Education on a human scale: Homeschool son set to enter world

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By David Tulis

Andreas Shedrick, 18, will be leaving his parents’ home in Red Bank at summer’s end to pursue university studies and start life on his own.

Mr. Shedrick is youngest of three sons of a homeschooling entrepreneur mom and an ordained minister dad who works with learning disabled children.

1204 Andreas Shedrick, 18, is a homeschooled graduate heading off to Cookeville, Tenn., to study engineering

The younger Shedrick has been home educated for the past eight years, and says he finds solace and strength in composing lyrics for songs that seek to account for the troubles of youth, including depression and suicide.

“I am a Christian. My lyrics reflect things that I have gone through on my own, and also just going through life as a believer, and just different people I’ve encountered.”

His songs have a point of reference beyond the material world. “A lot of my songs I feel are inspired by God. There will be of different situations going on and I just start to get the words of the song *** as I am finding out what is going on with the person I am talking to about it.”

One song, “War,” focuses on a soul who wants to give up the difficulty of loving. But the person in the song decides to keep on loving “no matter what.” The refrain runs:

I love you through the storm,

love you through the rain,

love you through the fire,

love you through the pain.

The song is about a “change of heart,” something he knows about as a churchgoer. A change of heart, he says, can be “the movement of God in someone’s life.”

ANDREAS PLAYS GUITAR at the church whose members helped get the family into family-centered education when he was a fourth grader. The Christian families at Oakwood Baptist off Highway 153 encouraged the Shedricks to take a bold step away from institutional schooling, even though Mr. Shedrick’s father is employed by the county school system.

As a child Mr. Shedrick took a consuming interest in Legos until at 14 his interests shifted elsewhere. He traces his interest in engineering to these plastic building blocks, and says he will probably major in engineering at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville.

But he expects to minor in music at the university. The family moved here from Macon, Ga., and Mr. Shedrick began eight years of piano lessons at Cadek Conservatory at UTC. The guitar he’s taught himself for four years. “Before and after [Cadek], I’ve always played things by ear,” he says.

Homeschooling has given him courage and made him less of a shy person, for as a child he had been a quiet sort. He likes homeschooling because it allows for a minimum of  distraction. He can “back up and look at each subject” if he needs to.

Mr. Shedrick’s dad, Arnold, is a minister ordained by the Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal fellowship based in Memphis. His Christian Fellowship Ministries in Red Bank is a mission church of that group.

Mr. Shedrick’s mom, Sharon, while no doubt sometimes reproving of her son’s ways in private, sizes him up favorably in public:

“Andreas is a very creative person. He is very calm. He likes to do a lot of things by himself, so he is very independent. And he doesn’t like things to change very rapidly. He likes things to stay the same, and he’s very laid back.

“Andreas is a very humble person, a very kind person. He has a very caring and outreaching heart, and he likes to help people, and people are drawn to him because of the personality that he has. He is very easy going. *** He loves people. He loves his God. I think in the future he is going to be a very productive young man. He’s going to be doing something as a career that’s very interesting, and something he can really — he’s really going to blossom, something with his hands. *** I think one day he will have a family,” she laughs.

WHAT SKILLS HAS HER son learned at home that will make him a good husband? we wonder as we sip a glass of iced water at the family dining room table.

“Andreas has learned all types of skills at home. When he was younger he was a boy scout, and at about age 7 on a camping trip he won the best-cooked egg, and he is  very good chef right now because he cooks meals at the house. He knows how to take care of different things at the house. He knows how to fix things. He can figure out what’s wrong with a cell or electronic or something, and show others how to repair it. He’s a good leader.

“He learned that from being at home, and has demonstrated that for the last — ever since he was 5. I think he’s going to be an excellent provider for his family as when the Lord blesses him with one.”

Mrs. Shedrick, who has launched a Heritage Montessori school in Red Bank, faults mass schooling for breaking up families and caring little for its ostensible duty of teaching.

“What has happened, [public schooling] has gotten bigger and bigger and now it’s bulging. Instead of educating children, now it is basically a business, like running a corporation. And they’ve gotten away from the sense of what they once started for.”

Arnold and Sharon Shedrick have taught their youngest son, Andreas, a songwriter and guitar player, to love God and work hard.