Lampstand Press was officially founded in 1998, but it really began three years earlier, when a homeschool mother of six named Marcia Somerville was led by her husband, Scott, through the process of writing a curriculum based on a four-year study of the history of the world, that she entitled "History." Marcia originally intended her work for family use, but soon others began expressing interest in the curriculum. As its user base grew, the curriculum was named Tapestry of Grace, and Marcia's pre-existing company, "Books 'N Kids, Inc." marketed it.
God kindly added like minded workers to the editing and production staff of Books 'N Kids. Notable in this story especially were three of Marcia's children (Nathan, Christy, and David) and Dana Caywood, an experienced homeschooling mom from Tennessee with a heart for literature work pages! Together, these workers produced Classic Tapestry of Grace from 2001 to 2005.
By the end of 2005, it was clear to the Somerville family that God had given the homeschooling community a gift in Tapestry of Grace. As stewards, they prayed about its future, and decided that Classic Tapestry of Grace was a good start, but to serve homeschooling families with excellence, we needed to learn from the feedback of families using Tapestry, and improve it significantly. At issue, too, was the fact that many key books listed in Classic Tapestry had gone out of print. There needed to be a better mechanism for renewing the curriculum if it were to be a useful, 12-year product as advertised. The Somerville family committed their time and family finances to seeing through the project of Redesigned Tapestry of Grace in the winter of 2005.
In 2006, Marcia reformed Books 'N Kids as a publishing house, renaming it "Lampstand Press." Over the years, Lampstand Press has grown to be more than just a single-product company. Here are a few highlights:
- In 2006, Marcia, Dana, and the support staff opened the Lampstand Press Bookshelf which provided carefully selected products that we, as seasoned homeschoolers, can wholeheartedly recommend.
- We also hosted Lampstand Live - a speaking tour by Marcia and Scott Somerville during which they sought to encourage the spiritual growth of homeschooling parents. The core sessions of these seminars were recorded, and are available at our Store, along with Marcia's speeches from state conventions and "The Foundation Series" of Tapestry Teacher Training webinars.
- In early 2007, we developed Writing Aids as a help to mothers using Tapestry Writing assignments, and also as our second stand-alone product. We also developed other new products that enhanced and enriched the Tapestry experience, such as Map Aids, Evaluations, and custom-designed lapbooks for each of the four Tapestry year-plans.
- In December 2008, we started development of Tapestry of Grace Digital Edition, providing an electronic version of the Tapestry of Grace curriculum. Dana Caywood purchased the Lampstand Press Bookshelf and opened Bookshelf Central as a sister store, located in Kingsport, TN. Customer support of both of these initiatives carried Lampstand Press through the turbulent economic times that our nation experienced during 2008-9.
- In 2009, we also published two more stand alone products: Simon Bolivar: Statesman and Liberator, a biography written by Rebecca Duberstein under Marcia's supervision for upper grammar students, and South America: the Continent and Its Countries, written and illustrated by Lauren Rohwer and David Somerville for lower grammar students.
In late 2009 and early 2010, the Lampstand Press staff refined the DE version of all the Tapestry supplements, creating the four year-plan interfaces that gave users the ability to access all the Tapestry documents they need from one digital location.
By March of 2010, by God's grace alone, all four Redesigned Tapestry year-plans were completed, and were made available in DE format and Print. Our enhanced Store Buying Guide made purchasing Lampstand Press products even easier!
In the summer of 2010, we launched the Lampstand Learning Center, which offers live classes using Tapestry to students worldwide over the Internet.
In the spring of 2014, Marcia released Love the Journey, a book she wrote from her heart to address the specific needs of new homeschoolers, but is also a wonderful resource for experienced parents as well!
In the summer of 2014, Lampstand Press offered a new product for new homeschoolers: Tapestry Primer! It was written specifically for families whose oldest child is in Kindergarten or 1st grade, and gives an overview of all of world history. It was around this time that Marcia's son, Mike, took over leadership of Lampstand Press as President. Check out the About Us page to read his story.
In 2015, we released Planning Aids, a new product for direct customers. This product provides daily lesson plans for lower and upper grammar students.
Today, Lampstand Press continues to expand, providing new products and services to an ever-broadening homeschool audience, including a vibrant online community. By God's grace, Lampstand Press will continue to provide encouragement, educational services, and inspiration to thousands of Christian homeschool families in America and internationally.
Our Statement of Faith and Purpose
At Lampstand Press, we are committed to classical Christian education, based on our commitment to God's glory, our understanding of child development, and a deep appreciation for our cultural heritage.
God's Glory in The Purpose of History
We believe that God created time and space for His own glory, and that He is unfolding history to accomplish His perfect purposes for His people. Our passion for learning is a direct expression of our passion for God, as we seek to love Him with all our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength.
