For 30 years, Sandra Price Blyden taught and coached teachers in public schools in her native U.S. Virgin Islands. Yet when she retired in 2019, Price Blyden knew she had a second act still in her.
Price Blyden launched Home Educate VI, a support service that assisted both homeschooling families and families who were looking for extra help with their children after school.
Today, Price Blyden and her team of tutors are working with families both on the Virgin Islands and stateside. The pandemic shifted her consulting sessions since many children were struggling in the areas of reading and math. Interest in her program grew through connections made on social media and other outlets. Some local Virgin Islands families had long been interested in homeschooling, and some new families lived in the continental United States and decamped to the Virgin Islands during the pandemic to work—and learn—remotely.
There has been a surge of parents that have made the decision to leave brick and mortar schools to homeschool during the pandemic, and they want to make the best decisions for their child. Price Blyden and her team aim to be flexible and meet families’ needs. Sometimes that involves helping homeschooling families find a curriculum or create a schedule that works well for them.
“Families don’t usually know how to organize a homeschooling day,” she said. “They need more guidance.”
With 32% percent of families with children living in poverty in the Virgin Islands, Price Blyden and her team knew it would be a challenge for those families whose children are experiencing academic loss due to the ongoing pandemic. Home Educate VI reached out with an offer of tutorial services to assist concerned parents who were unable to afford a tutor.
Other parents on the mainland U.S. who are participating in the Home Educate VI program are receiving assistance with homeschooling, assessments, curriculum purchases, and tutoring in the form of “packets” of services, which supported parents with management of their homeschool and personalized instruction for their child.
Price Blyden, who lives on St. Thomas, is also active in several Facebook groups that include many Virgin Island families who homeschool their children.
Price Blyden taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade and later served as a literacy coach, all in traditional schools. Despite her in-system background, Price Blyden doesn’t prefer the environment where students learn.
“Education is education,” she said.
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