• Erin

Holding the Key to Education

My name is Kristi Hertzog. I am beyond excited to be part of the team at Deep Creek Learning Center. Here at DCLC, I blog and help to manage social media. I am currently working on my certification in Nonprofit Management at Drexel University. With this certification, I will gain the tools needed to assist in areas like grant writing, capital campaigns, fundraising, and social media marketing for DCLC. I have been married to my husband Dave for 16 years and have been blessed with four daughters. I homeschool my three youngest daughters who attend DCLC a few afternoons a week. My oldest daughter is a teenager with an Intellectual Disability, Autism, and the best sense of humor! She attends a school for children with Autism in Berwyn. I am also the Executive Director of a Pennsylvania charitable organization, Coming Home with Grace.

Before the variety of jobs listed above began, I was a public high school teacher for 17 years. I left this position in 2017. As time progressed, more mandates were given to teachers from administration pertaining to instruction. When I was considered a veteran teacher, I would laugh to myself. The summer would be coming to an end and every September I felt like a first-year teacher. I worked tirelessly to keep up with the trends. How else could I successfully manage a room full of 25-30 teenagers and keep them engaged? Secretly, I was bothered by the mandates. I felt that some of them shouldn’t have been placed on my already overflowing plate. I didn’t have a file cabinet full of assignments from my first year that I photocopied on autopilot in August to get me to June.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been offended. I wasn’t being given these directives because of my ability to teach. The pressure of state testing was trickling from the top down and everyone was stressed. As the importance of the test increased, the techniques that engaged students, gave them flexibility, and created independence started to feel like a thing of the past. Activities like in class projects, presentations, debates, and collaboration took a backseat. Weeks of the school year were dedicated to copious amounts of reading passages and multiple-choice questions. This model frustrated me. This was not why I became a teacher. My students who struggled with the passages were falling behind. The students who completed them with ease, became increasingly apathetic due to boredom. In a classroom with a ratio of 25 to 30 students to one teacher, it was challenging to guide them with the assistance they needed and deserved. Further, on the days I felt pressure to model an ‘exact’ state testing environment, I wasn’t permitted to assist the struggling student. In my heart, I knew a simple question from me could guide them towards the ‘light bulb moment’ needed to recall prior knowledge and find success.

Unfortunately, I left education. I am not saying that the frustration I felt is what others feel or should feel about education. It was a personal decision that I just happen to share publicly. Trust me, I would never do something for 17 years that I didn’t love. I took my job seriously and when it felt like I was fighting a losing battle, I left. Teaching isn’t a profession where you should stick it out. Teaching is a passion and if a teacher loses their passion, lives can be damaged.

The year after I left teaching and my own children were promoted to the next grade, my carefree September didn’t go as planned. My elementary-aged children were stressed about school, had more homework than necessary, and felt tremendous pressure. I can’t even recall a day feeling like this when I was in elementary school.

Eventually, I became so frustrated that I decided to homeschool my own children. In my heart, I knew that if I wanted to make changes in education, I needed to make drastic changes in the educational lives of the most important students, my own children. Now by no means does this suggest that I didn’t love the thousands of students I interacted with during my 17-year tenure in ONE school. This also doesn’t imply that during those years I didn’t value the education of my students. It merely means that I didn’t like the direction in which education was headed. I needed to go on a journey with my family to see if there was a better way to school.

The morale in my home changed overnight. Spontaneously homeschooling a plethora of subjects, researching curriculum, lesson planning, and trying to find more opportunities for socialization led to many sleepless nights, but my children were thriving.

During my search for a homeschool co-op, I discovered Deep Creek Learning Center. After touring, we made the decision to enroll. From the first week, I knew that this was the best decision for my daughters. I also quickly discovered what was missing from the lives of so many students today. As I observed my own children in this unique educational setting, I reminisced about why I became a teacher. From as early as I can remember, I had a genuine love of learning. This love was because teachers had a magical gift to make school exciting. A gift that was becoming increasingly harder to give in the classrooms we left behind. I cannot wait to unravel for you the educational treasures that are taking place every day at Deep Creek Learning Center. This place holds the key to a future beyond your greatest expectations.

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