Join Yvette Hampton as she tells Israel Wayne the story of how she and Garritt began homeschooling their daughters and why they went out to make Schoolhouse Rocked. In this episode Israel also discusses the rise of public education and home education and contrasts the story of Schoolhouse Rocked and Indoctrination, which he was also involved with. Israel is a great friend of the Schoolhouse Rocked team and has been an important part of the movie, the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, and the Homegrown Generation Family Expo.
Sam Sorbo is passionate about faith and families. We had the chance to sit down for an interview with Sam for The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, in which Sam shared her story of going taking her own kids back from the schools and how that decision has blessed her family. Please enjoy this transcript of their heart-felt and encouraging conversation.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I am so excited that you are with us today because you are likely listening to this podcast because you likely saw the guest that I have on today. Her name is Sam Sorbo. Many of you are very familiar with her as a homeschool mom, as an actress, as the wife of Kevin Sorbo. She is just an amazing mom, an amazing wife, and she is such a blessing to me. Sam, welcome to the podcast.
Sam Sorbo: Thank you so much for having me.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, and welcome Aby too. I’ve got my co-host here with me as well so the three-
Sam Sorbo: Hi, Aby.
Aby Rinella: I’m here. Hi, I’m so excited to get to know you a little bit better and be encouraged.
Sam Sorbo: Its fun. It’s just like us girls.
Aby Rinella: Yes.
Yvette Hampton: Right. We need our cup of coffee. Right?
Aby Rinella: I know.
Yvette Hampton: We have a neat story of when we got to actually meet you Sam, you are a really important part of Schoolhouse Rocked, the movie.
Yvette Hampton: It was about two years ago, several people had said to us, you really need to try to get Sam Sorbo in this movie. And I felt I don’t even know how to get hold of Sam Sorbo. One day, Garritt just said, we really want you to try to reach out to her, because I’d really like to get her as part of the cast. I said, okay. I found SamSorbo.com and I went onto your contact me page, sent you an email. Every time I do that, I always just assume it’s going to go into this big black hole of email that no one’s going to see it. At least not the person I’m trying to reach. And a couple of hours later you called me and it was so funny because my phone rang and I was expecting another call at the time from someone whose number I didn’t know. I didn’t expect to recognize the number.
Yvette Hampton: I picked up the phone, I said hello, and you said “hi, this is Sam Sorbo” and it was so funny. I actually said, hi Sam, could you hold on just one second and I put you on hold. I looked at Karen, I said “Its Sam Sorbo!”
Yvette Hampton: It was so funny. And then I calmed myself down, and you and I from there had a great talk. I think we talked for about an hour about our families and homeschooling and culture and all things related to those three things. And just it was so neat to get to know your heart, and that made me even now much more excited about having you as part of the movie and so-
Sam Sorbo: Can I be perfectly Frank?
Yvette Hampton: … yes.
Sam Sorbo: I had heard about the movie, and I don’t know if I’d seen stuff but I’d heard about it. I knew some people who had done the movie and stuff. And I was like, I want to be in that movie. When you reached out I’m like yeah. And I had just started this new thing where I pick up the phone now because I’m so tired of texting in the evening and I’m like look, she reached out, she put her phone number right there, she’s getting a call. I picked up the phone and we did, we had a really like mind-meld on the phone that first time that we talked, I think because we share a passion for the incredible grace that homeschooling provides. Is that the right way to put it? It’s such a gift. We feel like we’ve figured out sliced bread, we’ve got the wheel, it’s the most amazing invention, right?.
Sam Sorbo: So when you find somebody who’s like-minded, you just want to hug them. I think when I came to the house I just hugged you. I’m like, hey you’re here!.
Yvette Hampton: There is that there is a connection between moms that choose to school, to raise their own children. There is such a deep connection because it’s a commitment. It’s a beautiful commitment. And like you said, it’s the greatest gift, it is absolutely, next to marriage, it’s the greatest gift.
Sam Sorbo: Yeah. And there’s also the flip side, which is, I don’t want to say that we’re ostracized, but we’re sort of on the outside, and so there’s the mainstream people who send their kids to school and then we’re the other. And so when we meet people who are like us, there’s an instant comradery and it’s such a gift, homeschooling, that we feel like we’ve got that special sauce or we figured something out like it’s the worst kept secret or something.
Yvette Hampton: Well Sam, you and Kevin are from Hollywood and so this is the great analogy, is that when you see a good movie, like an excellent movie, and you want to tell everyone about it, like God’s Not Dead. It’s such a good movie or Let There be Light. You’ve seen a great movie and then you want everyone to see it and so will you tell all of your friends, you’ve got to go see this movie, it’s so good and you get excited about it. That’s how I feel about homeschool. I mean that’s why we’re making a movie about it. That’s exactly why. That’s why we do the podcast. It’s why we’re doing the movie. It’s why we are doing the Homegrown Generation Family Expo, because we want to share the goodness that we have discovered.
Sam Sorbo: And recognize that there are people who don’t want you to share that. Unlike movies, for the most part, it’s like if you like the movie, then go ahead and tell anybody. But if you like homeschooling, there are people out there saying no don’t do it.
Yvette Hampton: Well, I think oftentimes, and I don’t know if you find this to be true, I think oftentimes the reason that people don’t want us to talk about it with them is because they don’t have that conviction, and they don’t want to feel convicted or guilted over the fact that they are not homeschooling. So Aby, do you find that to be true?
Aby Rinella: Yeah, I do. I do find that to be true. As I talk to older generation homeschoolers, I feel like it’s totally shifted. They used to get the, don’t do that, that’s so terrible. And now I almost feel like people are like, aren’t you lucky to be able to do that? But I never could because of a, b, and c and d. The other part I sometimes get is, oh, you think you’re better. And that part breaks my heart because not at all do I think I’m better.
Aby Rinella: I mean, I do with my heart and soul and, and even with God’s word, believe this is God’s best design. This is God’s best way to raise our children. Do I think I’m a better person or a better mom? No. But I do believe, and God’s word says this is God’s best design to raise our own children. He gave us these children to raise, but I think it’s different than it was back on the day of like, this is a bad thing to do now. It seems like people are almost slightly envious that we get to spend as much time as we do together as a family.
Yvette Hampton: And that actually segues perfectly into Sam’s book. You actually have a couple of books, and the first one that I really became familiar with was called, They’re Your Kids, an inspirational journey from self doubter to homeschool advocate. So I would love to talk about that. Let’s have a quick break and then let’s come back and talk about that book.
Aby Rinella: Sam, we had just kind of segued into your book called They’re Your Kids. I love the name of that book because when we were ready to put our kids in school, my husband said, you know, God gave us these kids to raise. He didn’t give them to everybody else to raise, they’re our kids and we need to raise them. So when I first saw the title of your book, I’m like, that was the line, the catching line, that kept our kids home with us to raise. So excellent name. So tell us a little bit about that book.
Sam Sorbo: That’s awesome. So I started homeschooling after my son finished second grade and the school just wasn’t getting the job done. They just weren’t doing what I expected them to do, which wasn’t that much frankly, but they were getting too much, just really wrong. And so I just made the leap and I said, okay, I’m going to do this. At that point I decided to start blogging about it. So that first year I did it until Christmas, and then I said I was going to reevaluate but I knew already I wasn’t going to go back. So the first year was great. Hard, not like oh this is easy, I’ve got this all covered. I was the young homeschooler so I tried to do everything. I checked off every box, it was labor intensive.
Sam Sorbo: And of course I had my third grader, a first grader, and a toddler.
Aby Rinella: You were in the trenches.
Sam Sorbo: So I was blogging about what I was learning and I began learning so much, which I had not expected. Because I was done. I went through high school, I finished, I went to college. I felt like I was done. So why was I learning all this stuff? And yet my kids were teaching me so much and I was learning so much that put me in the position of being able to tutor them and stuff. And the second year I put them back into a little Christian school that had a hybrid program. It was a classical Christian-modeled school, and it was a disaster. And the day that I dropped them off, I cried my eyes out. And the weird thing is, and this is really the reason that I wrote the book, I brought my kids in and my second child was not a great reader, but he was a little mathematician.
Sam Sorbo: He was like a human calculator. He loved, loved, loved math. And so I had allowed him to work ahead in math, and I’d had to tutor him a lot in reading because he was just abysmal. So he was in second grade. I brought him in and the gal said, okay we’re going to test him to see where he lines up with what students. And she comes back and says so you’re right. Because I was apologetic. I said he’s great in math, he’s advanced in math, but he’s remedial in reading. She comes back and she says, so you’re right, he’s testing at about a fourth grade level in math. And I’m like, “yeah”. She said, but he’s reading at about a fifth grade level. And I said, “so I’m the one with the problem?” And she said “yeah, I think so.”
Sam Sorbo: Here’s the thing, right? I made the rules and the rule was I was dropping the kids off that day. So it never even occurred to me, hey look, you’re vindicated. You’re doing fine. Good job mom. Keep up the good work. Take the kids home and keep going. I didn’t, I dropped them off. And the rest of the story is in the book. It didn’t end well. I lasted six weeks and then I stopped and I brought them back home. And somebody said to me about a year later, it took me a while to process what had happened, and somebody said to me, “isn’t it wonderful how God allowed you to make that mistake to teach you that you are enough?”
Sam Sorbo: And that was a huge lesson. So after that I didn’t look back. But before that, you can’t help it, you look back, and the reason is because the system has taught you that you’re not enough, that you’re inadequate, but you can’t. In fact, the system has taught you everything that you can’t do because you can’t do anything that you haven’t been formally instructed to do by a teacher standing at a blackboard. Like this is the paradigm, this is how you learn, and everything else is not learned. And so we have this weird, honestly it’s like we’ve been brainwashed, we have this odd idea of what is really education. I got to tell you I have a new initiative now to revamp the way that we even define the word education. In fact, I may have a way to put it into the political campaign this coming year.
Sam Sorbo: And I’m very excited about that because people need to reexamine what constitutes education, what counts for education. We saw the parents that are being indicted for purchasing their children’s way into college. Really what is a college degree worth if all it takes is some cash that your folks have to get you into the school of your choice or the school of their choice. So we’ve seen that more recently, there was a young man who they found out his parents had bought his way into school, and they were considering rescinding his degree. If we get into the take-backs, then what? And now of course we have the socialists saying, well, education should be free. Well then know how much it’s going to be worth, right? The fact is with the internet, we all have the facility to learn anything we want, basically at any time we want for free. For the most part. It’s insane. So education is in the offing. It’s out there for the taking, and we need to get away from this old, dead paradigm of sending your children into an institution. It’s killing our young men. It’s just destroying them because it’s not geared to young men. Little boys should be outside picking up critters.
Yvette Hampton: Yes. And on that point, Sam, you know it’s really important, and we talk a lot about this on the podcast in that the whole idea of raising up our kids and homeschooling them is to teach them how to learn, and to teach them to love learning. It’s not just an issue of teaching them a bunch of facts, pouring it into their brains so that they can then go off and rattle them off on a test and mark, all the right check boxes. It’s really teaching our kids how to be lifelong learners because like you said the internet is full of all sorts of information that our kids can try. First of all, they need to have the discernment to know what is real information and what is false information. And where that comes from too is then takes us back to the word of God.
Yvette Hampton: Are we training our children up in discernment and in wisdom and teaching them how to be wise and how to discern right from wrong? Just because Facebook says it or the internet says it, or your friends say it certainly does not make it true. And we’re seeing that all around culture right now and this whole new generation of kids has been raised up, and they have no idea what they believe, but they’ve got degrees and they’ve got a piece of paper saying $60,000 in debt to tell them that they have this great education and they don’t know anything.
Sam Sorbo: What’s worse is they don’t know how to find joy. So I just want to step back for a minute, and say that it’s our job to teach our children to love learning. The fact is, no teaching required. Children love learning. They’re innately curious and they’re innately creative. There’s a great Ted talk, well the first half of it, by Ken Robinson, I think it’s been viewed 64 million times. And he talks about the death of creativity. How schools basically kill creativity because you need to get it right. And the only way to be able to get things right is if there’s a culture of the ability to fail. That embraces failure as a way of getting to the right answer. We don’t have that. If you get it wrong, it’s a red check mark, it’s a cross out. Well now they don’t even discern between right and wrong.
Sam Sorbo: As long as you feel good about the answer it’s cool, crazy stuff. So our job is actually even easier, because all we’re supposed to do is inspire the children toward your goal of learning, towards their creativity and that’s the wonderful thing. But now we’ve got these kids who have grown up in this environment where there is no right and wrong, there is no moral yardstick for them. They’ve been taught everything but Christianity there, it is not, no religion. Let’s get that straight. It’s not that we have no religion in our schools. We absolutely have a religion. It’s actually called irreligion now. It’s the combination of atheism and agnosticism and it’s irreligion, and it is the antithesis of Christianity or Judeo-Christian principles. And the reason that I’m so desperate to get the word out is because our freedom is completely intertwined with our Christian faith. And so as we lose the faith in our culture, we lose our freedom because they don’t have the same value as they did, and so we will squander them because they’re completely intertwined, and it’s a very powerful thing. People who have no faith have no concept of what that is, so they’ll squander it freely.
Aby Rinella: That’s why you see so much selling out, without that foundation of a faith, you’ll sell out to the highest bidder, the almighty dollar or whatever they’re going to offer you.
Yvette Hampton: Let’s close out this episode and let’s continue on for part two on Wednesday, because I want to talk more about this, but we are out of time for this one. So Sam, for those listening to this one, where can people can find out more about you at SamSorbo.com, correct?
Sam Sorbo: At samsorbo.com and I do have a new book coming out, so I’ll just throw that up there. It’s called Through Faith. This is my mock up, so it’s not a real copy, I wrote it with my husband Kevin. It talks about marriage, movie making, and miracles, oh my!
Yvette Hampton: When we come back on Wednesday and we talk a little bit more about that book.
Sam Sorbo: I would love to. Just go to SamSorbo.com for all the information you need.
Yvette Hampton: All right, sounds great. Thank you guys for listening. We will see you back here on Wednesday and have a great day.
“My friends, Garritt & Yvette Hampton, are creating what I believe will be one of
the most important projects to expand the message of homeschooling
that we have seen in the past decade.” – Israel Wayne
There is a serious war raging all around us for the hearts and minds of our children. As early as preschool, a secular ungodly foundation is being set for them in schools all across our nation. Children are being indoctrinated with a worldview that undermines the value of life and teaches them that they have no purpose. They are also being taught that their parents are not the authority in their lives. This agenda is robbing our children of who God made them to be. Desperate parents are crying out and they don’t know what to do.
