Balanced Relevant and Needed Christian Home Education Support
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
Having made the decision to educate our children at home with the help of God rather than the State and having found that we all need help from others from time to time, the families in BRANCHES have joined together to support & encourage one another, to share information & ideas, and to pray for one another.
A. BRANCHES is a not-for-profit community club and consists of Christian families in Alameda County.
B. The families in BRANCHES believe that parental involvement and guidance are vital to the well-being of our children, and that God has given us the right and the reason to take this responsibility seriously.
C. BRANCHES is part of the Support Network offered by the Christian Home Educators Association of California, better known as CHEA.
D. The children represented by BRANCHES span all age ranges.
E. Most of us share the Christian faith and, therefore, BRANCHES supports the work of the local Church and encourages families to be active and accountable in a body of believers.
STATEMENT OF FAITH
A. We believe that the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God, His complete and final revelation. The Bible is without error in theological concepts, geographical designations or historical detail (2 Timothy 3:16).
B. We believe that God has existed from eternity in three Persons (Genesis 1:26; 21:33): the Father (Matthew 6:9-10), the Son (John 10:29), and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). Jesus Christ came in human form, fully God (John 8:58; 10:29) and fully man (Matthew 1:16; 4:2), except as He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
C. We believe that all men are in violation of God's righteous requirements and His holy character by nature and act (Romans 3:23), and are therefore under His wrath and just condemnation (Romans 6:23a).
D. We believe that the central purpose of the coming of Jesus was to pay the penalty for the sins of man through His substitutionary death on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 5:10). This task was successful, as shown by His visible bodily resurrection (Acts 1:3).
E. We believe that salvation is offered as a gift, free to every sinner (Romans 6:23b). This gift must be accepted by individual faith (John 1:12), not trusting one's own works but in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6).
A. Membership is open to all who are interested in home schooling and believe it to be a viable alternative to traditional classroom education.
B. All members each year MUST
1. Pay dues
2. Read, complete, and submit a sign-up form with dues to the Membership Secretary
3. Sign a Release of Liability which holds BRANCHES harmless in the event of any accident or injury incurred while a member family is at a BRANCHES event (see back of Sign-up form, page 9 in this Handbook, and Matthew 18).
4. Read and adhere to BRANCHES By-Laws and Policies
C. Although Leaders are required to agree with and sign the Statement of Faith, members are not. Please agree to leave individual points of doctrine up to each family.
D. There are no required duties for the general membership, although every member is encouraged to lead some activity or serve in some manner (e.g. set up a field trip, host a Mom's Night Out, teach or organize a one-time class or activity, etc.). Our policy is that if a need must be addressed, God will provide the Leader. When there is no support or leadership, programs are canceled. See the listings for Leaders positions, Organizers, and general service opportunities.
E. There are no required meetings for the general membership, but we encourage all members to attend the Spring Business Meeting to discuss policy, possible changes in dues, provide suggestions for the new school year, and other points of interest. Minutes of Leaders and Business meetings are available to any member upon request.
F. Our purpose is to minister to the membership as needs arise, and participation in activities is solely up to the discretion of the individual family.
G. Members are encouraged to give input at any time, especially in the Spring by attending the Business Meeting, or by submitting to the Chaircouple in writing ideas, feedback, or suggestions.
H. There are no requirements as to how member families legally conduct their home schools. BRANCHES does not restrict membership based on schooling options, choice of curriculum, or schooling style. However, some restrictions apply to members who wish to serve in leadership. For more information on this, please see Requirements of Leadership and the BRANCHES and Public School ISP's and Charter Schools Policy.
BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP
A. A subscription to the monthly newsletter, BRANCHING OUT (September-June, plus next year's September Sign-up issue)
B. A copy of the BRANCHES Handbook and Resource Directory
C. A copy of the Confidential Membership Directory--to be handed out in person only, never through the mail, and to be held in the strictest confidence. This directory is denied to anyone suspected of abusing the information.
