It wasn’t until the semitrailers pulled into Jenny Phillips’ Saratoga Springs cul-de-sac that she realized what she’d gotten into.
Her life had been simple. But after she posted her homeschool curriculum online, parents kept wanting more. She knew that if she was going to keep doing this, her life was going to have to change.
“I never intended to start a company,” Phillips said.
Four years later, The Good and the Beautiful has grown to 170 employees and is used by more than 100,000 families.
The nondenominational Christian curriculum company is based out of Lehi and includes curriculum in every subject for kindergarten through eighth grade, with materials for high school students expected in the fall.
Just like owning a company, Phillips never intended to homeschool her children, either. But then she said she started reading the books her children were, and was shocked at the disrespect shown toward siblings, parents, teachers and learning she found inside, along with what she said is inappropriate material.
Phillips said that although she volunteered in the classroom, it was still a drive-through education where most her involvement was dropping them off at school and picking them up.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Phillips said. “I was totally disconnected.”
So, she began homeschooling.
“They were thriving, and our relationship was so much better and we absolutely loved it,” Phillips said.
It was also completely overwhelming. Phillips, a former religious singer who also has a background in English literature, started with a language arts curriculum and expanded from there.
A lot of what she found online were worksheets. She wanted to incorporate nature and fun, while still keeping content academically strong.
“I wanted to bring in more beauty, more meaning to it,” Phillips said.
She posted it for free on her music website. From there, homeschool bloggers began raving about how much they liked it, and it began spreading to social media. Before long, she had her own company.
The curriculum is created by homeschool parents with degrees in their fields. It is reviewed by experts and is piloted before it is released.
Lessons are designed to not require preparation work from parents. Some subjects, like history and science, are taught family-style and then have individual work for the different grade levels.
It’s all designed to make the homeschool experience easier on families like the Phillips, who have five homeschooled children.
Phillips credits keeping the company running to a supportive spouse and finding the right employees at the right time.
“I knew it was going to be hard and it has been crazy hard,” Phillips said. “It takes a whole team.”
Although Phillips is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said the curriculum is nondenominational Christian and is not designed to teach doctrine. Phillips said most of the parents who use The Good and the Beautiful are not Latter-day Saints.
The company also produces a free booklist and plans to run a social media campaign about the impact of literature on children.
“I feel like we are losing a whole generation of children who care about good literature and they are just getting into the fast, thrilling, easy literature, and we are trying to bring back a love of truly beautiful literature to children,” Phillips said.
To help others find the books she loved, The Good and the Beautiful started a division reprinting Phillips’ favorite out-of-print books. It has released 70, with another 100 in the process of being edited. The company plans to eventually offer several hundred.
The Good and the Beautiful also hosts an annual convention and has an active Facebook community.
Phillips said she’s received emails and letters from parents and children who have used the curriculum, including parents who were about to give up on homeschooling and a 9-year-old boy who said the material changed his life and gave him a love of learning.
“The only thing that keeps me going is knowing it is doing good in the world,” Phillips said.