But there is hope! As parents, we have the freedom to remove our children from these government institutions and teach them at home the values and morals set before us in God’s Word. However, many parents don’t home educate because they don’t realize this option is available to them, or because they don’t feel like they are equipped to do it. Schoolhouse Rocked will help to open the eyes of these parents and show them that they can be successful in homeschooling.
As many of you know, by the grace of God, this past summer we finished filming Schoolhouse Rocked in Vancouver, Washington with Heidi St. John and her family. Filming is done! This was the first monumental step. Now we are pulling it all together into one excellent, engaging, and life-changing film. And that costs money.
You can change lives!YOUR help is needed to finish Schoolhouse Rocked. Since post-production has now begun, full funding is critical and needed immediately in order to complete this film with excellence. The post-production budget for the film is $198,157 and that budget still needs to be funded. Following post-production, the P&A budget (marketing) will need to be raised in order to get Schoolhouse Rocked into theaters nationwide through Fathom Events.
We were never meant to do this alone. And we haven’t. Whether you have been a cast member in the film, a guest on the podcast, a prayer warrior, or a previous donor, THANK YOU. The role you have played in the ministry of Schoolhouse Rocked is vital. But we have a great financial hurdle to overcome and once again, your help is needed. We need you…the body of Christ to rally around us and help us finish this important film.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I am so excited to have my guest, and I want to say kind of new cohost, on with me today. This is Aby. And many of you who have listened to the podcast know who she is. She has been a great friend, and just an incredible encouragement to my family and I over the past year or so, as we’ve been filming Schoolhouse Rocked and working on the podcast and doing all things Schoolhouse Rocked. And God has just done amazing things in our friendship.
Yvette: So, Aby, welcome back to the podcast. I’m excited to have you on. Because we’ve been talking a lot about just kind of the future of Schoolhouse Rocked and the podcast and what the Lord is doing with all of this stuff. And so you’re kind of jumping on board with me, right?
Aby Rinella: I am so excited to do so. Yes, absolutely.
Yvette: I love this. We got to do an interview together. It was me, you, and Karen DeBeus. And this was several months ago. And the three of us just had a great connection with one another, and then you and I have done several podcast interviews together. And we’ve just become good friends outside of the podcast. And we’re so like-minded. God has really brought us together clearly on purpose. And so I love your heart for homeschooling. I love your heart for family. I love the encouragement that you have given to me. I feel like you have just done an incredible job of standing beside my family and I as we’ve been on this crazy journey, which is what we’re going to talk a little bit about today, right?
Aby: And I am so excited to talk to you about this crazy journey and this incredible journey that you guys have been on. It is a story that needs to … Maybe there should be another movie of the making of the movie. It has been an amazing journey. And we connected about a year ago. And I was so captivated by you guys. And not only what God was doing through you guys but what you guys were willing to do for God. And it was just incredible. It’s incredible to see. The verse Matthew 4:19 just hits me when Jesus says, “Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
And he asked the men to drop their nets and walk away from everything that they knew, everything comfortable, everything that they kind of had figured out. And he said, “Let it all go. Leave it all behind, and follow me into the unknown. But know that I’m with you.” And I just feel like that is what I see with your family, is that’s exactly what you guys have done. And I feel super privileged to know the story. And I know that the podcast listeners have heard bits and pieces of it. But I’m just hoping that you will share with us from the moment Jesus said, “Come and follow me.”
Well, that was way before he called you to the movie. You followed him. But when he said, “I want you to leave behind everything you know and everything that’s comfortable and I want to do something incredible through you guys for my kingdom.” So will you share that journey with us?
Yvette: Sure. Yeah. It has been an incredible journey. As we’re recording this right now we are in California, which is where we’re from. This has been home to our family, to my husband and I and to our kids pretty much our whole lives. So we have lived in other places for a few short periods of time, but for 40-some years this was home and it was all we knew, and so I guess I can kind of start it a little bit at the beginning, for those who don’t know the whole story.
Garritt used to work in the Hollywood film industry and he did that for many years, and he was very good at what he did. He loves filmmaking. God has just gifted him in that area, and so many other areas as well. But he really felt like the Lord had called him to do this. But he didn’t want to do it in an industry that he didn’t believe in. And so he quit working in that industry, went on to work for our church and teach film in a Christian school for a year. And this was in 2015 through 2016 school year.
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So, he was teaching for that year and working for our church. And through that year we knew it was just a one-year commitment and we knew that at the end of that year it was going to be time for him to figure out what next. They wanted him to come back and teach. But he just didn’t feel like that’s what the Lord was calling him to do. I don’t know if I’ve actually told you this part of the story, but I vividly remember it was April of 2016 and we were sitting in church, and I can still picture it perfectly. We’re sitting in the middle of the service, and we have a great pastor, so usually I was really interested and engaged in what he was talking about.
And I don’t even remember if he had said something that triggered this idea in my mind, or if the Lord just put it on my heart. Either way it was certainly from the Lord. But I thought, “You know, we should …” We knew his job was ending and I thought, “We should just sell our house and sell all of ours stuff and go travel around the country.” And at that time we had felt like the Lord was leading us out of California, but we didn’t know where we would go. We had family in a couple of other states, but we just didn’t have any idea where we would end up.
And so, I wrote on our church bulletin, and I said, “I think we should sell our house and sell all of our stuff and get an RV and go travel the country.” And I passed it over to him, and he kind of looked at me like, “Are you crazy? That’s insane.” And so after church he just said, “We can’t do that. That’s insane.” So I just let it go, and I thought, “Okay, well whatever. Clearly if the Lord’s not going to put that big idea on his heart then it’s probably not the best idea.”
Well, fast forward several months and the school year ended and so his job was ending. And he had so many options for work at the time. The economy was really looking a lot better. And he’s a very talented man, very gifted in many areas. He has tons of experience. He’s got his marketing degree. So it would have been easy for him to go out and find a job. And there were so many people who were saying, “Weil, you should go and do this,” or, “You should do that. And I’ve heard about this job opening or that job opening.”
He also was in the Air Force, so he also has a background in aircraft. And none of it sat right with him. He just didn’t feel like that was the right thing for him to pursue. Like any of those things were right for him to pursue. And so we just prayed through that summer, “Lord, just show us where you want us to go. Show us what you want us to do.” And I don’t remember exactly what month it was, but it was probably somewhere around July, maybe the end of July or so.
And I remember him just kind of sitting on the edge of our bed and he just said, “I don’t know how to tell you this.” He said, “But, I think we should sell our house and sell all of our stuff, load up in an RV and go travel and see where the Lord takes us. And I think we need to film a documentary on homeschooling.” And instantly, without hesitation, I said, “Yes. Let’s do that.”
And it was just incredible that the Lord had put that on my heart many months before that. Because I think had he come to me and just said, “I think we should do all this, I have this crazy idea,” I would have followed if I knew that that’s what the Lord was calling him to do. But I don’t know how excited I would have been about that. But I didn’t just say yes. I was excited about it. And understand, California, like I said, was home. It was where our family is. It’s where our church is, all of our friends, our homeschool community. Our whole life was in California.
And so, the idea of just driving out aimlessly should have been a really scary thing for us. But it wasn’t. Because we knew the Lord was in it. So we just prayed, and we said, “Okay Lord. We’re going to trust you to just orchestrate this. And if this is really what you want us to do then we’ve got to sell the house first.” And we had a really nice five-bedroom house and had the minivan, because of course we’re a homeschool family. So every homeschool mom must have a minivan.
And so, we had our comfortable life. And we said, “If this is what you want for us then you’re going to have to just open the doors. And He did. I mean, we put our house up for sale. The very next day we had an almost full-price offer on it. We sold the house. All of our stuff sold. I mean, it was amazing. It was really cool, because we had friends and family who just came over to our house and they were like, “Okay, we’ll take this, this, this, this and this.”
And then we had a huge estate sale and pretty much sold everything that we didn’t absolutely need to keep. We got rid of all of our childhood trophies and camp pictures, and I mean everything we’d been toting around for 20-some years of marriage. And so the Lord gave us such peace about it. So we in December of 2016 … It took obviously a few months to pull all of this together. Actually, we started pre-production on Schoolhouse Rocked in August I think. So it was almost three years ago.
Started in August and then it took until December for us to actually leave. But in December, on December 15th of 2106 we got in our RV, pulled by our Excursion, and even through the process of that there were so many answered prayers. We wanted a very specific travel trailer. That was the kind of RV we decided that we wanted. And the Lord provided exactly what we wanted. Even more so actually. And it was a mile down the road from us. We wanted a Ford Excursion. He provided the Excursion that came with the travel trailer. You know, they were already attached, and it was perfect.
And so just there were so many answered prayers through that time that we just saw the hand of God move. And so we set out to film this documentary and to really just explore and see where the Lord would take us. And we ended up going straight to Georgia, because we knew that we wanted to be with family for Christmas. And so half of our family is in California. The other half is in Georgia. And then we’ve got kind of other extended family scattered throughout the country.
So, we ended up in Georgia, and that was where we kind of parked ourselves for the past two and a half plus years. And through the process of just being obedient to God we have had to rely on him and depend on him for everything. Everything. It sounds crazy when we tell people that Garritt has not had a steady paycheck, as you will, for over three years.
Yvette: And the Lord has provided our daily bread. I mean, it’s been incredible to just see the hand of God move and provide for us because we’ve answered this call that he’s put upon us to film this documentary. And so-
Aby: Can I interject really quick?
Yvette: Please, yes.
Aby: It wasn’t, from my understanding, that you guys were not like on the homeschool speaking circuit, and you knew all these homeschool people to interview. And you didn’t have one foot in to the whole … You were just a normal guy, a normal mom, and normal kids. And so it wasn’t like we kind of have this figured out and the Lord-
Aby: It was totally into the unknown. And share a little bit about just God’s incredible hand on … I mean, you’ve interviewed … This movie has the top, the cream of the crop, the most inspirational, wisest, incredible cast. And that, share a little bit about how God put that all together.
Yvette: Sure. Yes. Well, as you say, we were just your typical homeschool family. I didn’t know anyone, and Garritt certainly didn’t know anyone in the homeschool world. We’d been to a couple of conventions and we’d heard some speakers that were really encouraging to us. But there were a couple of people whose names we knew. And Andrew Pudewa was one of them. And he was one that I said from the beginning … We had used IEW, which is his company, we’d use their curriculum. And I just really respected him, and I really liked his style of teaching. And I just knew he was very well respected in the homeschool community. And so I thought, “I want to interview him.”
And the Lord worked out the details of that. Before we left California we contacted him. He was the first homeschool expert that we contacted and we just said, “Hey, we’re making this movie.” At the time I don’t think we even had a title for the movie. We didn’t even know what we were going to call it. We just said, “We’re making this documentary on homeschooling.” We thought it was going to be kind of a small direct-to-DVD type documentary. And he said, “Oh, I’d love to be a part of that.”
And he lives in Oklahoma. He said, “But I’m coming to California in a few weeks. If you’re still in California I would love to just do the interview while I’m there.” And we said, “Well, that would be fantastic.” So that’s what we did. He actually drove out to us from … He was in Long Beach and we were way south of him. We were north of him actually. So he drove to where we were, and we got to interview him and just, I mean, we were blown away by his wisdom and his knowledge and his incredible interview.
And then he went on after the interview and he just said to us, “You know, I really believe in what you guys are doing.” He said, “Here are some suggestions of people that you may want to interview.” And he listed off a whole bunch of names. And it was really funny because he said, “All these people are great. I highly recommend trying to connect with these people. I’ll be more than happy to connect you with them, because I know all of them,” he said, “But if there’s any one person that you really need to get in this movie it’s Heidi St. John.”
And I was familiar of course with her. Interested read a couple of her books. But I had never actually heard her speak at that time. So I was like, “Okay. Well, yes, I know who she-
Aby: You really were in the dark, weren’t you?
Yvette: Yes. I was in the dark. And so we just prayed about it and I guess it was about a year and a half later or so the Lord opened the door for us to be able to interview Heidi. And so she’ll come in a little bit later in this story again, as you know. But having Andrew Pudewa in the movie, and having interviewed him, just opened up the door to all of these other people. Because we were able to contact these people and we would say, “We’re making this documentary. This is why we’re making it.” And it was we really want to encourage and equip the homeschool community. We want people to understand the great benefits and blessings of homeschooling and debunk all of the myths and misconceptions that people have of homeschooling. And we would say, “And we’ve interviewed Andrew Pudewa and several other people.”
And as soon as they would see his name they would say, “Oh, well, if Andrew’s in this movie then certainly it must be legit. And so we would love to do this.” And that’s how the Lord opened up the doors for us to interview so many of the cast members that we have since interviewed.
Aby: Obviously God’s movie.
Yvette: Obviously God’s movie, because it’s not anything we’ve done. I mean, we’re not these amazing people that anyone even knows. No one knows our name or anything. So we were able to go to a couple of homeschool conventions where they were speaking. So that spring we hit a few of them and we were able to interview a bunch of people all at one time. I mean, not together, but while we were at the conventions. And that was a great blessing that the Lord just allowed us to be able to do that.
When we started interviewing people for the movie, one of the people that we wanted to interview was Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis. So we called Answers in Genesis, and we said, “We would love to interview him for this movie.” And we were going to be in Cincinnati, which is near where the Creation Museum is. And we said, “We’re going to be there on these dates. Would he be available?” And they said, “He’s not going to be available,” but Bryan Osborne, who is one of their speakers and he is one of their curriculum developers, they said he would be available and he would be happy to be interviewed for the movie.
And we said, “Okay, great. We don’t know who this Bryan Osborne guy is. But yes. If this is the door the Lord is opening then let’s interview him.” So we got to go and interview Bryan. And he was just fantastic. He was a public school teacher for 13 years and just an incredible, wise, godly man. And so the Lord just kept orchestrating all of this and bringing people to us who we didn’t even know that we needed to interview. And God just would say, “Here you go. Interview this person.”
And again, through the course of this God kept providing for our family in just the most amazing and miraculous ways. We’ve had several families who have just come alongside us and just said, “We’ll support you monthly.” And some of them have been just a little bit per month. Some of them have been a couple hundred dollars per month. And the Lord has just put that on their hearts. And other people have supported us by donating large amounts at a time. We had one family who they donated $5,000 and just sent a really sweet note with it. And she said her husband had been homeschooled and his mom had passed away before she was able to see the fruits of her labor. And so they wanted to just bless this ministry that God had called us to.
And that has just happened over and over again where God has just put it on people’s hearts to support it. Because it’s really not our ministry, as you know. It’s the Lord’s ministry. And so, anyway, as we’ve been on this journey and seen God open the doors for us to pull this whole movie together, he brought us to a point about a year ago where we were almost done with filming but we needed just to finish the narrative of the movie. And when you have a documentary you can’t have just a bunch of interviews with a bunch of talking heads. You have to actually have a storyline through the movie.
