From Doctor to Homeschooling Mom: Balancing Career and Your Child’s Education Needs with guest Carline Crevecoeur, MD

About this Episode

Are you concerned that your child’s current school environment might not be the right choice?  Are you considering homeschooling but worried about making it work with your career? On this episode of Brainy Moms, Dr. Amy and Teri interview Dr. Carline Crevecoeur, a physician and author of the book, Pressure Makes Diamonds: From Homeschooling to the Ivy League- A Parenting Story

Dr. Carline gave up her medical practice to homeschool her 5 children and then won a seat on her local school board. Dr. Carline shares her story of sacrifice, perseverance, and advocacy for her children’s education while battling a life-threatening illness. Tune in to be inspired! 

About Dr. Carline

Carline Crevecoeur was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1963. When she was five, Carline’s parents immigrated to the United States with her and her five siblings, settling down in a two-story house in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1981, Carline attended St. John’s University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1985, majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Biology. She went on to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, obtaining a medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical School in 1989.

Carline Crevecoeur, MD, is the author of the book Pressure Makes Diamonds, an inspiring memoir describing her journey raising and homeschooling her five children. A retired board-certified OB/GYN, Dr. Crevecoeur offers a unique perspective in her book, blending the roles of private school teacher and stay-at-home mother as she helps her kids achieve at the highest level while dealing with struggles of her own.  Dr. Crevecoeur lives in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania with her husband Michael, and her five (now college-aged) children.

Connect with Dr. Carline

Website: www.carlinecrevecoeur.com/
Twitter: medicrev
Instagram: Crevey22

Mentioned in this Episode

Read an excerpt of her book,
Pressure Makes Diamonds: From Homeschooling to the Ivy League- A Parenting Story

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Read the transcript for this episode:

From Doctor to Homeschooling Mom: Balancing Career with Your Child’s Education Needs
with guest Carline Crevecoeur, MD

Dr. Amy Moore:

Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms brought to you today by LearningRx Brain Training. I’m Dr. Amy Moore, here with my co-host Teri Miller. Coming to you today from a very snowy Colorado Springs, Colorado. Actually, Teri is not in Colorado today. She is visiting her mom in Austin, Texas where it is not snowy. It is 65 and humid.

Teri Miller:

65 and muggy. And actually the sun is out now. It was cloudy earlier, but it’s going to be a beautiful spring day.

Dr. Amy Moore:

All right. And then coming to us from Pennsylvania is today’s guest, Dr. Carline Crevecoeur. Dr. Carline is a Haitian-American OB-GYN and author of the book Pressure Makes Diamonds: From Homeschooling to the Ivy League- A Parenting Story, which chronicles her journey of quitting her medical practice after 20 years to homeschool her five children. A journey which included homeschooling teenagers while also battling cancer. And now that her kids are grown, Dr. Carline ran and won a seat on her local school board in Pennsylvania.

Teri Miller:

I’m so glad you’re here, Dr. Carline. Thank you for being with us.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Oh, thank you so much for having me here today. And I just want to stay from Pennsylvania we are freezing over here. We’re having ice and rain. So you are so lucky.

Teri Miller:

Okay. So Colorado and Pennsylvania, similar and down here in Austin we’re having a beautiful day. Beautiful weather. Well, Dr. Carline, you have an amazing story. We can talk about your book later for our listeners, but I got to have some insight by reading through your book, an incredible story of your life with your kids. You can’t tell the whole story right now, but if you could just give a quick little snapshot of what brought you to where you are today, championing that message that’s in your book, pressure leads to diamonds. Tell us your story.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

So basically I felt to write that story that every child could learn when people kept telling me, “You should write a book because all your kids are so smart.” And I started with that idea. But then as I thought about it, I realized that my kids had a lot of opportunities. And I think that’s what’s missing in the dialogue today. The kids are not doing well is because of the opportunity gap. And so the schools are not being well funded and we have to… Now I’m on the school board. I see about how we have to raise taxes to provide good teacher pay, good teacher salary.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And so when you put all these things together, I am really fortunate that my kids did well and we worked hard and I’m not taking anything away from them. I know they worked hard, but they also had people surrounding them that loved them, that believed in them and they had the opportunity for it. So that’s what I wanted people to get out of that message. Once you invest in kids, they will do well. So in a nutshell, that’s the reason why I felt I wanted to write this book.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And so related to that then, is that the reason why you gave up your medical practice to homeschool them?

