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Wednesday February 8th 2023

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Congrats Homeschooled Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor

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Congrats Homeschooled Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor

Part One

By Linda Dobson

homeschooledBecause of the wonderful response to yesterday’s post about the stories of  homeschooled adults (thank you!), and because homeschooled Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor just retired from football this weekend (perhaps; sometimes players come back!), I thought this would be a good time to share Jason’s story with our readers. I interviewed Jason and his mom in1999 or 2000. I want to give a great big thank you to Hazel, who worked with Miami Dolphins security at the time. I don’t know how many times I pestered this poor woman in the locker room, but she always left a note on Jason’s locker for me. Jason finally called just before bedtime one night in the 11th hour of the book’s deadline. My youngest answered the phone, said it was for me but he didn’t know who it was. After Jason and I set up an interview appointment time, we hung up, and I told my son with whom he had just spoken. He was thrilled – but not as much as I was. [g]

The story is too long for a single post, so I’ll break it down into several parts. Oh, and the orange headline is in honor of the Dolphins’ uniform!

Homeschooled Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor

Coming Home to the Champion Within

According to all reports, Jason Taylor is the first homeschooled player in the National Football League. As a result of the Taylor family’s decision to homeschool, Jason’s journey to a starting position as a defensive end for the Miami Dolphins was filled with challenges. Had it not been for homeschooling, though, the journey might never have happened at all.

Homeschooling: The Experiment

Jason attended government schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, through third grade, at which time the family opted for private school. They even bought an old house right behind the school “so we could be right there,” Georgia says. Despite the fact that her children were always late for school because they lived so close, Mom was happy with the choice. The school was big enough to offer good teachers and programs and small enough that individual children didn’t get lost.

Georgia first learned about home education from Renee, a homeschooling church friend. “I don’t know if I’d want to do that,” was Georgia’s response.

“Why?” asked Renee.

Georgia answered, “I don’t know if I could.”

“Oh, yes you can!” said Renee. “Everybody can do this.” Renee explained to Georgia how Pennsylvania law had changed, and homeschooling parents were no longer required to be certified teachers. A parental high-school diploma was now all that was legally necessary.

Like many before her, Georgia began wondering if homeschooling would work for her preschool-age children. She considered homeschooling her older children Jason and Tiffanie as an experiment; Tiffanie, a gifted and talented pupil, could finish a light load of requirements at home as a senior, and Jason could always go back to school if it didn’t work. While homeschooling could be an intentional act, it didn’t need to be an “eternal act,” says Georgia. We wanted it to be, but we didn’t know anything about it yet.”

Why would a parent take a risk like this when a reputedly good private school sat next door?

“We knew even the private school system had control over our children’s education,” explains Georgia. “We wanted to be the ones to decide what our children learned. We teach them that this is wrong and this is right, and we didn’t want anyone teaching them differently. When that happens,” she continues, “the parents’ integrity is destroyed. The children no longer feel the parents know what they’re talking about.”

Renee planted the seed of homeschooling in Georgia’s mind in early spring. Georgia sent away for information from the sources Renee supplied and decided she wanted the structure of Christian Liberty Academy’s complete curriculum. By June, she had ordered homeschooling materials and enrolled Jason and Tiffanie in the program that keeps students’ records. The Taylors were ready for the educational experiment.

Georgia remembers her family looking at each other after a couple of days of homeschooling and wondering, “Is this what homeschooling’s like? Are we doing it right?” She laughs out loud at the memory.

Tiffanie began to realize that all the “prep time” that went into getting ready for school had been wasted time. Jason saw that bookwork proceeded a lot more quickly at home. “At home you don’t have all the interruptions of recess, having to walk to your next class, teachers correcting people, and people goofing off in the back.” And, he adds, “You don’t have to worry about school shootings, either.”

Jason recalls wanting to remain at school with his buddies. “Homeschooling was my parents’ idea,” he says. “We were living under their roof and that’s what they wanted to do, so I had to try it.” He had been a decent school student but, he adds, was “a typical teenage guy who had a lot of other things I wanted to do besides schoolwork. I wasn’t bringing home F’s, but I wasn’t bringing home A+’s, either.”

See also “The Value of Homeschooling Stories by Reed Colfax

The following year, instead of purchasing an entire curriculum, Jason and Georgia chose some courses from their previous curriculum provider and supplemented them with bookstore purchases of workbooks, vocabulary books, and “a lot of economics.”

Even though a nearby support group offered classes to homeschoolers every Friday, at that point the Taylors had neither the time nor a need to participate. “I started homeschooling in 1989. I had babies in ’87, ’88, and ’89,” Georgia explains. “Tiffany had already graduated and was planning on getting married. Jason was busy constantly with football and basketball, so we were never here. Those were years of football season games, basketball season games, then springtime was here, and I had one of my babies in June and another year in August. Life was full!” Georgia laughs.

Jason had played power forward and center on a basketball team since junior high and harbored hopes of earning a college scholarship through the game. “If I didn’t get a scholarship,” he says, “there wasn’t going to be a real good chance that I could go to college because my parents didn’t have the money for it.”

Homeschooling days often began for Jason at 6 A.M. when “I’d go down to the courts and work out for a while,” he says. Indeed, dad Anthony frequently recalls seeing Jason at the basketball court, scraping off snow so he could practice while the other kids his age were riding off to school on a bus.

“I’d shoot around and come back at 8 A.M. to start my schoolwork. It was self-paced, so I’d work through it, and Mom and my super-brilliant sister were always there to help me, too,” says Jason. After lunch it was back to the playground for basketball or off to karate lessons. Later, it was either basketball or football practice or games, depending on the season. somehow Jason also managed to work for a disaster restoration company from the time he was 16 until he went to college.

Stay tuned for Part Two of Miami Dolphins Jason Taylor’s homeschooled story!

For more information about Homeschoolers’ Success Stories: 15 Adults and 12 Young People Share the Impact That Homeschooling Has Made on Their Lives, visit this link at Parent at the Helm.



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2 Responses to “Congrats Homeschooled Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor”

  1. Tracey Dacks says:

    What an Amazing story.Thanx for sharing:)I am a huge fan of JT. And follow and admire everything he is part of on and off the field.He is truly Amazing:)

    • I agree, Tracey! I was so blown away with the opportunity to interview him and his mom…and humbled to share his story with fellow homeschoolers. Thanks so much for reading and responding.

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