- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

CODY, Wyo. (AP) - Julie Nelson values her children and their education.

The mother of four daughters home-schools her children in a newly built one-room log cabin.

The Madelry Bay Country School is operated on Shoshone River Drive off of the Powell Highway by Julie and her husband Kirk.

“My mother-in-law bought (an antique) school bell at auction and started the idea to build a log school house,” Julie said.

Kirk, a carpenter by trade, began constructing the 16 foot by 20 foot traditional log cabin in his spare time.

When their first daughter, Madison, was born, Julie decided to stop working and become a full-time mom.

She had been a teacher for eight years in Florida, Nebraska and in Cody.

With a background in education and a desire to be fully involved in raising her child, Julie decided to start home-schooling.

As the Nelson clan grew, the log house project inched closer to completion.

Despite Kirk saying there were “still a few finishing touches left,” Julie decided it was fully functional and now teaches five children in the log structure - her own four and a fifth child from the neighborhood.

The materials used to construct the school house harken back to an earlier era. Despite this fact, modern touches can be found.

The wood-burning stove in the corner keeps the room toasty warm and half a dozen oil lamps along the walls are available for lighting.

Just as you begin to feel transported back to the late 1800s, electrical outlets shatter the illusion. Plus Madison is working on a laptop computer.

The current school roster at Madelry Bay includes Madison, 12; Ellie, 9; Rylie, 7; and Tessie, 5. Neighborhood friend Olivia Brown, 9, brings the total to five students.

Julie views the entire undertaking as a return to earlier times.

“In the past, everyone was home-schooled or taught by private tutors,” she said. “I’m their private tutor.”

Her children seem pleased.

“I love home-schooling and I wouldn’t want any other teacher,” Ellie said.

The children don’t feel shortchanged by not attending a traditional school.

“Probably the only thing (we are missing) is bullies in school and long lines,” Madison said.

Julie’s children don’t take a bus to school because the log cabin is next to their house.

The commuting time saved permits a 9:30 a.m. start time for class. They wind down at 2:30 p.m. and are home before any of their friends.

Control of the curriculum allows Julie to delve into topics such like astronomy and birds.

“We go in depth and I’m learning along with my kids,” she said.

Not wanting her children isolated from the larger world, Julie makes an effort to involve her girls in outside educational and recreational activities.

On Thursday they attend a school co-op. This is essentially a structured educational day for home-schooled children.

Despite her own curriculum, Julie sees a value in additional instruction. Part of which is the social interaction.

Although the girls know the majority of kids who live nearby, they have met new people at their co-op class.

“Most we already knew but there were some new faces,” Madison said.

The three oldest daughters play Little League softball, and Rylie plays soccer also.

Julie and Kirk are committed to educating their children even if they relocate someday.

“It’s on skids and if we ever move it will go with us,” she said.


Information from: The Cody Enterprise, https://www.codyenterprise.com

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