Home schooling? Here's help

Local store is outlet for recycled texts

Dan and Gail McMackin made a part of their life a part of their business.

Earlier this year, the couple started The Schoolhouse in Medford, a consignment business that offers home-school curriculum, clothing and furniture.

We didn't do it, obviously, for the money, Gail McMackin said. We really wanted to do something that we believed in ... something that would bring meaning to our lives and others.

The store offers a place for home schoolers to recycle the school books their children have outgrown.

The store stocks flashcards, workbooks and textbooks, mainly for math and language. It also has a small section of electives, including tapes of poetry, a book on kid's gardening and even a textbook on defensive driving.

The recycled books are sold for 75 percent to 80 percent of their original value, or 50 percent for old edition books. Store and consignor split the sale -- so a textbook that sells for $20 will earn the consignor $10.

There's also has a large quantity of clothing and a small stock of furniture for sale.

Home schooling is something the McMackins believe in: They have home-schooled their four children. Two graduated from the Washington Homeschoolers Organization while the family lived in Seattle.

They first became involved in home schooling in the 1980s, before the practice had spread into the mainstream. Their daughter came home crying during the summer break, a few weeks before she was to enter the fourth grade. She told her parents she couldn't do math and had been faking her way through in the earlier years.

Gail McMackin said they decided to try home schooling. She said they soon found the one-on-one tutoring was irreplaceable.

Who loves their child more than a parent? Gail McMackin said. Who would give a child as much attention as a parent?

They liked it so much, they put their other three children into home schooling, as well. Over the years, they saw it become much more accepted.

About three years ago, the McMackins began toying with the idea of moving out of Seattle. Gail McMackin said the family was getting tired of the big city, the violence, the environment, even the wet weather of soggy Seattle.

They decided to move to the Rogue Valley after visiting friends in this area and, after, their 23-year-old daughter Tiffany moved to Medford when her husband was transferred on his job.

Dan McMackin, who worked at Boeing as a human resource director, looked around for jobs, but the family wanted to own a business. They thought about buying a cabinet-making shop or a window business.

Gail McMackin said they also were looking ahead at the possibility of Y2K -- the fear that computers will stop at the end of this year and create society-wide problems -- and decided to open a business that wouldn't be affected.

They hit upon the home school store and decided to combine it with consignment clothes and furniture -- businesses they used as a single-income family.

So the McMackins bought $20,000 worth of curriculum from The Home School Potpourri in Kirtland, Wash., one of the first home-school consignment stores in the country, and opened up their shop.

New home school textbooks can be bought directly through the distributors or at Evangel Family Bookstores.

But, as experienced home schoolers, the McMackins said they knew books to be one of the biggest home-schooling costs -- especially when paying full price, plus shipping and handling.

It was like college textbooks, Dan McMackin said.

Southern Oregon has a large community of home schoolers, Gail McMackin said, and they spread the word about the business through the Jackson County Home Educators, an umbrella group of home schoolers who meet monthly.

During their grand opening on Feb. 27, the whole McMackin family got into the act, with Tiffany doing face-painting and their 11-year-old twins making cookies. We really wanted a family business, Gail McMackin said.

The store is at 1800 E. Barnett Road in the Carriage Square. The business is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to — p.m. Saturday.