And so, we got in contact with another production company and we were talking with them and working with them for several months. Actually it was about I think seven or eight months that we were working through trying to solidify a partnership with them. And the Lord closed the door on that, and there’s a whole story behind that that I won’t get into. And it was not anything … There was nothing wrong with them or with us. It’s just the Lord just said, “This is just not the direction that I want you to go.”
So, we actually walked away from that deal. But before we had a signed contract with them. And at that time, that was just in April, this past April, it had set us back several months because we had spent all that time working through that potential partnership. And so April came around and we were like, “Well, what do we do now? We still need to finish the movie.” We still need to have the narrative of the movie filmed, and then we were going to be all done with it. And the Lord over and over again kept putting Heidi St. John on our hearts and said, “She’s the one.” She’s the one that he wanted us to do it with.
So, I called Heidi. We had interviewed her before for the movie in Tennessee. And her interview was excellent. But it was just a regular interview. It wasn’t the storyline of the movie. So I called Heidi and I said, “Here’s the deal. We need to finish this movie and we need a storyline. And we would like to do that with you.” And it was going to by myself and another homeschool mom talking through our journey of homeschooling. And she just said, “I’m in. Let’s do this.” But as you know, Heidi lives in Washington. She lives in-
Aby: On the other side of the country.
Yvette: On the other side of the country. We were in Georgia. She’s in Washington state. So we just started to pray again and say, “Lord, we’re going to just trust you to get us there. It’s not like we have all this extra money to travel across the country. It’s very expensive, obviously, to do that.” And so we just prayed. And again the Lord provided for us to be able to do that. And you were an exciting part of that, Aby, because as we were traveling across the country, you are in Idaho, and you and I … You know, you talked in the beginning a little bit about how you had reached out to us over a year ago and just said, “Hey, I’m excited about what you’re doing. How can I pray for you? How can I help?”
So, the Lord has just formed a really good friendship between you and me. So when I realized that you were on the way we were able to stop by and meet you and your family and stay with you for a few days. And that was such a huge blessing. Clearly a friendship and relationship orchestrated by the Lord. So we got to spend time with you and then we went on to Washington. And we got to go spend time with Heidi and her family. We were there for about two and a half weeks. So that was towards the end of June.
So, we got to finish filming the movie with Heidi. And we filmed the narrative with her, and then we filmed also, she and her family about two years ago opened the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center. And this place is absolutely amazing. It is exactly what every homeschool mom would dream of having. It’s this huge warehouse. It’s set up with classrooms and a theater and an art studio and a science lab, and they’ve got music rooms, and they’ve got beekeeping, and they have a recording studio where Heidi records her podcasts. And they’ve got a computer lab. I mean, a coffee shop so the moms can go hang out while their kids are doing classes.
It’s just amazing what the Lord has done with their ministry. And so we were able to film there with a bunch of their families who are part of the Homeschool Resource Center as well. And it was just incredible to see how God, again, opened those doors, provided for us to get to Washington, film the rest of the movie with Heidi and with her family, and at the Homeschool Resource Center. And then bring us to the place where we are now.
So last month, we finished in July, so last month we finished filming the whole movie.
Aby: That’s amazing. That’s incredible.
Yvette: It was amazing. Yes. Yeah. It was an amazing day when we finished. As a matter of fact, I can’t wait till the movie comes out because there was this one part where we needed to kind of tie up the whole message of the movie. And Heidi and I were sitting in the coffee shop and Garritt’s filming, and we’re talking with one another. And Garritt is saying, because he’s directing the movie of course, and he says, “Here’s the message that we need in order to just bring it home.”
And I was trying to get it out. And I just couldn’t do it. I could not form the words together properly in order to get the message across that we were trying to get through in this movie. And so he looked at Heidi, he said, “Heidi, do you think you can do this.” And I’m like, “Of course Heidi can do it.” And ironically she wasn’t even feeling very good that day. She was just having one of those days where she was just feeling kind of crummy.
And so, she didn’t even know what she was going to say exactly or how this was all going to end. But we had prayed beforehand and Garritt just said, “Okay, Heidi. It’s you. It’s on you now. Bring it home.” And it was literally like the Holy Spirit just came down on her. And she just gave this amazing … And it was probably three minutes of just bringing the whole movie together in one beautiful kind of speech, if you will, to the point where we were all about in tears. Actually I think Garritt was in tears at the end of it. And it was so funny, as soon as he cut he was like, “Yes.” And he screamed really loud and kind of Heidi and I jumped and we were like, “What?”
And he said, “That was it. That’s the end of the movie.” And that was it. And it was done.
Aby: Three years wrapped up in three minutes.
Yvette: Three years wrapped up in three minutes. Exactly. It was absolutely incredible, and it was only-
Aby: And it’s incredible because God knew from the very beginning, from the moment you wrote that little note to him on the church pew. God knew that that powerful last three minutes of the movie was where it was going to be delivered, who was going to say it, in exactly the time and place that he had planned for it.
Yvette: Yes. Yeah. It was a beautiful thing. So that’s where we are right now with the movie. We are done filming. It has been really neat. As we’ve been here in California we’ve been able to meet with a lot of friends and family and just kind of share the journey of where God has taken us over the past few years. And I think three years ago had God laid out for us, “This is what your life is going to look like,” I don’t know that we would have been so quick to sign on the dotted line. Because it’s been a huge blessing. But it’s also been a really difficult three years, because for this whole time we haven’t really been settled anywhere. We’ve been traveling a lot. We have not had a real solid homeschool community. We’ve gone to church in Georgia when we’re there, but we travel so much that we haven’t had a solid steady church community.
It’s been difficult for our whole family. But there have been so many blessings that have come from it. And we know that we are exactly where God wants us to be.
Aby: And he knows exactly where you’re going. So the movie’s wrapped up, and if anybody has not seen the trailer to this film, it will … If that didn’t give you chills, what the story the Yvette just told, the trailer will. So we’ll link to that at the bottom of this, because you’ve got to go watch that trailer. And then it needs to be shared everywhere so that you can get just what’s behind this film. And just as a side-note, because you would never plug this, but I will. That trailer won an incredible award, right? Didn’t that trailer win some award?
Yvette: Yeah. It won best film trailer at the Christian Worldview Film Festival just back in March. So yes. That was really exciting.
Aby: Which just shows you what kind of film this is going to be. This is going to be a top-notch film. So tell me now, it’s August 17th. I know God knows the plan-
Yvette: When we’re recording this.
Aby: So, the plan… Oh, sorry, yes.
Yvette: This is not live.
Aby: Right. So what is it going to take for me to see this movie on the screen?
Yvette: Well, that’s a good question. It’s going to take the Lord, obviously. The hand of God continuing to move. As we have filmed, about a year ago we went and we got to stay with a couple who had invited us to stay in their home overnight. They knew that we were going to be traveling through their town and they said, “We’d love to just have you guys over,” which that’s actually one of the amazing things God has done over the past several years is that people have just opened up their homes to us. Hospitality has been amazing. And people have just loved on our family and randomly they’ll just invite us in, and it’s been incredible because we have friends now all over the place.
But we stayed with them overnight, and the morning that we were leaving the husband, he said, “I really, I just want to pray over your family.” And when he prayed for us he prayed … Do you remember the story of course of the Israelites and Moses is leading the Israelites into the promised land. And there’s the one part where they’re fighting the Amalekites. And the Israelites are winning as long as Moses is holding up his staff. And as soon as his arm gets tired and he starts to fall, then the Israelites start to lose.
And so, Aaron and Hur come alongside Moses and they hold up his arm, and the Israelites end up winning this battle. And so that was what he prayed over us. And he said, “Lord, just bring people around the Hampton family as they fight this battle and get this movie done. Bring people alongside them who will help hold up their arms and encourage them.” Because there’s been several times where we’ve just been weary. We’re tired. We are overwhelm. It has for the most part been I’ll say a four-man show, because we’ll include our girls in that. They’ve done a lot with this movie. And so it’s just been our family who has done most of this.
But the Lord has brought alongside us people who have supported us through prayer, through encouragement, through finances. And writing blogs for us. Just podcasting with me. I mean, so different things that people have done to encourage and support us. And it’s not anything that we’ve done on our own. We are, to be quite honest, we’re totally lame on our own. We are not capable of doing any of this without the grace and mercy and power of God. But the beautiful thing about that is that in the end, and we talk a lot about this as a family. Because it’s been such a difficult journey in many ways and a journey that we couldn’t do on our own, in the end all we’re going to be able to say is, “Look what God did.”
It’s not because we’re such amazing people and so gifted in a million different areas. It’s because God has equipped us to be able to accomplish what he’s called us to do in making this movie. And so he gets all the glory for it in the end.
Aby: Well, and I think too, it is a movie, but it is so much more than a movie. And I think that that’s maybe the message that also needs to get across, is this isn’t just a movie. I mean, look around our culture and see what’s going on. We are in a whole new set of times that we’ve ever been in, and we are raising children in, they’re not scary times because we know who’s in control and we know the end of the story. But they’re difficult times. And our culture is going down fast. And our families are being torn apart. And our children are having to fight things that we never thought they would.
And so, this isn’t just a movie. This is a message that God has placed on your guys’ hearts. But the reality is it’s a message that every one of us who has chosen to homeschool, and even those that haven’t, this is a message that’s on the hearts of the people. And this is a tool. This movie is a tool for all of us. I’ve said so many times, if I could just pay someone to answer all the ridiculous questions people ask me about homeschool, if I could just hand someone a movie and say, “Check this out,” that they would be as inspired and passionate about not just homeschool, but about the design that God made for parents to teach and train their children in his righteousness.
I mean, that sounds like a cop out for me, but I’d love to just hand someone something that they could watch. And that’s what this is. This isn’t just a movie. This is a message to God’s people and to people that wonder and question and aren’t sure. Because more now than ever this message needs to be heard.
Yvette: Yes. Oh, I could not agree more. It’s interesting, because we’ve talked a lot about this over the last even just couple months, in that since we started filming three years ago, the time has gone by so quickly but so much has happened in the last three years in culture. I mean, we have seen a drastic change in the way people are responding to God’s word, in the way that the church is responding, in the way that public schools are responding, and that the deeper their indoctrination is going and what they’re teaching these kids. It was bad three years ago. It’s worse today. And it’s gotten so out of control that parents, they need help, and they need hope. They need to know that there’s another way, another alternative to homeschooling, or I’m sorry, to public schooling or private schooling.
And so that’s why God’s called us to make this movie. But we can’t make it alone. I mean, we are the body of Christ and we are not meant to do this on our own. And we haven’t done it on our own. We’ve been kind of the daily hands and feet who the Lord has called to do this. But we certainly cannot do this without the help of people. I was reflecting recently on … I don’t know, I’m reading a lot of the Old Testament, as you can see. Our family’s actually reading through the New Testament, but in my quiet time I’m actually reading through Joshua right now.
And I love reading about the Israelites because it’s amazing to see what God has done with them. And I was thinking recently about, you know when God brought them out of Egypt and they’re standing at the edge of the Red Sea, and they’re standing in front of this huge sea, and they don’t know how they’re going to get through it. Because what are they going to do? If it had been a little stream or if it had been maybe even like a larger river there were enough of them that collectively they could have said, “You know what, if we just stack these rocks just right or if we lay these logs just so we can figure out a way to get across this stream or across this river.”
But God didn’t bring them to a stream or river. He brought them to the sea. And so they’re standing there and they could not at that point even have said, “Well, we’re just going to stand here and wait, and clearly God’s going to split the sea and we’re going to walk through on dry ground.” Because that had never been done before. And so all they could do was stand and wait. And they were scared. And now the enemy’s chasing them. And again, God just said, “Moses, you hold up your staff and watch what I do.” And he parts the sea. And they walk through on dry land. I mean, that’s an incredible story.
Aby: It’s incredible. Yes.
Yvette: And the same God who can split the sea for the Israelites to walk through is the same God who will provide everything that we need in order to get this movie done. Because again, it’s his movie. It’s not ours. And we, as far as budget-wise, I know you didn’t ask this, but I’ll just say anyway, just so people know where we are, as far as budget-wise it’s going to take close to about $500,000 to get the movie into theaters.
So now that we’re done filming, we’re done with production, we now are moving into postproduction. And post production is where we bring in a composer and a colorist, and probably a second editor, and all the other names that you see in the end credits of the movie who will make this movie excellent. But we have to hire all those people and then all the resources that we need in order to complete this. So post production is about, I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $198,000. So that’s what we need to finish, post-production on the movie.
And then another, well, whatever the difference is of that. So close to $500,000 total to get it actually into theaters. So the rest of that budget is for marketing the movie, which I know that sounds like a big number, but if no one knows about the movie then no one’s going to see it. So it’s not too big for God, though. You know, we realize that [crosstalk 00:38:29]-
Aby: It’s not. And I know a lot of people are probably thinking, “Okay, why would I get behind … There’s a million movies out there. There’s 100 movies out there. There’s lots of movie makers out there.” But what I want to say is getting behind this, we’re not getting behind a movie. We’re getting behind a message that needs to be heard, and God has a message that he wants heard in a culture that desperately needs to hear it. And you know, when we send missionaries out into a strange world where people aren’t following Christ to spread the gospel, missionaries don’t go without people sending them. And there are people sending the missionaries, there are people praying for the missionaries and encouraging and supporting them financially, and in many ways.
And that’s how I want people to see this, is this is a mission. This is a mission that has been put on your guys’ heart. And as parents who have already answered the call to homeschool, we need to get behind this mission. We need to have a heart for the lost. We need to have a heart for parents. They were once probably where we were, that said, “Yeah, I would like to but there’s no way I could.” And they have all the reasons as to why they don’t think they’re equipped. Or even maybe aren’t sure that it’s even the best, the right way to do it. So we need to spread this message. And the way to do that, because not everybody’s an eloquent speaker. Not everybody can make a movie. But God has placed those gifts in the speakers that you have in the movie, and in you and Garritt to make the movie. And so we need to get behind you, homeschool families.
I want to get behind you guys to do this because I look around my neighborhood and I cry for the children. And I cry for the families who they know that they don’t, they don’t want to send their kids out every day, but they don’t know another way. And so this is for those families. This is for our neighbors, this is for our church families, this is for ourselves to be encouraged and our parents and the naysayers, or the people that want to do it but just don’t know how.
So, getting behind this movie isn’t just funding a movie. Getting behind this movie is supporting missionaries who have answered the call to go out into a culture that rejects God and give hope and a message that just must be spread right now. So how can we do that? So now what? I’m on board. What can we do now?
