In the days since he lost his wife Joey, Rory Feek has been putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on for the sake of their daughter Indiana.
“I first came across a picture online of this old schoolhouse in Kentucky,” Feek states in his blog post. “So early in the summer, Indy and made the trip up there to see it and take some pictures.”
Indy has been attending High Hopes and Ferntop Nature Preschool, and Feek credits these programs with his daughter’s progress so far. As if losing her mother to cancer weren’t enough, sweet Indy was born with Down Syndrome and a hole in her heart, so she needs plenty of special care.
“The teachers and facility they have are wonderful and the therapies they provide are the main reason that Indy is walking and talking so well,” Feek writes.
Rory just couldn’t help but muse about how Indy would have been raised if her mama was still here.
“If Joey were here, she would love both of the schools that Indiana goes to, but she would be homeschooling Indy,” he writes. “Partly because she would want our little one here at home with her, growing up and learning on our farm.”
The thought lingered with Feek and kept him up at night.
“And so a few months ago, I began to imagine having the best of both worlds. Home, and school.. at the same time. It started with an idea, then blossomed into a hope. Then a plan. And the more I thought about it, the more excited I got about it.”
So in July, he began work on a special schoolhouse on his property. Like the historic one they visited in Kentucky, Feek plans for the building to be where she can learn and grow at her own pace, along with other kids like her.
“There will be room for about a dozen kids and the classroom will age as Indiana ages,” he writes. “Ours will be a little bit bigger and look a lot different on the inside, but for the most part, I think it’ll be a lot like the old one-room schoolhouses from days-gone-by.”
Like the barn-raising scene in the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Rory Feek erected the beginnings of his dream for his daughter with the help of his family, friends and church.
“We could have just hired some folks to come build the schoolhouse,” Feek said. “But I believe that ‘how you do something’ is almost as important as ‘what you do’. And since Joey and I and our older girls are big fans of the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, we thought we’d open it up to the community. Make it something that isn’t just a beautiful moment and memory for us, but for others too.”
The schoolhouse is near the Feek’s own barn, so the kids can learn about livestock, and there will be a garden where they can plant vegetables. The kids can learn music in his farmhouse concert hall, and they can go there to play on rainy days.
“Our hope is to let it be more of a farm school where besides the three ‘R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic), kids will get the chance to learn about another, 4th ‘R’… rural life skills.”
Feek hopes for the school to be ready to open by January. You can learn more about the school at Rory Feek’s blog.