About Us

The Graham Family
The Graham Family

eNDVR and our Learning With Meaning office are located at 1905 W. Sussex Ave, Missoula, MT 59801. If you want to talk to a real live person about homeschooling or educational opportunities in Missoula, MT, give us a call at 406-493-6886.

Annie Graham

My first passion in life was software design. As an 8 year old, I spent hours staring at a computer screen, writing  “choose your own adventure” games in Basic. The world that made sense to me was logical, black and white and easy to debug. As I grew older, I expressed myself through electronic music, and enjoyed several years as a travelling performer and dj. At some point, I buckled down, went to school and got a Masters degree in CIS. My husband and I had two sons and I freelanced from home to help support us. Then, we got divorced and I became a single working mom, trying to happily raise two boys. I soon met my husband and his children, who both had special needs and required a lot of parental support. I stopped working and focused exclusively on being a mom.

Why have four when you can have six? I still don’t have a good answer to this question. But, we felt like it made sense at the time, so we signed up for therapeutic foster parent classes and began the journey to adopt children out of the foster care system. We only intended to adopt one child, but when two sisters, age 2 and 3 came available, we jumped at the opportunity. And then there were six.

Our house is like most houses, but with the volume turned way up. We have more diagnoses than you can count on two hands, ranging from ADHD to Reactive Attachment Disorder to Autism. While I have never had any formal training in psychology, I think I have spent enough time bringing children to therapy to at least get an honorary degree. Or maybe a medal. I know what works at our house, and while it might not work at your house, I think it’s important to get the perspective of parents who are really living through these things. Therapists are great, but sometimes you want to throttle them when they calmly tell you that you need to try a different approach after your child has spent the weekend trying to push you past the brink of sanity. Sometimes I threaten to send a child home with their therapist so that they can see where I’m coming from. No on ever takes me up on the offer. So, part of our blog is about the things that we go through – the behaviors that we see – and the solutions that have worked (and haven’t worked) for us.

I’m also coming from the perspective of being a home school teacher. I don’t dislike the public education system – I just don’t think it’s a good fit for some of my children. Every day, I see my children engaged in play and creative activities. Forcing them to sit at a desk and fill out worksheets seems to run counter to who they are and how they learn. In many ways, I feel like our education system has not changed with the times. We try to put our children into little boxes, assessing them on skills that are no longer as important in our world – like handwriting and telling time on clocks that no one seems to use anymore. In fact, so many things that you find in a public school room don’t seem to exist in the outside world. Children are learning things that are instantly useless as they progress through the grades, then they are being tested on it, judged by it, labeled and tracked accordingly. I hope that our site can be useful to home school parents AND teachers who have realized that there might be better ways out there to connect with their students. Lessons can be fun, meaningful and still teach basic skills. In fact, you might find that your students learn faster when they are enjoying their time at school. Meaningful education might just raise standardized test scores, and it will definitely foster a love of learning that will help students for the rest of their lives. I hope you enjoy our blog, our apps and everything we have to offer. If you use any of our ideas or if you have ideas of your own to share, please leave a comment.  We would love to hear from you.

Brandon Kendall

When I was nineteen years old my girlfriend at the time convinced me I would be a great day camp counselor at the local YMCA for the summer. It sounded like a fun, low stress way to spend the long summer day. That job proved to be the most challenging position that I will likely ever have in my life. I had to quickly learn how to manage groups of ten to twenty children, design crafts and projects that the kids could get excited about and do it for eight hours a day. Almost nothing could have convinced me then that those skills I struggled so much to acquire would be the same skills I use each day now as a first grade teacher.

I’m a graduate of Gonzaga University with a bachelors in Special Education with focus on psychology and emphasis on educating children with behavior disorders. After graduation, I moved to Juneau, Alaska where taught kindergarten/first grade special education Mendenhall Elementary School. After a seemingly endless (yet very beautiful) winter in Alaska I traveled some and eventually ended up in Missoula, Montana where I completely fell in love with teaching in way and setting inspired by John Dewey’s model of progressive education.

My philosophy of teaching and learning is derived as much from my experiences outside of a traditional classroom setting as it is from my time in schools. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to work with at-risk teenagers in seminars, participate in and lead a mentoring program matching college students with intermediate-aged children in Spokane schools, enjoy wonderful summers as a camp counselor and residential director at a children’s oncology camp and work with many different children and teenagers with disabilities through programs like Easter Seals.

 

 

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