By DAVID VOEGELE
Executive Director of Essex CHIPS
A few days ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Carrie Egan, a 17-year-old with a bit different background than the other youth who have been profiled in this column. Although all of the teens interviewed thus far are unique youth with different interests, skills, and accomplishments, Carrie is the only one who is homeschooled. Of course, her homeschooling experience was the first question on my mind. She responded, “I’ve been homeschooled pretty much my entire life! I went to preschool and part of first grade at traditional schools, but it really wasn’t a good fit for me. I’ve been homeschooled ever since, and I’ve loved it!”
Folks often question how a youth can gain the socialization experiences they need when they are homeschooled. I know this because many (and I mean many) years ago I flirted with the idea of homeschooling my children. The circumstances were not right, however, so I did not. This question about engaging with other youth was certainly on my mind for Carrie. She said “I’m a Girl Scout and I volunteer in the Brownell’s tech services department and Teen Advisory Board… I feel like the community provides good support for youth by offering programs and opportunities for young people with diverse interests and abilities. It enables people to feel included and helps to foster learning of all sorts.” It is clear to me that Carrie has a healthy involvement with youth of her own age, despite not being in a traditional school setting.
An additional fact about Carrie that intrigued me was her role on the Board of Trustees for Brownell Library. “I volunteered [there] for a long time, and about a year and a half ago they asked me to join the Board of Trustees, which I was overjoyed to do! Learning how libraries function behind-the-scenes and getting to be an active part of it has been interesting and fun.” Until recently, I was not aware that Brownell Library had recruited a teen for their Board. I’m impressed. As is “hinted” by the name of this column, serving on a community Board of Directors is a great experience for youth – and a message from the community that they value the input, skills, and energy of youth.
So, what does the future hold for a homeschooled student, after high school is completed. Carrie is eager to continue her education. “I plan on attending college and hope to study classical literature and art.” I also asked her who her role models are, to which she responded “Anyone who’s trying to make a positive difference in the world!” Lastly, I asked her how can young adults help strengthen our society. “By making our voices heard, making the effort to help others wherever we can, and voting!” she replied. Words of wisdom from Carrie Egan, another local youth to be proud of.