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

No, because at that time that wasn’t where my brain was at. I gave up my medical practice because we lived in an area that we had no family support. My husband and I we were both physicians. Sometimes we were on call the same days, the same weekends and juggling five kids and baby sitting, that was hard enough. And then when my two oldest didn’t want to go to school anymore and the curriculum was just not satisfactory. So because of all those reasons, I decided to homeschool. But homeschool was not something that I’ve ever contemplating on doing. And even though once I decided to do it, my kids were so happy, “Yes, we’re going to stay home. Mom is going to homeschool us.”

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

I was terrified. I really was. I said, “Oh my God, could I really do this? Am I undertaking too much?” And I started doubting myself, but then my kids, I guess, gave me the confidence that I needed. They were so happy. They believed in me. And so I had to believe in myself and I just did all the research about how kids learn, how the brain works. I spoke with other homeschoolers. And then I started really wondering, “Yeah, this is exciting. I could do this.” And that’s that moment where you feel that joy of excitement. You’re a little bit still afraid, but the possibilities became endless of the things that I could teach them.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So walk us back a little bit to the decision-making process of can I do this? What would that look like to give up my career that I’ve worked so hard for? Talk to our listeners who are working moms, who are also professionals, who have worked so hard for what they have. Talk to us about what was going on in your mind as you made that decision?

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Well, first of all, when my husband and I, we debated, that was after my third son, my third child. My second son was injured by the latest babysitter. It was an accident, but it terrified us. And it was around that time with the shaken baby syndrome and these nannies are hurting the child. And so my husband and I, we were making good… We had a great income and I said to myself, “Oh my God, what if this ever happened to my child? How could I live with myself?” So when we decided one of us had to give up our jobs, I thought it should be my husband really because at that time when I worked full-time I was making more money than him, but it wasn’t only about the money. I also wanted five kids. He wanted two. So I felt in reality it should be me.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And I also felt that I would be more dedicated and it’s not anything sexist, it’s just my husband’s personality. I don’t think he has that patience that I do with the kids. And so when I added all these things together, I realized that I should be the one to give up my job. And I thought it would be only temporarily. I always assumed I would go back like probably in middle school, but the young age where they want to learn so much and my daughter, my oldest one, she was five and she was playing chess. And she said she was bored with school and they were stifling her growth ability. And I felt that that was too important for me to leave to other people that didn’t take their job seriously enough. So I felt it had to be me.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Another reason is because when I was starting to have these dilemmas with my kids and their education and babysitting, I didn’t feel like I was giving 100% to my patients. And when I undertake to do anything, I really want to know that I’m giving them 100%. So if I get a phone call that I have to leave my office again, because the babysitter left or she has problems and I have to… It was just a lot to handle and balance. And at that time I remember there was that commercial about I could bring home the bacon and fry it [crosstalk 00:07:25] up in a pan.

Teri Miller:

[inaudible 00:07:27].

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Exactly. It’s so wonderful to think that we could have it all and maybe the next generation can, because I think men are more supportive and we understand how valuable, how important daycare is. So I’m hoping we move along that front eventually, but back then, it wasn’t doable. It was just too hard. It was too stressful.

Teri Miller:

That makes so much sense. I resonate with so much of your story and I really appreciate. I want our listeners to hear that you didn’t jump into homeschooling as this, “I’m going to homeschool my children. I have it all together.” It wasn’t just this happy la-la land thing. I have a similar story that I homeschooled. And when we stepped into it, I referred to myself as the reluctant homeschooler.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Yes.

Teri Miller:

Because I mean, when I was in it, I gave 110% just like you’re talking about. I was completely dedicated, but it was not an easy decision. It’s not something I wanted to do necessarily, but it was needed.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

It was.

Teri Miller:

And I think it’s important for our listeners to hear that if you’re in a season where you’re seeing things unfold with your kids and their needs are not being met, it is completely okay to jump into this, into homeschooling, even if you’re terrified, even if you think you’re not equipped and it doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Exactly.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. I appreciate that in your story. Tell us a little more about that, that you homeschooled and you pulled outside resources and ultimately got your kids plugged into some higher education opportunities. Tell us that.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

When I lived in the first school district that I did not like at all. And that’s when I started to homeschool my kids and they were little. My oldest was about five. I believe five, six years old when I started. And so the babies were babies. So the resources that I looked into of course was the homeschooling guide to Pennsylvania because every state is different. So I needed to know what I needed to do for my state to be in compliance with the laws of the state. And then I reached out to other homeschoolers. In that district you could not join in anything that the school was doing, even though you paid your taxes. As homeschoolers, I remind people of that all the time. We do pay our taxes, but we were not allowed to participate in anything.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

About a year or so after I began homeschooling, there was a law that passed in Pennsylvania that said that homeschoolers could participate in extracurricular activities. Any activities that the kids are not getting graded for, home schools were allowed to participate. So my kids started doing band because I felt like they had instruments, especially my young Mikey. He was very musical talented. And so he played the violin and he was five. He had this little cute violin that I just loved. And I wanted him to be part of a band, part of an orchestra with the kids. And so I was really happy when that passed, but then one day… I think the principal told me, and I don’t think he was really happy about it. He told me, “Well, when they’re older, I think next year, whatever, it will be during the school. It won’t be after school. And the kids will be graded, like a pass, fail and your kids will not be able to participate.”

