A Charlotte Mason Education, Curriculum, Digitization
Comments 2

Thanks for 2010-Moving Forward by Carroll Smith

As we come to the end of 2010, it is fitting to give thanks for what has been accomplished “to recover and promote the educational philosophy and practice of Charlotte Mason.”  Several significant projects were in process for this year: the digitalisation project of the Mason archives that helps all of us interested in learning more about Mason’s work;  the arduous work of developing a curriculum and it’s “pre-pilot;”  the thought provoking and helpful 2010 Charlotte Mason Educational Conference;  and finally, the many insightful and helpful blogs.  I want to say thank you to the many people who have made such projects possible.

A huge thanks must be extended to Dr. Deani Van Pelt for all her countless hours of work both in writing the grants that provided the funds and in coordinating the efforts to get the digitalisation of the Charlotte Mason archives project started.  Anyone who has ever written grants, received them and did the subsequent work knows what a large task it is.  The Mason archives were released through an October Charlotte Mason Education Symposium and Conference at Redeemer University in Ontario.

The "Four Pumpkins"-- Nancy Kelly, Melanie Walker, Laurie Bestvater and Jennifer Gagnon at the Charlotte Mason Education Symposium and Conference at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario

Marlene Powers demonstrating the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection Archive

Thank you to Marlene Powers, librarian at Redeemer, who took on the task of organising and setting up the archive.  Although funds are still needed to complete the digitalising work, because of Dr. Deani Van Pelt’s efforts, a huge step has been taken to make the Mason archive accessible world wide. We also appreciate those volunteers who did the actual digitalisation, much of which was painstakingly tedious work: Dr. Jack Beckman, Lisa Cadora, Gladys Schaefer and her daughters, Jennifer Spencer and others.   As in most cases it takes many

The Mason Archive Digitizers during a panel discussion at the 2010 Charlotte Mason Educational Conference, Gardner-Webb University

individuals to accomplish a task as large as this one.  This is a significant step forward in “recovering and promoting” the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason.  Those of us working on the curriculum are thrilled to have access to this archive.

Developing a Mason curriculum requires a team effort and the self-sacrificing giving of time, knowledge and collaboration from a group of curriculum designers has been a colossal gift. Laurie Bestvater has worked tirelessly on leading the curriculum design team of Sandy Rusby Bell, Jennifer Gagnon, Tammy Glaser, Rebekah Brown Hierholzer, Nicolle Hutchinson, Nancy Kelly, Leslie Laurio, Jennifer Spencer and Melanie Walker.  There is a much bigger list of individuals who have also assisted this project who have also been gracious with their time and knowledge.  For fear of missing someone, I will not mention names, but we are grateful to them for their many hours of work.  Laurie Bestvater and the team who has worked so diligently on this project bring to us years, even decades, of commitment to the study and practice of Mason in both the classroom and home

Curriculum Design Team members and "Mini Pilot" members

school. It has been a tremendous encouragement to me to work with these individuals who, not being content with a surface reading of Mason or a blended instructional approach, have dedicated untold hours of intense, detailed study of Mason’s work which has been worked out carefully into practice.  This curriculum will not be available for another full year because we are in the refining/testing stage where a small group is doing a “mini pre-pilot” to help us work out problems.   The design team is dedicated to finding the best living books available for a Mason curriculum and next year a larger pilot will be offered.  If you ask the team about books or have other questions about the curriculum at this point, the team will simply say they cannot share information because we are still in the try and test stage, and once we have piloted it and feel more confident about what we are suggesting, we will share it with others.

The annual Charlotte Mason Education conferences held each year at Gardner Webb University provide this

Friends at the 2010 Charlotte Mason Educational Conference

wonderful nourishing and nurturing time with like minded educational colleagues.  We could not do the conferences without the generosity of volunteers who do things such as prepare lectures, supply snacks, or help with transportation. Many thanks to all our conference speakers.  The 2010 conference was especially exciting as fresh research and study was presented on new topics.