Yvette: Yeah. Thank you for your encouragement with that. There are a couple of ways that people can help. The quickest way is to just go to schoolhouserocked.com. If people want to donate they can click right on the front page. There’s a blue button that says, I think it just says, “Donate now.” But then there are also several different ways that people can help. So I think on the front page there’s a button that says, “Support Schoolhouse Rocked.” I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s labeled. And they can go on there and they can see how they can partner with us. Homeschool friendly organizations can sponsor the movie. That’s a huge way that organizations can help and get on board with us.
People can donate. People can invest. We’re actually looking for bigger investors, and donors. Bigger donors as well. Though honestly, I mean $10 or $10,000, it doesn’t matter. It’s all God’s money and it’s all the same in his economy anyway. But that shows the different ways that people can be involved in helping the movie. And then also, obviously, just praying for us. Pray for us as we go about doing this. We have several people who are on our prayer team and they will send us regular text messages or phone calls or emails and just say, “Hey, how can we pray for you. How are things going.” And that means the world to us.
I think people don’t realize how much we need that encouragement and how much that keeps us going. And, I mean, Aby, you’ve been one who the Lord, I am certain he has placed you in our lives exactly at the right time because you … I think I shared this with you, but a couple weeks ago Garritt and I were out to dinner and just talking through, “Okay, what now? What are we going to do? How are we going to move forward with this? Which direction is the Lord leading us to get this movie done?” And you had sent an email, no, a text message to me that morning and just said, “I’m so excited. I can’t wait till the day that we get to actually see this movie completed, and I don’t care if it takes 10 years for it to get done. It will get done in God’s perfect time.”
And at the end of it you said, “Stay the course.” And as Garritt and I were talking he was sharing with me, he just said, “You know, I just, I know that this is what God’s called us to. There’s no doubt in my mind.” And I know it too. “Because we’ve seen his hand move in so many different ways.” But we need people to remind us of that. To just stay the course, just keep going, don’t give up, keep going, keep going. Have you ever seen Facing the Giants? That’s the Kendrick brothers’ movie.
The Death Crawl Scene from Facing the Giants
Yvette: Oh, you need to watch it. It’s so good. For those of you who have seen it, you may remember there’s this part in there where Alex Kendrick is a football coach. And you need to see this part because I don’t know that I can do it justice. But there’s this part where he’s got this football player and this big football player has another of this smaller football player guys on his back. And he’s getting him to crawl across the field. And he’s blindfolded, the one who’s crawling with the other one on his back, he’s blindfolded. And he’s trying so hard to get across the field, and he’s exhausted. I mean, he gets halfway across and he’s just so tired. And he’s like, “I can’t go one more step.”
And Alex Kendrick is on the football field on the ground with him. And he’s down on his hands and knees with him, and he’s like, “Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Don’t stop. Keep going.” And I often feel like people like you and our family members, you know our parents have been incredibly supportive of this and what God is doing here. There are so many people who are just on their hands and knees with us and just saying, “Keep going, keep going, stay the course, keep going.” And so when people leave reviews on the podcast, when they email us, when they text us or call us, that is a huge way that people can support and encourage us as well.
Aby: Awesome. Well, I cannot wait. I cannot wait. I keep thinking about sitting in a seat and watching it on the big screen, and hearing a message that is so important to be heard and bringing my friends and my family. And this is going to be wonderful. And there’s been another big movie that’s just been released that is just, it’s changed lives and it’s addressed things that are happening right now that are against God’s word in the culture. And it reached peoples’ hearts. And that’s what I can’t wait to see this movie do, is reach peoples’ hearts for the kingdom of God.
And I can’t wait. And I’m so blessed to be with you in this journey. And I just keep thinking, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” And I think this movie is going to give parents the encouragement they need and the tools that they need to not hinder their children from coming to Christ. So I just, I’m so thankful for what you guys are doing. I want to encourage everybody listening to this to get behind this, to get behind this film. It’s for all of us. It’s for God, but it’s for all of us to share and to use. And then share it. It’s just, get on, if you’re on social media share the trailer, share the movie, and share the need that it’s going to take people getting behind this movie to see it in the theaters and to have it in our hands. So-
Yvette: Yeah. Thank you. And I want to just throw out there too, it’s not just the movie. Schoolhouse Rockedis a ministry that God has called us to. And we’re building this whole kind of ecosystem around the movie, which is why we have the podcast, it’s why we have the blog, it’s why we have the Facebook page. It’s not just here’s a movie, now leave and go figure out how to do it on your own. It’s the movie is the base of it, but then you’ve got all of these things that go along with it to help continue to encourage parents in their journey of homeschooling. And that’s really what we feel like the Lord has led us to do, is to build a ministry to homeschool families to help them to stay the course, to help them homeschool with excellence. Because anything we do for the Lord it should be done with excellence, including this movie, including the podcast, including everything that we do, we do it for the glory of God.
And so, it’s not just the movie, it’s the whole package. So when people support Schoolhouse Rockedthey are supporting everything that we’re doing with this ministry.
Aby: Yeah. A ministry to encourage parents and equip parents who homeschool. And for such a time as this. All we have to do is look around and this message is one that needs … And we all need the encouragement. I need to get on to Schoolhouse Rockedand get encouraged. So thank you for answering the call. Thank you for letting us all be a part of it.
Yvette: Yeah. Thank you, Aby. It’s so fun talking to you. And I appreciate you being on with me. This ended up being kind of a reverse podcast where I feel like you were interviewing me, but I love being able to share of God’s faithfulness, and again, it’s all for his glory.
Yvette: Only by his grace. So thank you, Aby, for loving our family, and loving us through this journey. And thank you guys for listening to the podcast today. I know we went way long today. But please pray for us, and please consider supporting us in any way you can, whether it’s through prayer or through a financial contribution or donation or investment, or whatever it is. Just pray about that, and we would love for you to just partner with us in this important ministry. So have a great day you guys, and we will be back next week.
“We have got to educate people, as to what freedom and liberty is all about, what the constitution is all about, parental rights, and who our kids belong to. That’s very elementary. Socialism and Marxism would have us believe our kids belong to the government.” – Zan Tyler
While we were at the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center, in Vancouver, Washington to finish filming interviews for Schoolhouse Rocked, homeschool pioneer, Zan Tyler stopped by for a surprise visit. Zan was instrumental in the fight to make homeschooling legal in South Carolina, in the early 1980s. She was in Oregon to speak at the Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network (OCEANetwork) homeschool conference, in Albany, Oregon and wanted to visit Heidi St. John and get a tour of the homeschool resource center. Because her story of the legal battles and persecution that she endured to pave the way for homeschooling families in her state provided such important historical perspective and cautionary advice, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to interview her for the movie and for the podcast.
Following her dramatic battle for the right to homeschool her children, Zan went on to teach them through graduation and all three of them attended college on a variety of scholarships. Gaining resolve during her battle, she went on to fight for other homeschooling families in South Carolina and across the United States, founding the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools in 1990, Speaking at homeschool conventions around the world, and writing several books, including Seven Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential and the forward for Heidi St. John’s Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight: Managing Your Days Through the Homeschool Years. She has also worked to develop Bible-bases homeschool resources as the director of Apologia Press. Here is her story.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette, and we are back with the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. This is a really fun one, because we are actually on the set filming for Schoolhouse Rocked the movie. It’s so neat to see how the Lord provides just different guests and people for the movie and for the podcast as well.
You are going to love my guest today, her name is Zan Tyler. She is just a sweet, sweet homeschool mom whose kids are grown now. She has an amazing story and I know you are going to be so encouraged by what God has done in her family and through her family, for the homeschool world.
So Zan, welcome. I am really excited to talk to you today!
Zan: Oh, thank you, Yvette. It’s great to be here.
Yvette: Thank you. Tell us a little bit about you and your family.
Zan: Well, we have three grown kids, six grandchildren, and we homeschooled for 21 years, from 1984 to 2005, and homeschooled each of the kids from kindergarten through high school.
Yvette: So that was back in the day.
Zan: That was back in the day for sure.
Yvette: You are truly considered, in the homeschool world, one of the pioneers, who really got homeschooling kind of off the ground, and you are very instrumental in homeschooling becoming legal. Not just your state of South Carolina, but in many states, in addition to that. So, let’s talk about that, because there’s so much to tell in your story. Tell us, kind of from the beginning, how this whole story unfolded for you.
“When she said the word homeschool, I just felt like the walls of her little home at Columbia Bible College were closing in on me. I thought, ‘Lord, if you will just get me out of here, I never want to hear the word homeschool again.’ I just thought it was the strangest thing I had ever heard. Our family was extroverts, and I just couldn’t imagine.”
Zan: Well, it was 1984, which I just always think is so George Orwellian, and my oldest son was in kindergarten. He was very bright and gifted, but not reading. He was the only one in this little kindergarten of eight that wasn’t reading. So I was looking for answers, because I had no educational background. I wasn’t sure if it was a problem, or what he was going through.
A friend of mine recommended that we hold him back a year. That was normal for boys, they needed a little more time to mature. But another friend of mine, she and her husband were getting their masters degrees at Columbia Bible College, getting ready to go to the mission field said, “Zan, I taught in the public schools for many years before I had Nat and I’m going to homeschool, and I think you should homeschool Ty.”
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You know the scene from Star Wars, where the walls – it’s really a trash compactor – and they start closing in? When she said the word homeschool, I just felt like the walls of her little home at Columbia Bible College were closing in on me. I thought, “Lord, if you will just get me out of here, I never want to hear the word homeschool again.” I just thought it was the strangest thing I had ever heard. Our family was extroverts, and I just couldn’t imagine.
But she gave me a book, Homegrown Kids by Dr. Moore. I took home that book, and all the way home I’m telling the Lord, “Well, I’m never going to homeschool.” I get home and I start reading that book, more as a courtesy from my friend than anything else, and it was like the Holy Spirit was just wooing me, and softening my heart, and showing me what a glorious way to educate homeschooling really is.
The only problem was, this was 1984, and we didn’t know one person in the world who homeschooled. There were no organizations, no HSLDA. I think it had actually started on the West Coast, but we certainly didn’t know of them on the East Coast. No state organizations, no support groups, no, nobody. So I really had nobody to turn to.
I used to walk in the morning early and pray and listen to the Bible on my Walkman, and I really just felt like the Lord was saying, “Okay, I really want you to homeschool your boys.” I just remember saying, “No, I just can’t do this.” So I ran inside. We went to the public school district in our area, I showed them the testing that Ty should be held back a year, even though he was six, and they said, “Okay.” That was that, and I thought that was the end of the story.
Until others, people in the school district, were getting their orientation packets for kindergarten and I didn’t get one. I called the school superintendent, he said, “You can’t put your first grader in our kindergarten program. We’ve put him in first grade.” I said, “Well, private schools are filled at this point, I have no choice.” He said, “Well, I’m sorry, you cannot do this.”
So, I called my old high school principal, who is now associate superintendent of instruction in the district, and just asked him to write a note to hold Ty back. He said, “Well, Zan, I just can’t do that.” Which, they did those kinds of things all the time. I said, “Well, I guess I’m just going to have to homeschool Ty.” It was a threat, it was my trump card. He said, “Oh, the school district’s gotten so lenient with that kind of thing.”
Later I found out they had approved one person in the history of the district, and she was a certified teacher. I had been an economics major in college. I had planned to go to law school, until Joe proposed and we got married and had children instead. I mean, I did not have the educational background they were looking for. So we had to hire an attorney just to find out what the law was. The local school district, nor the State Department of Education, would give us the law. There’s no internet, no Google, no organizations, no other way to find it out.
So, we hired him, we submitted our application. It’s about, oh, I mean, it was about five inches thick, everything they wanted from me at that point, and they denied my application. So we had to call our attorney again. He said, “Oh, now you appeal to the state board. They will deny you, they will uphold whatever the local school board did.” I said, “What then?” He said, “You’ll end up in family court.” I said, “What then?” He said, “Well, I don’t know, honey.”
“He looked at me and he said, ‘Well, if you continue down this path, Zan, I’ll have you put in jail for truancy.’ So, that was sort of the watershed moment for me. I said, ‘Well, then you’ll just have to put me in jail.'”
So, I’m telling the Lord, “I told you this was not a good idea.” So, in the middle of all of this, I had a thought. The State Superintendent of Education had actually observed my mother’s classroom. She was a fourth grade teacher when he was getting his PhD. I was in the fourth grade, so I saw him every day after school for several months. I called Dr. Williams, said, “Dr. Williams, this is Zan Tyler. I’m Sybil Peter’s daughter. I have a problem, can I come see you?”
So, I went up there, and just explained my predicament, all I wanted to do is hold Ty back a year. The school district said, yes, then they said no. Private schools were filled, and they denied my application to homeschool. What am I going to do? He looked at me and he said, “Well, if you continue down this path, Zan, I’ll have you put in jail for truancy.” So, that was sort of the watershed moment for me. I said, “Well, then you’ll just have to put me in jail.”
Yvette: Which at that point, I would say most parents would probably just say, “Okay.” They would throw their hands up, give up and say, “All right.”
Zan: You know, I think that was just when the Lord took over for me. There’s the verse in Acts that says, “Don’t fear when you’re brought before governors, because I’ll tell you what to say.” It was really an out of body experience, because I said, “Then Dr. Williams, you’ll have to put me in jail.” I’m thinking, “Who just said that?” It was really like an out of body experience. But I knew the Lord had been calling me, and in that moment he, I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but he confirmed that to me.
Yvette: It’s so neat to have just a piece of God when he asks us to do everything. We’ve talked a whole lot about this on the podcast, is that when God calls you to something, he’s going to provide everything that you need, and he is going to pave the way for you. Whether it’s homeschooling, or, you know, a new job, or a move across the country. Whatever it is, he’s going to provide the way, and he’s going to pave that road.
So I love that you were just obedient and you were willing to listen to what God was telling you, because you have, now since then, impacted so many families. So, continue on. Well, let me ask you this first. How did your husband, Joe, how did he respond to this whole idea of homeschooling? Was he all in favor of it? Was he a little resistant? What was his response?
Zan: Well, I’ll tell you now that Joe does a workshop called, You Want to What? Confessions of a Reluctant Homeschool Dad. So, we’ve always had a great marriage. Joe’s a great communicator, and so we could always talk. Basically what he said to me was, “I know how much you love the Lord, and I know how much you love the kids. So I totally trust you, but I think this is the craziest thing we’ve ever done.”
He finally said, “Well, if it’s numbers and colors, you can’t mess up a kid too much in kindergarten.” Then we laughed, because low and behold Ty was color blind, and we didn’t know it yet. I mean, he was very supportive of me, he just thought the idea of homeschooling was nuts.
Yvette: So what was his response when you started to get into a little bit of legal trouble?
Zan: You know, then we were just all in it together.
Yvette: Which is how it should be.
Zan: Yes, yes. So, he tons of pizza. I should say this, no man should have to eat as much pizza during those early years of homeschooling as Joe did.
