Franklin, North Carolina is known as the “Gem Mining Capital of the World,” but when Darcel Green talks about her “jewels,” she’s not just referring to the precious stones in her family-friendly gem-mine business: she’s talking about her two special children.

In 2007, Darcel was awarded custody for and became surrogate grandmother to 2-year-old Isaiah and 3-year-old Morgan, and they have become the most beautiful gems in her life. They had previously been placed in foster care, with the threat of being split up; Darcel provided them a permanent home, kept them together, and gave them a family.

Then in 2012, when a Florida county decided to put a road through her property and forced the family out of their home, she began searching for a better place to live and raise her kids. Eventually, she ran across the old gem mine in Franklin.

“The home on the property wasn’t more than a small mobile home,” Darcel recalls, “but I knew I’d always have a job, I wouldn’t have to try to drive to work in the snow, and I could be with the kids at all times. We love our gem mine. It’s the best job!”

Discovering that the children were being picked on and were learning some bad habits in school, Darcel decided to homeschool them in 2015. “I just wanted them to have a really great education, to feel proud, wanted, and loved,” she explains.

Homeschooling has brought greater opportunity for her to teach her kids the science of gemology and involve them in her work at the mine. Isaiah and Morgan—now 15 and 16—meet and greet the guests, handle money, help visitors identify their stones, and work with patrons who want jewelry made.

“We’re just a little hole in the wall that everybody seems to love because we treat everyone like family,” beams Darcel.

The kids could run my whole place,” she says. Darcel feels that homeschooling has brought them an education they would not have received in school and that they have developed a love of educating others. Morgan has expressed interest in pursuing gemology, and Isaiah talks of becoming a geologist.

They’ve had their challenges, with the effects of COVID-19 on the flow of customers, combined with the usual slow winter business season. But these obstacles created the opportunity to teach her now-teenage children creative ways to stretch their dollars—and sometimes the necessity of going without. The difficulties of this extremely limited income led Darcel to apply for an HSLDA Compassion curriculum grant.

Through the rough times, many good memories and organic learning moments have bonded them as a family. Morgan and Isaiah enjoy helping at their church daycare, supporting local veteran events, and finding time to paddle kayaks around on the river that runs through town.

“All in all, we love homeschooling, and I’m learning again, too,” Darcel shares. “HSLDA has made our lives so much easier, and my kids are getting a great education from the books we have purchased with our Compassion grants.”

Homeschooling families flourish when they have the right materials. If you'd like to help equip a struggling homeschooling family with the schoolbooks and materials they need to continue teaching their children at home, please reach out to HSLDA Compassion by emailing compassioninfo@hslda.org or donate by visiting here.