By Valerie Hayes
July 17, 2020
Jim and Jen Goostrey - Overture Learning
Published, Standard Examiner
Jen and Jim Goostrey recently moved to the Bear Lake area from Salt Lake City. They wanted something different; somewhere different for their family. At first they thought it would be the Boise area where Jim is from, but upon a drive up there, they knew it wasn’t right.
They drive to Garden City about once a year in the winter time. On their usual trip to the City, they wanted pizza, but found the pizza shop in Garden City wasn’t open. They looked it up and found that the nearest pizza place at that time was in Montpelier. So, they drove to Bear Lake.
They really liked the Montpelier area and thought it was nice. They were looking for a couple of acres and wondered what the land values were, so they came back the next day and looked at properties.
They then went back to Salt Lake and couldn’t stop thinking about the area. They felt an impression that it was the right place for them, so they came back again at the end of winter to look at properties. They got a realtor to show them around in more snow than they had ever seen. They fell in love with the only house that was available.
It took a while before they could move because the house was under contract to someone else. They purchased a camper and planned on staying in a campground until it was available. However, they met the Brock family who allowed them to stay on their property until the house became available. Once the house came through, they set up the trailer hookups on the property while they went to work remodeling the house.
The Goostrey’s have six children: Emily (18), Spencer (17), Matthew (14), Gabe (12), Jared (10), and Kaitlyn (7). All eight of them lived in the trailer on that property while they tried to remodel the house they planned on living in.
Upon gutting the house, however, they found that the foundation was bad and rotted and it was going to cost too much to remodel the home, so they began tearing it down to build new. In the meantime, after living in the camper for a year, some people up the road began letting them live in a little house on their property until the new house is built. They are down almost to the foundation now on the new house. They expect to have it built and ready in about a year.
Like a lot of other people who move into Bear Lake who don’t farm or work for one of the mines, the Goostrey’s came “job ready.” They own a company called “Overture Learning.”
Jen has a background in secondary education and was a school teacher. When it was time to send Emily to school, it just didn’t feel right to her. So, they made the decision to home-school Emily.
At that time, she also started some home school co-ops. One year, she had a co-op with 10 families and 50 people. They would meet in the downstairs of Jen’s house. They needed a spot and it ended up being there. The basement wasn’t finished, so they stapled cardboard up to the studs and put butcher paper over the cardboard. They painted dinosaurs and safari pictures and many other things on the paper so that the kids had different themed rooms to meet in. Jen says they had a great time.
After that, they just kept home-schooling all of their kids. A couple of the kids attended a charter school for a while, and Jen and Jim started and were administrators of a charter school for a while. That school is still running in Bountiful.
When they moved here to Bear Lake they encouraged Emily to go to the high school to integrate socially more quickly. Emily ended up being the Student Body President this past year as she graduated as a senior. Spencer also ran for student council and is the Historian of his junior class this year. He also works as a bagger at Broulim’s. Matthew is exploring and considering public school part time. He is a fairly independent learner and is considering some of the electives, especially science.
Jen and Jim, and Overture Learning, is a company that works with home-schooling people all over the State of Idaho. They work with teachers that help monitor the education of children at home. They help them choose the right curriculum and help mentor them. This year, they have a lot of families that are brand new to home-schooling.
Essentially, they contract with the public school so the school gets to keep the funding or bring additional funding to the school. It helps the kids get the curriculum and school supplies they need. They work as a liaison between the home-schooler and the public school to balance the gap.
It is a good way to help the parents understand what resources are available and how to keep the kids on a normal education track compared to other kids their age. They provide field trips and other activities and opportunities and ideas of how to connect the families. Sometimes they do online classes such as “How do you teach math to a third-grader?” Sometimes they do science experiments, or they work with the Book-It Program. They give them another choice.
One thing they have learned from COVID-19 is that parents have been afraid to have their kids at home because they don’t think they are qualified to teach their children at home. This is not true. Now, some of them are excited to teach their children in a new way. A lot of them are coming into the program right now, and they feel like they have more confidence than they ever had.
It is a choice, not a requirement, to send a child to public school. Jim and Jen are not anti public school. They bring a lot of the benefits of public school to the home school while still maintaining the benefits of home school that people love. They have a lot of options for families to choose from. It is possible to merge the two worlds together. Every year the decision is different with their own kids as to what is best for them. They may enroll them for a year, or they may keep them in home school for a year. Then they go back for a while because they want some of the benefits. It’s an open door/revolving door policy. You can have it both ways.
The name of the company is Overture Learning. “Overture” means “introduction to something more substantial.” Their goal is to help families make their home school experience more substantial.
The Goostrey’s love this valley and are happy to be here. They say the people are fantastic and have accepted them so well. The kids don’t want to leave and love it here too. We are glad to have them here as a “substantial” family and wish them luck with their company!