Happily Educating Our Own (H.E.R.O.) has been an ongoing Internet based homeschool group that freely accommodated members from all over the Phoenix area and often all of Arizona.
H.E.R.O. was created and maintained by Nancy Manos. Nancy and her husband James both serve on the AFHE board of directors and Nancy writes for their magazine. She also serves on the convention committee and travels around the state speaking to groups of homeschoolers. H.E.R.O. has been a part of that community service for nearly ten years now. Through the hundreds of newsletters sent, the Phoenix area members have enjoyed a continual update of pertinent homeschooling information for the area. For those who used it exclusively instead of a regular homeschool group, it has been a wonderful asset.
How did H.E.R.O. work? When someone signed up with the group they began to receive email newsletter updates. These updates came daily in the beginning, but over time, they became a weekly event. Though depending on the amount of information coming in and/or the Manos family’s schedule, she had to occasionally adjust that timeline.
Members would email Nancy concerning upcoming events. Things like curriculum sales, field trips, the formation of new co-ops, and more. She then compiled that information along with any new announcements from the state or other sources she had collected. Those who signed up for email alerts then received the information in their inboxes and those who had not, could find the updates posted on the website.
On April 7, 2011, Nancy and her family announced their retirement from the H.E.R.O. newsletter and website. This has been deeply saddening for its users and there will definitely be a hole left in the community by its loss. Yet, every member understand the work and commitment that had been going into the endeavor and wished the family well. The question then became, will this be the end of such a network? Not if people like Jan Parsons, Kerri Ross and Savannah Rogers can help it, they have stepped up to fill in the H.E.R.O. gap.
Savannah has started the Homeschool News Network, an online multimedia news outlet that began the beginning of May. The ‘About Us’ page states: “Homeschool News Network is a multimedia news outlet of, by, and for homeschoolers. It is a central place on the Web to share news, connect with homeschoolers, and find out what’s new in the homeschool world… in a family-friendly online environment.”
Also beginning in mid-May, Jan Parsons is starting up her own newsletter, which she plans on putting out bi-weekly. She hopes to “build a communication network” that will help fill the void left in Arizona by the absence of the H.E.R.O. network. She currently has a personal field trip website, which she will also incorporate into the newsletter.
In April, Kerri Ross started Handy Hearts – Homeschooling From The Heart. Her Christian website statement reads in part, “…dedicated to helping homeschool families connect to local Arizona events, activities and resources through our website and newsletters. It is a resource for families to share “Handy Announcements” about upcoming opportunities for field trips, lessons, and more.”
In their own way, these three ladies hope to retain the dream that the Manos family began. Surely, the Manos family could not have known that out of the homeschooling community seeds they planted with H.E.R.O. would spring three new offshoots that will surely sustain the root system originally established.