Soul Survivor: The Bethany Hamilton Story

By Mary Pride
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #83, 2008.

A shocking loss led to life-changing opportunities for this homeschooled surfer girl.

On October 31, 2003, like many of you I was reading the news online when a headline caught my eye. A young girl, surfing off the coast off Hawaii, had lost her left arm in a shark attack. Thinking how I would feel if this happened to one of my daughters, I stopped to pray for her.

Fast forward four and a half years. A PR agent mails me a copy of theconGRADulations! Class of 2008 grad gift. It features some soft-spoken comments and surfing footage of . . . that very same girl, Bethany Hamilton, who it seems is now a surfing champion.

What’s more, I discover Bethany is being homeschooled. (more…)

Schoolhouse Memories

Written by Reese Whitaker and Emma Swan

It is Sunday and I am busy preparing dinner for my family. It is a tradition we hold dear to our hearts, as the whole family gathers for dinner every Sunday after church. Today is a bit different, though; my great-grandkids have asked to interview me about my childhood.

The door opens and my tiny house is filled with the joyous sounds of children. I have two boys and a daughter visiting, along with their families. My only granddaughter, Elizabeth, has three gorgeous kids. The twins, Grace and Brooke, are doing a research paper about East Tennessee. They have chosen to write about my experiences as a student attending the Greenbrier Schoolhouse. I cherish this opportunity, eager to pass my enthusiasm for history on to their generation.

The sounds of their voices filled the room as soon as they trotted into the kitchen. I couldn’t help but smile as they talked about their project. At times, it’s hard for me to imagine how much the world has changed since I attended school. I’ve seen the invention of numerous items, lived through wars, visited every state in the country, and traveled to other parts of the world. Through the years, I’ve lived in various areas of the Southeast, but nowhere felt like home until I returned here.

Today I’ve chosen a typical Southern meal to prepare for the family: fried chicken, pinto beans, and cornbread, along with fresh veggies from the garden. The smells and tastes of this simple meal have my mind drifting to the past, and memories flow through me like fog flowing with a stream.

My eighty-seven years seem to be catching up to me, and I sit down at the table while my daughter, Lucy, takes over the cooking duties. She brings me a cup of tea and I try to gather my thoughts about what I would like to pass on to my grandchildren. I want them to know how different our lives were back then but also to know how very blessed we were. (more…)

The Quick 10: 10 Famous Homeschooled People


1. Agatha Christie. Agatha was a painfully shy girl, so her mom homeschooled her even though her two older siblings attended private school.

2. Pearl S. Buck was born in West Virginia, but her family moved to China when she was just three months old. She was homeschooled by a Confucian scholar and learned English as a second language from her mom.

3. Alexander Graham Bell was homeschooled by his mother until he was about 10. It was at this point that she started to go deaf and didn’t feel she could properly educate him any more. Her deafness inspired Bell to study acoustics and sound later in life.

4. If Thomas Edison was around today, he would probably be diagnosed with ADD ““ he left public school after only three months because his mind wouldn’t stop wandering.

His mom homeschooled him after that, and he credited her with the success of his education: “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” (more…)