Parents looking for something different when it comes to the island’s few schooling options can now turn to Andrea Godfrey, who has brought her teaching experience and well-rounded approach to homeschooling to St. John.
Godfrey, who has been homeschooling three St. John children at her home for the past three months, brought educational experience to the island which includes tutoring and working with inner-city kids. Godfrey studied biomedical science at the University of South Florida with the intent to become a doctor and, oddly enough, it was during this time that she realized her potential to make an impact in children’s lives.
“In my honors degree, I did a lot of work with victims advocacy,” said Godfrey. “I felt that was one way to help somebody. I like the social aspect of dealing with people.”
Education for Better Life
“I felt that I was better equipped, because of the way I grew up and things I went through,” Godfrey continued. “My experience and history as a child and learning to deal with situations as an adult enabled me to help children.”
Godfrey, who had a self-described “difficult childhood,” learned the importance of bettering oneself through education — a principle that she hopes to pass on to the children she teaches.
“The way I coped with my childhood was by doing school,” said Godfrey. “I’m not saying that school is the only answer, but it made a better life for me. I was the valedictorian of my high school class; I worked hard because I wanted a better life than what my parents had.”
Godfrey uses this approach in encouraging her students, she explained.
More Than Standard Subjects
“It’s my goal to help them learn and to make it interesting,” said Godfrey. “When my kids are having trouble, I tell them, ‘you want a better life, and to have a family, a job, and a healthy and happy life — one of the ways to do that is through your education.
You’re not doing this for me or your parents — you’re doing it for you, so you can have a better life.’”
In an effort to ensure her students do have better lives, Godfrey teaches them more than the standard school subjects, she explained.
“I don’t just do homework and classwork,” Godfrey said. “I work with them on an emotional level. We do anger management, stress training and how to take tests better, because I want them to be well-rounded people.”
Godfrey offers a more kinesthetic learning approach than schools with larger classes are able to offer, explained the teacher.
“The kids that I teach are more sight and kinesthetic learners,” she said. “Most schools don’t offer as much of a kinesthetic approach as that type of learner needs. I try to apply different ways of learning.”
Being able to deal with her students on a one-on-one basis allows Godfrey to help them overcome problems they may be having, she explained.
Any Student Can Benefit
“A lot of times, students have problems because something else is bothering them and they haven’t learned to deal with that particular issue,” said Godfrey. “I had one little boy in the states in the third grade who couldn’t read because he had some emotional issues that one wouldn’t necessarily identify in a larger class. I started working with him, and after a year, he was able to read on a second-grade level.”
Godfrey has seen improvements in her St. John students as well, she explained.
“The students I have currently needed different kinds of teaching than what they were receiving,” said the teacher. “They could barely read, and now they are reading at their level. In three more months, they will be different children, with their self-discipline, responsibility and education — we work on all of those aspects.”
Any student can benefit from homeschooling as long as their parents are well-invested in their children’s success, explained Godfrey.
“Any student would benefit, as long as they are willing to learn and the parents are invested 100 percent,” she said. “Even children who don’t want to learn but have some ability and focus whose parents are invested 100 percent can benefit. The one-on-one attention is going to get you a lot further than sitting in the back of a classroom and being ignored, or sliding by because you can get away with it.”
Students Move at Own Pace
Godfrey allows her students to move at their own pace, even if that means completing two grade levels in one year, the teacher explained.
“If they can learn it and move on, I’ll keep going,” she said. “If they start in the second grade and end up in the fourth grade by the time the year is over, I’m not going to stop them. Who am I to decide what they are willing or able to do?”
Children should have better lives than their parents did, according to Godfrey.
“My main idea is that I am invested in seeing that children have better lives than their parents,” she said. “I think every generation should have the next step up. You shouldn’t have to start from scratch every generation — generations should build upon each other.”
“If you’re making progress, you’re making a better way for future generations, and that’s my goal,” Godfrey added.
Parents must be involved in their children’s education in order to achieve this goal, Godfrey explained.
Parents Must Commit to Challenge
“If parents are interested in making a difference in their children’s lives with one-on-one attention, additional subjects and high expectations and they are fully committed to the challenge, then yes, their children will do well,” said the teacher. “Their kids will go beyond their expectations. They can keep moving forward, because they don’t have to sit and wait for the other kids to catch up.”
“I’m not going to hold kids back, or push kids who shouldn’t be pushed,” Godfrey added.
Godfrey, who is currently teaching two second graders and a fourth grader, is accepting other students, and can teach children at both elementary and middle school levels.
Godfrey uses the Calvert School’s homeschooling program. Books cost approximately $700 per year, and Godfrey charges $500 per child per month for her homeschooling services — which includes breakfast at the teacher’s home.
For more information, call Godfrey at 863-286-1812.