Yvette: Yep. You are one busy mama.
Yvette: So, how did the rest of the story transpire from there?
Zan: Well, it was interesting, because being the brave noble person I was, we had decided not to tell either set of parents we were going to homeschool. Joe said, “You know, you’re going to have to tell them at some point, it’s kind of like being pregnant. People will recognize, at some point, that something is going on.” I said, “Well, when the time comes, I’ll talk about it.” I just had no more emotional bandwidth.
So, when I was threatened with jail, then that forced the conversation, because my parents were very involved in the whole fabric of Columbia. Not social life, but just community life. Dad was, in addition to his profession and being a lawyer, he was chairman of the board of the Baptist hospital system. I knew that the newspapers would not say, “P on homeschool mothers and Tyler goes to jail.” It would say, “John Peter’s daughter goes to jail.”
I knew I needed to tell them. So, I go by to tell them, and I hold it together, “Mom, dad, I’m going to homeschool Ty.” Of course, they don’t know what it is, I barely know what it is. “I’ve been threatened with jail, and my hearing is on Tuesday. I didn’t want you to read about it in the newspaper.” Then I just lost it. I was hysterical, and I left. My daddy, we’ve always been so close, he just went to be with the Lord. But he was just so mad I had been treated that way.
As God, in his very kind of providence would have it, he was speaking at a hospital function the next night with Nancy Thurman, who was the wife of Senator Strom Thurmond, who was a legend in South Carolina politics, served in the Senate for 50 or so years. I had worked for him when I was in high school. It was the first year of the 18 year old vote, and I was female to boot. So I did television commercials with him and toured the state with fundraisers with him and his team. So I knew him, and I had called his office and gotten no response.
Dad said to Mrs. Thurman that night, “Zan needs help from the Senator now.” So she called his chief of staff who said, “We’ll overnight a letter to Charlie Williams, the State Superintendent of Education, telling him to approve the program.” But the next day we got a call from his chief of staff saying that the Senator was actually going to fly down and meet personally with Charlie Williams, who was the State Superintendent of Education.
So, when Senator Thurmond, the legend, walks in and tells Dr. Williams, “Her program is legal, we’ve looked into it, you need to approve it.” Then everything changed. So, the threats of jail averted, and the State Board approved my program. We homeschooled that first year. It was still very tough, we had policemen riding up and down our streets of a very quiet neighborhood. We assumed to make sure that we were inside having school and at home, and we had threatening phone calls, and neighbors.
Yvette: From the school board?
Zan: Well, you know, at first, we didn’t know. This is before caller ID and cell phones and all of this. So BellSouth had just come out with this very expensive callback system, you could see who called you. I told Joe, I said, “I want to pay for this.” We had no money at this point, legal fees and all. He said, “Okay, you’re paranoid, but we’ll do it.” It was school districts, and it was not just my own. It was other school districts in the state calling me, wanting personal information, seeing if I answered the phone.
It was crazy. But that year, our goal was just to get Ty ready for first grade. But the things that we saw happening in our home, even with all the pressure, the legal pressure outside of the home, there was just this, not magic, that’s the wrong word, but this just incredible depth building in our home that we had never had before, even though I was a stay at home mother up until that point.
So, our vision for homeschooling began to grow a little bit, and legal threats were starting to pour in, and the State Department of Education was getting ready to promulgate very negative regulations. So, it just grew into an eight year struggle, really, or battle, where for eight years our family was, either in court or in the legislature, fighting for good homeschool laws in South Carolina.
Yvette: At that point you knew you weren’t just fighting for yourself; you were fighting for others who would come into homeschooling.
Zan: Yes, that’s right.
Yvette: Through that time, did you start to meet other families who were homeschooling?
Zan: Yes, yes. I remember we went to the first conference in Atlanta, and I think there were seven families from South Carolina there. Which I had no idea, we were delighted to see seven. But everybody was so nervous, nobody would give out their phone numbers or their last names, because we were so afraid that there was somebody from the government there. They were scary times.
But during that first year, Joe and I began to keep a database of people who were starting to call us then from all over the country, it was kind of strange. It was think tanks and attorneys, and people looking to move to South Carolina, who may have already started homeschooling in another state where there was no threat. So, we just started collecting names of people who had heard of homeschooling. We weren’t necessarily looking for homeschoolers, just people who had heard of it.
So we started growing this database, which came in handy then, in December of 1985, a year later, when we got the information that the State Department was getting ready to promulgate the regulations that would require teaching parents, and to have a college degree, and only use state-approved tax. So that gave us a little bit of list to begin building that grassroots movement with.
Yvette: So how did homeschooling change your family?
Zan: Oh, my goodness, I feel like Shakespeare, “let me count the ways.” It just, this closeness. We were close to begin with, I can’t explain it. Just a deeper intimacy. It made the kids closer. The most dramatic change for me is I began to notice my boys’ spiritual gifts. There was no time for that kind of observation before, but even though they were young, I believe that the Lord gave me insight into things that the boys were capable of spiritually, and the way they thought.
For instance, we had been praying, just for our neighbors, that we’d have a chance to witness. One day, during our first few weeks of homeschooling, they were out playing and I called them in, they were riding their bikes in the driveway, and he didn’t come. I said, “Ty, honey, you have to obey me the first time, or homeschooling is not going to work.” He said, “Well, mom, did you see that little boy on the bicycle?” He said, “We’ve been sharing Jesus. I’d never seen him in our neighborhood. I was afraid I’d never see him again, and I just needed to tell him about Jesus.”
Zan: It was through instances of being together so much, that I began to see his heart to really share the Gospel, even as a young little boy. Then my other son, who is now an attorney, was always very thoughtful. When Joe and I went to our first homeschool conference, in Atlanta. Conference, I use that word very lightly, there were maybe 60 people there from 10 states or five states or something. My sister took John and Ty up to Stone Mountain, and they were six and four. We’d been learning the children’s catechism, and they found this footprint that looked like a huge footprint in the mountain, and Ty said, “John, look at this. This is so big, it must be God’s.” Four year old little John says, “Ty, God is a spirit and have not a body like man.”
Oh, my goodness! So, I began to see their spiritual depth really blossom. That has always been one of the greatest parts of homeschooling to me, is that we can prepare our kids to take their place in the world, not just academically gifted and other gifts, but their spiritual gifts. The church just needs mature believers now, people who can speak truth.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. So, kind of take us down the road of what homeschooling looked like. You say you went to these conventions, and there were about 60 people there, you know, to what it is today. Because now you go and you’ve got 6,000, 7,000 people or more at some conventions. It has changed dramatically, obviously.
It’s really interesting, because we’re going into our ninth year of homeschooling, but when we came into homeschooling nine years ago, it was very similar to what it is now. It was a very acceptable culture, it’s not awkward for us to go to the grocery store in the middle of the day. When people say, you know, “Oh, are you off of school today?” My girls say, “No, we’re homeschooled.” Then typically people will respond with, “Oh, wow, that’s great. I wish I could homeschool, or, you know, my sister homeschools, or my daughter home schools.” I mean, everybody knows somebody who homeschools.
Zan: Yes, that’s right.
Yvette: But obviously, it wasn’t that way for you.
Zan: That’s right.
Yvette: So, take us through what it was like for you in those beginning years, and other families, to what homeschooling has become today.
Zan: I have such a vivid memory of having homeschooled for about six months, and being in tears one morning during my quiet time, just saying, “Lord, remember me, this person you made so extroverted? I now have no friends.” There were people in the neighborhood who would no longer speak to us, people in our church who were suspicious. I mean, this was 1984, and like I said, when I said we knew nobody when we started, we knew nobody when we started. So, there was just no support and nobody for the kids to share that experience with.
Now, as the year progressed and we went into the second year, then we found friends. I mean, it wasn’t unusual for us to drive to Greenville to see another homeschool family, which was 100 miles away, or Charleston. Then we began to develop a few friends and a little bit of a community. I will say this, that the community that developed was very, very close. Then when we were threatened in 1985, with those regulations from the State Department, we started pulling the group together and sending mailings out.
Then somebody gave us an organization that had already the 501(c)(3) status they weren’t using anymore. We took that over and then formed the first homeschooling organization in South Carolina. So, it was definitely hard. It was just hard. But we knew the Lord had called us, and then to watch it grow step by step. We had the first public hearing in South Carolina in 1986, and we actually had about 400 people show up for that, which was really amazing. We had no idea. We just sent out this blind list, this list we had been mailing, and we had all these people show up. It was pretty amazing. That was a ton of people.
Yvette: That is a lot, because that’s before the days of even email-
Zan: That’s right, oh, no, email, no. That was the days before fax. It was by phone or mail. So, it was very interesting. So, it was the Lord, and then eventually we started going to the National Leadership Conference. It was people from a lot of other states who had … everybody was going through their own set of circumstances. Some people were very free, like in Georgia or North Carolina, other people were like us in South Carolina, where we were very threatened, and it was very hard. But that was our peer group, and that sort of was what the Lord gave us, just to keep us going, and that fellowship we needed to keep going.
I can remember the first time Joe and I were asked to go to Japan to speak at a conference there, and it wasn’t for expats, it was for Japanese. I sat on the plane, and all of a sudden I just started crying, because I looked at Joe and I said, “You remember when we first started homeschooling? All people wanted to do was shut me up. You know, make her be quiet, stop talking about this, go away.” The fact that somebody was paying us to fly halfway across the world to talk to them about homeschooling, it was just overwhelming.
It’s one of those moments that will just always be emblazoned in my mind. But it was like a revival movement, the Lord just kept raising people up and up and up, and it got bigger and bigger, and it was this grassroots ground swell. That was one reason you know it’s really the Holy Spirit, because there’s no other explanation for it.
Yvette: Yeah. So, you’ve been through the whole process of helping to make it legal. Where do you see homeschooling going in the future? Do you see that our freedoms are in jeopardy at all? Or do you think that we will be able to continue on with our freedom? And how can people make sure that our freedom stays?
Zan: Joe always says, “It’s not that the grass is greener on the other side, it’s the grass is greenest where you water it and fertilize it.” So we shouldn’t ever take our marriages for granted, we should never take our freedom for granted. I know what it’s like to be an innocent person who was threatened legally. I will tell you that is not fun. I never want another mother to go through what we went through. It was horrible. Wandering at night if somebody was going to take my kids, if a neighbor was going to turn us in to the Department of Social Services for something. It was extremely stressful.
So, my love for freedom is very, not guarded, but it’s in the context of knowing we can lose it, and knowing what that feels like. Ronald Reagan said, “It only takes a generation to lose our freedom.” Then there’s the quote, “All we need to lose our freedom is … for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.” So I think it’s very easy to become complacent, when it seems so easy.
But we need to remember we have enemies, whether it’s the National Education Association or the School Administrators Association. There are people out there who think that the fact that we can homeschool our children is the worst thing that has ever happened to the culture. We think it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to the culture.
Yvette: Right, of course, but they want control over our children.
Zan: We were talking earlier today about this, I was speaking at a leadership forum sponsored by Clemson University in South Carolina, but this was the education segment, I was the homeschool spokesman. After it was over, this woman asked me, she said, “Don’t you feel guilty for homeschooling?” I said, “Well, I have felt a lot of emotions over homeschooling, but guilt is not one of them, why?” She said, “Because you’ve robbed the school district of all the money the state would have given them for your children, you’ve robbed the school district of kids who probably would have good test scores, because you’ve also robbed the school district of involved parents, all of these things which we need.”
So I got real quiet, and I said, “Well, who do you think my kids belong to?” Well, she had no answer. So I read her this, this shows what my life was like. I used to travel with this in my purse, I had no idea what I’m going to talk about at this day. So I read her this statement, I’m going to read it to you, just because this is where my life was.
“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize his children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state. Those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
So she looked at me like, “Where did you get that right wing Christian propaganda?” She said, “Where did you get that?” I said, “From the United States Supreme Court, Pierce vs Society of Sisters, 1925.” I remember thinking then here is the problem with our society, nobody knows anymore that children don’t belong to the state. When you have to tell an audience that the child is not the mere creature of the state, and that is news to them, we are in trouble as a culture.
So, we have got to educate people, as to what freedom and liberty is all about, what the constitution is all about, parental rights, and who our kids belong to. That’s very elementary. Socialism and Marxism would have us believe our kids belong to the government.
Yvette: That’s right, that’s right. We have a couple minutes left. In these last few minutes I would love for you to talk about, because I know you’ve been very involved in your state organization. How can people get involved in their own state organization, or in, you know, the United States as a whole, to keep the freedoms that we have for homeschooling? And why do these state organizations even exist?
“The state organizations have done the homeschooling community such a great service in watching each state, legislature by legislature, and knowing where the threats come up. So, I would invite and encourage every homeschooler to join their state group, and their state group will be the legislative watchdog. Then go to your state day at the capitol. Most states have that, some states don’t. Start one if you don’t. I would tell you to get to know your legislator and your state Senator, and that is not hard to do, they want to know you as a constituent.”
Zan: Well, the state organizations have done the homeschooling community such a great service in watching each state, legislature by legislature, and knowing where the threats come up. So, I would invite and encourage every homeschooler to join their state group, and their state group will be the legislative watchdog. Then go to your state day at the capitol. Most states have that, some states don’t. Start one if you don’t. I would tell you to get to know your legislator and your state Senator, and that is not hard to do, they want to know you as a constituent.
Homeschooled kids are the best thing we have going for us, because they’re polite and articulate, and well-educated. It’s like one representative said to me, “Zan, now that I see the artwork, I want to know the artist.” So, we need to do that, we need to take our kids with us to vote, we need to get them involved with pro-life, pro-family candidates. My boys started working campaigns with me when they were little, we would hold out signs in the rain. You know, politics is not glamorous, but it is really necessary.
Then, you know, during the presidential election, every presidential election, we would have a blank map of the states, and we would color a state red if it went to the Republican candidate, blue if it went to the Democrat, and we’d mark in the number of electoral votes. So, explain to your kids the electoral college, there’s a great movement afoot to get rid of it. It would destroy our Republican form of government. So I would just say be involved. If it’s uncomfortable, just decide you’re going to live out of your comfort zone.
Heidi’s podcast is a great podcast. She keeps us up politically with what’s going on, and your state organization will do that. Join HSLDA as well, they’ve been a great safeguard for homeschooling parents.
Yvette: Yeah, absolutely. Yes, you’re right. Heidi St. John, her podcast, the Heidi St. John Podcastis excellent. She often talks about just things that are going on in the culture. I get all my news from her.
Zan, thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done, everything that you and your family have sacrificed for the freedoms that we enjoy today as homeschoolers. You are a homeschool legend, and I am so excited to be sitting here with you. So thank you for your time today.
