Karen Dougherty

Karen Dougherty Testimonial

Our family came to AFA when our son, Owen, was a rising freshman. We were dedicated, passionate homeschoolers but when our eldest went to college we realized that we needed more income to cover that cost. I had known Beth Strachan years and she had always encouraged me to look at AFA. In the spring of Owen’s 8th grade year we finally came for a visit. What I saw was a school that reminded me very much of our homeschool coop, only larger. The classrooms we popped in on were lively and the students were engaged. They welcomed us warmly and enthusiastically. These students didn’t look bored or complacent at all. They seemed to really be enjoying the discussions.

Our biggest fear was that we would not be able to afford AFA and our daughter’s four-year college simultaneously but Dean Luckenbaugh held our hands through the process and did the believing for us when we thought it wasn’t possible. I was so impressed with the school and the teachers. Owen had a great experience on his shadow day and I finally realized that I just needed to trust that the Lord would make a way. The Lord provided the money, I’m still not sure how, and the rest is history. Every month when we wrote our check to AFA, my husband and I agreed that it was the best money we had ever spent.

There were many fears going into AFA as a homeschooler. The school is academically rigorous and I knew our son was smart but I had no idea how he would handle the workload.

I guess my greatest fear was that our homeschooling might not have prepared him for this. The wonderful answer to my fear was that while AFA is as academically demanding, the teachers are loving and invested and encouraging. The small class sizes and the quality of the teaching staff make the experience very personal. Students are encouraged to ask questions, share their thoughts and even disagree! The upper school students are treated as young adults and are motivated to think for themselves as they learn truth. The value of learning history and science from the original sources is invaluable. Taking four years of Latin will benefit him throughout his life.

My son was challenged and rewarded. He was taught to analyze and to question. He was taught to find the truth.

Owen graduated in 2019, and went on to a notoriously, academically challenging university. He was so well prepared for college that his professors asked him where he went to high school. They compliment his writing and are impressed with his knowledge. None of this is because he was the valedictorian of his class, indeed, Owen had a mediocre grade point average at the end of his time at AFA. But everyday that he was there he learned to love learning. He learned what it means to have brilliant teachers pour their love and their knowledge into him. He built relationships with those teachers that continue to bless him a year after graduation. He was shown grace as he sometimes behaved like a normal boy in his teens and he learned far more than he was ever tested on in his classes.

Our family benefited from Owen’s 4 years at AFA in many ways and I will be forever grateful to Beth Strachan for finally getting us there and for Dean Luckenbaugh who helped us believe it was possible.