HASAP director Marti Melton-Streeter works as a liaison for home school students and the Boone Community School District. The program has been operating for nine years and the number of home school students continues to grow in Boone and a strong relationship has been maintained with the Boone Community School District.
"We service close to 140 students throughout a year," Melton-Streeter said. "We have an excellent relationship with Boone schools, that's why this program works."
Often times, it can be challenging for some parents to provide the classroom setting for enrichment classes such as art or hands-on sciences. To overcome this barrier, HASAP provides four classrooms to area home school students at Garfield School, 106 Webster St.
One of these classrooms serves as a media center, which Melton-Streeter said is utilized the most. In addition, there are classrooms for enrichment classes, including speech and debate club.
Melton-Streeter said community projects are also an important learning experience for younger home school students. Last year, the lower grade levels raised donations for a local food pantry and this upcoming school year they will offer music appreciation. This group of students consists of kindergarten through second graders and they are planning to perform "Bremen Town Musicians," a play by the brothers Grimm.
Melton-Streeter said it's advantageous for children to perform in plays at a young age because the experience helps them build communication skills over time.
"Being able to communicate increases your vocabulary and it brings forth the skills that children need in society," she said.
Melton-Streeter has home schooled all eight of her children over a time frame of 19 years. However, 19 years ago, she was one of just two families home schooling in Boone.
Five of her children began attending Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) between the ages of 16 and 17 and another one of her children will begin taking courses there this fall. Each of her three children earned two-year degrees from DMACC by the time they would have graduated high school and they continued to pursue higher education afterwards.
Just like public school students, home school students are required to pass the pre-admittance exam to assure they are academically ready for college-level courses. Melton-Streeter stressed the importance for these younger students to be socially ready for taking their education to the next level.
"Somebody can be academically ready, but they need to be socially ready," she said.
According to Melton-Streeter, HASAP is the tenth largest home school program in Iowa, right below some of the larger city programs such as Des Moines, Iowa City, Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.
Melton-Streeter earned her bachelor's degree at a young age. She worked on her master's degree while she was raising her children and later received her doctorate in administration from Drake University. She said continuing to learn at an older age served as an example for her own children.
"I think they learn that education is a process," Melton-Streeter said. "It's not something that stops at 18 or 22."
In the beginning, Melton-Streeter said there was not a set curriculum for home school students like there is today.
"When I started there was nothing, so what I wanted to teach my kids was to love to learn," she said. "The thing that is unique when you home school your children is that you can tailor the curriculum to meet your child's needs."
Melton-Streeter said home schooling her children created a close relationship between not just her and her children, but also the children themselves.
"Often the relationship is close between a parent and child," Melton-Streeter said, explaining that she talks to her children on a daily basis and that they have grown close to each other.
When it comes to home school students in Boone, a lot of these students open-enroll from other districts. Melton-Streeter said she expects half of the student enrollment to be from outside of the Boone Community School District for the upcoming school year.
A large number of the students come from Jefferson, while others come from closer districts such as Madrid, Ogden and Southeast Webster (Burnside).
Laws for home schooling state that students in a bordering district and one district beyond a bordering district may enroll in a given district's home school program.
Although 90 percent of the home school students stay in the program from kindergarten through 12th grade, there are often times that some students will only stay in the program for a year. Most of the time, these students are children who are struggling in public schools. After a year or two in the home school program, Melton-Streeter noted that the program provides the children with enough confidence to make the transition back to public school.
Just like public schools, there are challenges when it comes to teaching students. Melton-Streeter outlined different learning styles among each child as being one road block to overcome.
"Not everyone can home school, it is hard work," she said. "There's lessons plans and every year your age group changes."
A high degree of one-on-one attention is an advantage that exists for home school students.
"There's the value of one-on-one attention and the ability as a parent to be able to access the information to teach them," Melton-Streeter said.
While public schools have to be in session for a mandatory 188 days, home school students attend 148 days of school each year. Standardized testing is not required, although most parents test their children to gauge their progress.
"It's not required by state law but almost all of our families do," she said. "The reason that it's not required is because the parents are with their children every day and they know their strengths and weaknesses."
Financial support for home schooling is just like public schools. There is funding at the federal, state and local levels.
Unlike public school teachers, parents don't have to be certified to educate their children. However, that's where HASAP comes in and oversees the families to provide them with any assistance.
"We give the families the tools they need," Melton-Streeter said.