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Homeschool fair attracts out-of-towners


An annual homeschooling resource fair was held at Farragut Middle School, and it attracted families from around East Tennessee.

Stephanie Powell lives near Chattanooga and said she attended the Family Resource Fair, held June 29 and 30, because she wanted to get ideas and resources to homeschool my kids. Powell said she has two children, has been homeschooling for eight years and often comes to fairs like this one.

Ive been to bigger ones; theres a bigger one in Chattanooga, but this one is laid out really nice because it is in a school. When you go to the workshops and things, it is easy to hear the speaker. Its smaller so a lot of the people can take time with you if you have questions, she said. I think its really nice that this school system will let them come in and host this. That really speaks well for the town and the school system. Thats what were all about; were all trying to educate our kids the best we can.

Smoky Mountain Home Educators Association hosted the event, and President Cory Bennett said the school is well-suited for the event.

Weve been doing Farragut Middle School now in excess of ten years, he said. Its a building that suits itself to the type of event that were trying to have, where we need both exhibit and classroom areas. The other venues in the city, the exhibition centers and those sorts of things, are stellar with their exhibit space, but they have no classroom areas. So if you try to do any kind of serious workshops or classrooms you are always competing in an area thats filled with noise from the exhibit hall. It makes it difficult for parents to get the time and focused attention they might need in order to prepare for home education.

He added the organization rents the school and hires janitorial and kitchen workers.

Bennett said he thinks the attraction is the limited number of brick-and-mortar stores that cater to the homeschooling market.

We probably have more unique educational products in that one place than youll see anyplace else in Knoxville. There are just a lot of products that are developed for the homeschool market that dont show up in normal stores. Its kind of a specialized market. So there are games, books, other sorts of things you just dont find anywhere else, he said. We sit down and very carefully screen the folks that are coming into the event. We have only room for a limited number of exhibitors, and therefore, were looking for people primarily selling something that is specifically oriented to homeschooling and what we see as the specific core needs of homeschool families.

Donna George lives in Thorn Hill in Grainger County, and said she came to the fair because, We do homeschool, and we like to see what curriculum is out there.

George said she has been homeschooling her one daughter for six years.

There was lots of good stuff at the fair, she said, and she was particularly glad to see science supplies.

Its difficult sometimes to find supplies for the science projects, she added.

Sherry Thomas said, I have a friend who wanted to order curriculum here, and I know there are supplement books, reading books and other supplies I thought I wanted to come and see.

Thomas lives in Greeneville and said, I enjoyed coming. I think its great.

Scarlett Cornell of West Knoxville said she has been homeschooling her two children for four years.

I was looking for Saxon math and Apologia science, she said. I have found both of them, and I was just kind of looking at things I have seen in catalogues and just wanted to get my hands on.

For more information on the Family Resource Fair or SMHEA, visit www.smhea.org.

 

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