Walking into his first class as a Northeastern freshman 18 months ago — Natural Disasters, incidentally — Quincy Ford had a problem. A few problems, actually.
Apprehension can surface when a student makes the transition from high school to college. Ford definitely felt that. But his situation was different, because everyone else was already accustomed to learning in a classroom setting.
Ford was not. He, along with all nine of his siblings, had been exclusively home-schooled, so Ford knew just one classroom: his family’s house in St. Petersburg, Fla. Unlike the other students, he had only one teacher, from kindergarten through high school: his mother, Denise.
So when Ford initially walked into that Natural Disasters class, anxiety crept in, because there were important decisions to make — where to sit? what notes to take? — and unpleasant scenarios to consider. What if the teacher didn’t like him? What if he wasn’t prepared to be a college student?
In hindsight, much ado about nothing.
Sure, it took a little time to adjust to his new academic environment. It’s similar to how Ford reacts on the basketball court, where he’s a sophomore starting forward for the Huskies, who begin play in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament in Richmond, Va., Sunday afternoon as the No. 1 seed. Two wins would give Northeastern its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1991.
If the Huskies get there, Ford will be a big reason why.
His school journey might be unconventional, although home-schooling is becoming more popular and accepted. But as a hard-to-guard 6-foot-8-inch slasher with 3-point range, Ford’s athletic profile simply mirrors his academic background. Ford embraces his individuality. He always has.
“My social life is perfectly fine, academics is fine, basketball is fine,” Ford said. “It will continue to develop while I’m still in college, but I’m right where I want to be, on the court and off.”
Denise Ford and her husband, Alfredo, made the decision to home-school their children in 1993, the year Quincy was born. Public schools, by law, aren’t permitted to give the Fords the kind of Christian-based education they wanted. Private schooling for 10 children — seven boys and three girls; the oldest is 27; the youngest, triplet boys, turn 14 next month — would have been costly. So the Fords chose to do it themselves.
Aligning with an organization called Accelerated Christian Education, the Fords found an academic model that appealed to them: the schooling would be collectively shaped by Denise but personally driven by the children. The younger ones would require more hands-on attention, obviously, but the older the children became, the more they were expected to do on their own.
“It’s designed where the children teach themselves how to learn,” said Denise. “They’re really self-reliant. I taught them to read, follow directions, and ask for help.”
With so many children at different grade levels, school days, Quincy said, could be hectic. Starting at 9 a.m., the students would begin with the pledge of allegiance, a Bible verse, some devotions. The older ones then had the freedom to plot their own schedule, responsible for five core subjects (math, science, social studies, English, literature).
Quincy would typically retreat to his bedroom to tackle his schoolwork, which was due by 3 p.m. When assignments weren’t completed to Denise’s satisfaction, it meant that whatever extracurricular activity was planned that day (for Quincy, mainly basketball) would be taken away.
“Very strict, very demanding, high expectations for me and my younger brothers,” Quincy said, when asked to describe his mother as a teacher. “Looking back, I was a pain, I gave her a hard time sometimes. But she doesn’t reward bad behavior, and that motivated me.”
The arrangement wasn’t always smooth — Quincy said the lowest high school grade Denise gave him was a C-minus — but the results have been admirable. One of Ford’s older sisters earned an electrical engineering degree; his older brother, Skyler, is a senior at Howard University with plans to become an architect; a younger brother, Nykko, is a high school senior who is considering Harvard and Duke.
“I never would have imagined that they would excel at the level that they’re doing at the beginning of my journey,” said Denise, who is earning her master’s degree in education and intends to open a private Christian school after the triplets have finished high school. “They were probably mocked and teased at our large family size, that your mom stays at home, that you’re home-schooled. I would always say, ‘You’ll thank me later.’Continued...