Issue 35 | November 30, 2012 | Featuring L.I.G.H.T.S.

Newsletters Archive


The early home schooling movement in Maine was described for us by Steve Moitozo in the past two newsletters.  Back in the 1980's when his family began the journey, there were no "co-ops" because there was no one to co-op with.  Things are very different now in Maine as you will read from the report by Lori and Steve Robertson.

INSIDE NARHS: What happens with "incomplete" portfolios?

Every once in a while, we receive a portfolio that does not have everything needed such as the return shipping label (or check), the log book, the home school transcript, the summary sheet, course descriptions for self-designed courses, or sufficient, convincing evidence.   Our response to the missing items will depend on what is missing.  Most of the time, we will call or email a request that such be sent.   If convincing evidence is missing, the advisor will submit the course(s) in question to a review board which will determine how to proceed. An example comes to mind.  In one portfolio were 30 math tests taken on line where the student needed only to choose from multiple answers. There were no calculations by the student. Nor was any work shown from exercises or even a book mentioned from which the student studied.  The question that ran through the advisor's mind was, "Is there any evidence here that convinces me that this student took this test?"  And the answer was, "No".  Anyone could have taken that test for the student.  (This is also one of the problems with online courses; who really answered those questions?)
The review board's decision was for the student to take a CLEP math test, which is a proctored exam that demonstrates proficiency.  If you have any questions about "sufficient, compelling evidence," please talk it over with your advisor.

FEATURED FAMILY: Steve, Lori, Caleb, and Joshua Robertson and the L.I.G.H.T.S. Program

According to, the actual number of home-schoolers in America is between 1.9 and 2.5 million students.  The data shows that there has been an increase of 74% in the past 10 years.   So there are plenty of people to co-op with now, and that is exactly what home-schoolers are doing.  What are the benefits of working together? Here are four:
1. Socialization from weekly group meetings helps balance the alone time at home.
2. Learning from other adults helps expand a child's learning flexibility.
3. Some disciplines just can't be done alone, such as choir, orchestra, speech and team sports.
4. The moral support provided by others helps parents and students stay committed.
       Home school co-ops can take on very different characteristics from each other.   Some may meet all day once a month, like "Friday Forum" in Yakima, Washington.  Some may meet twice a week or may take on a more "schoolish" appearance.   In Southern Maine, the numbers of home schoolers support the opportunity now to meet for classes and camaraderie.  Lori Robertson describes a co-op there with the appealing name of "LIGHTS".

Lori's Story

       Our home school co-op, L.I.G.H.T.S., is located in Hollis Center, Maine.  We are a ministry through the Hollis Center Baptist Church. Learning In Godly Home Teaching Settings (LIGHTS) is our motto.  LIGHTS has been operating for about 20 years, but not until the last 5 years have we seen it grow so rapidly.  LIGHTS began with about 5 students in 1992.  In 2002, our attendance was about 50-60 students, PreK-12th grades. We now host 170 students (70 families) on each Monday from 9-2.

Description of the L.I.G.H.T.S. program

      We have a variety of classes that benefit all grade levels pre-K-12. We have 3 groups for the younger ones; i.e., Firecrackers (ages 2-3), Sparklers (ages 4-5), andthe Ray's (grade 1-2). These 3 groups have a classroom all to themselves from 9:45 am - 12:00 with two teachers and a Helper. We have been averaging 18 in a classroom.  To begin our day we are all together for Chapel at 9:15 am.  Grades 3-12 have three 45-min. periods and then lunch. We also provide after-lunch activities. Grades 7-12 enjoy volleyball for their phys. Ed. class. The younger ones can participate in Lego's, critical thinking, scrap booking, or outdoor play. Other classes taught include various history classes ( Greek and Roman mythology, Drive Thru History, U.S. history, Maine history), Science(labs for biology, physical, and chemistry, oceanography, and forensic), home economics (creative confections), wood working, health, phys ed, K-nex© (force and motion, simple machines),Bible classes (world religions, Christian life issues, church history, Old Testament, New Testament, peace maker, and purity challenge),  literature classes, public speaking, critical thinking, MLA writing class, grammar/writing, intro to fine art, SAT prep math, fallacy detective, geography, sign language, economics (consumer math, personal finance, money matters), and music are just some of the classes that come to mind.

What has contributed to LIGHTS success?

After mentioning God's faithfulness, the second factor that promotes our success is accountability through a leadership team of 7. Each one of these leaders has a specific job to do and we all work very well together as we share a common vision for LIGHTS. Six years ago LIGHTS was run by one person. Because of its growth that no longer could happen.
   Steve Robertson has been very helpful in providing LIGHTS with documents needed to make this group run smoothly. He has developed a database that we can use for just about everything we need to be efficient in all we do.

   We also have implemented a few policies to LIGHTS due to the growth and accountability.
   * Each teacher is asked to:
Give a synopsis of the class they will teach, a materials list, and price for class,
Provide a syllabus of what will be covered in the class each week, and
Give an evaluation, each semester, of each student and how they did in the class.
   * Each student fills out a medical form which we keep on hand for emergencies. Allergies/ special need etc...
   * We have established a discipline policy which each family member reads and signs.
   * The parent's themselves have been a great contribution to LIGHTS's success. In order to be a part of LIGHTS we ask that the parents do not drop their children off but come and participate with us. Some parents cannot do this for various reasons so they ask another parent at LIGHTS to be a guardian for their child.
    Each one is always ready to do something for the co-op, whether that be teach or help in the classroom, set up, take down, clean up class rooms, oversee lunch time, oversee outdoor activities, provide food, and of course transportation for some students. 
* We have not advertised LIGHTS at all. This growth is all by word-of -mouth. What is surprising to me is just how many people now are actually home schooling in Southern Maine; we are just scratching the surface.  There is not yet a website but you can find us through our church website at (find LIGHTS under ministries). We do have a Facebook page (type in L.I.G.H.T.S. with the dots.)

So as you can see at LIGHTS everyone has a place and there is a place for everyone. That's what I love about it.

Lori Robertson