Over the next few weeks we are interviewing our board members so you can get to know them better and what drives their passion for HARO’s vision of “renewing and transforming homeschooling from within.” Today we’re starting with HARO board member Shaney Swift.
About Shaney: Shaney Swift was homeschooled pre-K through high school, mostly in Texas, with a small stint in California. She received her Citation award in the Awana program in 2008 and interned with Awana in July of 2009. She also competed in NCFCA speech and debate for two years and has taught multiple debate classes. After graduating from high school, she attended Baylor University, where she graduated with her Bachelors in Business Administration, cum laude, in May 2012.
While at Baylor she was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the largest international business honors society. She also served a two-year term on Baylor Student Court and was elected President of multiple student organizations. She also spent a year as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for McLennan County. She has ten years of experience in inner-city ministry through Mission:Possible! Austin, and also volunteered at a battered women’s shelter in Austin. She currently lives in Chicago, where she works as a massage therapist, is involved in Holy Trinity Church (Hyde Park congregation), and enjoys running and yoga. She blogs about faith and social justice issues at ShaneyIrene.com.
Are you glad you were homeschooled? And if so, what made your experience positive?
Overall, I had a positive experience—though I will admit that as an extrovert, I sometimes think I could have flourished even more in a school environment. Homeschooling did, however, give me the flexibility to do things I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. My favorite memories are trips I took with friends, such as NCFCA debate tournaments and Awana competitions. And by doing dual-credit at my local community college when I was in high school, I had more flexibility to take classes that interested me during my time at Baylor.
As a homeschool alumna who clearly did well in college, what advice would you give to homeschooling parents to help their children feel prepared for college?
A lot of homeschool parents are wary of standardized testing (for good reason) and skip it altogether. I would encourage homeschooling parents to take advantage of any testing that is available to them, including standardized testing, in order to check where your child is doing well and where you can make improvements. One of the big issues that standardized testing causes is “teaching to the test,” but homeschool parents don’t have that worry.
I would also encourage parents to take advantage of any resources available to them, including but not limited to: “homeschool days” at local private schools, other homeschool parents who have expertise in certain subject areas, dual credit programs at community colleges, etc.
What made you interested in becoming a part of your local CASA program?
A friend at Baylor (who was also a fellow homeschool alumna) told me about the program, because she had an internship in the local CASA office for her Family and Child Studies degree. I had worked extensively with kids in multiple settings in the past, and since CASA is very child-focused I thought it would make good use of my current (at the time) skill set while also exposing me to the foster care system and how it works.
Have your experiences with CASA and the women’s shelter come into play with your work with HARO?
To work with CASA and Hope Alliance, I had to go through training first—training which included how to recognize signs of abuse, what to say to someone who is currently in an abusive situation, why someone may take awhile to leave an abusive situation, etc. As I went through training, I remember thinking, “Why doesn’t everyone have to take this training?” Everyone, whether they know it or not, comes into contact with people who are experiencing abuse, but very few are trained to recognize or respond to it. One of my major goals with HARO is to better train the homeschool community on issues related to child and interpersonal abuse, so that it’s not only specially trained volunteers and professionals who can recognize it.
Do you see the issues of faith, social justice, and homeschooling intersecting? How would you explain the meaning of that intersection for you, personally?
For me, faith and social justice are intertwined. My faith tells me that God is working to redeem all of creation and make it whole again, and that my job is to be a part of that. So issues like confronting abuse naturally come from my faith, and my passion for justice issues continue to feed my faith as well.
I think that a lot of homeschooling is reactionary. If you trace the history of homeschooling, there’s a legacy of legalism and separatism, rather than engagement with community for the good of mankind. My hope for homeschooling going forward is a shift in the homeschooling community, so that it’s another community that engages with the rest of the world to try and make it better, rather than being a community that sees itself as separate.
What are your hopes for HARO in the next few years?
In my wildest dreams, I would love to see HARO headline our own conference for like-minded homeschoolers to come together and learn about issues of abuse, neglect, etc. while also pursuing a better vision for their homeschooling groups. More likely, I hope that we can start interacting more with homeschoolers in their own spaces—at their co-ops, at their conferences, in their online support groups. I also hope that HARO will continue to provide more and more resources that don’t currently exist for current and former homeschoolers.
Which episode of Gilmore Girls is the best?
Oh boy. I don’t know if I have a favorite episode. I do have a favorite scene, though—the scene where Rory shows Emily (her grandmother) the “apartment” where Rory and Lorelai (her mom) lived for the first several years when Lorelai moved out. You can see on Emily’s face that it’s only now, two decades after it happened, that the extent to which Lorelai needed to move out, and needed her independence hits her. I think it’s a turning point for the relationship between Emily and Lorelai.
Author: The HARO Team