Kris Stoddard was elected as HAHA President in June 2019. She has a background in Education and has homeschooled since 2007. You can learn more about Kris and what is happening with HAHA through her updates below.
May 1, 2020
Hello Sheltered Friends,
How are you all doing? While there have been many blessings about this “coronacrazy” season, like getting a much needed break from busyness, taking walks with our friends or families, having time to bake, put puzzles together, revive a hobby, or read a book, if you’re anything like me, you might be feeling like it’s getting loooooooong. We actually joined my niece and her family for dinner last week and it was like Christmas, only the gifts were not wrapped.
The gifts included being somewhere other than home and being with people other than the ones I’ve been cooped up with for eight weeks! As much as I love them, well, for an extrovert like me who is refreshed and energized by being with people, I miss other people!! Zoom meet-ups help, but it’s no substitute for the real thing. Thankfully, we are beginning to see small signs of daily life begin to shift back to normal. Now when I want to get out, it can be someplace other than the grocery store or Dollar Tree! Hey, Staples is open!!! School supplies, here I come! Suddenly, I have a need for pens.
And what is going on at HAHA, you ask? It has been pretty quiet on that front, but believe me, we are still alive and kicking, ready to jump into action once we have the green light. We were so disappointed to have to cancel our Curriculum & Resource Fair, which would have happened this month. However, we will try to make it up to you in August at our second annual Homeschoolibration. Many of you remember this event from last year. It was lots of fun.
This year we will make sure it is just as fun and even more worth coming to! Set aside your used curriculum because we plan to have a huge tent and tables where you can sell it. We will also invite vendors whose services you and your kids might be interested in checking out - like instructors of karate or musical instrumental lessons, tutors, evaluators, and many others. We will get a date to you as soon as we have our venue secured, so be watching for that.
April showers bring May flowers! May this month be beautiful to you in many ways! I’m hoping one way is to be able to go more places, be able to meet with people, and do it all without wearing a mask!
April 1, 2019
Things felt very surreal as my husband and I perused the increasingly empty shelves at the grocery store and then as I delivered one of my kids to an appointment and found myself having to navigate through orange cones leading cars through a testing site for COVID-19, complete with a police presence, large white canopies, and medical personnel milling around in masks & gowns. Wow! I pinched myself to make sure I was awake. Ouch. Yup, I was awake alright.
While I waited for my daughter at her doctor’s appointment, I decided to walk over to Dunkin Donuts and grab a latte. Halfway there, it hit me that I would have to go back and get the car since the dining area was not open and I would have to use the drive-through. So I walked back, got in the car, and then I remembered that my driver’s side window doesn’t work. Hmmm...I considered for a minute if I should just forget about the latte. Well, THAT wasn’t happening, so I pulled into the drive-through lane, up to the speaker, opened my door and ordered. Not a problem. Then I pulled up to the next window just right so I had room to open my door and pay. After offering an embarrassed explanation about my window not working, I paid, then received my longed-for latte.
It got me to wondering...What if, for whatever reason, I couldn’t get my coveted latte or morning cup of joe anymore? Losing what we’re used to having does have the potential to bring out impatience, self-pity, worry, anxiety, fear and the like. But, coffee deprivation aside, real hardship can also bring out compassion, camaraderie, and good will. And I’m seeing a whole lot of the good side happening and I bet you are too. We are all “in this together” and it’s reviving a creativity and community that often gets neglected in the midst of our very busy worlds of work, school, and activity. That’s a good thing.
So how is HAHA helping during this season?
We’ve gathered and posted valuable resources on our website for everyone to easily access. Check it out on the front page.
As most of you know by now the governor has officially signed an amendment to Senate Bill 751 that waives regulations regarding evaluations, having them done & submitting them to your school district, and standardized testing. In another article in this e-newsletter, we outline some considerations and recommendations to consider in regard to these waived regulations.
We are also working on offering our support to evaluators who are going to “get the short end of the stick” in this amendment deal. We are offering them free advertisement and we will work with them to get their messages regarding their services out to the homeschooling community. Be watching for their ads!
Last, but not least, we have obviously had to postpone or cancel field trips and classes. This is unfortunate, but we pray that soon this virus will stop spreading and we can be back up and running again! In the meantime, “keep calm and homeschool on.” Be assured that God always has great purpose in all that He allows. And watch for the good things He accomplishes through this strange season of limitations and deprivation - beginning right in our own families and extending to our communities, government and beyond!
