By Sandra Zunino
When friends and fellow homeschoolers Rebecca Smith and Cheryl Hoffman saw so many local homeschool families searching for a Christian education service and finding they would need to travel across the bridge to get one, the two women decided to bridge the gap and collaborate on Bridges Christian Tutorial.
Rebecca and Cheryl, took their homeschool knowledge and their years of experience from running Tall Oaks, a homeschool co-op that serviced area families for seven years, and launched Bridges. “Seeing that fellow Eastern Shore homeschoolers and those desiring private schooling at an affordable cost in our current economy were traveling across the bridge, we felt the lead to bridge the gap for those endeavoring a righteous, Christian education at an affordable price.”
Bridges is a non-denominational middle and high school Christian tutorial service for homeschooled students and their parents. The goal is to enhance and extend the home school experience by promoting spiritual, emotional and social growth as well as academic progress. “Feeling the Lord leading us in a direction that would offer an opportunity to answer the call for an education to glorify Him, we knew there was a need for Bridges. With nothing like it on the Shore, it was in our hearts from the beginning to create this tutorial as a service to God and other homeschoolers in the area,” says Rebecca.
Held at Centreville Community Church, core classes and electives are offered two days per week including courses that are best taught in group settings or require special equipment or knowledge. Class sizes maintain a maximum well below the state standard for optimal student-teacher interaction. Parents, however, are still responsible for overseeing their children’s progress in all subjects and in meeting state and county requirements.
This year, Bridges is expanding from one-and-a-half days of all middle school classes to two full days including complete middle school and high school programs. High school classes will run in a similar flow as our county courses allowing students to receive a credit in one semester. “We are also thrilled to be able to add after-school clubs this year allowing students to further fellowship, learn and fulfill high school requirements,” explains Cheryl. “Students can also choose to participate in our drama, missions and yearbook club.”
“We offer experts who are committed to teaching, invigorating and inspiring young minds to assist in a positive, enriching environment,” Rebecca says in reference to their added staff members. “We strive to educate the familiar aspects of daily school while infusing them with the pleasure and confidence that comes from the growing sense of mastery and discovery that we foster in our students as a well as ourselves.”
Tutors at Bridges were selected based on expertise in their subject in conjunction with their ability to express evidence of an active Christian faith. A willingness to work with homeschooling families was also paramount. Middle school classes include algebra and pre-algebra, general science, history, grammar, literature and composition, and two levels of Spanish. High school classes include algebra, geometry, Apologia biology, chemistry, social studies, American literature, grammar and composition, two levels of Spanish, graphic arts and computer software.
“We have been so blessed with the number and caliber of passionate teachers who recently applied for tutor openings,” says Rebecca. “We are ecstatic over all the new teachers that have joined us, all sharing in years of teaching experience and an array of expertise!”
To be eligible to attend Bridges, students must be the ages of 11 and 18 and in middle or high school by September 1 of the current calendar year. At least one of the student’s parents must agree with Bridges’ statement of faith and both parents must be willing to abide by Bridges’ policies. There is a $65 per family application fee, and tuition runs from $395 per two day per week hour-long course. Various programs and discounts are also available.
“We made sure we set our prices lower than any other like us around; and in turn, still made sure to pay our teachers top dollar,” explains Cheryl. “If you take a moment to calculate the number of hours of instruction and the fact that high school courses are worth a credit upon completion, it’s pretty awesome to think of everything the student is getting.”
On April 6, Bridges will hold a curriculum viewing and questions/answer sessions with administrators. The on April 13, Bridges will hold a registration day. For more information about Bridges Tutorial Service, to view the handbook or register, visit www.bridgeschristiantutorial.com.