Barbara Freeman: Championing the University-Model® School

Apr 11, 2017 | Posted by Laura


I recently had the opportunity to speak with a remarkable woman—Barbara Freeman. With sincerity, passion, and more energy than most, Barbara diligently works to advance the message of the University-Model school. How did her involvement begin? Enjoy reading about the journey, and consider the possibilities that this model of education could have in your area.

After becoming certified in elementary education, Barbara went into the public school system, moved up the ranks, and served in a variety of roles such as teacher, public relations director, and principal during her tenure of thirty-three years. In 1999, Barbara left the realm of public education and began serving as principal of a Christian school in Texas. While there, she observed that one of the school’s sports rivals, Grace Preparatory Academy, exhibited many differences from her school. Getting to know the people at Grace Prep, she saw first-hand the “vast difference of a traditional 5-day school and a University-Model school.” The UM school was character-driven and had a unique format that included parents as partners throughout the entire educational journey.

One of the founders of Grace Preparatory Academy shared with Barbara the dream she had of starting a national association. The leader would need to be someone with a public school background to give credibility to the organization when talking to various accrediting associations. Barbara’s vast experience and two master’s degrees qualified her to accept the challenge. She decided to leave her position at the Christian school she had been working in to embrace this new model of education.

Enjoy reading some of the additional insights about this model of education shared during my conversation with Barbara.

Why might a homeschooling family want to consider a University-Model School?

The University-Model School offers the perfect blend of the best attributes of homeschooling with the best attributes of Christian education. It’s a bonafide school with a school board in place creating policies and procedures. Also, parents can easily see the quality and excellence of the school. They have a lot of assurance and confidence that they are going to receive not only an academic education, but focus on the God- ordained family relationship. Academically, we help parents prepare their children to be college-worthy. They don’t have to choose to go to college, but they will be well-equipped for living life and will be equipped disciples of Christ. Our goal is to send thousands of disciples into the world to build the kingdom of God.

Why might an existing hybrid school consider becoming a NAUMS school?

Credibility. The University-Model trademark has existed since 2003, becoming more well-known each year. NAUMS is an accredited corporation and opens the door for the hybrid school to be accredited. (Starting a University-Model School)

What is the role of the parent in a NAUMS school?

When children are young, we know the mother and father are the primary teachers. They teach readiness skills before they come to school—the alphabet, colors, fine and gross motor skills, etc. As children grow older and more independent academically, the parent becomes more of a supervisor. And in high school, their role focuses more on that of a mentor. However, these roles may be different according to the course being studied. For example, a parent may be serving as a tutor in one course and as an independent guide in another.

In our conversation I learned that parental roles vary from primary teacher (Grades 1 and 2) to co-instructor, private tutor, guide for dependent study, guide to independent study, interactive discussion, and course monitor.

We don’t want to call the parent a co-teacher all the way through because a qualified educator is responsible for leading the program. They work with curriculum development and alignment, scope and sequence, curriculum maps, and assignment sheets that go to parents. It’s important to also note that the teacher is the professional educator who does all the direct teaching. The parent is the satellite teacher who reinforces, enriches and extends tutoring, and is a guide to independent study. Homework is the independent study.

We build in certain activities that force children and parents to communicate. For example, students might write a paper about their parent’s childhood, or they might build a science fair project together. There is always a specific role for the student and parent. We give very clear instructions, so the parent is always fulfilling the supportive role to their student.

Parents are also required to attend Parent Information Meetings in person before enrolling their children in a UM school. They cannot pick up an enrollment packet for neighbors, etc. They must come to a meeting and learn firsthand the requirements and expectations of serving as a parent partner in a UM school.

What is your ultimate goal?

Our goal is to graduate students who never leave Christ. We teach students to think clearly, write well, and become professionals in every area and certainly to defend their faith and witness around the world. What is happening in so many schools today is that people get distracted. Now, schools have to talk about the prom, athletics, raising gala money, and keeping up with the Christian school down the street. Christ is supposed to be head of that school.

NAUMS has experienced tremendous growth over the past several years. As the NAUMS website explains, in 2005 NAUMS, Inc. was “formally and separately established to serve as the permanent centerpiece of the University-Model Christian discipleship movement. By 2013, NAUMS had grown to seventy-one schools in nineteen states, plus one in mainland China.”

Are you part of a hybrid school that might be interested in becoming part of NAUMS? Or, are you a homeschool family that is interested in finding a NAUMS school near you? Visit for more information.


University-Model is a registered trademark of NAUMS, Inc.


Laura House discovered IEW while homeschooling her three children and now enjoys helping other families transform their students' abilities by introducing them to IEW. She serves as the Hybrid Schools Manager and as an exhibitor at homeschool conventions. Laura and her husband, Gary, live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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