by Dr. Kirsten L. Stein, Athena’s Founder
January 2020 marks a milestone at Athena’s. Although Athena’s began before 2010, our first official Athena’s Advanced Academy online classes commenced in January of 2010. One of the reasons I started Athena’s was to help parents of gifted children educate their children.
Like many parents of gifted children, I found myself floundering when it came to educating my children–despite my educator training. I had taken time away from teaching to raise my children when they were young, and I had planned on them entering the United States school system when they reached school age. But those plans were changed when it became obvious that the traditional school model would not work for them.
When my children reached preschool and kindergarten ages, I enrolled them in school. Although years apart, my son and daughter made it only to Kindergarten before it was clear they were not being challenged. I had gone to great lengths to locate schools that could work with their gifts. However, none of my hand-picked schools fully challenged either of them. Through a series of events centered around these school experiences, I decided to homeschool.
Although homeschooling is not a prerequisite to attend Athena’s classes, it was through homeschooling my children that I discovered online learning. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to gather information and piece together curricula for them. At the time, I had not yet gotten my doctorate, but I did have my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, so I used that knowledge and experience to educate my children at home.
This worked very well—both children were learning and were enjoying the process. My family was able to tap into the local homeschooling community to find classes, co-ops, and companions. However, I found that this was not enough. They were missing a connection with like-minded peers who shared their passions and curiosities. So, I reached out to other parents of gifted children online.
As I connected with more parents in the gifted community, I became aware of the struggle that many of these parents were experiencing in educating and challenging their gifted children. I also realized that many families were also seeking a broader gifted community. Athena’s was my solution to both issues—educating students and connecting gifted students with each other.
The first order of business was to properly educate and challenge my students at Athena’s. As the only instructor at the time, I started with a handful of courses. As Athena’s grew, I watched our Athena’s community take shape in the Social Forums and during webinars.
Before long, Athena’s began attracting educators and parents who were interested in teaching through our program. This allowed us to expand to more subject areas, challenge more students, and strengthen our community.
I’m so proud of how far Athena’s has come in the last decade and I am looking forward to watching how our community grows and improves—both in the next decade and in decades to come.
Whether you’ve been here from the beginning or are just now becoming a part of our community,
thank you all for joining us on this journey!