The Story of Mason's Alveary
The concept for Mason's Alveary began in 2015. The Charlotte Mason Institute wanted to create a curriculum and teacher training program that could be used by both schools and homeschoolers. The board members had the following criteria in mind:
But the research did not end once we had a book list and lesson plans. After the pilot started, we met with Richele Baburina to discuss her research on Mason and mathematics. One of our pilot members, Heidi Buschbach, took on research of Mason's approach to music instruction and has made some exciting discoveries about how it relates to other areas of the curriculum. Over the course of the pilot, we have welcomed challenges from our pilot members, which only serve to help us improve our program and keep it well in line with Mason. Through the Alveary, CMI is helping to empower parents to become citizen scholars and action researchers themselves. One of the most exciting things about Mason's Alveary is its organic nature; it will continue to evolve as we find out more from the vast collection of primary sources we now have at our fingertips.
Dr. Jen Spencer, Project Manager
I began my career journey in the public school system in 1997, after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Winthrop University. With a toddler at home and a son in kindergarten, I decided to give up my full-time job and come home. It was there that I first encountered Charlotte Mason's name. In 2001, a private school that was to be loosely based on Mason's philosophy opened close by. I taught there for ten years, with the exception of one year (2008-9), during a temporary move, when I worked as an assistant for high-risk students in a public high school. During my years at The Village School of Gaffney, I earned my Master of Arts in Elementary Education from Gardner-Webb University, where I met Dr. Carroll Smith. Dr. Smith was instrumental in helping me complete the Mason paradigm shift. I started speaking at the annual CMI national conference, where I met so many like-minded people who have become life-long friends. I have accompanied some of those friends to Ambleside several times to help plan, prioritize, and execute the digitization of the Mason archives at The Armitt Museum. Back home, I helped Dr. Smith lead a Mason book study group in his home. This ultimately led to the start of a new school, where Mason's principles and methods could be implemented with complete fidelity. I began my doctoral studies at Gardner-Webb the same year we founded Willow Tree Community School. It was a lovely little school, but after four years of teaching and administration, writing an award-winning dissertation on Mason's approach to writing, and earning my EdD in Curriculum and Instruction, my health was suffering from severe burnout, and I needed to come home to rest. That was about the time CMI wanted to undertake the creation of a curriculum. The board asked me to lead the endeavor, and I was very grateful for the opportunity to work quietly from home to create something for which I felt my entire career had been preparing me. Now, fully healed and full of energy, I am finding tremendous personal fulfillment in this work. I still enjoy working from home, where I live with my husband, Wes, and our two nearly-grown children, Drew and Marley.
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