We are so excited! Today, our family packed up our big ol’ Ford Excursion and headed out across this great land to finish filming Schoolhouse Rocked with Heidi St. John, in Vancouver, Washington.
Please pray for our family and for the film as we travel. We always feel a bit anxious and lose several hours (or days) of sleep as we prepare for these trips, but it is always AMAZING to see how God works while we are out. We are thankful and humbled that He has called us to this, but we also recognize it’s not because we are worthy or qualified, but because HE is. In the end, we will only be able to say, “look what GOD did!”
We promise to post Facebook Live videos and send emails as we travel, to let you know where we are, who we are with, and how God is working. The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast will also continue, uninterrupted. We have some GREAT episodes already recorded and we will be recording a few more on the road. Look forward to interviews with filmmaker and homeschool gradate, Aaron W. Burns, Jamie Erickson, from The Unlikely Homeschool, Leigh Bortins, founder of Classical Conversations, Faith Berens, of HSLDA, listener favorite, Aby Rinella, of His Calling. My Passion, and several more!
Here are a couple of general observations as we leave:
1) I will never play Tetris again. This is what it looks like when you beat the game. ↑↑↑ By the end of this trip I will have packed and unpacked the truck approximately 786 times, and I will have earned (but not received — oh, the injustice!) a doctorate in Physics. If the matter in the truck condenses any further, a black hole will be triggered and the universe will collapse into a singularity.
2) We are thankful for hospitality. It has been a huge blessing to be able to make new friends across the country, as people have opened up their homes to us. I am excited about the new friendships we will make on this trip.
3) Learning doesn’t have to stop when we travel. We will spend hours listening to great books, studying God’s Word together, observing His great creation, studying maps and geography, and visiting important and historic locations. Roadschooling is awesome (and REALLY effective)!
4) God is FAITHFUL! We (that “we” includes you) have prayed that God would guide us through the making of Schoolhouse Rocked. We have prayed that he would provide the cast, the story, even our daily bread. He never fails, and He has shown his faithfulness and power, over and over, in the past few weeks – and in many cases, he has use YOU to answer those prayers. Thank you for praying with us. Thank you for supporting the film. Thank you for standing with us.
We are in this together and can’t wait to update you on God’s amazing provision!
Garritt Hampton, Director
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For those of you who have been keeping up with production on the movie, you know that last month some big decisions were made about the direction we would take in finishing the film. We asked you to pray for the Lord to guide us, and He has! We are SO excited to tell you that in a few weeks, we are driving west from Georgia to Washington to complete the filming of Schoolhouse Rocked with Heidi St. John! Here’s the scoop…
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone. This is Yvette Hampton and I am here with my oldest daughter Brooklyn for this update.
Brooklyn Hampton: Hi, guys.
Yvette: She’s 13. I love having a teenager. It’s so much fun. Most of the time.
Yvette: No, I’m loving it. It is so much fun. So far not at all as scary as I thought it would be. I love being a mom of girls and I love being a mom of a teen. God’s doing great things in her life. Speaking of your life, what are some things that God is doing with our family right now?
Brooklyn: Well, we are going to travel across the country and finish filming the movie with Heidi St. John in Vancouver, Washington. Yeah. It’s very exciting.
Yvette: It’s very exciting. Here’s the update. We are heading to Greenville. We’ll be there for about a week. We’re going to have some meetings with some people there and do a few things there, maybe a little bit of filming, but then we are trekking across the country in our big, blue Excursion and we’re really excited.
Yvette: On the way there we’re going to get to stop and see the Rinella family who we’ve gotten to know pretty well over the last year but we haven’t actually met them in person, right?
Yvette: If you listen to the podcast you’ve heard Aby Rinella for sure on the podcast a few times and so we’re really excited. We’re going to get to meet their family. Then we are going to go all the way to Vancouver, Washington, which is right outside of Portland. We’re going to finish filming the documentary with Heidi St. John. We are super excited about this.
We’ve filmed all of the interviews for the documentary but what we have left to film is the actual storyline that weaves throughout the documentary to pull all of the interviews together. That is going to be myself and Heidi are going to do that together and basically talk as homeschool moms about our journey of homeschooling and all that God has done.
For those of you who don’t know who Heidi is, which most of you do, but for those who don’t she is a homeschool mom of seven kids and she’s got a couple grandkids now but she doesn’t at all look like a grandma.
Yvette: California is home for us, for those who don’t know. We have not actually really been home for the past two and a half years. We went home for a couple of weeks. My mom was really sick and so we went to help take care of her. We haven’t been back there to actually get to spend time with friends and family and so we’re going to go back to do that and finish filming.
Between Vancouver, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and then our treks south from there to California – and in California we will finish filming the whole documentary, which we are really excited about.
Brooklyn: Yes. We are.
Yvette: It’s been a very exciting few years for our family but we are definitely ready to be done with filming and to get this movie out to encourage homeschool families.
Yvette: Here are some things that you can do to help us. We are in need of lots of prayer. There’s just a whole lot that goes into filming a feature length documentary like what we’re doing. God has been so faithful. I mean, do you want to tell some of the stories? I know that’s totally putting you on the spot because we didn’t talk about this beforehand.
Brooklyn: We didn’t.
Yvette: What are just a couple of things that God has done to provide for our family and to just show his power through the whole process of making this movie?
Brooklyn: I mean, there’s so many.
Yvette: I know.
Brooklyn: I honestly don’t know where to start.
Yvette: How about hospitality?
Brooklyn: Hospitality? All right. When we were coming to Georgia to start really editing the movie and all of that we had so many families just offer up their home to us and just welcome us in and be so hospitable and it was a huge blessing.
Yvette: Yeah. We’ve had that happen all across the country really. I mean, it has been absolutely incredible because, as you can imagine, of course, staying in hotel rooms and stuff can get really expensive. We have sometimes reached out and just said, “We’re coming to this particular area. If there’s anybody there who is willing to host our family we’ll be there from these dates …”
Every single time, without fail, God has provided a place for us to stay and then sometimes people just know where we’re going or … Last week, or I guess it was a couple of weeks ago, there was a family who just sent us an email and she said, “We live in the Modesto area in California.” She said, “If you’re coming through this area we would love to host you and have you stay the night at our house.”
These are people that we don’t even know but it’s such a neat way to just see the tangible hand of God working through the body of Christ to support this documentary because we can’t do it on our own. There’s just so much that goes into this. It really is a team effort of the whole homeschool community. That’s been great.
Brooklyn: While you were talking I thought of a story.
Yvette: Oh, tell a story.
Brooklyn: Yes. All right. It was about a year ago and we were going to head to Tennessee. We had nowhere to stay. We were just trusting God to provide a place and this family opened up their barndominium to us. We got to stay there for about five weeks.
Brooklyn: They were just amazing. Yeah.
Yvette: Yes. We didn’t even know until I think it was two weeks before we left for that trip …
Brooklyn: We had been planning this trip for like months ahead of time.
Brooklyn: Like we had this trip, we were going to Tennessee, and we didn’t know where we were staying.
Yvette: We didn’t know but we trusted that because God was leading us there he was going to provide a place for us to stay. Two weeks before we arrived in Tennessee he provided the most amazing place for us to stay on this farm. The White family, is just so incredibly hospitable and gracious. We have been the recipients. That has happened over and over again. The McCosky’s and … I can’t even list all of people because there are so many of them.
Brooklyn: So many.
Yvette: We have literally stayed in many, many houses, which has really stretched our family and our comfort because it’s kind of awkward sometimes, especially in the beginning, to just go stay with people that you don’t know.
Yvette: But we have made friends. We have friends now across the country. Like really good friends.
Brooklyn: Yeah, that we now text with everyday and they just say, “Hey, how’s it going? We’re praying for you.” Those are friends we didn’t even know before.
Yvette: Right. We are learning that where God guides he provides. Our pastor gave a sermon on that years ago, before we left California. This was probably just a few weeks before we left. I remember him giving a sermon and he said, “Where God guides, he provides. That really stuck with Garritt and I. We were like, “Okay, God is guiding us on this trip. He’s guiding us to make this movie. He is going to provide everything that we need” and he has unmistakably and miraculously provided for us in ways … The boxes.
Brooklyn: The boxes. Yes.
Yvette: Do you want to tell the story about the boxes?
Brooklyn: I was going to tell the story but I didn’t know if you were going to go into that whole thing.
Yvette: No. Tell the story of the boxes.
Brooklyn: Yes. Okay. We recently sold our trailer and we are heading across the country, as you guys already know. We just needed totes.
Yvette: Those plastic Rubbermaid tote boxes.
Brooklyn: Earlier that day we had gone to Sam’s Club and we saw these … I don’t even know how much they were like.
Yvette: I think they were like $8 a piece.
Brooklyn: $8. They were like top quality totes. We put them in the cart. We just were walking through and my dad was like, “I don’t think we should buy these right now.” We put them back. We had two of them. I don’t know if I mentioned that.
Yvette: We had two of them. That we needed.
Brooklyn: That we needed. We really did need them. Later that day … Oh my gosh. Later that day we went to my grandpa’s house and we were unloading some stuff and loading up some stuff.
Yvette: To store at his house.
Brooklyn: Yeah. He said, “Hey, I have two totes. Would you guys possibly be interested?” We were like, “Two totes? What?”
Yvette: Yeah. I mean, it was just amazing because it seems like such a small thing but it was one of those moments where I realized once again that God cares even about the little things. He provides for us in amazing ways. He provides for us even in the little things. He provides for us in big ways but he knows when we need plastic boxes and he provides those for us as well. He is a faithful, faithful God.
Just as we have gone to Tennessee and God provided a place for us we’re now trucking across the country to finish filming with Heidi. Heidi is excited about it. We are super excited about it. We know absolutely that this is God’s plan for finishing the story of Schoolhouse Rocked. We have prayed a lot about it. We’ve sought wise counsel. This is just absolutely the direction God is leading us.
It costs a whole lot of money to do this. We’ve got to hire a crew of people to help us finish filming. We’re going to be filming for probably five solid film days with Heidi but we’ll be filming for probably about 10 to 12 days in Vancouver and Portland area and then a few more days in California.
Yvette: It costs a lot of money to do that. We would love your help. We don’t very often ask for this. We would love it if you guys would be willing to come alongside of us and just help support us financially so that we can get to Washington, hire the crew that we need to finish filming, get the movie done, and then we can move into post-production.
We’re looking at some investors, talking to a couple of investors, but those people will come in for the post-production part to fund that part of it because that’s a big huge chunk of money.
If you would be willing to just pray about it and just see if the Lord might put it on your heart to help support the rest of filming for the movie so that we can get this part of it done and then move into post-production. We would love that.
Brooklyn: That’d be a huge blessing.
Yvette: That would be a huge blessing. We know God is going to provide. He provides miraculously. I mean, again, we have so many stories of what he’s done and how he has provided. Where can people go to find out more about helping with Schoolhouse Rocked? Schoolhouse Rocked dot com.
Brooklyn: Schoolhouse Rocked dot com. She totally likes those lines.
Yvette: I did. Though, you would have known that if I hadn’t said that, right? Would you have known to say that?
Yvette: Go to Schoolhouse Rocked dot com. Right on the front page you’ll see a button that says support … I think it says support.
It’s not for our recognition or our glory but it’s really to change the hearts of parents and call people to bring their kids out of the public school system, out of private schools, if that’s where they’re called to, and bring them home and disciple their children. Homeschooling is a blessing.
Brooklyn: It is.
Yvette: It’s fun. Do you enjoy being homeschooled?
Brooklyn: I love being homeschooled. I love being homeschooled.
Yvette: I didn’t pay you to say that either.
Brooklyn: No. She didn’t. I really genuinely love being homeschooled. Real fast, while you were saying the support thing, the other thing you can do to support is send us emails. Send us encouraging emails. That really helps keep us going.
Brooklyn: It’s like send us texts, send us emails. Those are really a blessing. I don’t think people know how much of a blessing that is to us. That really lifts our spirits and it helps us keep going.
Yvette: Yes. Well said, Brooklyn. That is true. People will randomly just send messages either on Facebook or email or sometimes they’ll leave reviews for the podcast.
Brooklyn: Do that too.
Yvette: Do that too. Yes, that is an easy way that you can just let us know that you’re praying for us, that you’re standing with us. Sometimes people can’t afford to support us financially but you can certainly afford to support us through prayer. We would love that. Thank you for saying that.
Brooklyn: You’re welcome.
Yvette: I appreciate that. Yeah. That’s where we’re at. Keep up with us this summer. If you are on our Facebook page it’s The Schoolhouse Rocked Facebook page. You can keep up with us there and we’ll keep up to date on where we are and what we’re doing. We’ll be doing Facebook Lives, especially while we’re filming because that’s just fun.
Brooklyn: Oh, yeah.
Yvette: We’ll give you updates on what God is doing and how he’s providing. If you would like to just be part of that we would love to have you on our team and just have you to be part of the Schoolhouse Rocked crew by being some of the prayer and financial backing that we need.
Thank you, guys, for listening and if you’re watching this on video thank you for watching. We are praying for you guys. We pray all the time that the Lord would use this movie to be a blessing to you and that it would just honor him and serve his kingdom well.
We love you guys. Thank you for your support. Thank you, Brooklyn, for being my guest today.
Brooklyn: I kind of asked for this.
Yvette: You did ask for it. She keeps asking if she can record something with me.
Brooklyn: Yeah. Be on the podcast.
Yvette: Be on the podcast. Here you have it.
Yvette: I’m glad that we get to do this together.
Brooklyn: Me too.
Yvette: All right, you guys. Have a great day. Bye.
“The mission of Schoolhouse Rocked is to encourage and equip homeschool families to start strong and finish well. And so everything we’ve done has been guided by that goal. Our primary goal is to glorify God in all we do, but we want to do that by building up homeschool families. We know that it can be difficult, but it’s super rewarding. So we want to be a part of the process of making homeschooling great for your family. That’s what we’re doing with the film. That’s what we’re doing with the podcast.” – Garritt Hampton
Yvette Hampton: Welcome to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I’m Yvette Hampton, producer and host of the upcoming documentary Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution. On this podcast we bring you the very best from today’s homeschool leaders to help you start strong and finish well. This podcast is for you. If you have a guest or topic suggestion, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are so excited to have you here. This is the first official episode of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast and I have an amazing guest with me today. I can say hands down that my guest today is my absolute favorite guests that I have had on and that I will ever have on the podcast. My guest today is Garritt Hampton, director of Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution and he also happens to be my wonderful, faithful, loving husband of 23 years, and the father of my two amazing, beautiful daughters.
Garritt Hampton: Proudly.
Yvette: Welcome to the podcast.
