Murray Homeschool Academy
From left to right: Jared Murray, Anaya Murray, Kimel Fryer, Shaun Murray
In 2021, I had the kids apply for the Indie Memphis Crew Up program for the second time. The first year they were not approved, but this time, they were accepted into the 2022 cohort of young filmmakers! What's really cool about this program is that the teens are paired with a local filmmaker who mentors them in all things filmmaking.
Anaya, Shaun, and Jared were paired with Kimel Fryer, a local independent filmmaker and producer. Kimel operated as a producer of the feature film "Life Ain't Like the Movies" (currently on the Amazon and Tubi networks). In addition to a mentor, Indie Memphis committed to giving the team $500 for the film budget.
Kimel mentored the kids for six months and literally spent two-three hours every other Saturday helping them plan their film. They spent over 100 hours educating themselves on filmmaking and writing short film scripts. Initially, they brainstormed plot ideas and then created the storyline.
Next, they wrote and edited the script.
After the script was complete, the team researched and scouted out film locations.
Location Scouting for "Amorphous"
Once the team settled on the sites, they had to find actors. They organized and implemented the casting calls and selected cast and crew members. The kids were surprised to have so many local actors sign up for the auditions.
Most of the adults had no idea Shaun, Jared, and Anaya were teenagers because they handled the process so professionally.
The hands-on learning was incredible.
Behind the scenes video on the casting call process for "Amorphous"
Watching Anaya, Shaun, and Jared work together was a beautiful thing to observe. They created an award-winning suspense thriller short film, "Amorphous."
The plot is about five teenagers who are chosen to beta-test a new VR game from a mysterious tech company. Tasked to play what they believe is a simple game of "Hide and Seek," the seemingly easy game becomes more than what they bargained for.
Read the final blog post of this series, And...Scene! (Part 3/3) to get the link to the film "Amorphous." Make sure to like, subscribe, and leave a comment on Anaya's YouTube channel.
Photo by Pixabay
When my kids were in middle school, they would write movie scripts with their friends and shoot short videos. They spent hours working as a group to complete their script.
As their creative writing teacher, I loved it when they spent their free time working on the movie script. But truth be told, once they handed it to me to proofread--I was honestly shocked at the horrible writing! Lol!
The plot made absolutely no sense, and you could tell the boys were heavily involved because, in every other scene there was a fight or battle. But the kids were passionate about the project, so I kept my feelings to myself and let them happily proceed.
The kids discussing plot ideas in the van.
As a family, we have always loved movies. Still, the love of filmmaking died as everyone started focusing on other interests. However, once our family moved to Memphis, I heard about the Indie Memphis Crew Up program--it’s where they pair teens and local filmmakers up to create a film.
I applied immediately, but they were not accepted.
However, I did not give up. In the summer of 2020, I signed Anaya up for a free filmmaking camp at the library, and she created her first short film with her phone. It was submitted to the Indie Memphis Youth Film Festival, and to our surprise, she won the “Rising Star Award” for her film, "Pen Pal."
Anaya, online, receiving the Indie Memphis Youth Film Festival "Rising Star Award"
Anaya didn't win because "Pen Pal" was a great film. Instead, she won because the film festival jury noticed the thought and effort she put into finishing the project within the one week of camp.
After the festival, to my surprise and wonder, Anaya declared that she wanted to study filmmaking in college! I had no idea that a summer camp could have such an impact on her future. I mean, I knew she loved to perform, but filmmaking was a totally new direction. We were all excited about the journey ahead.
Click here to read part two of this series: "And Scene...Part 2/3"
I have two fantastic twin sons, Shaun and Jared. They are the youngest in the family and are taking their time to develop all interests outside of gaming. Lol!
So many moms of sons who also have daughters have assured me that boys will eventually mature but that it might take a little bit longer than their older sisters. I think they are right!
Pictured from Left to Right: Jayda, Shaun, Jared, and Anaya
"The rational part of a teen's brain isn't fully developed and won't be until age 25 or so." -Rochester Medical Center.
Many have held that birth order definitely impacts behavior, especially if boys are birthed after their sisters. My sons, Shaun and Jared, don't mind their sister's bright lights. In fact, they like the fact that the attention is not on them so they can hide in the shadows.
But they forget that I see them trying to hide and remind them that they have their own light to shine--so no hiding allowed!
To help assist in their growth and personal development, I had Shaun and Jared apply to an all-boy summer intensive computer science camp called "All-Star Code." And they both received an acceptance email! The email stated, "The admissions process this year has been highly competitive, and we are so happy that we're able to deliver this good news! Your application stood out from the rest for its self-reflection, its enthusiasm, and for how you demonstrated your willingness to take risks and embrace failure."
For two months, they spent hours learning Java, how to build a website, and other really excellent computer science skills. They both rose to the occasion, and I didn't even have to remind them to attend the class. They were early to class and responsible for actually completing all homework.