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And so that was the hostility that I felt in that district. And I’m thinking, wait a minute, aren’t we all here to educate our kids, wanting the best for them, regardless if they’re in the brick and mortar, or if they’re at home? The bottom line is that we want the best for our children. They’re the next generation. They’re going to be hopefully solving today’s problems, the world’s problem. But that attitude was just so bad. So I told my husband at some point we need to probably move. When the hospital merged, my husband lost his job and we did move and we moved 45 minutes away to another school district, which was so much more welcoming to homeschoolers. And I was really shocked by that.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And that’s when we started this dual enrollment where they could take some courses that the school, either in the middle school, the band classes in the elementary, or in the high school. They could take AP classes. And then we had a university next to us that they could also take college courses. So it was so good the way I was able to keep them at home for some classes that I liked, that they liked when I taught them, mixed it up around. So we never had a really formal education. And of course, when they went overseas, that was another mix. So I was also pointing out in the book that there are so many different ways to educate your children. It doesn’t have to be one for all. And even among homeschoolers, some of them are very structured. Some of them believe in unschooling.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

So I think it’s good to see what works for your family, what works for you and the kids. And I always gave my kids the choice, especially when I got sick. My oldest was already in college. So I had four left. Two of them wanted to still be homeschooled with me and two of them wanted to go to school. And so we accommodated that. And I think another thing that that helped doing is that I was always worried. And that’s just me. I always have to plan for the next 10 years down the road. That what happened if my husband couldn’t work? What happened if we got divorced? What happened if I had to go back to work?

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

So I wanted some form of structure. Because my kids came to class in their pajamas and we joked and we learned, and it was so informal, especially when they were younger, but I fear that they might think that if they have to go to school this is the way it’s done and it’s not. And so by them taking a few courses here and there and they understood the difference, it wouldn’t become as a shock to them if they had to go back to school full-time.

Teri Miller:

I love that. I think that’s such a good point because when I have homeschooled, there’s been those seasons where I know what you’re saying. I mean, you’re just in your jammies. It’s totally relaxed. You don’t have to get up really early, but then [crosstalk 00:13:48] kids need to know that yeah, there are also school situations where you go catch the bus at 6:20 in the morning, and you’re getting up before dark and it’s hard work. And there are work environments in the world where it isn’t just easygoing jammies all day. It’s super hard work and dedication.

Teri Miller:

And you focus on that in your book, in your story. The intentionality of perseverance and diligence in your personal life, and then how that translated to your children. So I want to transition into that. Talk a little bit about that, the determination you had to have. You talk about that an advisor told you, “Oh, you should just go into nursing,” when you were pursuing medical field. Talk to us about your intentional pursuit of diligence and how you taught that to your kids.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

I just don’t believe in giving up. That’s not my motto. And even if I fail… And this is one of the things I always tell my kids, “Sweetheart, at least try. You may not be successful, but at least try because you’ll regret that in life later on.” And I don’t like living with regrets. So when she told me that, and I didn’t understand why she told me that because my friend’s grade that was… My grades were better than hers. She didn’t tell her that. And she told me that. And so I knew that it wasn’t my grades. It was me. So that’s one of the reason that it was easy for me to ignore her. And I think when people tell me I can’t do something, it motivates me to even do it better. And that’s what I try to instill in my kids.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And you might not be successful the first time, but if this is what you want, it’s worth pursuing it. And I think a lot of my kids have that determination and I hope they got it from me or just seeing how I raise them. And they like planning to stuff because setting goals is something that I was forced to do because we had to hand in our affidavits every year saying to the school district what we intend to teach the kids. And so we always had to set goals. So I would sit with them and say, “Okay, sweetheart, this year what are we going to accomplish in math? What do we want to accomplish in music? What do we want to accomplish?” And so they set goals. And till this day they’re still doing it.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And I feel like goals are like strategic planning of life. Whatever you plan to do, you set the goals and then you set how you’re going to go about achieving these goals. And periodically you look back to see how far you’ve come to achieving your goals if you have to adjust the plans. And I think this is such a good way of looking at life, looking at everything you do. And one thing I do talk about in the book is chess. I love chess. And several times I sat down to write for NPR this I believe and to me, this I believe in chess because I really believe that chess playing helps you think strategically, help you to look at the long goal, like your plan. And also it had helped my kids slow down, especially when we were doing math problems. And I remember my son Mikey, he would finish his math work so fast, but then it would be full of mistakes. And instead of 17, the answer is 17, he would write 18. He forgets to carry down the one.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