D. The right to participate in group activities such as Field Trips, Book It!, Mom's Night Out, Year-end BBQ, etc.
E. Information on home schooling, including but not limited to
1. Independent Study Programs (ISP's)
2. Classes or teachers available (e.g. piano or art lessons) and other resources
3. State Network (CHEA) and their lobbyists, Roy Hanson and Jim Davis (see Family Protection Ministry Information sheet in this Handbook)
4. Home School Legal Defense Association (HsLDA) 5. Events of educational interest sponsored by local churches, Christian ISP's, H.A.R.D., etc.
A. SELECTION OF LEADERSHIP
1. Those in leadership hold a position of responsibility and service, not authority. Leaders consist of home educating parents who volunteer to serve the general membership as the Lord directs and gifts, and who meet the requirements of leadership.
2. Each Spring the membership is notified of the needs in leadership for the following year. Leadership Applications are available at the Spring Business Meeting. Persons interested in leadership submit the completed and signed application to the Chaircouple (or the CHEA Liaison in the event there is no Chaircouple) by the designated deadline.
3. At the Spring Leaders Meeting, the Leadership Council reviews the Applications to determine if applicants meet the requirements and to select persons to fill vacant positions.
4. Once the school year has begun and if positions of leadership are still vacant, Applications are submitted to the Chaircouple for prayerful review and approval.
B. LEADERSHIP COUNCIL POSITIONS
* CHAIRCOUPLE oversees the functioning of BRANCHES, ensures that everything is being completed as Leaders have agreed to do, compiles agendas for Business and Leadership meetings, and provides spiritual and practical leadership at BRANCHES meetings.
* CHEA LIAISON COUPLE acts to keep communications open between BRANCHES and CHEA, communicates with home schoolers referred from CHEA, encourages participation in the annual CHEA Bay Area Conference, and assumes Chaircouple responsibilities in the absense of a Chaircouple.
* TREASURER collects and deposits into the BRANCHES checking account all monies received;
* writes checks for any expenses incurred by BRANCHES; keeps accounting records; and provides financial reports at Business and Leadership Meetings.
* MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY develops, distributes, receives, and processes Membership Sign-up forms; produces the BRANCHES Confidential Directory; edits the BRANCHES Handbook (on paper and/or for this web site) as directed by the Leadership Council; notifies BRANCHES Leaders of members who are interested in various events, meetings, or services under their jurisdiction; takes, writes up and distributes Minutes of Business and Leadership meetings; creates an email group list as backup for the Email Secretary; and creates, duplicates, and distributes any brochures or other literature about or for BRANCHES
* FIELD TRIP COORDINATOR & ASSISTANT oversee the scheduling and planning of all BRANCHES Field Trips.
* PARK DAY COORDINATORS set up the schedule for Park Days, take charge of the meetings, and make announcements at Park Day.
* MOM'S NIGHT OUT COORDINATOR sets the dates for monthly get-togethers, chooses places for holding the meetings, and plans topics or themes for discussion and/ or activities.
* DAD'S FELLOWSHIP COORDINATOR arranges meetings for the BRANCHES homeschool dads, seeks to provide a forum to discuss the dads' roles in the homeschool process, encourages prayer at the meetings, and provides an opportunity for Christian fellowship.
* PARENTS PRAYER GROUP COUPLE leads a monthly prayer meeting for the attending members to pray for their children, for themselves as teachers and administrators, for any school concerns, and for BRANCHESÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ needs as a group.
* WEB SITE HOST maintains and updates the BRANCHES web site.
* NEWSLETTER EDITOR compiles and publishes a Newsletter for distribution to the membership ten times each school year (September through June), and maintains the Master Calendar.
* TEEN GROUP COORDINATOR oversees the direction of the Teen Group, sets dates for meetings and events, helps the teens plan their events and service projects, and ensures that the group meets in a loving and supportive Christian environment.
* EMAIL SECRETARY maintains a group email list of all BRANCHES members who want to receive email alerts and reminders; receives, monitors, and sends out notices via email; and responds to email inquiries on the BRANCHES email address.
