It seems the right time to do this expose on Jake as I just got off of Skype with him while he sits in Berlin with his younger brother. He shared some incredible news that I’ll save for the end of this post.
Jacob is our middle child. He came into our lives, the easiest of the five births, and is known for his basic equanimity. For instance, at age 2 when he’d feel a tantrum coming on, he’d excuse himself, scream it out for a few moments alone in the other room, and then return to the family smiling.
By age 3, however, he wasn’t speaking clearly or well. Jacob developed his own sign language to communicate what he wanted from us while trying to get his tongue around all those syllables words required.
At 5-6, we did take him to the local elementary school for speech therapy. He loved it. Thought it was fun. The therapist enjoyed him—her other public schooled students knew that therapy meant there was a problem. For Jacob, the homeschooler, therapy meant he got to go to a special class just for him!
Jacob showed signs of self-starting early on—teaching himself to read by using a program given to me by a California charter school. I literally didn’t have time to teach him (two other kids, pregnant). He didn’t seem to mind and sure enough, by 7, was reading.
Jacob showed a passion for astronomy so much so that inspired by his father’s suggestion, he started a cookie-baking business in our neighborhood in order to pay for Space Camp in Alabama. In two years, at 12, he had earned the $750.00 necessary for the trip and went!
Jacob attended our local public school for two classes his freshman year so he could join the band. Then he attended fulltime high school his last three years and was a member of the high school marching band that even got to perform at the Rose Parade.
He also started the first chapter of Amnesty International at his high school.
Now Jacob is in his junior year at Ohio State. His list of accomplishments is long, as Jacob is quite ambitious and oriented to human rights. It’s easier to list them than to describe them so here they are, as best as I can remember.
OSU Honor Student
President of Amnesty International at OSU (sophomore year)
RA (sophomore year)
Member of the Mock UN
Intern in Haiti for a summer, combined with research into NGOs and their effectiveness post earthquake
Exchange student in Geneva
Intern with the Human Rights Watch Commission in Geneva
Produced documentation for North Korean HR violations
Participant at the International Symposium on Human Rights at the UN (Fall 2012)
Presented his research about the NGO’s in Haiti at an Int’l Conference on Sustainability in Hiroshima (Jan 2013)
Exchange student in Paris (Now)
Recipient of numerous scholarships
Member of the Sphinx academic honor society at OSU
Student at Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs at Princeton (This coming summer)
Jacob’s goal is to work in the field of human rights (possibly at the UN), post graduate school. His double major is French and Globalization.
Let me say this. I’m as stunned and amazed as anyone would be by Jacob’s ambition and his success in his chosen field of energy and passion. His heart for what he does and his commitment to the causes he cares about inspire me even more than the “list.” But the list is impressive in a special way. Let me explain.
I homeschooled just like you do, reading about other kids’ accomplishments, and not really believing that one of my kids would go on to do the “impressive stuff” I had read about. I believed in homeschooling (and do!). But I believed in it as an alternative to the standard measures of success. I felt fine with that. I’m proud of each of my children (I look forward to sharing about the last two soon) and the choices they’ve made. They all amaze me in their own ways.
What Jacob’s journey showed me, though, is that home education can be a rock solid foundation for academic advancement and achievement. It’s not a “sub-standard” education nor does it put a child at a disadvantage, if that child is achievement-oriented. Jacob wasn’t always so sure homeschooling had been an advantage (when he got to high school, he was angry, for instance, that I started him on algebra in 9th grade rather than 8th). But I told him he’d be fine. He was… and is. More than.
The foundation he got at home had more to do with his capacity to care and self-educate, than grades. His worldview, his interest in rights, his curiosity about golbal issues and politics, came from his life at home. He took his natural energy to actualize that caring into active service and achievement. He has a strong work ethic and a lot of motivation, even if he sometimes also loses his shoes. (Which he does.)
Jacob is in Berlin with his brother traveling. Here’s the news he just shared with me:
He was selected as one of two Rhodes Scholar Nominees from Ohio State and found out today.
Jacob will visit Oxford next weekend to check it out before he gets to work on the application this summer. He’ll be in a field of 1500 candidates nationwide. Crossing our fingers!
Cross-posted on facebook.