Thinking of you all,
"Senate Bill 751 was amended to include these waivers and other changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Wolf signed the bill into law today. It is effective immediately. This means that for the 2019-2020 school year, homeschooling parents will not be required to:
Include the results of a nationally normed standardized achievement test (or the Pennsylvania statewide test) in their student’s portfolio. This is currently required for students in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade.
Conduct an annual written evaluation of educational progress as determined by a qualified homeschool evaluator.
Send the qualified evaluator’s certification to the local superintendent by June 30.”
While this is helpful for many, it also evokes several questions for homeschooling families:
What about maintaining our records for each child’s completed grade?
What about my senior who is graduating?
What about high school students who need transcripts and evaluations in order to secure a diploma? (parent-issued or a program-issued)
First of all, keep records for all of your kids.
Second, even though evaluations are not required this year, you can still have an evaluation if you choose to and if your evaluator is offering them. Contact your evaluator for information and procedures they have come up with to make that happen.
For grades 7 & 8, we recommend that you talk to your evaluator regarding the keeping of records, especially keeping track of state-required topics.
High school students really must have an evaluation since what they do counts toward a diploma. Again, evaluators will be determining individually how this can happen, so you will want to contact an evaluator. For example, I am scanning and sending samples and paperwork to my daughter’s evaluator who will then look at them, update her records, and then conduct an interview with my daughter via video conferencing.
March 1, 2020
Happy March! Spring is coming and with it great things for HAHA members!
On February 15 we were very pleased to enjoy brunch with about 20 of you at our Plugged In Brunch. We were thrilled to get feedback, ideas, and offers of help from many. This means that leaders can move ahead in each of their respective areas. For those of you who were unable to attend, we want to keep you informed about the opportunities available to volunteer your help and support. HAHA will not be able to accomplish great things without that. Here are a few highlights from our time together:
Project Elevate: The goal of this initiative is to promote educational excellence in the homeschool community through classes, showcases, competition and collaborative gatherings.
We are now offering two new classes in STEM & the trades via community members & businesses (see calendar). These classes are like field trips on steroids! They expand the field trip to an extended and structured time of learning. We hope to offer more in the future as we find partners.
Next school year we hope to hold our first Harrisburg Area Science Fair that any and all homeschoolers across the counties surrounding Harrisburg can participate in. Be watching for details.
Project Assist: Hannah & Amy, our coordinators, have heard you and are now pursuing support groups that will encourage those families who deal with the challenges of children with special needs. They will also be posting links to helpful sites and resources soon. Additionally, they will be available to offer guidance and support to co-ops who want to accommodate special needs students.
Project Activate: Our coordinator, Debi Graham, shared current legislation that homeschooling parents care about and ways to influence our state legislators. Be watching for more information about House Bills (HB) 1938, 508 and Senate Bill (SB) 653 and for ways you can get involved as a valuable constituent on behalf of the home school community.
Last but not least, a Curriculum & Resource Fair is scheduled for May 30! Mark your calendars! If we are able to get the venue & the help we need in these early stages, then you can look forward to these activities:
Used curriculum & book sales
A wide variety of vendors including homeschool classes & lessons, colleges, job opps, evaluators, co-ops, etc.
Curriculum highlight mini-workshops presented by experienced moms
A concession stand
A notary on site to notarize affidavits
And much more!
We have worked to make our website a resource in and of itself for you. Be sure to explore it if you have not. Many of your questions can be answered there. If you have questions or need to reach out, don’t hesitate to email me or the other leaders. Their contact information is posted on the front page of the website for members.
Have a great month!
February 1, 2020
Can it possibly be February already?? My how time flies... at the same time this season can feel long, even endless. Some of us may experience a kind of seasonal depression or just generally feeling down. We bank on the fact that spring is coming even if we can’t see signs of it yet. Regardless of our feelings, we know without a doubt that silent and invisible processes are occurring in nature right now that will soon blossom into new life. I’m so thankful that God orders and sustains this world, including the changing of seasons and the rising of the sun each day. I count on that!
Unlike the silent and invisible pre-spring season, I’d like to unveil one of the silent and invisible processes that are going on behind the scenes at HAHA headquarters. I am so excited about the recent development of HAHA sponsored classes! You will begin to hear about them if you haven’t already. So far there are two: Katapult STEM classes and Nate Pierce Trades classes. I love the idea of providing our members with access to STEM classes and promoting the trades! Be watching for details about these opportunities. Though class sizes will be limited, both Katapult and Nate Pierce will run additional classes in the future.
I also want to remind you that we have rescheduled the Plugged-In Brunch that we had to cancel due to bad weather in January. It is now happening on February 15. Visit the HAHA calendar for details and to sign up. (Yes, you must sign up again if you plan to come.) The leaders and I look forward to providing a yummy brunch for you and sharing all that we have been working on including exciting future plans.
Lastly, let me encourage any of you who might be struggling during this season to cultivate thankfulness. Thankfulness has worked like a magic pill for me during times of struggling to stay positive and encouraged. Even if you don’t feel thankful, start recording blessings both big and small every day. Before long you may find a new perspective springing up and blossoming!
Hope to see you soon!
January 1, 2020
Dear HAHA Members,
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I hope you had a very special Christmas with family and friends. And now it’s time for new year’s resolutions... Here’s mine. Resolved: No resolutions this year. Anyone with me? The problem with my resolutions is that they seem to come with a premature expiration date...say Jan. 14 or earlier. My resolve doesn’t get me very far - especially when it involves diet and exercise or changing a bad habit. I’m sure I’m not alone.
Might I suggest a different kind of resolve for us to consider this year? What if we started with who we want to be instead of what we want to do? What if we focused on character instead of accomplishment? Maybe we could ask ourselves, “What kind of person do I want to be at the end of 2020? Is there an area of my life that I need or desire to change that would make a real difference in my relationships and ability to respond to life in a more meaningful, fruitful way.
Do I want to be more patient?
Do I need to be more self-disciplined?
How about listen better?
Be more teachable or courageous or forgiving?
The list of possibilities unlimited.
I came across this idea a few years ago from a book called My One Word by Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen. [FYI- This is a Christian book.] I loved it. Employing this idea with God’s help, I’ve grown so much more than I ever did with resolutions. That’s because there’s a connection between who I am and what I do! Who I am leads to how I live. Don’t get me wrong. It still takes some focus & even self-discipline, but somehow working on the inside first makes external or behavioral change more likely. It’s not just our kids who need to grow up. We adults need to keep growing up, too!
If you decide to read the book and choose a word for the year, I’d love to hear what word you chose. If you don’t want to buy the book, I’ve typed up a summary that addresses some of the “hows” of choosing and then focusing on your “My One Word” throughout the year. Email or message me and I’ll share it with you.
One last thing...Don’t forget to sign up for our PLUGGED IN BRUNCH on January 18 from 9:00AM-12:00PM at Daybreak Church in Mechanicsburg. This event is for those who want to learn how they can plug in to HAHA as we seek to serve, unite, and represent the homeschool community. It will be a great morning to hear about opportunities and share ideas. Oh yah... there’s free food, too. Hope to see you there!
December 1, 2019
Greetings fellow HAHA members!
There are two items I’d like to address this month. The first item is our PLUGGED IN BRUNCH we are hosting on January 18 from 9-12:00 at Daybreak Church in Mechanicsburg. We are excited to be in a room with you all, face-to-face, and share our specific plans for HAHA with you! Attendees will get to hear from several leaders/coordinators about plans, activities, and initiatives that are being worked on. We are hoping that those of you who checked the volunteer box on your member profile will consider joining us. You will have an opportunity to ask questions, make suggestions, and get involved in the areas that most appeal to you. AND you will get to enjoy a complimentary brunch on us. Be sure to sign up on through the HAHA calendar so we know how many to prepare for.
The second item I would like to address is the new rule on our facebook page - “Personal business promotions are not allowed and will be removed.” Be sure you read the post explaining that change if you haven’t already. However, I would also like to address HAHA members specifically, because you may be wondering why we are not offering free advertisement anymore to members who own or run businesses.
HAHA is a nonprofit organization which exists to serve and support parents in homeschooling their families. Even nonprofit organizations must have sources of income in order to accomplish anything. $30/year per family is a very low cost for all that we provide and those services & benefits are increasing as we work toward our goals. While we would like to be able to support our families in their personal business pursuits, especially when that business benefits homeschoolers, we cannot do that right now. In the past, HAHA has had a much larger base - almost 400 members! Unfortunately, that number has fallen over the past several years to about 160+. We are working hard to rebuild, but it takes time. You are always welcome to list your business in your member profile on our website for free.
Though, as a Board, we have made the decision to charge for advertising, we have also made it very affordable for anyone. For a mere $20, your ad will be posted on facebook 3 times, be advertised in the monthly e-newsletter 3 times and also be listed on our resource page for 6 months. As a small business owner myself with a very limited income, this is a very affordable fee. It would be worth it.
One last note - you need to know that not one of your HAHA Board members, leaders or coordinators receives one penny right now for all the work they are doing. They are truly volunteers, making great contributions to the homeschooling community. Paying to advertise your business is one way you can invest in the success of HAHA, thereby the homeschool community. Thanks to those of you who take part in this investment.
Last but not least, from the Stoddard Homeschool family to yours, have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and I hope to see you in January!
November 1, 2019
Who is Kris Stoddard? We asked her some questions to get to know her better and find out where her vision for HAHA will take us.
Tell us about your family. I have been married to my husband Bruce for 29 years. In the early 2000's we began adopting kids from the foster care system. Within 3 years we had taken in six children, comprising three pairs of biological siblings. We use to say that God brought them to our ark 2 by 2. They ranged in age from 14 months to 10 years of age at the time and are currently now ages 17 to 27. The two oldest kids are on their own. The next three kids graduated from high school last June and are currently in a “gap year” to work and decide what direction they want to take in life. The youngest one is a junior in high school. She attends two educational co-ops where she takes all of her classes now.
How did you get into homeschooling? Our kids were in the public school system for several years. Because our kids came from hard places, they had special needs and encountered great struggles. We worked within the system until we could see that if they were going to reach any kind of potential, we had to make a change. As a teacher by profession, I was quite unaware of the world of homeschooling! Cyberschooling became our "jumping off" point, which then quickly led to the world of traditional homeschooling. This is where we settled in and it turned out to be a true means of rescue for our kids. By keeping them home, we were able to better meet their emotional needs, which meant we could then finally get about the business of actually learning something.
How long have you homeschooled? We have homeschooled for 12 years now. It has been a wonderfully challenging experience. I've probably learned much more than my kids have.
What role has HAHA played in your schooling? After pulling all 6 kids out of public school in the summer of 2007, we began to discover the homeschool community. It was awesome - like discovering a whole new world that I didn't know existed! I quickly joined HAHA and began to connect with other homeschooling families. I found HAHA's resources, activities, field trips, and parent meetings invaluable as a beginning homeschooler. It was a radically paradigm-shifting season for me, having come from bricks and mortar education. I loved every minute of it and felt like I had found my "community family".
How did you become HAHA President? In early May of this year, I learned that Jamey McClintock, the former president of HAHA, was resigning. I had been on the Board of Directors for 2- 3 years prior to that, so although I had stepped down and was out of touch with the current state of affairs, I still knew the board members. Eventually, the Board reached out and asked me to consider coming back in order to see HAHA through this transition in leadership. In addition to Jamey, 3 of the remaining 4 Board members were also resigning. When I finally sat down with the Board members, they asked me if I would chair the board. By the time this question was asked, I had already thought and prayed a lot about the direction I believed HAHA needed to move in and felt a definite conviction to help. I knew it was going to be a monumental task, but I really felt that I had been prepared for this challenge and grew excited about the opportunity.
What is your vision for HAHA? We definitely want to continue doing what HAHA has always done - provide educational enrichment through field trips and various activities, support through offering resources, and opportunities to connect with other homeschooling families. At the same time, I feel a growing conviction that the home school community at large must unify in order to fight for our right to maintain the freedom we enjoy to educate our own kids as we see fit. This means we need to come together and not be fragmented or in opposition to one another. We must begin looking at the bigger picture and not be ignorant or naive about the signs of the times. Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." I believe this to be true, so we will do something. In the coming months, we will begin to educate and mobilize our members to speak up and fight the rising tide of opposition. We are currently working on networking and partnering with multiple organizations to achieve this goal.
Additionally, I would like to see HAHA bring the homeschool community together by providing opportunities to raise the level of home educational excellence. I am an educator through and through. It’s one of my passions and I think that raising the bar in the home school community will only serve to strengthen our cause by showing the broader community that home education works, not just telling them. We have some future plans that I am very excited about and that I think will excite all of you, too. I envision sending our students out to the broader community as self-motivated learners, effective communicators, intelligent thinkers, and focused workers.
Last but not least, it is on my heart that so many homeschooling moms and dads have gifts and abilities that could be used to serve the community, thereby realizing their value in that community. We will seek to provide opportunities for our members to put their gifts and abilities to good use in order to strengthen and build up the home school community.
August 28, 2019
August 28, 2019
Dear HAHA Members,
I don’t know about you, but I had a fabulous time at Homeschoolibration! Thanks to about 250 of you for making it a great day. What a privilege it was to meet all of you. I loved watching moms enjoying time chatting with each other and seeing the happy, painted faces of children running around everywhere! Thank you to those who helped to make it a great day - our face painters, Colleen Harlan and her team, and our Italian ice scoopers too! Thanks especially to our HAHA leaders, Aimee, Jessica, and Theresa, who helped to make this event happen.