He goes so fast. He doesn’t slow down. So I play chess with all my kids for specific reasons, but mostly for him it was to slow down. And when he would make a move, I would say, “Sweetheart, are you sure you want to move your queen there? Look at the board carefully. Be careful.” And then I would say, “Sweetheart, this is just like your math problem. You see you do these mistakes because you’re too anxious. You’re going too fast.” And it really helped them to get a bigger view of the picture. So these are things that I would help my kids do to planning and to become determined.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And I remember a couple of times when I played chess with my daughter almost every night, she started it off. She was five or six at the time and I would always beat her. And she would say, “You know what, mom? I don’t like playing with you because you don’t let me win like other parents do.” I said, “Sweetheart, when you beat me then you’ll know you are good. You’ll know that I didn’t let you win. You’ll know that you deserve that win. And yes, I’m beating you now, but in a couple of months, a couple of years, I could see you are getting better.” And it didn’t take long for her to start beating me. She really became quite good. And she knew that by hard work and determination she achieved what she wanted to achieve.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. Tell us about the story… I love the story perseverance, Danielle, I’m saying her name, right?

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Yes.

Teri Miller:

The story of swim team, share that story with us.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

So she joined the swim team very early on. I think she was the youngest at four years old. And she was the youngest on the team and the youngest in the family actually to join the swim team. And she just loved the water. I did the baby and mommy water things when she was younger because she was the first child. And so I had time to spend with her more than I did with the others. And she just enjoyed the water. So when she learned how to swim, she was so excited and she wanted to join the swim team. And I thought she would be too young. And I spoke to the coach and he says, “No, if she could swim the whole length of the pool, she could be on the swim team.” So Danny was so excited. And so my husband and I, we got her what she needed and she joined the following week. She was on the swim team.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And after a month of this, she was tired. She was like, “This is not what signed up for. I don’t want to do it anymore.” And so she wanted to quit. And I said, “Sweetheart, you can’t quit. We have about four more months to go.” And she was like, “No, I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to do this.” And I said, “Sweetheart, you’re going to do this because you signed up for this. Your teammate are depending on you. You need to do this.” And my husband got so angry. At first he wasn’t saying anything because he really doesn’t like interfering with what I tell the kids. We try to keep it neutral. He’ll tell me things behind closed door, but not in front of the kids. But he got so angry with me that I was forcing her to go swim.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

She was just this little four, five-year old. And he said, “Carline, she doesn’t want to go. It’s okay. It’s not detrimental to her life if she quits this.” And I said, “Yes, it is. It’s going to teach her that whenever things get hard, she could quit. And that’s not a good lesson to teach a child.” And he goes, “Yes, she’s a child. It’s okay.” I said, “When are they going to learn this? When they are teenagers? They just quit things. You start from young.” Because I think for me, especially when I had to pay my own way through college and medical school and those times were rough and some of my colleagues, and some of my fellow students, they were like, “Oh, I’m not doing well in this class. I’m just going to drop it.” I didn’t have that luxury. I just spent $2,000 to pay for that course. I had to do. I didn’t have the money.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

So I knew that quitting or dropping courses, I didn’t have that option. And I think I ended up finishing the course and I did well because I didn’t have that option. And so I just did not want my kids to think that it okay to just, “Oh, I don’t want to do this. I’ll quit.” You put time in, you put money in and it’s a matter of perseverance again. You try your best and afterwards you could say, “I don’t want to do this again. I tried it. I finished it. I’m proud of myself, but I don’t want to do this.” And that’s fine, but you’re not going to quit right in the middle. So Danielle, just after we were arguing, she just got up and she says, “It’s okay, daddy.” And she holds his little face and I could just see this, “It’s okay, daddy, I’m going to go swimming.” And she just grabbed her swim bag. And for the next four months we never argued about it again.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

I was amazed and she got her first trophy. She got a standing ovation at the swim banquet for being the youngest on the team. And she says, “Oh, mommy, I’m so glad I didn’t quit.” I would’ve preferred if she said, “I’m so glad you didn’t let me quit,” but of course you take what you can and then she became. And another thing is that because she’s such a good learner, she watches and observe. All the other kids couldn’t do the fly without being disqualified. And the fly is a hard stroke for young swimmers. And she hated doing the fly, but she was the only one that did it without being disqualified. And by the time she was in high school, she was breaking all the fly records because she was that good. She’s started so young. So you remind the kids of this, especially when they get a little discouraged. I said, “This was how it started when you started the fly and look at you now. So just little hard work and you could do this.”

