Today I went to my final meeting as a member of the board of directors (hey, Stephanie, my name's still there!) of The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. I served two 2-year terms, and apart from the at-times-really-heavy workload (which happened when we did our conferences--most was smooth sailing, I swear it, Lois!), I want to say that I miss it already.
I got a wonderful send-off by the board, both in the newsletter, and at today's meeting:
First of all, thank you! The basket of gifts was so thoughtful and personal--y'all know me and my chickens. :) The three hens will be on display in my kitchen, trust me! Plus there was an Italian candy bar (torrone), and a small bottle of Don Julio tequila (because they know I just don't like beer or wine!). But the best part was the t-shirt! Mary, I was so surprised to see it, and it was totally unexpected, and thank you for whispering in someone's ear about it.
I will miss being on the board for many reasons. I really enjoyed helping to make decisions for the organization, and implementing some of them myself. I really enjoyed the teamwork and camaraderie, the "sisterhood" of the board (only in my last year on the board was there a male board member). I loved to be "in the know," especially when it came to legislative issues. I enjoyed feeling that the work I was doing was helping not only the many anonymous homeschoolers around the state to keep doing what they're doing, but my own homeschooling friends, as well.
It was such satisfying work, in a way that my previous jobs, before I quit to stay home with Emily, never could be. My work on the board could directly affect, in various ways, my family, my friends' families, and the rest of Virginia's homeschoolers. The work was personal. The conferences and seminars were a very tangible way to see that, but they were just a part of it. (I'm going to put in a strong push here for any of Virginia's homeschoolers reading this to join, if you haven't already--we need your support.)
And so it's really a hard thing for me to say that I am not a board member anymore.
I think that the education I received while serving has been invaluable. I know the home instruction statute practically word-for-word, and am very familiar with the rest of the compulsory attendance code (N.B. attendance, not education!) and other related statutes. Not to mention the Virginia DOE's "Home Instruction in Virginia" guide for parents. I feel confident that when a "what is legal?" type of homeschooling question comes up, either on homeschool support group lists, or in talking to friends, I can answer it 99% of the time. And if I'm not sure, or if someone thinks maybe I gave incomplete information, I know the best people to ask--past and present board members. If they're not available, then we can always take a look at the code itself.
There's a joke among the board members, though, that our board is like the Hotel California--
"You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!"
It seems that this work gets into your blood. So "retired" board members are often looking (or dragged, kicking and screaming, "But I'm retired!") for ways to continue to contribute to the organization, continue to serve the homeschool community, continue to speak up, continue to keep abreast of the latest happenings that may affect homeschoolers. Once an advocate, always an advocate, and I'm no exception. Someone commented at today's meeting that it seemed like I was taking on more volunteer work for VaHomeschoolers, now that I am off the board. And I think they might be right.
I had already said I'd continue to facilitate our referral and give-back programs (BoxTops, grocery store links, ink cartridges, etc) for the time-being. I might write another article or two for the newsletter, right, Jeanne? Then there was the by-laws committee that I joined a few months before my term ended, which has work to be done yet--but only after the current general assembly session has ended. Why, you may ask? Because at the last board meeting of 2007, I actually heard crazy words coming out of my mouth and was helpless to stop them--I said I'd volunteer to be a legislative monitor! What was I thinking? :) And I'll be damned if Celeste didn't keep me to my word, too. That's opening up a whole new world to me. Who knows where it will take me! VaHomeschoolers hasn't seen the last of me yet, by a long shot. I wonder if they're worried . . .