The modern Christian homeschooling movement began in the seventies, but it really took root in the eighties when Dr. James Dobson began to champion the idea on his radio program. In 1983 two attorneys, Mike Farris and Mike Smith, formed the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) to fight for parental rights to homeschool.
In June of 1986, a private church school called the New River Christian Academy closed its doors after about 10 years of operation at the New River Bible Chapel. This created a problem for the parents of children who had been attending and did not want their children exposed to the problems associated with government schools.
A group of about 15 or 20 parents from New River, Desert Hills and Black Canyon City met and decided to form the Desert Hills Christian School. This school was organized as a Christian school; but it was a "paper school" in that it had no buildings. Those who homeschooled were protected under the umbrella of Desert Hills Christian School.
Desert Hills Christian School chose to affiliate with Alpha Omega Publications. The discount they got from Alpha Omega was passed on to the parents. They could drive to Tempe and pick up their teaching materials to avoid shipping costs. High school diplomas would be granted with proof of twenty academic credits using the Alpha Omega curriculum.
After a year or so they started giving the Metropolitan Achievement Test. At first, the tests were given at the principal's home. As the school grew, the tests were given at Desert Valley Baptist Church in New River and at the Baptist church in Black Canyon City. They also had field trips, fairs, social get-togethers, and several graduation ceremonies. Some attended the monthly meetings from as far away as Camp Verde.
Dean Kramer was chosen to be the first principal of Desert Hills Christian School. He turned the job over to Rev. Jimmy Hart around 1993 and Joni Corby took over from there. Our membership grew by leaps and bounds in the 1990's. Steve and Kelly Maynard were the leaders from 1998-2002, followed by Joe and Lisa Albillar from 2002-2005. Rich and Teri Olsen are the current leaders.
At the start of the 2000-2001 school year, the name of Desert Hills Christian School (DHCS) was changed to Desert Hills Christian Homeschoolers (DHCH). The legal protection provided by calling it a satellite school was no longer necessary, and the name was causing some confusion due to the fact that it is a home school support group and not an actual school.
DHCH celebrated the group's 20th Anniversary on Saturday, May 6, 2006. The special event took place at High Desert Park in Black Canyon City. It was a real honor to have both Tom Lewis (AFHE Chairman Emeritus) and Len Munsil (homeschool dad of many years and gubernatorial candidate) as our guest speakers. Jennifer Clark of The Center for Arizona Policy gave an enthusiastic and informative presentation on legislative issues. Dean Kramer, one of the founders and the first principal of Desert Hills Christian School, talked about the group's early days. The inspirational homeschooling testimonies of DHCH graduates Jeralee Maynard and Ryan Corby prompted at least one new family in the audience to solidify their decision to homeschool.
Veteran DHCH members worked hard over the years to make homeschool resources and support readily available in our community. For example, members have access to a homeschool lending library, and a Blessings Fund is available for families in need. In 1999, DHCH brought the first homeschool P.E. classes to our area. These were originally held at the New River Park with Coach Joe Oswald of Athletes in Training.
In the early days, homeschoolers were rather isolated - especially those living in New River and Black Canyon City. The master-planned community of Anthem with its stores and amenities did not even exist. Nowadays homeschoolers in this area have many options available to them and families are busy with numerous activities. While the group dynamics and participation have changed over the years, one thing remains clear: the goals of DHCH have always focused on learning, caring, and sharing.
Did You Know...? Arizona Families for Home Education was organized in 1983. Christian Home Educators of Tucson-NW was founded in 1984. The Pioneers, Eastside Explorers, Bethany Home Educators (now East Valley Christian Home Educators), Liberty Home Educators, Mesa Home Schoolers, and Havasu Christian Home Educators were all in existence by 1985, followed by Desert Hills Christian School in 1986. There were only 776 Arizona children taught at home in 1986, compared to today's estimate of over 20,000! Currently there are approximately 60 support groups in Maricopa County and over 100 statewide... but we were one of the originals!
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together...but let us encourage one another."