Michelle Ketten, Vice Chair of the WNC Foundation Board
WNC Foundation board member Michelle Ketten and her husband, Charlie, decided to create a scholarship for homeschool students after learning more about the program from the coordinator of the WNC homeschooler Rebecca Bevans at a board meeting.
“What touched me was learning how many students are enrolled in the program and how passionate Rebecca is about ensuring students have a positive school environment,” Ketten said.
Ketten believes that alternative educational pathways can make a significant difference in a student’s life. More and more parents are taking on this responsibility. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, 3.7 million K-12 students were home-schooled in 2020-21, up from 2.65 million a year earlier.
“The public school system isn’t for everyone, and the right environment can make the difference in someone’s future success,” Ketten said. “We want to launch this scholarship to provide the opportunity for success to a student who would not otherwise be able to enroll in the WNC program. My goal for this scholarship is to give more visibility to the home schooling program in the community so that others can also feel inspired to donate.
According to the NHERI, homeschool students score 15 to 30 percentile points higher on standardized academic achievement tests and above average on the SAT and ACT tests. More importantly, they are more likely to go to college.
Therefore, more and more colleges, such as WNC, are recruiting them.
In the fall 2021 semester, 60 students participated in WNC’s homeschooling program, up from 42 a year ago (a 42.8% increase). But Bevans thinks many other families would love to send their homeschoolers to WNC.
“Because students at home have not yet graduated from high school, they are not eligible for any financial aid that is currently available,” Bevans said. “Some families can afford direct expenses while others cannot.
“This scholarship from Michelle is amazing and has the ability to help some of our ambitious homeschoolers graduate and reduce the cost burden for many families.”
If academically qualified, homeschool students can participate in WNC’s Jump Start program. This dual-credit program allows high school juniors and seniors to take classes through WNC and earn up to an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school. But homeschool students are not required to be aligned with the Jump Start program and can have an educational program designed to meet their own needs and goals.
For traditional homeschool students, WNC is a place to continue their education and foster more friendships. All homeschoolers have a place on campus; they even have a hangout room in the library where they can socialize, study, and plan events, as well as a club for socializing and making a difference on campus and in the community – the Nerd Herd.
“I love the name The Nerd Herd!” Keten said. “It tells me that these are young people knowing each other and embracing who they are. This is the environment this scholarship will provide a student. Even though they are students and taking courses at the college level, they are still teenagers. They need opportunities to bond with each other, develop friendships, and continue to be children.
For all these students, what is not lost is not only that they complete high school, but that they also obtain a diploma and an orientation in life while having the possibility of forming friendships for the life.
“I’ve worked with these kids for over two years now and I’m continually amazed by their maturity and intellect,” Bevans said. “WNC provides an environment focused on education, personal growth and the space to be who they are. WNC is a place free from bullying, smoking, drugs and alcohol.
To highlight the possibilities of this program for homeschoolers, Bevans recalls how an eighth-grader passed the WNC after showing his academic qualifications by taking English 101.
“He wanted to leave the school system because he was tired of being bullied and his mental health was suffering. Being at WNC allowed (the student) to let go of the negative behaviors he had learned in a place where he was seen as the individual he is,” Bevans said. “It was amazing to watch him grow and take charge of who he is. And he’s not alone; a lot of other students have the same story.
With the growing homeschool population at WNC, the Ketten Scholarship provides a starting point for the college to better support these young students.
“I have joined the WNC Foundation Board of Directors so that I can help raise awareness of WNC programs to the community and bring more resources to WNC for students. I hope this accomplishes both” , said Ketten.
For more information about WNC’s homeschooling program, contact Bevans at email@example.com. To donate, contact the WNC Foundation at 775-445-3240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.