Gary and Karen have been married for 38 years and live in Spring Hill, Kansas. They presently serve on the MPE Board, and Karen coordinates the MPE Exchange City program.
When did you begin serving with MPE? What’s your number one reason for continuing to serve?
We wanted our children to understand the importance of serving and being involved, so we have often served in capacities that allowed them to work with us. We began attending small homeschool parent meetings in the 1980s before the group became JCPE (later MPE).
The urgent topic at the time was a pending legislative hearing to consider regulating—or prohibiting—homeschooling in Kansas. When the date for the hearing arrived, I (Karen) took the very young Bobby and Andy to Topeka, stood outside the overcrowded hearing room, and then visited our representative and senator to discuss our concerns.
Several years later, on another visit to the Capitol, one of the representatives told us, “We’re not going to do anything to stop homeschooling. You people show up!” (Enter in log: “Political Science field trip”.)
This small support group had a conference that included a potluck kick-off dinner to serve out-of-town families. Some families opened their homes to host families who did not live nearby.
As the group grew and organized to become JCPE in 1986, we had regular support group meetings. Families had the opportunity to serve in a variety of ways. Our family helped set up tables and place signs to designate areas where members could find specific information and services. (At that time, the librarian brought the library to every meeting!)
Whether it was a meeting or conference, families helped set up, take down, vacuum, host speakers, and do anything else that needed to be done. Since one of our goals was to serve with our children, Gary and Andy coordinated vendors for the conferences in the late 90s.
The conference provided a great opportunity for all of our children to learn as they served as pages. Molly has volunteered at the Children’s Conference since 2003. We have all had the rewarding experience of helping to present workshops. Molly coordinated the MPE graduation from 2010 to 2014 and mentored the new coordinator in 2015.
Karen and Gary have served several stints on the MPE Board. Gary has served as secretary and as treasurer. And everyone has volunteered at Exchange City!
What are the things you enjoy most about your role?
We enjoy working with other homeschooling families on the board. I love working with the students who attend Exchange City.
It is especially rewarding to work with students who participate in the program for several years. I like to see them develop stronger leadership skills as they take on volunteer roles, and I enjoy working with them to refine their resumes and prepare for interviews.
Tell us about your family.
Bobby is 36 years old. He graduated from Kansas State University and KU Law School. He is a principal legislative analyst in Topeka.
Andy, age 34, graduated from K-State and is a manager of planning and scheduling for Seaboard.
Molly is 26. She graduated from Calvary Bible College and is an event coordinator for Tifec.
Gary, an ophthalmic technologist, has been with Sabates Eye Centers for 39 years. He also has a web-based business writing continuing education and test prep courses for ophthalmic personnel.
Karen is a volunteer with 4-H and Superintendent of 4-H Plant Science at the Johnson County Fair. All of us live in the KC metro area (Go Royals!).
Bobby lives in Roeland Park with his wife, Brooke, an event planner for the American Truck Historical Society. Andy just purchased a home in Roeland Park.
Molly lives at home near Stilwell. She will be married in January.
What were your reasons for choosing to homeschool?
We knew several homeschooling families, but had not considered homeschooling our children. After we talked to the local school staff, we realized that homeschooling would be a better choice for us.
Since there were few curriculum options available at the beginning of our homeschooling adventure, we tied our reading to events in our lives such as trips to historic sites and museums when we visited Gary’s parents in Virginia or went to an exhibit or living history event near Kansas City.
I loved the opportunity homeschooling provided to study God’s word together and study each subject from a Christian perspective. Homeschooling gave us the time to explore our children’s interests and allowed us the flexibility to spend time together and visit extended family.
How would you encourage MPE families in their homeschool journey?
I would encourage families to connect with other homeschool families. We had friends with whom we enjoyed activities and outings. We would also share an occasional weekend activity that included the dads.
The Mom’s Morning Out group was a great encouragement to me. I would recommend connecting with a similar group.
The KC Homeschool Hookup is a great resource as well. The moms show great love and kindness to each other.
The MPE graduation was – and is – one of my favorite evenings each year. Seeing the parents blessing the graduates and the graduates honoring their parents is tremendously uplifting.
Women’s Encouragement Day, a day of sharing by and with other moms, provides a lovely one-day oasis.
The MPE conference not only offers opportunities to hear speakers with great information, but also a chance to connect or reconnect with other moms. (One of my favorite ladies told me she does not always make it to the workshops because sometimes she finds herself standing in the same spot all day talking to other moms as they enter the vendor hall!)
Read together – especially books that make all of you laugh. Start a tradition of re-reading several favorite books each year. (Our children know A Christmas Carol well enough to launch into scenes at opportune moments every Christmas!)
I would also recommend family day trips. (We always took a bat, ball, and gloves in case we passed a field in a little town. Sometimes the fence is not as far away as it is at the usual fields – homerun!)
Look for those wonderful moments when your child is suddenly excited about a connection or discovery he or she has just made! Share the excitement! You were there! You were able to see it! Enjoy that wonderful moment!
Thanks, Gary Gallimore and Karen Allison!
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