* KEEPERS OF THE FAITH LEADERS oversee the functioning of their specific clubs. Keepers of the Faith is a group formed for the purpose of providing a solid framework for establishing and maintaining a Christian learning environment while children learn skills of caring for their environment. The purpose is to allow each child to achieve without competing against each other. Keepers promotes parent-child relationships, family, and God's design for men and women. The groups within Keepers of the Faith include: Contenders of the Faith for boys ages 6-16, Pebbles for girls ages 6-7, Stepping Stones for girls ages 8-12, and Keepers at Home for girls ages 13-18. At present, BRANCHES has clubs for Contenders of the Faith and Stepping Stones.
C. REQUIREMENTS OF LEADERSHIP
1. Be a regular, active attendee and/or member of a Christian, Bible-teaching church.
2. Agree with and sign the BRANCHES Statement of Faith.
3. Have been an active participant and supporter of BRANCHES for at least one year. The Chaircouple is required to have been active participants and supporters of BRANCHES for at least two years.
4. Have at least one year homeschooling experience with students Kindergarten or above.
5. Commit to serve a two-year term, ending on June 30 of the second term.
6. Rotate out of any leadership position at least every six years for a Sabbatical year. The Chaircouple will rotate out after two years, but will be able to fill other leadership positions for up to six years.
7. Read the Job Description(s) for the position(s) being sought.
8. Affirm that none of their children are enrolled in, nor are they in leadership in, nor employed by a public school program which functions as a home school ISP. Also affirm that they are not enrolled in, in leadership in, nor employed by a home education group or organization which does not operate as a Christian organization and whose purpose is to support and/ or influence home education.
9. Submit a resignation to the Chaircouple if at any time they are unable to fulfill their responsibilities to BRANCHES or if they no longer meet these requirements. Submit suggestions for a replacement to the Chaircouple.
D. DUTIES OF LEADERSHIP
1. Oversee the carrying out of the Statement of Purpose and the functioning of BRANCHES.
2. Oversee and complete the responsibilities of the specific job(s) for which appointed.
3. Attend all Business and Leaders Meetings.
4. Read and abide by the BRANCHES By-Laws & Policies.
5. Annually review and, if needed, revise the Job Description(s) for the job(s) held and submit the revisions to the Membership Secretary prior to the Spring Business Meeting.
POINTS OF ORDER
1. The Leadership Council evaluates the By-Laws and Policies annually, appealing to the Lord for His direction and wisdom. Changes may be proposed by the membership at large, but will be voted on by the Leaders.
2. A quorum includes at least one of the Chaircouple and a minimum of four other Leaders.
3. Each Leader will have one vote on decisions, regardless of how many positions s/he holds.
4. Votes on foreknown topics will be accepted by proxy if a Leader is unable to attend a meeting, however proxy votes are discouraged and cannot be used to establish a quorum.
5. Once a quorum has been met, policy decisions require a simple majority of the leadership present, while removal of a Leader requires a two-thirds vote of all Leaders.
A. Members pay annual dues, which may be prorated depending on the time of year you join. Members can look at their current newsletter for updates. Non members seeking membership can email for the current dues. Please email
BRANCHES for current dues and information package.
B. The annual membership dues cover, but are not limited to, newsletter and other mailing costs, facility usage donation, purchase of library resources, phone calls, printing costs (within reason) incurred in setting up activities, all group meetings (e.g. Business meetings, Leaders meetings, or BBQ in June), and per family donation to Family Protection Ministries (see information sheet included in this Handbook).
C. Costs for any and all other activities (e.g. crafts, field trips, photos, T-shirts, teen outings, etc.) will be the responsibility of the participants.
D. Amount of dues is determined annually by the Leadership Council.
E. A Treasurer's Report is presented at each Leaders and Business meeting.
F. As a not-for-profit group, BRANCHES must use all monies collected each year on appropriate expenses for the functioning of the group. In the event there is any surplus at the end of each fiscal year, the Leadership Council will determine how to best appropriate it.
G. An annual audit of the books will be done by a member not in leadership.
1. Members are encouraged to use their skills and gifts to aid, encourage, and inspire others. Spreading the burden helps prevent a few from carrying the entire load. If members don't do the work, it doesn't get done.
2. Service Opportunities for the current year are listed below. Members are encouraged to find an area of service that is consistent with their lifestyle, abilities and gifting. If a member does not want to assume complete responsibility for a task, they can contact the appropriate leader or Organizer and communicate their interest in assisting.
