LeDonna Griffin spent nearly 30 years in Omaha public schools as a teacher and administrator. So she’s seen it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly. She knew the challenges in the system, and she was pretty sure she could help families create better options for their kids.
“One of the powerful things I often saw was that children were in their safest place—I mean emotionally, physically, ability to learn new information—in the home,” says LeDonna. “With COVID happening and parents feeling very flustered in marginalized communities and looking for alternatives, Leaders to Legends came into existence out of a need. It was a need first. And then it all naturally took place.”
Leaders to Legends started out as a consulting company assisting families with various education issues. The homeschool co‐op came about from parents who were frustrated and told LeDonna “I can no longer have my child experiencing a lack of success.” She started with one family asking for homeschool support and it grew from there. “We began in the public library at no fee and started to meet with multiple families. Within three months’ time, we outgrew the library and are now housed in a building that we call the Parent Resource Center,” she recalls.
The co‐op currently meets three days a week, Tuesday through Thursday, year round. The families have a lot of control over the co-op—they vote on which curriculum to follow in each subject as well as different aspects of how the co‐op is run. The school day often starts with affirmations, where they talk about why they attend Leaders to Legends—to grow to be their best self and make the world a better place. “Our whole model is based around ‘how can I make the world a better place?’” LeDonna explains. “We have a whole mission and vision of building a healthy community that goes out and builds other healthy communities. So it just becomes a natural thing and doesn’t take work—it’s just ‘this is who we are.’ And that is the goal of Leaders to Legends.”
The co‐op also covers traditional academic subjects. For history, they typically use some type of unit study. “We just completed a George Washington Carver unit study,” LeDonna says. “And then we had an open house where parents were invited, and they explained to the parents everything they learned—although parents are learning right along with them and doing some of the curriculum at home. It was a great way for them to practice public speaking.” Each day there’s a different special class, too: martial arts is on Tuesday, Wednesday is music class, and sewing is on Thursday. For music class, the students got to pick which instruments they’re learning—half chose piano and half chose drums.
In this past school year, there were seven families with 17 children participating. LeDonna is hosting homeschool information sessions over the summer and has had quite a bit of interest. She expects to have 15 to 20 families enrolled by August. “The tides are definitely turning where parents are saying my child deserves a quality education and this is how I’m going to get them there,” she says.
When asked what advice she would have for anyone who is considering starting a homeschool co‐op, LeDonna doesn’t hesitate. “The nature of homeschool itself is parent driven, right? My advice would be to allow the parents to drive this thing. Parents have a lot to say; it’s unfortunate that not often enough are they asked. Coming from the public school sector, not often enough are they asked. If they’re given that space, you’d be amazed what they can do and put together and invest in providing a quality education for their child.”