Mother of 7 Changes Homeschooling Families' Lives
Deep commitment to family and community drives many conservatives into action. For Tracy Klicka, her deep commitment to motherhood and the homeschool movement drives her to help homeschooling families across the nation. She walks beside them to ensure their success in their children's lives. “I think most homeschooling parents need a lot of encouragement,” Tracy said. “You know your kids more than anyone…you are their best advocate, you're their biggest cheerleader, you're the best counselor, you're the best person to watch what walking through life, through challenges and difficulties is.” Today, Tracy is the Director of Development for the Home School Foundation (HSF), a part of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which offers support for homeschool families. “HSF is the heart of HSLDA,” Tracy said. “The heart is to help families who so want to homeschool their children, but they can't afford the cost of curriculum.” Tracy had not always planned to be in such a position. But the challenges and victories she experienced in her life created in her a desire that rings true with the heart of HSF. Tracy attended Grove City College where met her late husband Chris. She continued her studies at Oral Roberts University, where she earned her degree in music education. After Tracy and her husband were married, they moved to DC, where Chris quickly became a leading expert on home education and was the first full-time lawyer for Concerned Women for America (CWA). During this time, Tracy began searching for a job in the area. “I didn't even know where to start looking,” she said. At that time, the Free Congress Foundation needed to fill an executive assistant position for the political action committee. Tracy applied and got the job. While at Free Congress Foundation, Tracy worked with Paul Weyrich, whom she credits with pushing her to develop skills that would later enable her to successfully fulfill her position at HSF. “Paul Weyrich was such an amazing man,” Tracy said. “I put Morton Blackwell up in the very same category as I put Paul -- they are both incredible mentors to young people.” Paul Weyrich sent Tracy to a 3-day women's spokesperson conference at the Leadership Institute (LI). Tracy credits that training with helping her over her fear of public speaking. “Even though it would be almost ten years later before I would give my first talk,” Tracy said, “I really look back at his training and his personal mentorship as what really propelled me in the right direction and really helped me get over [the idea that] I will never speak in public.” Tracy and her husband had 7 children and homeschooled them all. “We knew before we started having kids that we wanted to homeschool, so I was a stay at home Mom homeschooling for about 24 years,” she said. Tragically, after 25 years of marriage, Tracy's husband passed away and Tracy became a single homeschool mother. She needed a part-time job to support herself and her children. Because of her late husband's connections at HSLDA, she began her search there. In 2011, she took her current position as the Director of Development at the Home School Foundation with little knowledge or experience in development. But, this position fulfills her drive to offer support to homeschool families who had been through difficulties like her own. Despite her initial lack of experience, Tracy grew the department and plans further expansion this coming year all while serving as the only person in her department. She single-handedly manages donor relations, writing, planning, data entry, and research. The Leadership Institute, Tracy says, gave “me the best practices and information I need for the different segments of my work responsibility in Development.” LI's development and fundraising trainings have been a great encouragement and resource for Tracy. Through LI's lectures, she has learned the importance of partnerships. “It's really all about relationships. It's really enabling those who want to partner with you because they have a passion for your mission and how you can help them make that happen.” Looking back at her growth in the area of development and fundraising, Tracy remarks about LI, “I can't think of where else I would go [for training]… or who else would I talk to… because you have been doing it for so long… you know so many people in many conservative organizations… you've had a relationship with them for so many years… your longevity gives what you do so much weight and validity.” For years, Tracy had a crippling fear of public speaking; but now she regularly speaks at homeschool conventions where she offers encouragement to parents. She traces her ease and confidence in public speaking back to the training she received at LI. “I really look back at that training as a part of what really helped me get over [the idea] that, I will never speak in public,” Tracy said. Today, Tracy's passion radiates through her voice as she speaks. “We can really come along side our kids,” Tracy tells parents. “Homeschooling is the perfect way to do that.” Although Tracy sees many benefits in homeschooling she states, “Homeschooling didn't prevent my kids from struggling. It's not a formula; but it's an opportunity to walk alongside children and to best prepare them for life and so when they go through those hard times you're right there with them and just by God's grace you try to help them work through some of those things.” She says homeschooling is “walking through life together 24/7.” After her 24 years of homeschooling her children, Tracy confidently says, “My kids are my magnum opus… I don't think I could put anything above the value of motherhood.” She says her life's biggest accomplishment is, “raising seven children who are really incredible adults, who all love life, love learning, and want to engage their culture.” This is what she hopes to help other parents achieve through their homeschooling experience. Her deep commitment and vision are making that happen. As Director of Development for HSF, Tracy is expanding her vision for supporting homeschooling families and fulfilling her biggest motivation. She touches families across America with her love of home education by reaching out to homeschooling families in need, providing wisdom and encouragement as she speaks to them about the homeschooling experience. “I love what I do because it fits with my passion for motherhood and how important a role we have in our children's lives,” she says. Tracy has truly turned her deep commitment into fulfillment. Join me in congratulating Tracy Klicka on her success helping homeschooling families. If you're interested in fundraising or public speaking trainings like the ones Tracy mentioned, you can learn more here. Leadership Institute offers more than 47 types of training programs, works with more than 1,868 conservative student groups, and helps employers connect with conservative job seekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, LI has trained more than 186,207 conservative activists, students, and leaders. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders.