By Brettani Shannon
I was a public-school girl, myself, but once in middle school and high school, it wasn’t healthy for me. I ended up a teenage parent, dropping out of school and was lost for many years. Over time, I did what my mother did and turned lemons into lemonade.
I used my experience in abusive relationships to advocate for domestic violence survivors. I wrote a critical thinking/abstinence education program that is now offered in the local middle and high schools. I developed a parenting program that brought our community together to support young parents.
One gift the COVID school closures gave families was the realization that our public schools are not equipped to address the individual needs of children. Desperate families were forced to reach outside the box, and in many cases, it was tragic. Suicides, depression, social anxiety, abuse and failed grades resulted, and it was especially tough for students whose parents work outside the home. Many of those families were added to the growing list of people who have lost faith in the Oregon Department of Education and the leadership of our state.
During the time I spent home with my children, I discovered that Grants Pass has a lot to offer. We have many non-traditional schools, homeschool pods, co-ops, teachers for hire that were in line with parents’ values, charter schools, curriculums that were alive with adventure and intrigue, project-based learning, individually paced systems and communities of families who are in the same boat. I brought a panel of people together and livestreamed it online for families at home. I created a private Facebook group for these experts and families to brainstorm and network.
I launched “Options for Education in Grants Pass” to make something beautiful out of brokenness around me. This private Facebook group offers up-to-date resources, information and networking. The group is private to prevent misuse of the platform, but is free and easy to join.
If enough parents are equipped to create the learning environment that is right for their child, they would! And then, maybe, if enough families are choosing alternative education, it would be enough pressure on legislators to force them to establish a voucher system. It is worth a try before we all move across the country!
I almost moved to Florida. I still might, if this doesn’t work.
If you have any questions or concerns or need help with educational resources or direction, you can reach me at OptionsForEducation@gmail.com.
Brettani Shannon was born and raised here, and while she travels every chance she gets, Southern Oregon will always be where she calls home. She is a mother of four, ages 6-25. She has personal connections to nearly every non-traditional educational opportunity in the Grants Pass area and is passionate about sharing resources and equipping parents to make intentional choices with their children’s education. Brettani facilitates Kaleidoscope play and learn groups and support groups for young parents through the Southern Oregon Early Learning Hub. She also teaches dance at Southern Oregon Dance Center.