Dr. Amy Moore:

So speaking of hard work, talk to us about how you got the title for your book, Pressure Makes Diamonds. What’s the story behind that?

Teri Miller:

Another Danielle story.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

It is. It is. And that I don’t want to really spoil for the listener because I do like when I read a book and I come to the part where, “Ah, that’s why she called it that.” So there’s a lot of reasons. The main reason, it’s in the book and it’s a Danielle’s story. But the other reason surrounding the Pressure Makes Diamond is because first of all, a lot of people kept telling me that I’m putting too much pressure on my kids and that really annoyed me because they didn’t know my kids. They didn’t know me. And I really was really quite careful of the amount of pressure I put on each child because every child is different. And whereas Danielle didn’t need any pressure because she put enough pressure on herself, some of the others did, but I needed to know how to balance that. And I think that’s so important as a parent.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Also, I felt I was putting a lot of pressure on me. And I think as women, as mothers, as teachers, as wives, we put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother and there’s no such things. We could only do our best and be okay with that and be satisfied with that. And when we are really giving our best, that’s when we become diamonds, that’s when we shine. And that’s the real in the nutshell of everything that I’ve written in the book, why pressure makes diamond.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay. So talk to us a little bit… Let’s go back to the idea of you think that your children are successful because of the opportunities that you created and the opportunities that they were given and had. And so a lot of times parents choose to homeschool their kids because they are struggling in school, but you were facing the opposite, right? Your children were actually advanced, and their needs weren’t being met. So talk a little bit about that.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

A lot of times one of the things that we talk about, about gifted kids is like the [inaudible 00:25:11]. He went to Harvard. Gifted kids are important to not to stifle their growth. They need to expand. They need to be challenged. And so, especially there was a part where I spoke with the psychiatrist that interviewed Danielle I think for Mensa, for her IQ. And he said that kids like Danielle learn in a year what the average kid would take two years, but it’s not only about giving them more work. It’s about also helping them develop their growth, their curiosity, their search for answers, their wonder. And you don’t want to stifle that in kids, especially gifted kids, because after that, they’re going to cause a lot of mischief, they’re going to be so bored and you are killing part of them.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And I felt that was what was happening to her. I mean, how does a five-year-old say that she’s bored with school? And you’re thinking it’s kindergarten. How could you be bored with school? You just run around, you cut out, you pace. But no, she wanted to read. She wanted to be creative. She didn’t want to just count the number of apples on the apple tree. She couldn’t do that. And she would rather stay home and stay with the twins and read books. And I had to take that seriously. I’m thinking, “Wow, that’s unbelievable.” What kids don’t like running around? And she didn’t. That wasn’t her.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And with Michael, his thing was just being confined to a chair. And they’re finding out that especially young black males in general, being confined to a chair and being dictated to is not how they learn. They need to walk around. They need to communicate. They could do a puzzle with two other kids and they could sit down and do it, but you’re just being dictated to. It was torture. So when he thought kindergarten… We made a big party for him. He thought kindergarten was just going to be for a week or so, or a month at the most and he’s done. And when he heard that he has to take this torture for the rest of his life for the next year, that’s when he started with the tantrums, “I don’t want to go to school, mommy.” And I just never saw that sort of behavior for my kid. And I knew that something had to be done.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

So yeah, I think that people make the mistake. And even now, I’m part of the school district and we’re looking at our failing kids. We want them to succeed. And I say, “Don’t forget about the advanced kids. Don’t forget about them because they need to be challenged.” The only difference that I could add is that a lot of our advanced kids, their parents are fairly well off and they will find… And I think as school district you want to be able to reach out to all of your students and I try to keep that in mind, but it is true though, a lot of our kids that are doing well, their parents will always supplement their work if the need be. But I think as school district we do need to look out for all our kids and we can’t just say, “Well, a smart one will be fine.” No, sometimes they won’t.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Sure. And I think it’s important to note that just letting a smart kid skip a grade isn’t necessarily the answer. I think you talked about you wanted your kids to have meaningful learning experiences.

