“I’ve been in education for 20 years. I’ve worked in public school, public charters, private schools – and now this little micro-school that I’m running. I have six kids of my own, and they’ve all attended different schools, depending on their interests and skill levels… they’ve done all of those plus homeschooling.”

“The school that I run now, we follow a pretty aggressive college prep curriculum. That being said, not all of my students go on to university, some of them have gone onto technical schools or a military academy.”

“Besides the typical curriculum, which is connected either to our foreign language classes or our history classes, we travel. That’s the reason we have to stay small, usually around a dozen or so students.”

“After we’ve studied for a couple months on something in particular, we take a couple weeks and go visit that place. We were studying the founding of America, so we were planning on being in Washington, D.C. for a couple weeks in November. But of course all the Smithsonians and other buildings were closed.”

“So we switched gears and started studying the founding of civilizations for a couple of months, especially the rise and fall of the three kingdoms of ancient Egypt. Then we were able to fly out to Egypt and spent a couple weeks there. My students were so engaged and had studied so much that our tour guide was taken aback. He joked with us that maybe he should pay us for the tour.”

“It was incredible. It’s certainly not a typical educational experience. The opportunity to do this really changes how these kids approach studying and learning.”

“If I’m able to take kids to Europe, or Africa, or South America once or twice a year with our program, I can’t even imagine what someone more creative than I am would be able to do if [we] took away those financial barriers to educational choice.”

“More [educational] choice would give many kids new opportunities and help generate more innovative approaches to education. I’m just one unimpressive guy from Rigby, Idaho. Imagine what someone else could pull off with this opportunity.”

“We spent a week over in Boise recently. That’s something we do each year, when we study local government and the role of the state government. We met with a group of Republicans in the House, a group of Democrats in the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction and others – to try to understand their roles. And then the rest of the time we’re in committee meetings and floor debates or in the hallways, where they meet with legislators.”

“I often tell my students, as awesome as something like Egypt is, the Boise trip is the most important one. And when we got back, most of my students approached me afterwards and said ‘I understand what you meant.’”

“Egypt was exciting, but Boise moves them in a different way because they see how they have a role to play in shaping their communities, their cultures and the future of their home.”

“We have an extremely generous sponsor family that really supports our mission and makes it possible for us to do this all tuition-free at the moment – they cover our costs for the school house, utilities, payroll and medical. That’s what made this possible for many of the kids we have, to this point, and made this unique opportunity a reality. The students pay only for the trips they go on.”

“In my spare time, I also organize this study group with a dozen or so other kids. They come over on Wednesday night and we just do three hours of literature, political philosophy, history – and we just talk about it. This gives them an opportunity to sit down and discuss big ideas.”

“No tuition, they come because they want to be there, learn, and discuss big ideas. We often roll our eyes at the youth and think they’re out making trouble, but there is a real hunger in them to learn that often isn’t satisfied by the educational options they have. I’m always surprised we get a full house of kids that just want to sit down and discuss big ideas.”

“I also know my traveling school isn’t for everyone. It’s a small group and we all get pretty close. One of my own children, instead, wanted assemblies and sporting events and the larger pool of friends that the public school offers. Or earlier when I taught at a large public school, some of my children wanted to attend a charter school out in Idaho Falls, because they preferred that experience with smaller classes and such. It was just more intimate, and it was the opposite of what my older son wanted.”

“We’ve always made sure our own children have options and are able to make choices regarding their education.”

“It lets my children know that they’re in charge of their education, they’re in charge of the direction they choose in their life. And it’s paid out in spades. They make decisions and they’re not afraid to pursue their ambitions.”

Jason Richardson
Rigby, Idaho