3. Members indicate their desired area of service by contacting the Chaircouple or appropriate leader (listed in parentheses following the description). If a leadership position is sought, members are to contact the Chaircouple and attend the Spring Business meeting.
4. General job descriptions are included here. Detailed descriptions for many leader and Organizer positions are available from the Membership Secretary. Members are expected to be responsible in the carrying out of their duties.
5. Volunteers are not limited by specific guidelines and are encouraged to make their area of service their own. Some areas of responsibility are defined by the BRANCHES By-laws, and it is the duty of the people filling these positions to understand and comply with those guidelines. Job Descriptions are revised annually by those holding the positions to reflect how the job was performed that year and to communicate effectively with the person entering the position the following year.
6. If a member wants to start asocial activity or group, they submit in writing a proposal to the Chaircouple who will authorize the activity or group based on its compliance with BRANCHES' Statement of Purpose and By-laws. If the activity involves any expense on the part of BRANCHES, the proposal is submitted to the leadership Council for approval.
7. Following is a listing of Organizer responsibilities and general areas of service that help make BRANCHES' programs and events possible. These are not positions of leadership, and as such, persons filling these roles do not need to meet the requirements of leadership as found on pages 3-4 of this Handbook.
* NEWSLETTER DISTRIBUTOR assists the Newsletter Editor in the preparation of the newsletter for distribution among the membership. (Newsletter Editor)
* AMERICAN GIRLS CLUB ORGANIZER oversees the club and its events. The main purpose of The American Girls Club is to have fun! It is primarily a social gathering with crafts around the American Girls theme. The age range of participants is generally 10-13 years of age. (Chaircouple)
* BOOK IT! ORGANIZER registers BRANCHES with the Book It! program and distributes materials to members interested in participating in this reading incentive program sponsored by Pizza Hut. (Membership Secretary)
* RESOURCE DIRECTORY COORDINATOR compiles and presents for inclusion in the Membership Directory a listing of pertinent homeschool informational resources. (Membership Secretary)
* PHONE TREE ORGANIZER compiles and prepares for distribution a call list for use by BRANCHES members to communicate immediate need situations by phone, including reminders to check for email alerts. The CHEA liaison, Chaircouple, or the Email Secretary contact the Phone Tree Organizer to start the Phone Tree in motion for urgent prayer requests or legislative alerts. (Membership Secretary)
* PHONE TREE CALLERS receive calls from the Phone Tree Organizer and distribute messages to their assigned lists of members. (Phone Tree Organizer)
* GRADUATION ORGANIZER oversees the planning and production of the 8th and 12th grade graduation ceremony. It is very helpful for this person to NOT be the parent of a graduate, as that allows the parents of graduates to enjoy the event rather than having to produce it. (Chaircouple)
* LIBRARIAN maintains and oversees the lending library. (Chaircouple)
* PHOTO DAY ORGANIZER coordinates the School Photo Day held in September. (Chaircouple)
* FAMIlY GAME NIGHT ORGANIZER plans and oversees the event. (Chaircouple)
* ICE SKATING DAY ORGANIZER plans and oversees the event. (Chaircouple)
* ROLLER SKATING DAY(S) ORC;ANT7RR plans and oversees the event(s). (Chaircouple)
* CRAFT /PROJECT NIGHT ORGANIZER plans and oversees the meetings. (Chaircoule)
* T-SHIRT ORDER ORGANIZER coordinates the sales and distribution of BRANCHES T Ã¢â‚¬â€œShirts. (Membership Secretary)
* COLONIAL DAYS CELEBRATION ORGANIZER plans and oversees the event. (Chaircouple)
* CUL TURAL CELEBRATION ORGANIZER plans and oversees the event. (Chaircouple)
* VALENTINE'S DAY PARTY ORGANIZER plans and oversees the event. (Chaircoule)
* HOSTESS for Mom's Night Out or a club meeting. (Mom's Night Out Coordinator or Club Leader)
* PARK DAY ACTIVITY ORGANIZER plans and oversees activities with children at Park Days. (Appropriate Park Day Coordinator)
* BOWLING LEAGUE ORGANIZER plans and oversees the running of the League. (Chaircouple)
* FIELD TRIP PLANNER plans and oversees a field trip of particular interest. See Field Trip Policies for information on how to plan a field trip. (Field Trip Coordinator)
1. Field Trips are initiated and planned by volunteer Field Trip Planners.
2. The Field Trip Coordinator facilitates the planning of these events and keeps a Master Calendar of planned events.
3. Field Trip rules are enforced and should be reviewed prior to attending an event.
4. The signed Release of Liability is required and is a reminder that parents are responsible for the safety of their children.
