By Michael Smith

For more than 20 years Bell Shoals Baptist Church has provided resources and support for Christian homeschool families.

In 1995 the Brandon Campus of Bell Shoals formed its FISH (Families Instructing Students at Home) ministry, and in spring 2016 ANCHOR (A Nurturing Christian Homeschool ORganization) was founded at the church’s Apollo Beach Campus.

ANCHOR was started by Apollo Beach Campus Minister of Preschool and Children Rebeka Corgan and Co-op Director Nikki Hollifield, and was modeled after FISH. Membership, which is open year-round, runs from June 1-May 31 and is $30 annually. ANCHOR members receive a discount on membership to the Florida Parent Educators Association and are able to participate in events, field trips and clubs (book, Spanish, yearbook, community service and LEGO).

ANCHOR has a minimum of one group event (movie night, STEAM fair, Bible bee, creative arts festival) per month and one field trip per month (Jubilee Gymnastics, Lowry Park Zoo, Hydro Harvest Farms, Veterans Park).

Co-op registration (ANCHOR membership required) is an additional $10 per semester per child (cap of $30). The co-op consists of three elective classes for babies through 12th grade. A drop-off option is available for high schoolers. Classes for the fall semester run from 9:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. every Monday for 12 weeks.

Church membership is not required to be a member of ANCHOR. ANCHOR Vice Chairwoman Stephanie Demorest has seen several families start attending the Apollo Beach Campus after joining the homeschool group.

“ANCHOR indirectly provides members with a preview to some of the Bell Shoals facilities and church events and also gives them some friendly faces so it’s easier to build connections when attending church on Sunday,” she said.

Demorest, who has three children (ages 12, 4 and 1½), started homeschooling last year.
“Since the beginning, ANCHOR has been an outstanding support system that has made homeschooling effective, enjoyable and rewarding,” she said.

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