From left to right: Jeanette, Jennifer, Sharon, Sarah, Sherry, Stephanie then Mike and Jamie in front.

The Bube Family

by Barney Quick

The Bube family sees this world as a feast. The parents and their six daughters seem to have never encountered a realm of knowledge they didn’t find deliciously intriguing. From electricity to tree farming to chamber vocal music to the study of insects to debating, they dive into a given area with a gourmand’s passion. In fact, a love of fine dining enters into their array of enthusiasms.

While each family member has her (or his, in father Mike’s case) areas of specialization, they take keen interest in what the others are learning. In fact, each is quick to tell the others’ stories. This is no doubt due to the fact that Mike and Sharon have home-schooled Stephanie, Sarah, Sherry, Jeanette, Jennifer, and Jamie who range in age from 20 to 3.

The basic subjects are covered first, but they form part of a seamless continuum of learning that goes on every second of the day. “If someone still doesn’t understand a concept in, say, algebra or physics and it’s 10 o’clock at night, we stick with it until she does,” says Mike, “because there are going to be more things to cover the next day.”

Along with the textbooks and tests which comprise the official part of the girls’ education, there is ample use of the community’s various resources: the Purdue extension office and the 4-H program, the Career Resource Center, St. Agnes Catholic Church, the Girl Scouts, and local businesses. “These resources are available to everyone,” says Mike with his characteristic zeal. “We just happen to use them, but anyone can.”

Just what does a young person whose passion for knowledge is insatiable look like?

Consider Stephanie, who is working on an associates’ degree in culinary arts and restaurant management at Ivy Tech. She’s already gained some experience in her field, helping to run Ivy Tech’s mock-up restaurant, the Culinary Expressions Café in Indianapolis. “I’m going to hate to see her leave home, says Mike. “That will be the end of the fancy meals.” She has performed in a chamber choir at Carnegie Hall (along with sister Sarah). She and Sarah have both held the Miss 4-H title.

Then there’s Sarah, who attended an aerospace workshop at Purdue this summer, which involved flying a plane. She is currently pursuing an accounting degree at Ivy Tech (where she’s a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society), and hopes to study engineering at Purdue after that. For a 4-H project in electricity one year she built a can crusher. “It had a half-horsepower motor, a 40-to-1 ratio gear box, and a wood vice with Acme thread screws,” she explains. Another project was a lock mechanism and key made entirely of wooden parts.

Sherry is the youngest person, now 15, to ever go through the Leadership Brown County program. She is currently working on a Congressional Award under the mentorship of Judge Judy Stewart. This past summer she accompanied a neighbor family to Germany to look after the young children. She is currently taking voice lessons and hopes to study music and law at Indiana University.

Sherry and Jeanette are both members of the home-school network’s debate team. Both are also involved with the knitting and crochet group that meets at the Brown County Public Library. “I have a yarn fetish,” says Sherry. “I brought a duffle bag of it back from Germany.”

Jennifer is on the home-school network’s speech team and is interested in the study of insects. “She’s my little entomologist,” says Mike.

Three-year-old Jamie can handily recite the earth’s seven continents.

Sharon has selected particular textbooks from a variety of publishers based on instructional approaches she has found suitable. “I’ve learned to adjust the materials to each girl’s learning style,” she says.

The network that the Bubes share with other home-schooling families provides them all with many social occasions where everyone also learns a lot. Recently the Bubes hosted Tree Identification Day on their farm, complete with a question and answer wheel, prizes, and wood crafts. About 40 youngsters took part. The network also stages International Nights, with each family picking a country and providing its food and wearing its customary dress.

When the entire Bube family gathers in one place they encourage each other. What mainly comes through is the collective zest for life. Father Mike sums it up well: “Life is no dress rehearsal and people should realize that we’re all on a free trip around the sun!”