I hope you don’t mind that I’m emailing you directly, but I wanted to reach out to you, as head of Seton, to tell you a little bit about my own experiences with the program, and what I am up to now.
I was a high school student in the Seton program in the early 1990s, after attending a private Catholic elementary school that my mother had founded, in Derby, a small community 20 miles south of Buffalo on Lake Erie. I persuaded my parents to let me try Seton for my high school education because the high schools that I tried attending — two at least, including one I had a full scholarship to — just did not feel like a good fit. I worked hard in the Seton program, doing my high school education in about 3-3.5 years, and doing much of it in a self-directed, self-motivated way.
I noticed that in a recent edition of the Seton newsletter you answered a question about whether home-schooled high school students do worse in college — that amused me, because I would argue that the exact reverse is true! As a home-schooler who knew the meaning of discipline and deadlines, I excelled in college, graduating with two bachelor’s degrees from Canisius College’s prestigious All-College Honors Program, and with a grade point average of a few tenths-of-a-percentage point under 4.0. I delivered the commencement address at my college’s graduation, before thousands of people.
In graduate school, I earned an MA in English in 2000, followed by my doctorate in English in 2004. My Ph.D dissertation included a study of 19th-century American literature and art that closely examined a subgenre of the literature that I call “convent fiction”: stories and novels about convents and religious women written in the 18th and 19th centuries. My research was awarded a grant from Notre Dame University, which allowed me to do work in the university’s library collections in Roman Catholicism and religious orders in the United States — a fascinating subject, and one I still hope to explore at length.
During the years since college, I have worked professionally as a writer and journalist. I have worked for a major metropolitan daily newspaper for 14 years, as a feature-writer, news reporter, columnist, and team leader. I have won numerous awards for my journalism, including two awards from the New York State Publishers’ Association for public service journalism — a trademark of my work that I am particularly proud of. Some of my best work has centered around children and poverty.
I am now in the final stages of completing a book that will be published by Cornell University Press within the next two years; it is a full-length, nonfiction narrative account of the “Angola Horror,” a little-known train wreck that happened in upstate New York in the 1860s, and that has since been forgotten. This wreck, my book will show, changed American transportation history in important ways.
Most importantly, my husband and I have two little girls, and we are now using the Seton program to home-school them. Both are flourishing under the program. They have extensive vocabularies, read voraciously, and know their phonics, mathematics, and catechism to the last detail. Our girls look forward to school as the best part of each day.
My research and writing interests have allowed us to incorporate lots of travel and exploration into their learning. As a sidenote, I am happy to say, my sister’s family recently decided to start home-schooling using Seton’s materials, after observing how happy we were with the program. (My own girls recently asked me when summer would be over so that school could start again. Isn’t that a nice testimony?)
Home-schooling is not easy, but it creates great minds. I am convinced of this.
Thanks for your time, and keep up the wonderful work.
Charity A. Vogel,
Seton High School ’93; English Ph.D 2004