Honestly, I was really impressed with their personal drive. During the school year, I regularly feel like I have to drag them along and pull their teeth to complete a task. But praise God, I saw some tremendous growth this summer! The seeds are starting to germinate, and I see they are headed in the right direction.
On the last day of camp, the boys presented their project, a website informing constituents about their app, "HairWise." They had their presentation down and executed flawlessly. Truth be told, when they put on their dad's suit coat--they didn't even recognize themselves.
I loved seeing the pride on their faces, and they loved looking so professional. Shaun even added glasses for the extra effect! Lol!
So if you are a homeschool parent of teen sons who seem like late bloomers compared to their sisters, I encourage you to take a deep breathe and relax! Even though there are moments when you question if they will ever mature, remember they are steadily changing daily.
Keep loving, encouraging, and correcting them; you'll see the slow and steady growth you've been waiting for.
Watch Shaun & Jared's Full Presentation Below:
The entire family surrounding Jayda--we were all so proud of her!
In May of 2021, I launched my first high school graduate into the world! I started homeschooling Jayda when she was in kindergarten. For years, I dreamed about having a senior in high school.
I pondered whether or not I would do a good job, especially in high school.
I often wondered whether my kids would be as competitive.
I asked questions like, "Will they be able to win academic scholarships?"
And "Will they have successful college careers if they are homeschooled?"
Jayda graduating from homeschool kindergarten!
I'm excited to know that the answer to all of the above questions is "Yes!" With Jayda being the first student to graduate from "Murray Homeschool Academy," I have learned some fundamental principles about homeschooling and how to stand out on college applications that are worth sharing:
#1 Let Your Kids Be Unique. Often there is social pressure to have your kids involved in the same activities as other kids. If everyone is playing soccer, your kid should play too. Or if all the kids are in a particular after-school club, then your kid should get involved.
But the truth of the matter is college admission teams are looking for unique children. Children who have distinct interests and passions. So my advice is to not give in to the pressure. Allow your kids to travel on a different path. It will pay off in the end.
Jayda received her first NCWIT award in Connecticut for her technological achievements.
#2 Don't be afraid to let your child specialize. Jayda chose to pursue the arts and computer science. Most of her activities centered around those two things. She spent so much time on these activities that she gained superior skills. In addition, Jayda earned accolades allowing her to stand out from her peers in the college application process.
#3 Your Child Needs to Show Leadership. Jayda not only pursued art and computer science to grow her knowledge but also took the time to teach others. She taught weekly art classes and free computer workshops for young girls. She also volunteered over 200 hours to help St. Jude hospital develop tech solutions for raising money for the hospital. Pretty cool, right?! Parents, remember that colleges want to see that kids aren't just smart but also passionate about sharing that knowledge with others.
Jayda and Anaya served on the Memphis "Mech Warriors" Robotics Team
#4 Show Your Students Are Academically Challenged. Throughout high school, I made sure that Jayda took Advanced Placement and college-level classes. Due to age restrictions, I had to find online colleges that would allow dual enrollment for freshmen year. In addition, I picked a cover school that offered AP exams at the end of the school year. With this combination, none of the colleges questioned Jayda's academic ability. If you desire your child to win merit scholarships, then make sure the student's transcript shows an academically challenging, unique, and rigorous curriculum.
#5 Let the World Be Your Child's Classroom. For high school, Jayda wasn't active in any homeschool co-op groups. We relied heavily on organizations in our community for volunteer and extra-curricular activities. In fact, the public library was one of the best places to learn about everything in our city for youth. There were so many unique opportunities beyond the local homeschool groups.
In addition, the library was a great way to find community groups that shared Jayda's passions and interests. So get online, research, and find out what's happening locally and nationally. Remember, the internet allows participation in national and international programs without them leaving your home. In fact, Jayda was able to participate with TedEdx youth and was selected to give at TedTalk, which was a stand-out opportunity.
Jayda is now a college freshman, and I'm here to tell you that you can do it! Your homeschooled son or daughter can have an excellent education at home. We had some ups and downs throughout the process, but it all worked out!
I'm thrilled to report that Jayda received a prestigious merit award and thousands of dollars in grants and merit scholarships because of the above principles.
But I saved the best principle for last.
#6 Trust God With the Process! I pray so often about each one of my children. God made my children, and my worldview is that children come already filled with their gifts. It's my job as a parent to see what God has placed inside and to help cultivate their talents into maturity. I'm always asking God for his guidance, and you know what--He comes through with wisdom, insight, and direction every time!
So take each year, one year at a time, and know that you can make it across the graduation finish line with success!
Murray Homeschool Academy
I have been a homeschool educator since 2008. Here I blog about our educational experience and hope you can learn something from our journey.