Before COVID-19, homeschooling your children was an option, not a necessity. While teachers have continued to guide students virtually, many parents have had to join in the process. Hannah Cross, Pharm.D. (’13), R.Ph., says that being homeschooled until college was a positive experience for her. Dr. Cross (shown in her garden, where she is teaching her young son how to care for plants) talked recently about her experience and how it prepared her to be the Pharmacist-in-Charge at the Rootstown Community Pharmacy.
How long were you homeschooled? Did you have siblings? Who taught you?
I started at a private school until second grade, then was homeschooled through graduation. I have one sister who is two grades below me.
My mom worked 7 a.m.-3 p.m. and my dad worked 3 p.m. -11 p.m. It was a mixture of both of them teaching us. We utilized a curriculum that came with videos of a classroom session, so for the "lesson" we watched a 30-minute video that had been taped in a classroom in Florida where the lesson was actually taking place. After the video we would immediately complete the homework assignments. Both of my parents helped us with the assignments.
The testing and grading of papers, quizzes, and tests was done by my mom. If needed, we would reach out to others in our homeschooling and church community for tutoring for areas we needed extra help in. At the end of every school year we completed testing to determine our competencies in comparison to public school programs.
What do you remember most fondly about homeschooling?
I really enjoyed the time that I had with my family. My sister and I have a very close relationship because of the time spent together growing up. I really enjoyed the flexibility of the schedule; on really nice days we could go outside and learn, and on days when the weather was not as good, we could spend more time on school. I also really enjoyed the fact that we did field trips through all grades in areas that really interested us.
What life lessons did it teach you that helped you succeed at the College of Pharmacy and now in your career? Anything that is helping you cope with the pandemic?
I noticed fairly early in my days in a university curriculum that I had learned a long time ago to take responsibility for my own learning. So while my peers were struggling with what a syllabus was, and how to keep track of when tests would be without the teacher constantly reminding us. I had been responsible for my own schedule for quite a while by the time I was enrolled in a university.
I think that those same skills of keeping track of things has helped me in so many ways in my career. We just took over a pharmacy and moved that pharmacy! [Rootstown Community Pharmacy, which moved to a new location in the NEW Center.] It takes a lot of organization and follow-through that I believe was instilled early on in my educational path.
In terms of coping with the pandemic, I learned many great life lessons from having a constant "home economics class" at home. I learned how to plant and grow a garden, how to can the produce from that garden and how to manage livestock and keep an adequate stock of essential products. We made a limited number of trips to stores when I was growing up, so I was able to adjust to decreased trips outside of the home during stay-at-home orders. Growing up in the country, I have spent plenty of days not leaving my home before, so I am used to the shelter-in-place concept!
What advice or encouragement would you give to a parent/guardian who is either home-schooling now by choice, or who has had to take on helping their children with school because they learning at home due to the pandemic?
I think one of the most important things that you can do in any difficult or new situation is to surround yourself with others who can relate to your situation and share knowledge. Share what has gone really well and what hasn't – but understand that each child and family unit is unique, so don't expect everything to work out in the exact same way for you as it did for someone else.
I learned early on there is strength in numbers, and consolation in knowing that there are others who are going through the same struggles as you, and who have been able to overcome them. I use this on a daily basis in both my personal and professional life.