’ve been able to see success by interacting well with customers and ensuring they have a pleasant experience at my booth,” Noah said. “I have plenty of
regular customers who buy bread from me weekly so asking for their name and remembering it the next time they stop by is always a good way to build a great reputation and establish trust with them.”

Looking forward, Noah hopes to graduate from ASU with a Bachelor in International Trade and Global Logistics Management with a minor in French, then a commission into
the Marine Corps. Last year he received a Marine Corps option Naval ROTC full-ride scholarship, where he was given stipends and other benefits, including active military training during the summer months.

“The purpose of the scholarship is to go to school and earn a degree, and also train to become an officer in the USMC,” Noah said. “The four years at college is followed by a minimum active duty service of four years.”

Noah recommends homeschooling, as long as one can handle it. Remember, it’s more subject-based learning and less stick whittling.

“Homeschooling can be a very good thing, and so can public schools,” Noah said. “The difference is that parents have a larger say in how they want to influence their children in their education. Some kids strive for success, others don’t; some parents are rock stars, others aren’t; some people can handle homeschooling, others can’t. The wonderful part of it all is that it gives the power for children and parents to strive for a better environment, better education and better community.

“But with great power comes great responsibility, because it can turn out to be a success just as much as it can become a failure, and that’s just the beauty of life.”

11 COMMENTS

  1. Good job, Noah, at explaining that homeschooling varies a lot but not being Mr. Judge who tells everyone the right way to do it. One beauty of home-based education is allowing each unique family to do its thing. As Noah said, a lot of state/public school kids and graduates are weird (or downright anti-social). A peer-reviewed review of peer-reviewed research confirms, again, that, on average, the home educated outperform the general public in terms of academic achievement, social development, and success in adulthood. Read about here http://www.nheri.org/homeschooling-research-studies-and-scholarship/

  2. Noah, I understand your desire to put homeschooling in a favorable light and your effort is seen in this article. I have found that it is better not to try and put the oppositions argument out there. The “whittling sticks” comment can leave those who are not as driven as you, judged as slackers or incompetent. My son, loves people and would not ever start a business as you have. He would rather put in a hard days work, like his dad, then come home and love on his family. So to him “whittling sticks” sounds like a plan.
    Also a parents efforts will not make a child be successful or unsuccessful, it depends on the personality, drive, talents and interests of the child. It sounds as though your view is that if everyone is not your type of success, then they don’t want to succeed, parents and children. I don’t think this is what you mean, but it comes across that way. I would suggest that you consider what worked for you, share your journey and not necessarily defend those that are “off” because it allows for the arguments to continue. I am so pleased with your journey and wish you the BEST!

  3. Regulate homeschool and ensure there is oversight in each state. While Noah may be hitting the pavement everyday, or so he says, many other homeschool kids, teens, and, even young adults are in lockdown, paraded around for church on Sunday and subject to chores all day for the rest of the week instead of being properly educated in academics. I have seen WAY too many homeschoolers use improper grammar, act socially stunted, be severely delayed in all forms of development and show other unhealthy signs of enmeshment. It’s very concerning. I remember seeing a homeschooler join public school. The public school kids were so welcoming. The homeschooled child was wary and very withdrawn and shy and that is most likely because she knew how her old homeschool group would have treated a public school kid and it wasn’t very kind. I was very proud of the public school kids and the kindness and inclusiveness shown toward one who was raised in a very closed environment. It spoke volumes.

    • This is a very interesting observation being that I gave my children the choice based on going to school with judgmental people such as your self or not. One chose public school and one chooses home school. Parading around church on Sunday and subject to chores all day? What? This is the kind of uneducated conversation that happens when you are against something and unwilling to learn about it.
      I think that each parent and child have the right to choose what they want and it is not anyone’s business other than the state.

    • You are very normal. You paint the broad brush based on your experiences. Have you read the statistics on children/teens in public/state institutional schools and the associated rates of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, teen/out-of-wedlock pregnancy, low voting, incarceration, bullying, violence, depression, suicide, peer-dependency, and sexual and psychological abuse by teachers and other school personnel? And you are concerned about a few homeschool kids being different from the norm? Here is a review of peer-reviewed research on the overall positive outcomes of homeschooling compared to institutional state/public schooling: “A systematic review of the empirical research on selected aspects of homeschooling as a school choice” by B.D. Ray, Journal of School Choice, 2017, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15582159.2017.1395638

