By NJ Clausen
May is such a beautiful month, with lovely flowers and abundant green everywhere. It is also the time to celebrate the women who have earned the title of ‘Mother’ and who have brought love and joy into our lives. This month I would like to introduce you to a woman who embodies all the very best qualities…. Colleen Tetsworth.
Born in Los Angeles, Colleen’s father accepted a position at Guilford College shortly after her birth and the family moved to Greensboro. One of Colleen’s favorite childhood memories was playing with her younger sister in ‘The Magic Attic Club,’ which was decorated with images of cats and dogs. While up there, Colleen would teach her willing sister about different subjects, and they would have fun exploring and discovering… a time which in retrospect may have set the foundation for homeschooling. Colleen also enjoyed reading, spending time with her sister, her friends, at church…. and with the animals that she helped persuade her parents that they should have: a dog, cat, gerbils, a ferret and a rabbit.
In high school, Colleen played tennis, basketball, and soccer. After graduation she went to Duke for her undergraduate studies in public policy, then went to social work school at UNC Chapel Hill for graduate studies. It was while Colleen was at graduate school that her tennis coach from high school conversed with her mother about having her son Nick and Colleen meet and have dinner. Although Colleen and Nick had gone to high school together and attended the same church, they recognized each other but did not really know each other. The dinner was the beginning of a courtship, however at this same time Colleen was in the process of discerning religious life. Through interactions with Nick, prayer, and meetings with a spiritual director, it became clear that God was calling her to marriage, particularly to marriage with Nick rather than to the consecrated religious life which Colleen had been considering.
Prior to their marriage, Colleen was working in Greensboro as a social worker and Nick was working in Winston-Salem. They decided Kernersville was a good middle option and where they settled in an apartment after their nuptials. Colleen considers living in Kernersville a blessing, and she enjoys the friendliness of the people and the welcoming nature of the church parish. Colleen and Nick moved into a house in Kernersville as their family was growing, and Colleen homeschools their 3 (soon to be 4!) children. She is aware of the greatness of the responsibility; teaching children to read at the elementary level, in addition to their instruction in virtue. Colleen and Nick both believe that part of their responsibility as parents is to be the primary educators of their children and to provide for them a comprehensive education at home including academic formation, growth and joy for learning, and awareness of being beloved by God. For someone contemplating homeschooling, Colleen feels that important factors for success include positivity, flexibility, humility, and recognition that we cannot do it alone, that we are not designed to do it alone, and that God will work through us if we surrender to Him.
An average day starts with the family gathering at the prayer corner, where they express gratitude and learn about the saint of the day. After this comes breakfast, followed by homeschooling time which includes different activities such as practicing math and letters for the younger ones, reading, and outside time. Following lunch, all enjoy some quiet time before dinner prep, stories together, outside time, art time, and reading before dinner. Some days include various outings to gather with friends, playing at the park or visits to the parish or the library. After dinner the family gathers again for evening prayer corner, where they all come together to say goodnight, sing songs, say prayers, and read psalms before bed.
When asked what she would share with young mothers, Colleen would encourage them to trust and rely on God, and rest in the reality that He can supply the grace needed in each moment. Responsibilities can be overwhelming, and God wants to assist us. Taking time to stop, pray, and seek God reminds Colleen to be more grateful and to see her husband and children for the gifts that they are in her life.
To her family, friends and neighbors, Colleen is grateful for their presence in her life. If it be God’s will, may our connections bring about more fruit, joy, and love in times to come.
For more information about homeschooling, Colleen encourages you to not be afraid—research and connect with experienced homeschooling parents. Two websites she suggests are: National Home Education Institute and North Carolinians for Home Education.