We believe that it honors God for us to learn the truths that He has revealed in Scripture, in nature, and in history, whether such revealed truths fit into our preconceived notions or not. Our reason for studying history is to learn from the experiences of others more about God's character and more about our own frailties and calling. We want God to receive the glory He deserves for all His mighty acts in history.
Our intention in presenting Tapestry of Grace® and other educational products is to remain accurate and biblically oriented.Tapestry's Teacher's Notes and Student Activity Page questions emphasize God's sovereignty in history, frequently noting specific evidences of His work as we understand it. It is our belief that children need to be led in "connecting the dots" of the events of history with both Scripture and a sense of the loving, active presence of God in world events. It is our aim to strengthen in them a sense of both humility and destiny as they view the sweeping majesty of God acting in HIS story.
All men and women sin; no expression of the body of Christ or worldly community has been without sin. God has called us to love sinners and tell them His good news, not judge them for their lost condition. Our position is that if children are taught to view the sins or errors of others with compassion and a biblical interpretation, they will both be warned of their own human tendency to sin, and become compassionate, but accurate, historians. They will be better prepared to glorify God by serving His purposes in their own generation.
God's Glory in Church History
We believe Scripture and church history each help us to understand God's purposes and priorities, so we seek to study the full scope of church history at age-appropriate levels.
We do not know how to be truly unbiased about something as important as our faith, but we think we have been commanded to be honest about our own beliefs, humble about our own wisdom, confident in God's care, and respectful of our brothers and sisters from different persuasions.
We are Protestant, and are therefore most aware of Protestant resources for Church History. Church History readings are broken out in the Reading Assignment Charts as separate entities, so that those who choose to study Church History from a different theological position can easily substitute resources written from their perspective.
Child Development through Classical Education
"Classical education" has two different meanings for Christian home educators. It can mean a "Great Books" curriculum, which hands on the heritage of Western civilization, but it can also refer to a "grammar, dialectic, rhetoric" model of child development and training. We believe in "classical education" in both meanings of the term.
Medieval educators taught students to speak Latin, debate in Latin, and persuade in Latin before they considered them ready for more advanced learning. The three disciplines of "grammar," "dialectic," and "rhetoric" composed the Trivium, which prepared scholars for the rest of the seven "liberal arts." Modern scientists have discovered that these three modes of learning correspond to specific stages of child development. Young children are remarkably good at memorizing facts and learning stories, children near the age of puberty excel at making connections; while youths and adults are best at analyzing and synthesizing.
Age-segregated classrooms have trouble taking full advantage of modern science and of the medieval model because they must serve all the children in the room, whether they are best at memorizing, organizing, or synthesizing information. We believe this is why educational experts keep promoting "higher order thinking skills" at ever-earlier grades. We would rather take advantage of "lower-order" thinking skills while the child still has them. Young children excel at absorbing stories, songs, sounds, vocabulary words and other material at the "grammar level." When the child matures enough to develop "higher order thinking skills," we want him to first organize a rich storehouse of previously-acquired information, and then synthesize in useful and meaningful ways.
The "grammar," "dialectic," and "rhetoric" learning levels are objectively real but have no clear boundary lines, any more than "infancy" or "adulthood" do. We therefore make it easy to select assignments from more than one level at any time. A child may try some "hard" material for a while and then decide to drop back for a bit. We are not afraid that this will result in a lot of malingering. When children play games, they don't "coast" at the easy level. Just as with this type of entertainment, with the right mix of encouragement and opportunity, we expect children to be eager to advance into more challenging work.
The term "classical education" does not just mean an emphasis on the learning levels of the Trivium. It is also routinely used to mean an education in the Great Books of Western civilization, sometimes known as the "Western Canon." Until recently, a "liberal arts education" necessarily included broad and deep exposure to works by Plato, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and others. In the latter half of the twentieth century, this approach has often been derided as "works by dead white males." Since the 1970s, most secular universities have abandoned the goal of passing on any specific cultural content.
While we appreciate the insights of non-Western thinkers and want our students to be able to communicate effectively with people from any culture, we do not believe a "critical" or "multi-cultural" education is the best way to achieve that goal. A child who has no culture of his own is poorly prepared to truly understand a person who is willing to die to preserve his faith or heritage. We believe it is better to be a humble but patriotic citizen of some country than a proud but cynical "citizen of the world."
Because of this, we utilize and recommend many of the Great Books of the Western Canon at the high school level. We try to serve English-speaking students in general and Americans in particular by helping them study the threads of their own history.
Our goal is not to raise students who are puffed up with knowledge, but to help students understand themselves and the world around them clearly enough to realize their individual and our collective need for a Savior. Our sincere hope is that through these pages, we can all grow in our understanding of Jesus Christ, the Lord of history.