Comments from the conference attendees expressed appreciation for: “opportunity to look at a student’s lab book–very helpful and inspiring,” “love the thought of raising children who care,”  “extensive list of notebooks CM used,” “the relaxed atmosphere,” “the in depth, interesting and useful information,” “sharing ideas with other participants.”

I loved this conference and am deeply grateful for the opportunity to come and be immersed in this lovely world of Charlotte Mason (both the beauty of the campus and the beauty of thought!!!).

These comments could only come because of dedicated speakers who spent hours preparing.  A giant thank you to them.

Theater Technical Director and Gardner-Webb Professor Christopher Keene at the 2010 Teen Conference discussing Science Fiction film

For the last two years a Teen Conference ran concurrently with the regular conference.  Thanks to Jack Kelly, Hannah Hoyt and Tim Laurio for their work and dedication with the teen conference.  Thanks to those such as Chris Keene, Dr. Jack Beckman and others who spent time with the teens.

Running a blog that speaks to Mason educators in a variety of settings on a variety of topics could be a very time consuming, difficult and overwhelming task were it not for our weekly blog writers.  I am thankful to these individuals who have fed our minds with ideas about Mason, history, science, art, and a whole host of topics.  This part of recovering and promoting Mason’s work could not be done without a number of writers.  We look forward to interesting blogs in 2011.  Thanks to Jennifer Spencer who has helped this past year by taking on the responsibility of receiving and posting the blogs.

Carroll Smith and Jennifer Spencer at the "Mini Pilot" meeting.

And finally, we have several new board members on the ChildLightUSA board.  They are Jennifer Gagnon of Ontario, Gladys Schaefer of Birmingham, Alabama, Steve Ritter of  Broad Run, VA (Northern VA)  and Kent Kelly of Windom, MN.  We welcome them onto the ChildLightUSA board.  They join the current board of myself, Lisa Cadora, Jack Beckman, Bobby Scott and Ranald Macaulay.  We are thankful to these board members as they serve the Mason community in promoting Mason’s educational philosophy and pedagogy.

Thanks to many others of you who have served and ministered in various ways this past year from leading Mason study groups, speaking at local conferences, writing grants, working to establish schools, mentoring Mason newbies and in so many other ways. Some of these efforts are not without a cost. In trying to implement a Mason education which is so contrary to the matterialistic education so prevalent today, some people are giving up a second income to home educate their children while others are having to deal with opposition from local school boards.  Some face negative family or community or church backlash from those unwilling to believe Mason’s practices.  My appreciation and gratitude and admiration are extended to all of you willing to pay the costs to educate children using a Mason paradigm.

Marlene Powers and Dr. John Thorley at the Charlotte Mason Education Symposium and Conference at Redeemer University College

There are many people to thank and I am sure I have forgotten something or someone important.

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful 2010.  May God’s grace be on this educational paradigm.


Carroll Smith has spoken on various topics related to Charlotte Mason. Currently he teaches at Gardner-Webb University and enjoys working with children, teachers, college students, and Charlotte Mason Institute. He was a teacher and a principal for 21 years before coming to Gardner-Webb University where he has been for six years. Having grown up in eastern North Carolina, he attended East Carolina University for his undergraduate degree and his master's in school administration. He completed his terminal degree and wrote his dissertation on Charlotte Mason at Virginia Tech. Carroll enjoys reading, gardening, and discussing ideas with friends. He and his wife, Andra, and their two young adult college-age children, Corban and Anna, enjoy living, working and playing in North Carolina.


  1. Nicolle Hutchinson says

    What a lovely reflection of the year! What a tender way to say “thanks.”
    Thank you for leading this effort to restore and promote Mason education!

  2. I second what Nicolle wrote. This is a labor of love that so many people, named and unnamed, have dedicated their time and talent to make happen for the children’s sake! CLUSA has been an important part of my clearer understanding and greater confidence in teaching my children.

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