We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Shipman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Honestly, I just saw the need for what Learnwell offers. I speak once or twice a year at international education conferences for expats who are involved in humanitarian and missions work overseas. After my sessions, parents would stay to talk with me, and for so many, their frustration was palpable. Because of their location, many of these families had to homeschool in order to provide a decent education for their children. These were college-educated men and women who wanted a great education for their kids, but didn’t really have the time or desire to homeschool like homeschooling families here in the US. We created Learnwell so that they could outsource all of the planning and decisions related to homeschooling and just enjoy teaching their children, knowing that they were on track.
This fall, we’re opening a hybrid school in the Alpharetta/Cumming area, offering families the opportunity to bring their kids to school two days a week, and equipping them to handle the rest of the week. The primary motivation to open this in the fall is my own family; this is what I want for my daughters!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Regarding Learnwell, I am most proud of how we are serving families all over the world. I love that we are a part of the good work they are doing by supporting them in the education of their children.
I am really excited about opening our new in-person campus this fall. We’ve been virtually supporting families for four years now, but it will be fun to actually have children come in the door for classes twice a week and build community together with local Learnwell families.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Atlanta’s outdoor spots and gardens! The Atlanta Botanical Garden and Gibbs Gardens are two of my favorites, and my family and I love hiking locally. So we’d take a guest to enjoy our favorite outdoor spots, but if it was July or August, then we’d also enjoy the air conditioning at the High Museum or the Fox!
I have school-aged children, so we don’t “dine” that often. I tried a new restaurant last month that I will definitely be taking visitors to: Home Restaurant outside of Big Canoe, in the mountains near Jasper. Everything we ordered was fantastic.
Our town is rich in history, the arts, and outdoor beauty, so Atlanta is a wonderful city to show off and tailor to the interests of guests.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people, of course, had a part in my story. Living overseas for over five years shaped my story and view of education significantly, and my boss and mentor Nancy Elwood taught me a lot. My father Harold Walker has now passed away, but he was instrumental in my big decisions to move overseas and get my doctoral degree.
My husband Randy, though, has really been the linchpin in starting Learnwell and expanding it this year. To be honest, I think he has an unreasonable amount of confidence in me! This has been a “we” endeavor from day one; without that, I’m not sure I would have persisted.