Daelena Potter is a part-time K–8 special education teacher and special education coordinator for her school district.
HSLDA: Daelena, what is your homeschool experience like? What’s your best experience from it?
Daelena: My husband and I have chosen to homeschool our kids (ages 15, 13, and 2). We have developed more of a traditional style of homeschooling where we follow a set schedule that we can adjust as needed. We also design the curriculum around what our kids like and their best learning style.
Our best experience from homeschooling would have to be the relationship we all build with one another through many laughs. One day the boys were so stressed out that my husband took them to the top off the house and had them “do school” on the roof. Creating a different “view” and “atmosphere” changed their attitude.
HSLDA: Describe what you do in your job.
Daelena Potter: As a teacher, I design my curriculum around the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and objectives. I support the other teachers in the classroom with what is called an “inclusion model,” where two teachers are in one class supporting all students.
As a coordinator, I make sure our district is in compliance with all federal and state laws that pertain to identifying and evaluating students’ individual needs and implementing their IEPs as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
HSLDA: What inspired you to enter this field?
Daelena: I have a desire to be a kid’s voice in a school making sure they have access to all of the rights they should have. My heart has always been drawn to students who have a lot of behavioral challenges, and I just happened to fall in love with supporting students who also have learning disabilities.
HSLDA: What is the most challenging thing you’ve had to deal with in your job as a public servant?
Daelena: Making the right decisions to help the kids!
Also, it is very difficult to be a public school teacher who chooses to keep your own kids at home as a homeschooler. I get a lot of questions from people who do not really know us and do not understand what a homeschooling model can look like.
HSLDA: What is your best experience as a public servant?
Daelena: Seeing a lightbulb go on for a kid who has not been able to understand something. Being able to be part of their growth and to experience their confidence building to the point where they finally believe in themselves.
HSLDA: What are one or two examples of how you’ve had a positive impact through your work?
Daelena: I had a student who I taught when I first got out of college find me on Facebook. She thanked me for being a positive influence and told me that I had made a big impact in her life. She came from a broken, drug-abusive home and had already started to make choices that were bad. She was thankful that I never judged her, but instead just listened and helped her through some difficult times.
HSLDA: Why did you decide to homeschool your children?
Daelena: We moved from another state when our kids were in 1st and 3rd grade. Our kids were very advanced compared to the students in their class, and the teachers would not differentiate instruction to teach them at their level. Our 3rd grader was also being bullied. So we pulled our 3rd grader out in January and homeschooled. A year-and-a-half later, we put them both in another school and really liked it. But we were financially strapped and eventually could no longer afford the gas to take them to school (it was almost an hour away). We started homeschooling them both again in January of the older boy’s 5th grade year and have been doing it since.
God had a hand in all of this, we just didn’t see it as clearly as He did. My husband could not find a job, and we understood why after he started schooling our kids. Best decision ever!
HSLDA: How can other homeschoolers reach their own communities through public service?
Daelena: Homeschooling in some places has a very negative reputation. I think that if we could get more homeschoolers to volunteer to help in schools, it would build community. Our kids are still involved in the sports and some extracurricular activities—that helps draw our two worlds together.
Many thanks to Daelena 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.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by HSLDA; all other images courtesy of Daelena Potter.