Garritt Hampton: Thank you. It’s exciting to be here. Yeah, I’m really excited about this podcast. We’ve been talking about doing this for over a year and kind of, it’s been kind of in the back of our planning process as we’ve been working on so many other different things. And you know, God’s just put us in a great position where over the past two years as we’ve been recording for the movie and filming, we have had a chance to meet so many amazing people and it just made sense to be able to reach out to those people again and say, Hey, will you be part of the podcast? And so, we’re excited to do that. I mean, do you want to tell them what the purpose of the podcast?
Garritt Hampton: Well, the purpose of the podcast is very much the same as the purpose of Schoolhouse Rocked, the movie, which is to encourage and equip homeschool families. We set out when we, when we started production, when we started pre-production, one of the first things we did was write out our mission statement. And it’s very simple. The mission of Schoolhouse Rocked is to encourage and equip homeschool families to start strong and finish well. And so, everything we’ve done has been guided by that goal. Our primary goal is to glorify God in all we do, but we want to do that by building up homeschool families. We know that it can be difficult, but it’s super rewarding. So, we want to be a part of the process of making homeschooling great for your family. That’s what we’re doing with the film. That’s what we’re doing with the podcast.
Yvette: Yeah. So maybe we could give him a little bit of an idea of kind of where this podcast is going. We have actually, this is podcast number one, but we have actually recorded five already and we have several more already scheduled to record. So, I’m really, really excited about who, who we have. so far have recorded interviews with, Israel, Wayne, Ginger Hubbard, Connie Alberts, Carol Swain, and Scott Lob here.
Garritt: All of them. Excellent. I’ve, I’ve heard them also.
Yvette: all of them. Excellent. And all of them. Part of the cast. Right. And then we’ve got Pam Barnhill coming up. We’ve got Dr. Christopher Perrin, we have Andrew Kern and we have several others that were still actually just trying to work out dates with, but it’s actually not going to be all the expert types as people would know. It will also be regular just homeschool moms like me who are just in the thick of it right now who are working through this great thing that we call homeschooling. And um, and so we have several moms who just have different stories maybe. I know we’ve got one mom who’s going to be on, and she dealt with cancer a few years ago and so she’s got just a great testimony about her journey of dealing with cancer and homeschooling at the same time and how God brought her and her family through that. We’ve got calling Kessler. We’ll be on talking about kids who are twice exceptional and gifted. And we, we’ve got just a great lineup of people who will be on the podcast and just some great moms and dads who will come on and just share their experiences and wisdom so that we can encourage and equip people to be able to homeschool. So, we’re very excited about that.
Garritt: Now can I ask you a question about that? Sure. You say moms and Dads, and already we’ve recorded five episodes and two of them have been homeschooled dads. How does listening to homeschool dads build up encourage quip homeschool moms?
Yvette: Well, I actually, my hope and prayer is that with the podcast that it won’t be a podcast that just moms will listen to. I’m really hoping that with the dads who will be on that they will be able to encourage the other dads because dads have such a very important role in homeschooling. And we actually talk a lot about that in the movie. And we’ll talk about the movie in a few minutes. But in the movie, we talk a lot about the important role of dads to lead their families to encourage and support their wives and how they can do that. And so that if anyone ever asked me what my favorite part of the movie is done, hands down my, my absolute favorite part because I think many dads don’t realize how, just how important that is in their day to day family life and how much their wives need. That.
Garritt: It’s definitely been a fun part. Um, as we’ve interviewed just great Christian men who are leading their families well and going through this journey and being spiritual leaders, we’ve always taken a minute to step out of the homeschool part of the movie and just ask them what it’s like to be the spiritual leader in their home. How do they do that? What does it look like? What are they trying to get? Um, get into their kids and get out of the, out from their kids. And it’s always been a huge encouragement. We’ve had some great discussions and I will tell you there may be another movie in that. Um, we have not talked about this, but there’s so much good stuff there. You will see it on the backstage past site for sure. Um, but there may be something else in the works.
Yvette: Yeah, I think so too. Um, I want to back up a little bit and talk a little bit about Schoolhouse Rocked too because some people listening to this podcast may not know that Schoolhouse Rocked is actually a movie. It’s a full-length movie that we are currently in production on. And so, let’s, let’s tell them a little bit about the movie, kind of our story, what we’ve done and how we’ve come to this place of doing this podcast. Do you want to go?
Garritt: I think you’re wanting me to go there.
Well, I kind of want to start from the, not the very beginning of time, but um, start a little bit.
Garritt: God created the heavens and the air. Yes, he did. The earth was without form and void in the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the year 2016. That’s a big jump. And that is a big jam. K 2016. So, we’ll go back to the very inception of the movie. I was teaching film at a private school in Lancaster, California. And in that year, I got asked to help out with a student film. Um, the crew, the girl doing the film was a friend of a teacher that I was working with and it was a short film on homeschooling that really was the beginning of this project. And I saw the short film that she did and thought, wow, what a great opportunity to just build up homeschooling families to show that homeschooling is a great option for families and really to legitimize the movement. And so, but this film was short. It was seven minutes long, I think. And even in that seven minutes, it was really powerful. So, I actually asked her if she wanted to do a feature and she said no, she was done with that project. So, I said, you know, that would be an awesome movie. And we started thinking about it at that point. Um,
Yvette: and I think you should mention previous to that, you had worked in the Hollywood film industry for many years, right? That was part of your background and then you’d worked in the music industry before that.
Garritt: Right. My, my background is really entertainment. Um, and I’ve had a varied background, but the, the last 10 years I’ve really spent doing movies and prior to that I had done music. Um, and so it wasn’t like I was just jumping into this movie thing cause a man, it would be a hard thing to jump into. But I had taken a year where I was teaching film at a school really because the movie industry had just become such a crazy mass for our family. I was, there was a lot of travel, a lot of time away from the girls in it. It needed to slow down a little bit. So, I had an awesome opportunity to teach film to junior high and high school students for a year. And it was a great time. Um, but it was also only a year. And so, we knew something was coming after that year. We knew we’d have to make a decision about where we’d be because it was going to end.
Yvette: Can I interject here in, in, on, on my end of it I was the homeschool mom. I was the homeschool mom who said I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever homeschooled my kids. We said that for many years. We had been married for about 11 years before we had our first child. And so, for this whole 11 years, we were adamant about it. We said we would never homeschool. And the reason for that was because we had so many misconceptions about homeschooling and what it was and all the negative stereotypes of, you know, what, how we saw homeschooling as kids because it was very different when we were growing up in the eighties and nineties
Garritt: yeah. It was different and we just didn’t get it too.
Yvette: Right, right. It’s not, it wasn’t bad. We just didn’t get it. That’s exactly right. Yeah.
Garritt: Right. It has changed though. It’s ironic because even, even though it was different, we still just didn’t get it and it was still a great movement, but we just saw all the negative things that people from the outside see. So, we really, I mean, we were, we had so many discussions about this saying how we would never homeschool our kids and so we didn’t want them to be socially awkward. Yes. The obnoxious. How will you socialize your kids? Argument came out of our mouth as many times and we’re ashamed of it.
Yvette: Well, I wouldn’t say that we’re ashamed of it. I’m actually glad that we were on that side of the fence because I think it has given us, I mentioned better understanding of people now who are on that side of the fence that they just simply don’t get it, which is why we’re making this movie.
Garritt: Yeah, absolutely. We wanted to answer so many of those questions because we had all those questions and when, when it came time to decide what we were going to do with our daughter for school, we had to work through all those issues. And it was by God’s grace that he changed our hearts about homeschooling. Um, I’m sure we could get into that, but it might take the whole show. But God changed our hearts. But to do that, he had a breakdown, a lot of misconceptions in our minds. And so, part of the reason we’re making this movie is so that we can show what homeschooling really looks like and that so many of those things aren’t true. And homeschooling can be really, really good for your family.
Yvette: So, yeah. Yeah. I agree. Okay. So, so we started our, we, I guess you stopped at that you were teaching film at a private school. And this was in, this was into the summer of 2016 so two years ago,
Garritt: right. So, two years ago, I knew that my time at the school was going to end at the end of the school year, and we didn’t know quite what we were going to do. And yet we had felt God just prompting us to make this movie. And it was in little ways. He never spoke from heaven. We never heard the audible voice of God. I wish we would have. Right. Maybe it would have been, it would’ve been helpful, but we were also feeling that it was time to get out of California. Um, for many reasons. We Love California. Our family is, there are churches there, our friends are there. Um, but we were feeling like it may be time to leave. And so the, the break from the school job and the, and what I was doing was a good opportunity to determine if it was time to go which over the, over the months as I, as it lead up to the end of the school year, God just made it more and more clear that it was time to leave and that it was a good idea to do this film.
Um, and he would just confirm it in great ways. It’s funny, this weekend actually, we, we got to see some friends and it was great just seeing friends from California and getting that fellowship, but I was reminded of how God confirmed things for us. One day after church, we went out to lunch with some friends who we loved, some friends for our homes from our homeschool co-op and they had another friend with them who we didn’t know. And we were just at the point where we were ready to tell people we were going to do this crazy thing, which was make a movie. And we’re sitting at lunch and, and you know, somebody asked, so what are you guys going to do? And I said, well, we’re, we’re going to make a homeschool movie. We didn’t have a title for the, for it at this point.
We didn’t even really know what it was going to look like. But we said, we’re going to show homeschooling. Like it really is. We’re going to show that it’s a great option for families and we’re really excited about it. I think that’s about all we knew. Right. And the friend who we didn’t know at the table said, “Oh man, you’ve got to meet our friend Scott LaPierre.” And we said, okay, great. Tell us about Scott. And they, you know, told us about Scott, you’re going to get to meet Scott in an upcoming episode. We have already recorded his episode and it’s fantastic. But within a few weeks of that meeting, we were on a plane up to woodland Washington to meet Scott and Katie, his wife and to interview him and several people from his church. We actually ended up doing a day in Portland where we did street interviews and then all day at a church from, well just after lunch because we did go to church in the morning.
We had lunch with the congregation and then started recording interviews and we got done at like as like 10 or 11 o’clock at night. It was a long day, but we had great stuff in the movie, was off to a great start. So, God just kept confirming in such interesting ways and definitely made it clear that we were supposed to do that. So, we set off on this journey. Long Story Short we sold everything we had. We sold our house, we sold our cars, we sold our furniture, we sold everything and bought a travel trailer and a truck and headed off across the country to make this move knowing where we were going. Right. We
Yvette: literally go, we, we knew that we were just going to head to Georgia because we had family in Georgia. And so, we said, well, well we’ll head there because it was December. We left on December 16th. And we said, we just need to make it to Georgia by Christmas. Cause we had promised the girls that we would be with family on Christmas Day.
Garritt: And so, we drove away from California really not knowing what God had in store. And up until that point, we had recorded interviews on three different sub sessions, three different occasions. We had done the interviews in Washington and Oregon, which were great. We had done a day of interviewing at our Classical Conversations group, which was really fun. And then we had interviewed Andrew Poodle. Ah.
Yvette: Oh, that was, that was a neat story too. You want me to tell that one? Sure. Yeah. Okay. So that was really cool. We had kind of made our list of people that we are wanting to kind of start the movie with. And Andrew Pudewa was one at the very top of that list. And so, we, we worked for melting. We were doing IEW curriculum with our daughter and stuff. And so, I was very familiar with him and I thought, you know, he would just be great. He’s just got such a great personality and hang, there’d be a great one to start with. And so Garritt sent him an email I think, and just said, hey, we’re making this movie again. I don’t think at the time we even had a title yet for the movie. And we said, we’re filming this documentary on homeschooling.
We would love to have you be part of it. And our thought was, we’re going to be traveling across the country from west coast to east coast and we can just kind of hit, oh, we knew he was in Oklahoma. We can hit Oklahoma on the way if we need to and interview him. We would be willing to do that. And so, you sent him an email, Garritt, and he responded within like a few hours and he said, yes, I’d love to be part of this documentary. You know, how do we work out the details of it? And, and then anyway, long story short, it turned out that he was heading out to California. He was going to be just a couple of hours from where we, where we lived and he said, I’ll, I’ll be happy to come to you because he was going out there to visit his family and it was going to be a personal trip.
And I remember he said, if I go out there and we filmed this and it can turn my personal trip into a business trip and I can write it off, you’re like, you’re welcome. And he was so gracious. He actually drove I think about two hours to where we actually were. And he spent the day with us. We got to interview him, we got to take him out to dinner that night and just got to spend some great time getting to know him. And, and he said, you know, here’s all the, a list of people that you, you know, you should get in this movie and if you have any problems getting in touch with them, let me know, I’d be happy to help you. And he was just so gracious and his name alone really, really kind of brought, you know, credibility. Right. Credibility. That’s the word I’m thinking of to the movie because as soon as we said to so many people, oh, you know, we’ve interviewed Andrew Pudewa while they would say, Oh, we love Andrew, he’s wonderful and well if he’s in it, it must be a real movie. And um, and it was just so great. And so that got the whole thing rolling and God just opened up that great door and we were able to connect with so many people because of that. And that was nothing but God’s doing.
Garritt: Yeah. And that was how he worked and has worked since. Um, we had also done Master’s College too. Oh yes. We knew that we were, we were going to need the college perspective for the movie. And so, one day we got to drive down to master’s college and we had done some others at the house where we did Andrew put a while, but we didn’t have much of an idea still what we were doing and we headed out across the country. And how long have we filmed? I mean we, we filmed for about a year and a half.
Yvette: Well, it’s been almost two because I think our very, very first interviews that we did, we’re in August. Right. I want to say they were in August because it was when we were still on our house. Sure. The test was in August, right. August, September. So, but, but our first interviews that we did, official interviews were in December of 2016 so, right. So, it’s been little more than a year and a half since we filmed those first interviews.
Garritt: Yeah. And it’s been great. God has provided the, just the best people. Um, we, we go into every interview not really knowing what to expect and event has kind of some questions in line just to get things started and make sure the interview moves in a certain direction. But it always goes somewhere better. I think in every case. And we’ll be, we’ll be watching together as the interviews going on and thinking about how interviews will work together with others that we’ve done in the past. And it is just such a friend. Fun Process. We finished interviewing
Yvette: in Nashville, right. And Nashville, which was just a few months ago in March of 2018 and over the past year and a half or so we’ve traveled ally, we’ve been to, I think we’ve traveled to, I think we filmed in 20 states. Have we, something like that. Yeah, it’s been a lot. Um, or at least had that many states represented cause some people have come from other states and, but we’ve taught, we’ve, I think we have traveled to about 20 different states and it’s been so great just to get her perspective of homeschooling across the country. And part of it has been that people have just opened up their homes to, as we’ve traveled and said, hey, you know, come stay with us. We have made friends. I mean across the whole country; it has been the most amazing thing. You know, we were kind of part of our little bubble in California, which we love.