1. The Newsletter Editor publishes a newsletter every month from September to June.
2. Guidelines have been determined to ease the work of the editor, including deadlines for submissions in the next edition. Please look for the next month's deadline in each edition.
3. Newsletters are either handed out in person at the first Park Days or mailed to the membership within the first week of each month.
4. Members are encouraged to notify the Newsletter Editor when they hear of an event or other information that should be shared with the general membership.
1. The Phone Tree is reserved for emergency prayer requests and/or urgent legislative alerts that come from Family Protection Ministries and/or HSLDA only. These are calls that cannot wait for the monthly newsletter or a Park Day.
2. The Phone Tree Organizer only receives requests from the Email Secretary, the CHEA Liaison, or the Chaircouple in order to activate the Phone Tree.
3. Details of phone tree operation can be found in the Confidential Directory . Policies are made to minimize the intrusion and work of phone calls.
4. Participation in the Phone Tree is completely voluntary, and members indicate their interest by indicating such on the Sign-up Form.
1. Participation in the Email Service is completely voluntary, and members indicate their interest by indicating such on the Sign-up Form.
2. The emails are sent BCC to all members to protect the privacy of our members' email addresses. Although many addresses are listed in our Confidential Directory, not all are desired to be made public; hence, the privacy feature.
3. It is each member's responsibility to notify the Email Secretary if their email address has been changed or is no longer operable. If the Email Secretary receives multiple messages that emails to an address are "undeliverable", the address will be dropped from the mailing list.
4. The emails are intended for information purposes only rather than being a discussion loop of any kind.
5. When someone has information or details about an upcoming field trip, a request for curriculum, a prayer request, or the like, they contact the Secretary and ask her to pass on the information.
6. Many rely on the email reminders for timely information as it is available immediately rather than having to wait a whole month for the newsletter.
7. Please refer to the first page in your Confidential Directory and to the Email Service Policies on page 13 for more guidelines and information concerning the use of email within BRANCHES.
1. The Librarian oversees the operation of the Library (see Library Policies on pages 9-10).
2. Resources are donated or purchased with group funds.
3. The Library is maintained by the Librarian or her appointed assistant.
CHRISTIAN HOME EDUCATORS ASSOCIA TION OF CALIFORNIA (CHEA)
BRANCHES is a member of the CHEA Support Network and supports the efforts of this state organization, encouraging members to belong.
As a member of the Support Network, BRANCHES holds itself to the standards established for such groups by CHEA.
A. Legal services are not provided by BRANCHES.
B. Membership in HSLDA is encouraged with a 15% discount available to CHEA members.
C. Information about HSLDA is available from the Membership Secretary, the CHEA Liaison, or by calling HSLDA (540-338-5600) or checking their web site (httP:/ /www.hslda.org).
The CHEA Liaison keeps members updated on information, legal or legislative alerts, and changes in the home school laws of California.
ACTIVITIES PROVIDED BY MEMBERS INCLUDE, BUT NOT LIMITED TO
1. Book It! (reading incentive program with Pizza Hut)
2. School Photos
3. Affidavit Filing Assistance
4. Recreational/sporting activities including skating, bowling
5. Used Curriculum sales
6. Keepers of the Faith clubs including Stepping Stones and Contenders of the Faith
7. American Girls' Club
8. 8th & 12th Grade Graduation Ceremony
9. Promotions Certificates at Year End BBQ
10. Field Trips
11. Park Days
12. Dad's Fellowship
13. Mom's Night Out
14. Moms In Touch Prayer Group
15. Colonial Day Celebration
16. Valentine's Day Party
17. Family Game Night