Teri Miller:

Exactly.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. So it’s not necessarily they always have to be more advanced learning experiences, but they have to be meaningful and relevant.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Exactly. And I wanted them to live their life, their childhood. I didn’t want them to be what? 13 years old in college. What did you do with your childhood? Because you’ll have time to go to college. You’ll time to work. You’ll have time to be adults. Once you pass that childhood period, it’s gone. And I’ve given talks about achieving gaps versus opportunity, gaps in the black community. And I all raised in the book because it’s chronological. I had to write covered events, things that were taking place at that time. And I know the Trayvon Martin thing was really sad and fearful around that time. And I had to talk to my kids.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And this is why I say sometimes that unfortunately I think black kids have to grow up faster than white kids because you have to tell them the reality of what happened, especially when I said about the part about when I was in third grade, when that teacher pushed me away. That was such a traumatic experience for me. And years later I could still vividly recall that because I was shaken. I didn’t know what I did. And that made her so angry. So that trauma stayed with me and I closed down. I did not talk a lot in school, unless I was specifically asked a question.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

I didn’t ask questions and I didn’t want my kids to encounter that, but I knew at some point we would have to talk about out situations like that. And they would have to live that babyhood, that childhood in a sense that you don’t want them to grow out too soon. So again, that’s also the reason why I was not crazy for them to skip grades. I liked that they could stay with their grade, but they could just take advance courses here and there, because I think childhood is important. And I think you regret that afterwards. As an adult you’re going to be working for the rest of your life. Be a child and enjoy being a child.

Dr. Amy Moore:

[crosstalk 00:30:54]. Oh, go ahead.

Teri Miller:

It’s important. I love how you talked about that you advocated for your kids’ giftedness that I think there are a lot of school programs and there probably weren’t even 20, 30 years ago, but there are a lot of programs for kids that are struggling and that is almost more accepted or easy to find solutions for when your kids are struggling. There’s lots of special ed programs, small groups that take them out and help struggling readers or struggling math students. But the gifted student, I’ve got two of my kiddos that are very, very gifted and they have struggled more with yeah, boredom, depression, I hate school. And here they are, the shining stars-

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Exactly.

Teri Miller:

… of school, but they’re so bored with it. They’re so unchallenged. And then they’re frustrated and I love how you share about advocating for your kids, keeping them in their grade, but challenging them to be able to do more. And that you had to fight this system to do that.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Yeah. And that’s one of the reason I also later on got involved with the school board because as I kept complaining to the superintendent or the principal, whoever I could talk to, the director of student affairs, he was the first one that I spoke to a lot of the times. And he said, “You have such good ideas and it’s parents like you that should stay in the system and fight within the system. You just take your kids away and say, I’m going to educate them myself.” I said, “But what would you have me do? It’s so slow to get anything moving.” But I did feel a little guilty because I didn’t want to think that I’m only advocating for my kids. And actually I didn’t because a lot of the programs that they instituted were for homeschoolers. So I felt like it wasn’t just my kids, it was other homeschoolers.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

He said, “You should be on the school board or the PTO.” And I said, “Yeah, right, that’s never going to happen.” And here I am today on the school board. And I thought a lot what he said and I said, “Maybe he might be right. After I finish homeschooling my kids, after I’m done, I will really consider about giving my time to the school district,” because I do think that the school district did a lot of my requests and they did change a lot in some aspect that I feel like they do listen to parents as much as they can. And I feel like because I have a lot of ideas, I do want to help implement some of these ideas for the children growing up now.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. And I think we talk about this in several episodes, but the importance of parents being advocates and that there are a lot of parents. That’s a lot of voices. And so if we use our voices effectively, then maybe we will see the changes that we want to see in the system. So talk a little bit about what advice you have for listeners who are frustrated with what opportunities are not being offered or what they’d like to see that they aren’t seeing. Talk a little bit about how you can use your voice as a mom.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Well, I think that definitely going to school board meetings is so important, writing to your school board. We just voted on something that I thought I was going to vote against it. And I got some really powerful letters about, “Why this means so much to me and don’t vote against it.” And I was like, “These letters are so effective.” And I changed my vote because of those letters. I felt that I connected with them and I did see their point of view. So writing campaigns, how you feel about things, coming to school board meeting and voicing. And they show all of these horrible parents yelling and everything. That’s not a way for your kids to learn. That’s just disrespectful. It’s rude. The letters I received, most of them were very good, very well written like, “I know you have a hard job and I know you’re not paid for this, but I just want to share this story with you.”