  4. Educator… I am amazed at your lopsided thoughts on this. Do you not believe what Noah is doing? It seems as though you choose to believe that there are kids that are withdrawn, paraded around on Sundays, blah blah blah, and take that as the norm. But you choose to disbelieve that Noah could be doing all that he says. I think you choose NOT to see the wonderful things in the Homeschooling movement. There are already regulations and oversight and they are held to the standard. We could go back and forth on WAY too many public school children using improper grammar, act socially stunted and blah blah blah. I am not blinded to the downside of either homeschooling or public schooling. It is unfortunate that you cannot be a help to Noah in communication, instead you want to defend and push your agenda. I have had many conversations about parents wanting to make the right decision on their children’s education. I always encourage them to look into each possibility an weigh the pros and cons. Decide what is best for you and your children. It is comments like yours that make it harder than ever for good people to make intelligent decisions about THEIR lives.

  5. Homeschooling is great.
    Unique to each family and every year can be different.
    The comment about homeschoolers paraded around is obviously by a public school teacher who thinks all kids need to be in public school.
    Blah!
    Grammer….how many of us public school graduates or even us college grads have perfect grammer.
    You know how many high school grads who can’t type ? My brainy cousins with masters degrees cant type. They said teach your kids to type. One of them is a PUBLIC SCHOOL teacher who jokes about hours of hunt and peck.
    Homeschoolers do not need to be regulated.
    The school that suck our tax $ should be.

  6. As someone who grew up partially homeschooled and partially private schooled, it definitely was a drag, in some respects. I didn’t always get the social interaction I wanted.

    However, in retrospect, acing the ACTs first try and starting college at 15 pretty much rocked, though – even then. That was why my parents chose that path, and it worked.

    My younger siblings were only ever homeschooled and, I’ll be honest, they used to have that sort of weird, homeschool-ish vibe. However, my parents simply made a note of it and put them in programs like 4H and the Boy Scouts. By the time they started college (also at 15) they were perfectly comfortable.

    It all comes down to the parents and their commitment to make sure their kids are ready for the world. I feel my parents pushed academics too hard but they came from an era (and area of the country) where you really had to go to college to “make it anywhere.” So, they prepped us the best way they knew how.

    But, honestly, if we had lived somewhere that they liked the schools and had sent us to them, it wouldn’t have gone much differently. My mother would have been that mom that graded her kids homework before the teacher ever saw it (she did when I was in private school) and, though we might have started college later, I would bet the outcome would have been the same.

  7. It’s interesting to me that homeschooling is so controversial. All school choice options produce motivated kids, unmotivated kids, happy kids, strange kids, sad kids, athletic kids, artistic kids, druggie kids, etc. Some kids rebel against good involved parents, and some kids rise above the consequences of bad parents. However, the way kids turn out depends largely on what the parents emphasize as important in life and how involved they were in their kids’ lives. Most homeschooled kids I know are motivated and succeeding in life. Most parents who homeschool that I know care deeply about giving their kids the tools to succeed. My husband and I were public school graduates and knew what that involved. We decided to try homeschooling 17 years ago and haven’t looked back. Our kids are pursuing a nursing career, a public policy career, an engineering career, and a physical therapy career. All of our kids would agree that the ridiculous “homeschool kid” stigmas are annoying to have to overcome, though it usually only takes one interaction. It gives them experience in dealing with stereotypes and broad generalizations that are often unfounded. Look at the unfortunate title of this article. I think some of Noah’s points in the article were a response to those stigmas. As a side note, Noah is a wonderful example to everyone around him. He would NOT say that he is one of the rare few who narrowly escaped the oppression of homeschooling, but instead one of many homeschool graduates who were thankful for their homeschooling experience and who turned out to be great contributors to our society. He rents a house, which my father owns, and which he shares with two other stellar homeschool graduates. It’s time to move on from this stereotype.

  8. Well said, Wife, Mother, Teacher, Advisor… I see where Noah is trying to overcome the stigma. I guess homeschoolers could become their own minority group and cry victim, but Noah and many others just look at it as another obstacle to overcome and move on. I think my first reaction was to encourage homeschoolers to just live their lives and the results will be seen, as you have said “it usually only takes one interaction”. I guess I just get weary of the stereotypes that are put on homeschoolers. Thanks for your comment

  9. I agree Samantha.
    I get sick of sterotypes and people quizzing my kids.
    You dont see them quiz public school kids.
    I love that each homeschool is unique. We dont need cookie cutter education.

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