Amber Overstreet is a homeschooling mom and a registered nurse in medical intensive care at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
HSLDA: Amber, what does homeschooling look like for your family? What’s your favorite experience from it?
Amber Overstreet: Our schedule has to be adjusted pretty often for various reasons such as my job or things that the children are involved in. I also try to make sure we don’t just do written work (it makes all of us cranky if all we do are workbooks all the time).
One of my favorite experiences was my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. I was able to take special pictures of her, and let her do a special art project. I remember thinking how special my daughter’s first day was because I was able to be there with her the whole day. Another wonderful experience was teaching my daughter to read. I realize that not many parents are able to say that they were able to see the look on their child’s face when they are able to read their first words. I loved it!
HSLDA: Describe what you do in your job.
Amber: As a registered nurse, I basically coordinate and perform care for critically ill patients. In my unit, our patients have a combination of illnesses that complicate their main diagnosis. For example, severe sepsis is a common diagnosis that I might see in a day. But in addition to the infection, the RN must also manage the patient’s diabetes, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
HSLDA: What is the most challenging thing you’ve had to deal with in your job as nurse?
Amber: I would say that the most challenging part is balancing my job with my family. My job requires long hours that can be demanding. It also requires that I work weekends and holidays. I understand that patients and their families are in a crisis when I am involved with them, but I do sometimes wish that they would be more understanding that I have to be away from my family for long periods of time and even miss important events to be there taking care of them.
HSLDA: What is your best experience as a nurse?
Amber: I have had a few very special patients that have had a real positive influence on my life and I truly enjoyed serving. One patient was critically ill, but she was able to look past her pain to give me words of encouragement when I took care of her. I believe that she let God use her that day because the encouragement she gave me was very specific to another situation I was going through.
HSLDA: Why is it important for homeschoolers to be involved in public service?
Amber: I believe this exemplifies Jesus’ example. He did not lock himself in his home and try to live as self-sufficiently as He could. He sought the poor and needy and the blatantly sinful. As homeschoolers, we should not hide our heads in the sand. I have been able to give food to hungry people; encouragement, hope, and a smile to drug addicts; and a listening ear to the elderly—all things that they might not otherwise have received.
HSLDA: How could homeschoolers improve their participation in public service?
Amber: Information is power. I feel like the public is not aware of the constraints and limitations that are placed on public service agencies by government agencies. Be aware of laws and policies that affect public service. For example, federal laws dictate quite a bit of my workload. It is unfortunate that a bureaucrat with no medical background dictates medical treatment. I would wager that most people would be surprised and upset about restrictions and laws currently being made that are impacting medical treatment.
HSLDA: Why did you decide to homeschool your children?
Amber: Initially I took my oldest child out of the public school because he was having difficulty. I am able to make sure his educational materials are specific for him. Later on, my husband and I realized that homeschooling allows us to have more family time together. We like being able to make our own schedule instead of following a public school calendar.
HSLDA: Are there resources you recommend for teaching students about public service?
Amber: Take field trips to the fire station or ask a policeman to speak at your homeschool co-op. Ask to shadow a nurse or become involved in a volunteer organization at a local hospital. Bring cards to a nursing home and include the nursing techs and other staff there. Most people work in an area that they are interested in and are glad to be able to share their work.
Many thanks to Amber for sharing her story! This interview is part of our Homeschool Helpers series, which highlights homeschool graduates and parents across the nation serving their communities as public servants. If you’d like to read more inspiring stories, click here.
Interview Edited by Peter Forbes. | Photo Credit: First image graphic design by HSLDA; all other images courtesy of Amber Overstreet.