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

And you’re going to get people’s attention. You’re going to get their attention much more than yelling and a lot of that stuff. That’s not how it does. So when people come to school board meeting and they’re respectful and they just give their point of view in a very respectful manner to not only the school board, but a lot of times the kids are viewing them, they’re viewing their parents. I mean, these are examples for our kids to follow. And I think it’s very rude and disrespectful. That’s not something that we want to share. And so sometimes yes, if it’s going to be so violent, we have to stop them from talking because that’s not the kind of image that we want to project to our children, to your children too, right? It’s not a good way for dialogue to occur. But I do think getting involved in your community.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Now, for some reason, and some schools just don’t have the funding. Now that I’m on the other side, I’m really looking at the roof repair, the playground, the insurance. There’s so many funding, the pension, the teachers salary, the books, the curriculum. There is a lot of money that has to go for one individual child, the special ed education, all of that. It’s easy to say, “Oh, what are they doing with all that money?” Trust me, and the things that the books are open, the books are open to the public to see where that money goes. And we don’t want to have to raise taxes. So sometimes the school could. Meanwhile, it’s just that they don’t have the funding for that. And if they don’t, I think locally if the parents really want that, find other people in the community. If you want to start a robotics course, find someone in the community that’s willing to do that or maybe even a teacher that could want to give her time away. Maybe the school can’t afford to do that, but it could be done.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

When I was homeschooling my kids in the other school district what was great about it is that a lot of us were either professionals or the spouses were professionals. And so I gave them a whole course of pregnancy and delivery and I went in some gowns and showing them how you would hold the baby when they come out. And it was an upfront personal experience. And then somebody else was an electrical engineer and their spouse came and they did presentation and the kids were just fascinated with that. So there’s other ways to think outside of the box. If you want to accomplish this, how could I do it to get it accomplished? And you’ll be surprised when you send out an email to neighbors.com or whatever, you’ll find like-minded people that may want to start something like that.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So where’s the power in the decision making? So if you’re a parent and you want to see change or suggest a change, do you start with the principal or do you go directly to the school board? Where-

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

You start with the principal. The school board is your last avenue because the school board is more of a governing role. And so we hire the superintendent with the intention of what we want for him to accomplish, but we don’t oversee everything. He does. We give him the freedom to do that. And then he hires a principal and he tells them what he wants and he gives them. We’re the last tier. A friend of mine can’t write to me and tell me about a teacher that’s doing terrible work. I can’t involve with that. I would say, “Speak to the teacher, speak to the principal.”

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

I’m the last person that would get involved with that. Because then if you’re always getting involved in that, then why do you need them? And they will feel like you don’t trust their judgment. We’ve hired them for a purpose and we have to let them do that purpose. We’re basically a governing board. And I think a lot of people are confused now, like, “I’m going to go to the school board and get this change.” It doesn’t work like that.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay.

Teri Miller:

I was starting to say earlier, in everything you talk about, I’m just hearing a theme of perseverance, stick-to-itiveness in your life, your stories, what you’ve done with your children, what you’re doing now in education. You see a problem and you are just pressing on and pressing on and pressing on. And that is such good inspiration for us to hear as moms, because I think it’s way too easy culturally now to just give up and you are a shining light of, okay, we can stick to this and we can make a difference.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Yeah. I do like that optimism in life because then what’s your alternative? You just give up? And so I do believe in trying your best. And then if the first time didn’t work, maybe you started it differently. Maybe if you try this approach. If it’s something that you want, then you shouldn’t just give up the first time you fail. And it’s not how many times you fail, but so many times you get up and say, “Okay, I’m going to try different tactics.” And the third time might be a charm. And so if it’s something you really want, then I think that you should go all out for it.

Teri Miller:

I’m inspired.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. So we need to take a quick break and let Teri read a word from our sponsor LearningRx.

Teri Miller: Reading sponsor ad from LearningRx Brain Training Centers

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Dr. Amy Moore:

And we’re back talking to Dr. Carline Crevecoeur about her homeschooling and educational advocacy journey. So Dr. Carline, what do you want our listeners to take away from your visit with us today?