We gained some new members as a result of HOMESCHOOLIBRATION! Yay! As members of HAHA, I want to encourage you to familiarize yourselves with HAHA’s updated mission. Simply go to the website and before signing in, click on “About Us”. There you will see an updated vision, mission & some goals we will be working toward. We are very excited about the future of HAHA and all that we can accomplish together. We will need volunteers to do it all, so if you’d like to get involved, be sure you have filled out the volunteer section of your profile.
NOTE - 2018-19 Members - If you have not renewed your membership by Aug. 31 you will be “parked”. Sounds like a banishment! This means you will no longer have access to the benefits of membership...until you renew it again! So jump on that and git ‘er done!
Last but not least, know that I am praying that God blesses each of you and your families as you continue into another year of home educating your children. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to raising great kids.
Here for you,
TAKE A LOOK AT THESE UPDATES AND NEEDS!
Applications for membership are now being approved much more quickly.
Even though we typically take a break from HAHA sponsored field trips in the summer months, our field trip team kept the calendar filled with opportunities and activities for you and your kids all summer long!
There will soon be an updated listing of evaluators with details. It would be a great help to us for you to notfiy your evaluator to go on our website and complete the form under "I am...", "An evaluator". Please do not complete it for them!
There will soon be an updated, more complete listing of co-ops, hybrid schools, and other educational options for you to explore to best meet the needs of your kids. If you know of a co-op, hybrid school, or other alternative schools out there, ask an authorized leader to go on our website and complete the form under “I am…”, "A Co-op or Group Representative".
We will begin working soon on building a resource for those families dealing with struggling learners and special needs. (Need someone to help with this. Contact Theresa Fowler if interested.)
We are looking for a coordinator to begin a club program. It will be very easy to coordinate! Just like Park Days - a parent comes up with a club idea, a time, and a place to hold the club (their home, a park, etc.) Then it will be offered to our HAHA families. Clubs could include chess, lego, bugs, book, American Girl, fitness, special needs,cooking, ANYTHING! Parents can offer a club that their own children want and just invite others to join! (Email me if you are interested in coordinating this endeavor.)
As your representatives, Jessica and I will be attending a political event in September called “The Parents Know Best Rally” at the state capitol complex. We will begin making contacts and getting up to speed with what is going on in the political world regarding our rights as homeschooling parents. We’ll keep you posted.
July 13, 2019
Hello again HAHA Family,
I am writing to keep you apprised of our progress here at “HAHA headquarters”! We’ve been hard at work structuring leadership in order to effectively carry out our mission, which I hope you’ve had a chance to read. We now have almost all board positions filled and are waiting on the last one to respond.
Beyond that, we have also added a volunteer section to your profile questions which you should have filled out if you have visited the website recently and signed in. That information will greatly help us recruit help for different programs and activities in the future. I am well aware that there are so many of you who have gifts and abilities that would be an asset to our organization. We just have to find you, so go sign in to the member side of the website soon where you will automatically be prompted to fill out the volunteer section of your profile.
Another new development we are excited about is a brand new logo for HAHA. We are currently in the process of deciding the final design. You will begin seeing the new logo on our website and correspondence very soon!
Lastly, the HAHA leaders and I want to invite you to a special park day in August. Please see the Save the Date postcard below. Be on the lookout for more details very soon!
June 28, 2019
Hello HAHA Members,
I know many of you have been wondering just what is going on with HAHA! And I’ve been anxious to report something to you for several weeks now. I am finally able to do that. I was recently nominated and elected to the position of president of Harrisburg Area Homeschoolers Association by the former Board of Directors. I have accepted that position and I, along with an emerging team of amazing women, each one a fellow or former homeschooling mom, are hard at work, getting things set up so that we can fill the huge shoes that Jamey McClintock and others filled for many years. As you can imagine, this is not easily or quickly accomplished, however, things are beginning to move along nicely. In that effort we are currently working to fill leadership positions and those leaders are building teams to assist them in their respective areas of operation.
We are excited about the future of HAHA and the ways we will be able to serve you. Some of those ways will be the same resources and activities you have come to depend upon and appreciate. Others will be new. I want to encourage you to visit the HAHA website over the next couple of weeks to read HAHA’s mission, check out the calendar for new field trips and yes, even renew your membership or become a new member for the first time. (We will alert members when registration for membership opens.) There will also soon be information regarding a forthcoming activity in August specifically designed for current members and those interested in membership to come and meet the new leadership team as well as hear about the mission and vision for HAHA’s future.
In the meantime, we ask for your continued patience as we rebuild and get HAHA back up to speed and smoothly clicking along. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com.
Thanks & God bless your summer!