History buff shares his passion with home-schooled children

  • Published
  • By 010508
Col. Chet Roshetko is a history buff. 

The 81st Inpatient Operations Squadron commander enjoys it so much he shares it with a dozen home-schooled students involved in the Biloxi-area HEARTS (Home Educated and Raised to Serve) Program conducted every Tuesday at the First Baptist Church of Biloxi. He is a firm believer in "renewing Keesler's role in the community," one of 81st Training Wing Commander Col. Greg Touhill's goals.
Colonel Roshetko's current class consists of young people in 6th-12th grade, all of whom are home schooled. He conducts the hour-long "home-school enrichment" for nine-week periods. 

"The class doesn't count for a grade," the colonel explained, "but it enhances their home education." 

"I want the kids to visualize America's future by understanding America's present. I guide them to that understanding by reviewing the 'timeline' of America. We learn how laws, economics, politics, technology, personalities and foreign relations interact to impact history. " 

Colonel Roshetko started the course in week one by sharing how the Mayflower Compact influenced the Constitution and how the Pilgrims goals remain the basic tenet of American values. With this premise, the kids pick the subjects of weeks two-eight. Primarily the kids' interest revolve around the major wars and presidential assassinations, but the colonel teaches how such -events are about much more than isolated battles or murders. 

"The kids actually know a lot of individual facts, but they never tie it all together. I spend most of the hour showing them how to connect events on a timeline. We also constantly refer to U.S.and world maps so they can relate history to specific locations," Colonel Roshetko explained. 

HEARTS director Adita Harrell said there are currently 12-15 different classes with a total of 80 children, plus parents, involved in the home school program. 

"In addition, we teach the children how to serve the community. They participate in community service after class," she said. "Currently they visit the FEMA park on Popps Ferry Road where they spend about 40 minutes interacting with the families, playing with the children and reading them Bible stories." 

HEARTS began four years ago at Mrs. Harrell's Biloxi home with a couple classes and a few families. It has grown far beyond original expectations. Students range from toddlers to 12th grade. 

"Different parents volunteer to teach different subjects," she said. Colonel Roshetko is one of three male teachers presently involved; one teaches economics, the other resource reference and research. 

Families interested in enrolling in HEARTS should e-mail Mrs. Harrell at aditah@bellsouth.net . "I will e-mail them a packet of information that includes registration forms, schedule and policies." 

Information about home schooling
Mrs. Harrell explained that home schooling is a viable education alternative to institutional schooling. In compliance with state laws regarding this type of education, children learn under the supervision of their parents. Parents and children, conferring with each other, assume control of the content of their learning. It is a complete legal substitute for institutional schooling. 

Colonel Roshetko said home schooling has become extremely popular over the last 20 -years, growing at about 10-15 percent per year. 

"According to 2003 National Center for Education Statistics, at least 2.2 percent of American families home school their children. The number is likely higher because home school reporting requirements vary from state to state," the colonel said.
Colonel Roshetko's family has been home schooling since 1998. 

"Our current curriculum is provided by Bob Jones Press, BJU Press Academy of Home Education. It's one of hundreds of curriculums available to home school families. We've been using BJU for six years. 

"Class lessons are DVD instructions from teachers at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. My wife Karla - wife, mother, teacher, chauffeur - reviews subject chapters prior to testing. I correct all papers and, as necessary, assist with science subjects."
The colonel noted daughter Katey, 16, is in 10th grade. She attended public school in kindergarten and first grade but has been home schooled since then. "Katey's goal is to be a psychologist. She is involved in local drama, two church groups and serves as a teacher in a local AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed youth ministry) program." 

Son Regan, 14, is in the eighth grade and has always been home schooled. "His goal is to be a USAF Academy grad and fighter pilot. He is a technical sergeant in the Civil Air Patrol and serves as the Keesler CAP squadron first sergeant. He, too, is involved in two church groups and serves as teacher in a local AWANA program."
Regan and Katey also have a small business called "Sibling Services," which offers babysitting, lawn care and pet care services. "It has had mixed success, but they are learning from it. They get to practice these skills for free every day in our home," the colonel observed. 

Five-year-old son Trenton currently attends North Bay Elementary kindergarten.
"We sent him to kindergarten so we could concentrate on the high school curriculum with the older children," Colonel Roshetko explained. "We will probably bring him back to home school after first grade. 

"Our 3-year-old son Brennan thinks he is the home school head master ...he is not."