So, come, and magnify the Lord with us, and let us exalt His name together!
- Marcia Somerville
- Founder and Author
- Marcia's Story
Marcia Somerville, wife of Scott Somerville, is a homeschooling mother of six and the author of the Tapestry of Grace curriculum.
Marcia graduated in 1976 from Kent School, a highly acclaimed classics-based prep school; she received her degree in history from Dartmouth College in 1979. A homeschooling mom since her first child began kindergarten, Marcia found herself ready to quit after 10 years. She couldn't imagine a way to educate all of her children in every subject.
After a season of tears and prayer, though, and drawing on her own rigorous high school experience and her Ivy League degree in history, she developed a method that integrated the humanities and social sciences into a four-year survey of world history. At first, she used her idea only with her own children. But after graduating her two oldest sons, she offered to lead neighboring homeschooling families through the same four-year cycle. In serving them, she developed a new curriculum that came to be called Tapestry of Grace.
Today, thousands of families in America and overseas benefit from Marcia's labor of love. Tapestry of Grace has won many awards, and has brought both joy and quality education to many homes. In Korea, Tapestry has become the model for a new curriculum that the leaders of a 20,000 member church are spearheading. In addition to writing homeschool materials, Marcia enjoys speaking on a variety of topics that encourage and enlighten fellow homeschoolers. Her vision is to mentor homeschool moms in raising up a generation of Christian youth equipped with a deep, apologetics-oriented understanding of the Great Conversation and the ability to contribute to it.
- Mike Somerville
- President and Author of Tapestry Primer
- Mike's Story
Home-educated through high school by Scott and Marcia Somerville, authors of Tapestry of Grace, Michael went on to academic success, graduating at the top of his class from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business before going on to complete his Master’s in Science in Systems Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University.
Michael’s professional career in systems engineering and project management encompassed seven years working for defense contractor Lockheed Martin, as well as several years as an independent contractor and as a project manager for a small business. Michael’s home education prepared him well, equipping him with the tools to understand people, communicate effectively, write clearly, build effective teams, and creatively solve problems in the real world.
As an actively homeschooling father of three daughters, Michael and his wife Jessica are second-generation users of Tapestry of Grace and worked together to develop Tapestry Primer, which adapts the principles and practices of Tapestry for families that are just starting their homeschooling journeys. Together, they love raising their daughters to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind.
In his role with Lampstand Press, Michael leads the company’s development of new products, and efforts to tell homeschoolers about the joys of a story-driven, whole-family worldview education built around an authentically Christ-centered study of the humanities and the Great Conversation. Michael is passionate about sharing his perspective as a second-generation homeschooler with others, and about encouraging families in their pursuit of home-based education.
- Dana Caywood
- Vice President
- What I do:
Manage projects, oversee employees, review products, implement policies.
- Secret Skill:
I have no secret skills. All of my skills have been made public.
Spending time with my husband! Facials and pedicures. Living in the mountains of Tennessee.
Steaks with gristle. That so many Americans buy cheap products from Asia. Clothing styles for teen girls.
- Loves working here because...
I love working with fellow Christians, laboring together to further God's kingdom!
- Callie Charlton
- Customer Service Representative
- What I do:
I am the first in line when you call customer service. I will assist you with placing an order or if you have questions or problems with an existing or previous order. I will answer your questions or find someone that can.
- Secret Skill:
Sewing and farming.
Bible study, trips to the beach, spending time with family and friends and living in the country on a farm.
Thistles and weeds.
- Loves working here because...
It is a wonderful christian environment. Everyone is so kind and goes out of their way to welcome and help each other.
- James Caywood
- Operations Manager
- What I do:
Order management, creation and shipping, vendor and service provider relations, oversee maintenance on all software and hardware, building maintenance and general supervision.
- Secret Skill:
I am known to tickle a few ivories.
God's jealousness, for without it life would be pointless, working on cars, fishing, working out, learning something new, spending time with my wife, friends and son.
When people feel that they can't be themselves, Bees, Not having something to do. I have to be busy.
- Loves working here because...
I can work in an environment where I can practice the commands which God has given us.
- Sharon Land
- Curriculum Specialist
- What I do:
I help customers who have questions about our products and how to use them. I complete upgrade forms, orders, and help with special projects. I assist in finding replacement books (and updating the curriculum) for ones that have gone out of print.
- Secret Skill:
Going to church, singing in the choir, Bible Study, and spending time with my family (especially my new grandson).
People who are always negative, feeling alone, and cold weather.
- Loves working here because...
I love being able to work with fellow Christians every day. I’m a better person by working here and showing the generosity that this company has always shown me. I'm challenged each day to help others, be a witness, and make this more than a job. It’s truly a ministry!