Port St. Lucie, FL 34988
In 2001, a simple group of homeschooling moms saw a need for an area wide homeschool support group that would support homeschooling families from all walks of life. From their vision, Parents Educating on the Treasure Coast (Parents ETC) was born. From those few families in 2001, Parents ETC has grown, and we have over 100 homeschooling families from the St. Lucie and Martin Counties.
Parents ETC was established with Christian values, and its Board of Directors must sign a Statement of Faith that affirms basic Christian beliefs. However, PETC is open to any homeschooling family, regardless of religious or denominational affiliation. Members will not be pressured to change their religious beliefs in any way. Because the organization has Christian roots, aspects of the Christian faith may be expressed in its activities and communication from time to time.
Below is the history of the Parents ETC leadership. As children grew and families moved, the leadership changed hands, but the vision of Parents ETC continued. Join us in recognizing the commitment and sacrifice these women willingly gave in order to make Parents ETC the wonderful homeschooling support group it is today.
Sherrie Childress, Chairman (Early Fall)
Julie Fisher, Administrative Secretary
Nicole Chapman, Treasurer
Recollections from LaWanda Sutherland, Robin Stillfried, & Cheryl Boglioli, Parents ETC’s Founding Mothers, 2001:
In a far away time, three young women, full of hope and determination, commitment and passion, attended a homeschool convention. They saved for hotel rooms, transportation, food, and books in an effort to improve their abilities as homeschooling moms. These women were determined to offer their children the best they could in life skills, social interaction, and educational opportunities. One night after walking the convention hall all day and listening to inspirational speakers, they retired to their room and began discussing what they'd like to see in their local homeschool community. These women were Robin Stillfried, LaWanda Sutherland, and Cheryl Boglioli.
Together, we made lists of things we desired for our children and ourselves. We discussed observations of other groups that had succeeded and failed in our area and across the state. From this late night chat, the seed for Parents ETC was planted. We decided that we were ready to tackle starting a group of our own in our community on the Treasure Coast. Over the next few weeks, we continued to water that seed and brought in other opinions and ideas.
It was at this time that Daisy Pieraldi joined the effort and together with Cheryl and Robin (LaWanda lived in Plant City by this time so was not able to be physically there) spent the summer of 2001 researching and writing bylaws, policies and procedures, selecting the name "Parents Educating on the Treasure Coast (Parents ETC)", setting up a non-profit corporation, and getting all of the membership paperwork and bank accounts set up for our kick-off in August.
A little about the name "Parents Educating on the Treasure Coast"... We chose that name for two reasons: one, because it defined who we were and what we were about and also, because it could be shortened to Parents ETC with the “ETC” indicating that it was much more than a support group. Our vision was that Parents ETC would become a support for homeschooling parents, offering field trips, social opportunities for children, and co-op classes for kids of all ages. We also envisioned Parents ETC being a catalyst in bringing together leaders from all local homeschool support groups and private schools to support each other, share ideas, and stand together to build a strong homeschool community.
One of the visions that we had for Parents ETC is that (although it was founded on Judean/Christian values) we wanted it to be a support for ALL homeschool families no matter what their religious affiliation was. We wanted our common bond to be the education of our children and the support of each other in that process. At our first meeting there was a wonderful mix of backgrounds. We had Christians, Jews, Muslims, and I think even an Atheist or two :) There were 15 families represented and by the end of that first school year Parents ETC had grown to about 20 families.
And so the seed was planted… With careful love and attention from the leadership that would come after us, Parents ETC would go on to become a support group for families all across the Treasure Coast, boasting over 100 members by it’s 10th year anniversary!
Recollections from Susan Garman, Chairman 2005-2008:
In 2003 the Parent ETC Chair, Cheryl Boglioli, ask me to serve on the board of directors. She didn’t have a specific role for me and honestly, I wasn’t sure what I could bring to the table, but I decided to give it a try. That year I served as both the membership secretary and the treasurer. I learned along the way with Cheryl basically holding my hand and the rest of the board propping me up.
At the end of that first term Cheryl resigned from PETC in order to devote more time to the Florida Parent Educators Association and PETC needed a new chairman. For various reasons there were no other current board members who were able to take on the position of chairman. Cheryl asked me three or four times to chair the group before I said yes. Let me tell you, I was terrified. My only previous experience in a leadership position was as the mission chair at my church and chairing a homeschool group was a far cry from organizing fund raisers, discussing giving envelopes with the Pastor, and feeding teenagers on mission trips. To top it all off, another local homeschool group was folding and they needed a home. With PETC the only other active homeschool group in the county, the logical choice was to blend the two groups.
Here I was, stepping up to lead a group of familiar and not so familiar faces. My fear factor meter shot through the roof. At least it was agreed that someone from the disbanded group needed to serve on the board and Jackie Weeks jumped right in, agreeing to co-chair the group. That first year was spent meshing the two groups into one and slowly instituting new programs while four new board members got to know one another. Oh, did I mention that we lost our meeting location? Little did I know that over the next several years this would be an ongoing issue for the Parents ETC. And one other note of importance, actually two, in the midst of all this restructuring, hurricanes Frances and Jeanne came to visit within a month of each other, leaving most of the members with little or no available source of communication. We had to postpone our first meeting of the year twice and we didn’t have any way of knowing if those planning to attend even received notice of the rescheduled meetings. With new programs, a new meeting location, new board members, and a lot of new families I was beginning to think we should change the name of the group to Shifting Sands Homeschoolers or Altering Educators. Somehow though, we experienced a very successful year. Through it all, the members were great and welcomed each new change as an adventure.
That first year serving as chairman was one of the greatest experiences of my life. All the things I viewed as negative or extremely challenging turned into wonderful learning experiences. With every change for the group I learned to compromise, look at the big picture, and how to delegate responsibilities to board and group members. As a team, PETC grow up and out. Once a new home was located we organized co-ops. Through the enthusiastic group volunteers who were passionate about using their talents in ways that strengthened the group and exposed our children to group learning situations, co-ops became a huge success. Field trips and social events grew from the desire of members to share their hobbies, homes, and learning resources with other member families and Mom’s Night Out provided an outlet for spending time with other moms and enjoying the luxury of a night out without the kids.
I look back at that first year with pride and admiration to the member families who pitched in and gave so much and to the board members who gave up so much in an effort to lead and support other homeschool families. The years that followed brought more wonderful changes. Members came and went, children graduated and moved onto their adulthood, board members changed, and we settled into a couple of different “homes”. I never ceased to learn more about homeschooling and loved sharing my experiences with others. Most importantly I learned that giving back to others brought many more rewards than hardships.
In 2008 it appeared the group had reached a pinnacle and new leadership was needed to bring Parents ETC to its next stage. Having a belief that leadership is a vertical process where strength is gained from those who stand beside you instead of above or below meant that someone currently serving in a leadership role would need to step into a new pair of shoes, so in May of 2009 when my husband and I graduated our oldest daughter, I also graduated myself by confidently passing the role of chairman to Jenn Schmidt.