We love our California bubble; we love our friends and family there. And it was really hard to move out outside of that. But it has been such a blessing meeting people in all different parts of the country and getting to see all these different parts of the country and interviewing. So, it’s not like we just stayed in one place and got just, okay. Here’s perspective of people homeschooling in California. I mean we have people from New York, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, California, of course, Alabama, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio. I mean a lot. And it’s been a really exciting to see and it’s been neat to see the homeschool community just rally around us and come together and really people, people are people. And there is just a real great community of people in the homeschool movement who love each other and work together. And you know,
Garritt: and we found so many similarities too. You would think that things would be different, and they are different from community to community. But really the homeschool community is very similar. I’m very, very open, very family oriented of course, because it’s, it’s really a movement of families. Um, and we have been so blessed by getting to know them. I, I, yeah. It’s,
Yvette: and the struggles are all the same for everybody. You know, it seems like every mom we talk to has, you know, more or less the same fears about, you know, am I doing it right? Am I messing up my kids? Am I teaching them enough? Um, you know, am I making it fun? Am I doing this the right way? And so, it’s been neat to just be able to just come alongside those people and say, you’re the same as everyone else. We all are in that same boat. And then you have those older moms like Doretta Wilson and Heidi St John and Connie Alberts who have been through it. They’ve done it. They’ve graduated their kids and their kids are thriving as adults. And those are the moms and dads who are coming alongside Zane. You’re doing a great job. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Garritt: What a great encouragement they are to them.
Yvette: It really has been. It has been. Yeah.
Garritt: One of my favorite things we’ve done to, I don’t mean to keep going on this, but I was thinking about as you say, Heidi and Connie and these people is um, it’s been a blessing to be at homeschool conventions where these people speak because you see the homeschool community come together and there’s nothing more encouraging than being in a room with 4,000 homeschool families and all knowing that everyone is going through basically the same things and dealing with similar issues. But having these people on stage say, you’re okay. This is what you need to do to move forward. And it’s going to be all right. Your kids are going to be great. We have been blessed. We’ve been able to be at several conventions across the country. And to me, I always leave energized. I leave energized as a homeschool dad, as a husband, you know, encouraged to do my job.
I leave energized as a filmmaker because I know that that stuff is just so impactful and we’re going to be able to incorporate that into the film, but so much more highly selfishly encouraged. Um, it really is a blessing. The other thing that’s a blessing is seeing how many families are together at these things. Homeschooling. Um, it, it’s always encouraging to me to see the movement of families who are intentional about raising their kids up in the right way. Um, we believe that that right way is in the, in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And you see so many families together walking hand in hand through these conventions who are all walking in the same direction. It really is. It’s encouraging.
Yvette: It is. And you know, as you were talking about conventions, one of the things that we have realized is that almost across the board, every curriculum company that’s out there, I won’t say every single one, but most of them were homeschooled families who saw a need and met that need and they created their curriculum, Classical Conversations, apology, a not cross history. Um, I just, I mean there are so, so many of them that are, we’re just, there are families that, you know, mom or dad saw a need and just said, hey, you know, let’s create this curriculum. Oftentimes it was for their own kids and then it just turned into something bigger. And so, most of the curriculum you see out there nowadays is created by homeschool families and often still being run by those families themselves. Right. Which is really exciting because actually in the movie we talk a lot about family business and entrepreneurship and things like that.
And so that plays perfectly into homeschooling. And how and why homeschooling is so powerful for families because it allows families to be together and work together and learn together and teaches kids work ethic. And you know, our girls work with us. That’s been a really exciting part of filming this movie is that we, you know, we went from gear up being gone pretty much all the time when he was working in, in the Hollywood film industry. He was just, I mean, he’d be gone for days at a time and it was really hard on our family and now we’re together 24 hours a day, seven days a week and, and we love it. And you know, sometimes we need to get out and breathe a little bit, but we really enjoy being together and, and it has brought such a different element to our family and to our girls lives that they get to be part of this amazing thing that God has called us to, of making this documentary.
Garritt: Yeah. So back to the podcast, we, we have been talking about this for a year and we’re, we try to keep them around 30 minutes. So, we’re at 26 minutes right now and I want to get back to what people can expect. But one of the reasons we did the podcast was because we had such a wealth of great stuff to share with people. When you make a movie like ours, you go out and you film a lot of stuff and it can’t all make it into the movie. And we didn’t want to just let it down and go into a hole and disappear. We wanted to really build up homeschool families. So, an outgrowth of that was the podcast because we had forged relationships with great people who just had so much good wisdom to share. So, we wanted to bring those to you. Um, another aspect of that though is that we went out to our news newsletter subscribers early on and said, what do you want to hear in the podcast? What can we answer for you? And we’ve already started answering some of those questions you’ve had, do you want to share some of those?
Yvette: That was so much fun. We, we didn’t know how many responses we would get from that. And we got well over 80 responses and they were such good suggestions for topics and guests to have on. I mean the interesting thing is so many people asked the same questions in different ways. A lot of people are, you know, just wanting to know how I balance my homeschool day or how do I balance my homeschool day with little ones. You know, I’ve got an infant and a two-year-old who are running around like crazy and I’m trying to homeschool my seven and nine-year-old or you know, whatever your family dynamics still look like. And so, we have Pam Barnhill is going to be on, she’s going to talk a little bit about some of that stuff and um, we’ve got some other guests actually that are coming on as well that will help address some of these questions.
We have people who’ve asked about children with learning disabilities and how you homeschooled those kids. And so, we’ve got people who are going to come on and talk about that. We’ve got a, one of the questions we were asked, which Scott Lob here does such a beautiful job of answering is what do, what do your moms do when their husbands are not on board with homeschooling? And so, I talked with Scott about that and he just, he addresses it so perfectly and biblically and I’m just gives a great answer to that question. And um, you know, how do I make homeschool fun? So, Trish Corlew from hip homeschool moms is going to come on and talk about how to make homeschool fun. She’s a fun one. She is really fun because it doesn’t have to it, you know, the thing that we’ve realized is that with homeschooling, so many moms think that when you homeschool, you have in your brain the school room as we know in, into your home.
And it’s really hard to replicate what school looks like at a traditional school. And that’s not what homeschooling is. And so, we can encouragement from moms again, you know like Durenda Wilson who’ve been through it and who, who have walked that road and can give encouragement of just relax, just relaxed and have fun with your kids. I’m gender hybrid, talks about parenting. We had some questions about parenting and how do you deal with discipline issues because obviously that’s part of homeschool and that’s part of raising our kids. So Ginger Hubbard addresses that beautifully and she talks about just training the hearts of your children. And so many of these questions are getting answered and then we had a whole list of guest suggestions and we’ve already been able to connect with some of those people and they’ve agreed to come on the show. And some of them we’ve actually already recorded podcast interviews with. So that’s been really exciting.
Garritt: I see a couple here that are really fun to me and they’re the one-word ones. We have one, somebody just said encouragement. And I would really honestly say that as the heart of what we do is encourage homeschool families. We want to equip you by giving you great resources and great, you know, pouring wisdom into you and instructing you. But really, we want to build you up and encourage you so that you can make it through. So, we will do that in spades. That is our highest goal. The other one is road schooling. And on our journey, we’ve gotten to try that out and we have now almost a year and a half, well actually a more than a year and a half of roadschooling under our belt. So, we’ll get to that. Um, maybe we can have on another guest who’s done it and talk about the joys of traveling.
It’s awesome that homeschooling allows you the freedom to get out and travel and you can still do school on the road. So, it’s fine. We get to say that our girls get to actually drive the map and said, I just look at it on a piece of paper. And so that’s been a big blasting. So, we’re almost to 30 minutes and I want to tie up this episode, but really quickly I want to talk about the two other things that we have that we can offer to people, which is the website and then our backstage pass membership site. Cause those are great resources as well. Um, the websites – go to SchoolhouseRocked.com. We have some guest bloggers who are just wonderful and they, they post such encouraging things and all kinds of different topics that you can find on there. So, you can find guest blog posts on there and we actually will have a whole lot of more guest posts coming up in the near future.
There’s already a wealth on there though. There’s stuff on special needs. Homeschooling was special needs or stuff on family business. Um, there’s just general encouragement for homeschooling. It’s a wealth of information. Then the backstage past membership. Um, the backstage pass site is where you get an inside look at the making of the movie and you get the value of all this video that we’ve done. We’re going to release basically everything over time. Um, in addition to the movie, you’re going to see the uncut interviews with our guests and you’ll find that at the backstage pass site there’s a free subscription that gets you access to clips that you can search by topic and, and they’re going to answer your questions and build you up quick. But if you really want to dig down deep, we have a paid membership and it’s the Co cost of a cup of coffee, coffee a month for four 99 a month you can get access to complete interviews and there’s already several hours up there. We have a Heidi St John, Sarah McKinsey and her, Andrew Kern, Connie Albers is up there. Josh Tolley. His is amazing. That was Brooklyn’s favorite. Do we have Sam up yet?
Garritt: Her whole interview isn’t up yet, but there’s a few minutes there and it’s great. And I want to just elaborate a little bit on what that is. So, as we’ve filmed interviews for the movie, each interview has been, I mean I would say the average time that it taken for an interview is probably close to an hour and we have a ton of them. I mean our cast list is, is massive. If you go on the website, you can actually see who several of our cast members are and then families as well. And so obviously, you know, we can’t put an hour of Heidi St John in the movie because that would take up, it would be a good movie, it would be fantastic. But we’ve got so much great content in, so, you know, we can’t, we want to do something with the remainder of the footage that’s not going to make it into the movie.
That’s just so powerful that we really want people to be encouraged by it. And so, well that’s what’s going to be on the backstage pass membership site is you’ll get some behind the scenes stuff and then you’ll also get the full exclusive interviews from the cast members and you get to see us record this podcast live in color.
Garritt: Just to go on that for just one more second. Our first big interview, like we said was Andrew Pudewa and his interview was almost two hours long and there’s not one minute that’s not excellent. I don’t know how I’m going to cut that interview. It was so good. We were sitting there just dying because it was two hours of great stuff. So that’s coming to the Backstage Pass site, and just so much more if you want to be built up, if you want to be encouraged and equipped check out Members.SchoolhouseRocked.com and it’s a great way to support the movie.
Yvette: All of the paid memberships that come in actually goes to support production out of Schoolhouse Rocked. And so that’s a great way to support the movie and get something for yourself in return. Yep, absolutely. Why support the movie? Well we, we actually, right now the plan is that the movie is going to be in theaters and early summer of 2019, but we have a huge budget that we still need to meet in order to get it in theaters by next year. Um, we’re working with fathom events, which some of you may be familiar with them. They’re the company that does a lot of Kirk Cameron’s documentaries and, and live events and stuff like that. And so as of now, the plan is that the movie will be in theaters across the country, probably 850 plus theaters. And we’re really excited about that, but that is going to take an army of people to get it done. We have to hire, and we’ve already had to have all these people in place, but we have to pay for a composer and a colorist and a second editor. And I mean there’s just an, a marketing angel in a marketing budget, right? The marketing budget is huge. And so, we need to raise the rest of our budget to get it in theaters. And it’s a whole lot of money. And so, every year
Garritt: thing that, you know, whenever people pay for the backstage pass membership, that goes to help support that, right? Yeah. Every, every membership goes straight to production on the movie. And you can also donate to support. If you believe in what we’re doing, come beside us and help make a movie. You will be doing a great thing. Um, and you will be building up the homeschool community just like you’ve been built up.
Thank you so much for listening today. We are very excited to be here with you. We hope that it’s been an encouragement to you and we really hope that this podcast will encourage and equip you in many, many ways on this homeschool journey for great homeschooling videos, articles, giveaways, and more. Check out Members.SchoolhouseRocked.com and use the coupon code “PODCAST10” to save 10% on any paid Backstage Pass membership backstage pass members get exclusive access to full interviews from the cast of Schoolhouse Rocked and so much more. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and leave a review. Until next time. I’m Yvette Hampton. Wish she knew the joys of community and the wisdom to teach and learn.
Lately, it seems like all of my effort is going into just keeping up, and quite honestly it can be exhausting! I am relieved to know that this is just a season, and that we are working toward a big goal for God’s glory – and I am constantly encouraged by the wonderful support and encouragement we receive from you – our amazing tribe of fellow homeschoolers, prayer partners, Facebook commenters, subscribers, donors and Backstage Pass members, video viewers, podcast listeners, and patient waiters for the film (keep reading to find out what’s going on with production).
We really believe that God is doing great things through Schoolhouse Rocked, and we really believe in this whole homeschooling thing. We see God using homeschooling to build up families and to prepare the next generation of leaders to reclaim culture for TRUTH. We are totally committed to what we know God has called us to – to making this big ‘ole crazy homeschooling documentary and to creating and gathering resources to encourage and equip families to homeschool with excellence, to the end, and not lose their minds doing it, all for His glory!
So what’s up with the film?
It seems like every newsletter I send, I get emails from people wondering where the film is, with really good cause. I have been too slow in sending actual production updates! Here’s the (really short) story. Much has been done, but there is still much to do. We have finished filming all of the primary content for the film, and we have been blessed with a ton of great interviews! Next comes editing all this great content into a film – a single cohesive, engaging, beautiful story of what makes homeschooling great and why we, and around 2.3 million other families in the U.S. do it.
In the mean time, we have also worked to give these homeschooling families the tools and encouragement they need to keep going, and to give new families the gentle push they need to get started. We have been blessed with a team of great homeschool bloggers, who are writing excellent, super-practical, uber-encourgaging, another-great-adjective-inspiring, and shortish articles (the perfect length for the busy homeschool mom – unlike my super-wordy newsletters). We have put literally hours of great homeschooling videos on the Schoolhouse Rocked Backstage Pass site and we just launched the weekly, 30-minute Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast (again, just the right length, according to an expert panel of busy homeschool moms).
Upon filming our last interview in May-ish, we shifted gears to fundraising and post-production (with a heavy emphasis on fundraising). You see, to finish the film and get it in theaters we still need to raise a pretty big chunk of change. You can see the budget here. Production on Schoolhouse Rocked has been funded through a few different sources – corporate sponsors, donors, premium content memberships – and coming soon, a gigantic crowdfunding campaign. We hope to launch the crowdfunding campaign September 10th, and will be trying to raise all of the money we need to finish post-production (editing, sound, music, etc.). This is going to to require the help of a big part of the homeschooling community.
To that end, we have been gathering a group of awesome marketing partners to help get the word out. God has blessed us with an amazing group of like-minded companies, bloggers, podcasters, authors, speakers, and homeschool boosters to help us reach the big goal of funding the rest of the production through this campaign. Check out a few of our marketing partners here, and head over to their websites to say thanks. They really are awesome!