By Bonnie Mentel

Families Instructing Students at Home (F.I.S.H.), a ministry of Bell Shoals Baptist Church, is a Christian homeschool encouragement group in Brandon. There are currently 240 families registered with F.I.S.H., making it the largest Christian homeschooling support group in Hillsborough County.

Its Website states, “Our goal is to provide an environment centered on Christ and to glorify God through encouraging one another to teach our children in the way God has directed us. F.I.S.H. is an encouragement group and is not intended to take the place of core curriculum, which the parents are responsible for. F.I.S.H. offers a variety of volunteer-driven activities and perks.”

Doreen Jackson, F.I.S.H. graduation liaison, said that the group had 54 seniors this year and that 43 of them participated in the graduation ceremony last month. Three academic scholarships totaling $3,000 were awarded to Christian Wertz, Kayla Gibbons, and Katie Douglas.

“After graduation, many (graduating seniors) are going on some type of gap year to do missions. Several of them, more than 50 percent of them, have college plans at a university,” Jackson said of the students’ future plans.

F.I.S.H. is hosting a kick-off party on Thursday, June 2 for families interested in learning more about the homeschool ministry. The event will be held from 6–8 p.m. in the Special Events Center at Bell Shoals Baptist Church. The first senior meeting for the class of 2017 will be that night at 8 p.m.

“We’ll have notaries there and all the paperwork available for people to sign up on site. There is a $10 discount if people sign up that night. It’s $50, after that it’s $60. We’ll have a reception with food there and we’ll also have tables with outside vendors that offer things for homeschool families. We’ll also have tables with opportunities that are available for families in F.I.S.H.; that are unique to our own group,” said Suzanne Nunn, F.I.S.H. chairman/events coordinator.

The registration fee is per family, and families are still able to register any time during the year for $60. The leadership team will be available at the event to answer any questions. Visit for more information.

F.I.S.H. doesn’t stop for the summer. There will be events and activities available to F.I.S.H. families and camps for the community. More information about the summer camps will be available at the June 2 meeting and on its website.

One of the camps, TechPlayZone, is now enrolling. F.I.S.H. is partnering with TechPlayZone to offer STEM camps to all kids, age 7-12, in the community. Students will participate in Robotics, Minecraft, Science experiments, App Inventor, and 3D Printing. The camps will be held in The Annex at Bell Shoals Baptist Church at 2102 Bell Shoals Rd. in Brandon. Each camp costs $125 per week from 9 a.m.–12 Noon. Register at

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