Embracing Challenges & Celebrating Success: A WTMA Homeschooling Journey

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We love hearing about the homeschooling journeys of families who have had multiple students move through classes at the Well-Trained Mind Academy (WTMA), and we hope you do, too! Today we’re going to hear about Nazly Nardi and her three children: Leyra, Ayron, and Zavyer. Nazly shares with us how using WTMA as part of her homeschooling plan gives her quality and flexibility when she needs it most. 

Pioneering their Homeschooling Path

Nazly’s decision to homeschool is deeply rooted in her experiences working with elementary school students who faced challenges in traditional classrooms. Witnessing the diverse needs of students firsthand as a reading specialist, and taking note of the perceived lack of resources available to meet the needs of the entire student population, Nazly sought an alternative that would provide a more tailored and supportive educational environment for her own family. After many discussions with her husband, Geepcy Espino, they decided to pursue homeschooling for themselves. 

Reading the principles laid out in Susan Wise Bauer’s books, particularly The Well-Educated Mind and The Well-Trained Mind, gave Nazly insight into a method of homeschooling that could provide the structure, rigor, and customization that she envisioned as appropriate for an elementary student. Diving into the Well-Trained Mind forums eventually led to Nazly to the Well-Trained Mind Academy. She enrolled her daughter, Leyra, the year the Academy opened. This turned out to be a fortuitous decision. Facing medical challenges, including multiple strokes at a young age, Leyra’s academic journey required a unique structure that allowed for flexibility while continuing to provide consistency. WTMA not only provided that structure but also became a lifeline for Nazly herself, as she navigated the complexities of therapy and medical treatments for Leyra and her younger sibling, Zavyer, who faced similar health issues. Being able to rely on the scheduled times in which Leyra would be engaged with her online classes provided some much needed administrative and personal time for Nazly.

There are many invisible challenges of hydrocephalus, a condition that both Leyra and Zavyer have. For Nazly, the need for understanding and flexibility in educational settings is paramount. Homeschooling became a way for the Espino-Nardis to attend to the specific needs of their children in ways that other educational options may not have allowed. However, flexibility in this case does not mean ease – any of the Espino-Nardi children will likely tell you as much. Nazlyi emphasized throughout her conversation with us that she insists on maintaining a high level of rigor in her homeschooling choices in an effort to educate the entire student (not just the convenient parts), a sentiment that resonates with the core values of WTMA.

Leyra’s Triumph at Johns Hopkins: A Testimony to Homeschooling’s Effectiveness

Leyra worked hard in her high school years while managing her medical difficulties. The work paid off – she was admitted to Johns Hopkins University in 2021. Leyra’s success in her transition to freshman year at JHU stands as a resounding testament to the effectiveness of the WTMA approach. Nazly passionately emphasizes the alignment between WTMA’s coursework and the demanding nature of college academics.

The WTMA curriculum, customized by Leyra and her mother, played a dual role in Leyra’s journey: it not only fostered her critical thinking skills, preparing her for the analytical demands of higher education, but it also became the catalyst for cultivating self-confidence. This dual preparation proved invaluable as Leyra stepped into the challenging academic environment of Johns Hopkins.

Beyond textbooks and lectures, WTMA instilled in Leyra a profound sense of self-assurance, allowing her to navigate the complexities of college life with ease. As an example, Nazly shares a story in which Leyra enrolled for a history class at Johns Hopkins in her freshman year, and was quickly emailed by her professor. This class was for upperclassmen only. Leyra scheduled a meeting with the professor after the first day of class to discuss her enrollment in it. As she attended that first class, she participated in the class and discussion as she had become accustomed to in her classes at WTMA – with thoughtfulness and engagement that showed real intellectual grappling with the material. The meeting that occurred after class then became one in which the professor, who had previously planned to let her know that this class would not be appropriate for her yet, admitted that she had “proved him wrong,” and welcomed her to join him for the year. 

Navigating High School with the Cohort Program

Following in Leyra’s footsteps as one of the first people to join WTMA, Ayron, her younger brother, is one of the first to join in WTMA’s Class Cohort Program. Nazly sees the cohort as a compass guiding Ayron through his high school years and leading him towards his future goals, unique to his academic journey. While Nazly served as a college guide for Leyra and Leyra’s fellow Girl Scout troop throughout Leyra’s high school years, she finds that Ayron’s Scouts group has a different dynamic, and that she just isn’t best suited to work within this role for that group. It is useful to her, then, to have WTMA to act as a facilitator in guiding Ayron through topics such as making a list of potential colleges, developing study skills, and talking through the stressors of being a high school student in today’s world. 

Wisdom for other Homeschooling Families

Nazly’s closing advice to homeschooling families is the idea that academic success is not reserved for those with a specific educational background; you don’t need to be a rocket scientist in order to be your child’s primary educational administrator. Instead, success is a product of demonstrating genuine engagement with your child’s educational interests and abilities, celebrating their individual uniqueness, embracing whatever challenges life may put in front of you, and viewing failures as stepping stones to growth. The story of the Espino-Nardi family’s homeschooling odyssey is one that we hope you join us in celebrating. Leyra’s remarkable achievements and the thriving younger Espino-Nardi siblings illustrate the value and success that can unfold in the homeschooling journey.

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