Home-schooling for 900 – Ruby Darden
Ruby Darden, IBO. For the home-schooling experience Ruby charged the kids a nominal fee for her services because “most of them had part-time jobs, and I figured they’d be more likely to stick with it if they made the investment,” she states.
Back in 1996, Ruby Darden heard a woman give a talk about the benefits of home-schooling her children. “I thought I might like to do that, too,” recalls Ruby. And that became a life-changing moment, not only for her, but for the nearly 900 kids she helped get through high school over the next 14 years.
She became licensed to home-school her own children – two sons and her daughter – and enjoyed it.
Then one day Ruby’s sister called about her son, a high school student who was short a few credits to graduate. “There were a lot of kids like that, who needed two or three credits,” explains Ruby. “And at the time, the drop-out rate in North Carolina was very high. They didn’t know what to do with these kids; so the school gave me permission to teach them.”
Ruby taught everything from English to math to Spanish to help the students get their required credits. One summer, she had to schedule classes in two-hour sessions every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. because so many students needed her help.
Listening and learning
The kids learned, and she did too. “I never realized kids had so many problems,” she says. “They wouldn’t talk to their parents, but they would talk to me. I’d listen to them, and I treated them like they were my own.”
She recalls one boy in particular who faced significant challenges. “He was very rebellious and was about to join a gang. He gave me a hard time, but I gave him a hard time right back, and somehow we connected,” Ruby says.
“Well, not only did he graduate, he became president of the student body at our community college, and from there went on to the University of North Carolina. He graduated in 2010.”
Ruby has slowed down in recent years, but her concern for kids is as strong as ever. “Today’s kids are even more troubled, and the drop-out situation has gotten even worse,” she says. “It’s going to take a lot more than one person to turn it around.”
Still, she draws a lot of satisfaction from her past work. “It’s rare that I can go out and not see one of my former students,”she smiles.