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

If you’re going to do homeschooling, because that’s what my book is about, but it’s about so much more than homeschooling, it’s about life. This is why I had to call it A Parenting Story. You also have to realize that life gets in the way, and you have to plan for that because nothing’s going to be perfect and nothing’s going to be easy. As long as you understand that, I think you’ll do well. The reason that I bring this up is because again, when I got sick, when the earthquake occurred, there are different times in the story that I was devastated and there could be other things like just having a migraine, and that happened too, that I couldn’t teach. And there was no substitute teacher. And these are things that you don’t really think of when you’re so enthusiastic and ready to go, and they will be those moments.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

There will also be moments of self-doubts and you’re thinking, “Oh my God, I can’t do this. This is just too much.” And then you take a deep breath and the next day is going to be a better day. So just as long as you prepare yourself from these moments, because we all have them and I don’t want to make it sound like I was perfect. No. I had moments like that and they were exhausting and they were anxiety provoking. And there’s a part of the book where I say that I woke up at 4:00 in the morning to start my day. I had to get myself out of bed, get the books, get ready to prepare for the day’s work. And some people say, “Oh my God, 4:00, I could have never done that.” I said, “Actually I did look forward to it because the house was quiet.”

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

It was peaceful. I was just enjoying this little piece of solitude before the noise and the rackets would start. That was like my little piece of heaven. So I did look forward to it. There’s going to be moments like that. And don’t be too hard on yourself when there are moments like that. And tell kids, guess what? Today’s going to be a play day and they’re happy. And it’s okay. If you need that time off, you take that time off. And because homeschooling there’s no exact days or hours or time that you have to work, you are going to stay there. You are going to stand there. You make it a museum day. Because there are times that you’re not going to want to teach. There’s going to be times that the kids don’t want to learn. They just want to have fun and you have to be flexible enough to adjust your schedule to accommodate that. You’re not a [inaudible 00:44:32] a bad parent. You just have to sometimes just flow with it and just go with it.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love that because you’re also modeling that flexibility and you’re modeling that mindset of, “Hey, it’s okay if we don’t get it the way we planned it today, right? We’re going to do this instead.” And that type of cognitive flexibility is really difficult for especially young children to learn, right? Because they’re disappointed if things aren’t what they expected them to be. And so to be able to model that early on and show that it’s going to be okay if we do it this way instead, that’s a powerful life lesson in and of itself.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. That perseverance also includes grace and flexibility.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Yes, it does.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Absolutely. So when does your book come out?

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Oh, it came out already.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Oh, okay.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Yes, it’s out. And it’s on Amazon and it’s also on bookshop.org. And it’s also, if you go to my website, wwwcarlinecrevecoeur.com. You could also go to a link. I don’t sell it through my website, but I have the link to the two places. And if you’re in Pennsylvania, there’s some local stores that I’ve listed that carries the book. So yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

All right. Fantastic.

Teri Miller:

We’ve had guests on our podcast with books over the season that are very self-help oriented. They’re parenting “to do” books. And so I want listeners to hear that this story is… This is a page turner. I was up so late in the night reading this because I couldn’t wait to hear, well, wait a minute, what happened next? Oh my goodness. And how did that turn out? I feel like I would meet your kids and be like, “Oh my gosh, Jacky, Danielle.” I know them and of course I don’t. But this is a beautiful book, an easy read. If you want to read a book that will inspire you and encourage you, that is a total page turner, this is definitely worth the purchase. I really encourage listeners, moms get out there and read this, and you’ll be inspired to love your child even better with perseverance and grace. It’s great book.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Thank you. Thank you so much for that.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Well, and Dr. Carline, you’re a very engaging writer and it amazed me how you could remember word for word conversations, the way that you… Because it’s full of conversations that you had with each of your children, with your husband. And I mean, they’re quotes, right? And so anyway, you’re engaging from the first sentence. And so we were blessed to have gotten to read it.

Dr. Carline Crevecoeur:

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Dr. Amy Moore:

All right. So we are out of time and we’re going to wrap up, but we want to thank you, Dr. Carline for sharing your story today with our listeners. If you would like more information about Dr. Carline and her story, you can find her on Instagram @creve22, on Twitter @medicreve. And we’ll put those handles in the show notes, as well as a link to her website and a link to get her book, Pressure Makes Diamonds: From Homeschooling to the Ivy league- A Parenting Story.

So thank you so much for listening today. If you love our show, we would love it if you would leave us a five-star rating and review on Apple podcasts. Be sure to follow us on social media @thebrainymoms. And if you would like to watch instead of listen, we are on YouTube. So please subscribe to our channel and see us there. So look, until next time. We know that you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms. So we’re out.

Teri Miller:

See ya.

CONNECT WITH DR. CARLINE CREVECOEUR

Website: https://www.carlinecrevecoeur.com/
twitter: medicrev
Instagram: Crevey22

Read an excerpt of her book, Pressure Makes Diamonds: From Homeschooling to the Ivy League- A Parenting Story

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