One of our favorite times of the year is convention season. It gives us an opportunity to meet so many of our HomeLife Academy (HLA) families, as well as speak to those considering homeschooling or who want to learn more about what we offer homeschool families. It also gives us a chance to get out of the office, which we enjoy occasionally. Since March, we have traveled around Tennessee to Nashville, Memphis, Spring Hill, Maryville, Clarksville, Greenville and Knoxville. Out of state, we have visited Birmingham, Alabama for the CHEF Homeschool Convention and Orlando, Florida for the Florida Parent-Educators Association (FPEA) Homeschool Convention. We have also gone to some new locations, to us, traveling to Teach Them Diligently (TTD) in Atlanta, Georgia and most recently to Ontario, California for the Great Homeschool Convention (GHC). With all of that, we are still not done and have one more stop in East Ridge, Tennessee before the end of the summer.
April Parkerson, HLA Director of Marketing/Events and Global Development, attends many of the conventions. She has had the opportunity to meet a number of homeschool families.
“Depending on which fair we attend, we get different questions,” said April, who is also the co-founder of HLA. “In Tennessee, almost everyone we talk to is either a) Already registered and has specific questions, or b) says ‘I was told to come talk to you and that I need to transfer to you guys.’ In Florida, the majority of the people who come to the booth do not know about HLA. Even though umbrella schools are an option in Florida, most parents homeschool through their county. However, since we do help parents with the Bright Futures scholarship, they are more likely to stop and talk to us. In Florida, many people register with us for the high school help.”
When it comes to homeschool conventions the families are not the only ones that benefit from attending. Since we support families in their home education efforts, it is also a wonderful time for HLA as an umbrella school.
“It’s very good for HLA to attend conventions because families need reassurance, guidance and encouragement and conventions are another avenue for them to receive that,” said HLA Senior High School Counselor Karen Johnson.
At each convention stop, you will be able to spot our booth with our signature living room/den setting. We want you to feel comfortable when visiting with us and also want the homeschool experience to be as easy as possible.
Comments Karen has heard while at conventions reassure her HLA is doing a good job in those areas.
“I hear ‘we love how efficient HLA is!’ and ‘I love Applecore! It’s so easy!’,” said Karen. “We love the positive feedback we get from our families letting us know we are helping them. We also love hearing their ideas as to how we can improve what we offer to better serve them.”
April has had similar experiences.
“I enjoy seeing the looks on people’s faces when they have the ‘ah-ha’ moment, and they realize that HLA makes life easy,” said April, who has seen the number of HLA families grow over the years. “HLA is so spread out and growing at an amazing rate each year. And while this growth is fantastic, we still want to be able to have a personal ‘feel’ with our families. Going to these conventions connects names with faces and makes our families feel like they have been seen by HomeLife Academy.”
April also noted that HLA attends conventions for networking purposes. So far this year, HLA has strengthened ties with THEA (Tennessee), HSLDA and the coordinators of TTD and GHC, as well as the leaders of GHEA (Georgia) and a homeschool lobbyist in Florida.
“These are very important connections for us, because we want to be able to serve families in every state to the best of our abilities,” said April. “Networking with these organizations helps us to better serve all of our families.”
Growth is inevitable when you are doing something right and HLA does not take that for granted. While breaking into two new states, Georgia and California, our desire is to continue offering great homeschool support to its existing families as well as to those that follow.
“We’re using these states as a platform to test to see how well HLA will be accepted in a state where it’s ‘not needed’ for compulsory attendance,” said April. “While in both states, we made some great contacts and learned a lot.”
If you are in Tennessee later this month, make plans to stop by the HLA booth at the CSTHEA Curriculum Fair that will be held in East Ridge, Tennessee July 21 and 22.
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