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Scholars Guild Fills Education Niche

by Sheila Adcock, The Gwinnett Citizen
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The Scholars Guild (SG), located in Loganville, is offering a unique approach to
education for middle and high school students. This is a new, independent study center and
assistance program for home-schoolers, which has been accredited by the Georgia Accrediting
Commission. They offer full time and al-a-carte enrollments for a full middle and high school
curriculum, with a Christ-centered worldview and an emphasis on building character and
leadership. Many of the SG teachers have taught previously in public and private schools and
have a minimum of a Bachelors degree, to accompany their experiences in education or
industry.

Jenny Clifford, Scholars Guild President and Director, says, “This program doesn’t
replace home schooling, but works with the home school program to assist parents in giving
the best experience to their home schooled children.” She goes on to explain that there are
three paths to education in Georgia: public school, private school, and home schooling. She
notes, “I am so thankful for the many options for education”, and further explains, “With SG’s
accreditation and transcript service, we offer an additional twist, in that our program allows the
parent to develop the curriculum or come to Scholars Guild to get the accredited diploma. Also,
having the transcript may smooth the process of getting into certain colleges or applying for the
Hope scholarship. While some schools don’t mind a portfolio of documents for the admission
process, having the transcript could make the admission process easier.”

When asked why parent choose home schooling, Clifford offers the following
observations. “The key to success in home schooling is an involved parent. That’s the nature of
home schooling. The process offers an individually tailored, personalized education. The family
values and traditions are part of the process and content. There is more interaction between
parent(s) and the student and more communication and time with family. And last, the home
school process is more efficient than the classroom model, resulting in lots more time for
student extra-curricular activities.”

“Our reasons for home-schooling were not reactionary”, Clifford notes. “While in public
school, our children had excellent teachers and programs. The loved their teachers. We (she
and husband, Mike) felt we could educate them in equal or better ways, plus have more parent
time with our children.” She believes, “SG is very attractive to families like ourselves, to provide
home-schooling but with structure and accountability. It puts the parents and home-schooled
student in context of community.”

In 2008, Clifford and some other home-schooling parents noticed as their children got
older, there could be advantages to helping teach each other’s children in certain areas like
Math or Science, depending on the parent’s background and education. In essence, they

formed an educational coop, where, “If I teach your son math, you could teach my son
English.” This was very informal with the students meeting in the Clifford’s living room.

In 2009, History, Writing, Literature, and Science were added. The program was
called “Young Scholars Guild” with eleven middle school boys meeting in one of the parent’s
basement. The seeds of the current Scholars guild took root.

Dawn Brothers, SG Algebra, Pre-calculus and Trig teacher says, “Jenny (Clifford) and I
have known each other for over 10 years. Together, we did workshops for home-schoolers. We
desire to instill a love of learning in children starting in their formative years. When the coop
started, my children needed a little more structure and accountability. This program came
alongside parents who needed a little more, just when we needed it.”

When the coop’s basement location became unavailable, the former site of Loganville
Christian Academy became the Scholars Guild’s new home. This location was on the campus of
Loganville Baptist church. It had all the necessary requirements in space and layout to grow the
program and meet the physical/site needs of teachers and students. Thus the partnership
between Scholars Guild and Loganville Baptist Church began.

Their first open house, in March 2010, welcomed 200 interested visitors. The first school
year (2010-2011) has 130 students, with full high school accredited, spectrum of courses.
Students can enroll for as many or as few courses to supplement their home school education
as desired.

SG has an advisory board, who oversee operations, set strategy and plan for future
growth and development. The plans focus on doing “what we do well – core academics”, yet
where extracurricular programs meet the mission, they will be added to enrich the student
experience. Next year’s plans include developing a student council, a service club and
participation in a nation honor students program.

Regarding other extracurricular activities, many students currently participate in Greater
Gwinnett Barons – a sports program for homeschoolers. Others participate in the Walton Youth
Chorale music program and the Walton Youth Players drama club.

Sophomore Nat Lalaian, says of SG, “This is a wonderful place for any home schoolers.
It has great classes and teachers. With the accreditation, nice teachers and the fun café, it’s a
super environment.” Nat really enjoys the café, where students go early in the day for study
hall, but where they later meet for lunch, breaks and fellowship. He especially like the candy
and ice cream snacks available for purchase there. He is currently enrolled in Algebra II,
Elements of Literature, Spanish II and Physics and plans to attend college majoring in music.

Brothers also agrees with Nat. She said, “It’s amazing the group of teachers we have.

Everyone is engaged and passionate about their classes, the content, and pursuing excellence.
From a teacher’s perspective, it is beautiful to both experience and see in others the love of
teaching and the passion for the subject matter.”

Scholars guild offers classes on ay a week – each Thursday – from 9 am to 5 pm. They
project 200 students for next tear. Average class size is 14-16, though some growing programs,
such as Spanish, may only have 6-8 students. Some classes may have waiting lists. Information
and details about this and the entire Scholars Guild program may be found at
www.scholarsguild.net.