Introducing Michael Wilson: A 2022 Scholarship Winner

This is part of a series of blog posts introducing you to our 2022 Build A Better Future scholarship recipients and their projects. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our scholarship, click here.

The next scholarship recipient that I want to share with you is Michael Wilson and his work in establishing a local chapter of the Arizona Old Time Fiddler’s Association. As someone who was homeschooled, he often participated in “real life projects” as part of the curriculum. These projects included providing manual labor for his elderly neighbors, performing with his family’s band at senior care facilities (Michael is an accomplished vocalist and mandolin player), and working with kids in an after school program.

It didn’t take long for Michael to notice that there were two major problems in his community. The first issue was the isolation of seniors. Many residents were limited to their nursing homes and never received visitors. Even outside the nursing homes, many of the seniors were homebound and living alone. The lack of visitors was made worse during the pandemic and let to a steep decline in the quality of life for the elderly. The second issue was that many of the children were coming from foster care and otherwise broken homes, which limited their access to positive role models. Michael realized there was a way to hit both birds with one stone: music. Once he found the mission statement of the Arizona Old Time Fiddler’s Association, he knew it was exactly what his community needed:

“The Arizona Old Time Fiddler’s Association is a non-profit organization whose objective is to preserve, promote and perpetuate the art of old time fiddling, to encourage all people, young and old, to develop their musical talents and afford them opportunities to perform in public, to hold jam sessions and other musical events, for the members’ own enjoyment and to educate the public on the values of old time fiddling. And to brighten and improve the lives of “shut-ins” and other needy people, by furnishing musical entertainment and performing other charitable, civic and community services.”

He immediately got to work establishing the Payson chapter of the AOTFA. He ran booths at community events and promoted the project on the radio in order to recruit members and meet the requirements to become a chapter. A local pastor provided a building for the weekly jam sessions–although the sessions were moved outside during the pandemic–and local musicians helped lead the sessions, as well as supplying instruments and music selections. He even incorporated a potluck into the sessions so others could contribute even if they weren’t interested in playing music.

Michael had two goals going into this project: to renew a sense of purpose and inclusion for the elderly and providing structure and guidance to the younger members of the community. In addition, all ages were able to experience learning and improving new skills to increase their self-esteem and instill a sense of pride. The generational gap was bridged and lasting relationships were formed. But don’t take my word for it; the pictures speak for themselves.

A Few Facts To Help You Decide If Homeschool Is For You

Let’s talk pros and cons of homeschool to help other parents out there make the best decision of whether or not homeschool is the right answer for them. For this list, I will not be writing them out in a pro/con list necessarily, but rather in just a list. Because some points may be a pro for one family, but a con for another. So here are the facts! 

  • Homeschool your kids are home and around you 24/7, whereas a school where they leave for the day, you aren’t around them as much. 
  • Traditional schools are a built-in social atmosphere where kids learn how to interact with peers. In a homeschool scene, it takes more deliberate effort to create those social interactions with your kids. 
  • True homeschool comes with more flexibility in the curriculum. Online homeschool will have their set curriculum, but if you are solely your child’s teacher, you get to teach when, how, and where you want! 
  • There is a lot of flexibility in your day and your life when you homeschool. Many families take advantage of this by traveling more often. Worldschooling is also something worth looking into. 
  • Homeschool can be 100% tailored around the student, which is nearly impossible in any school with more students than just a few. That means if they are falling behind in reading, but excelling in math, their whole day can be planned around their needs. 
  • If it’s online homeschool, it’s not necessary to do as much planning for curriculum/day-to-day learning because the program takes care of that. 
  • If you are 100% homeschooling without an online platform, you choose the curriculum, plan everything out, and execute it. 

There are a lot of pros and cons when it comes to homeschool, and some of these points can be a very big deciding factor on whether or not a family chooses to homeschool. If you homeschool, how did you decide that it was the best journey for you and your family? Share below to hopefully help someone else make this decision!