The idea for Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. was first sown in February 1990. Sarita Holzmann and Becky Lewis were back-fence neighbors at an evangelical Christian think-tank in Pasadena, California. They both home schooled their children, and several of their children played together.
Over the previous six months, Sarita and Becky had begun to realize that they held a similar, low-stress philosophy of homeschooling that centered on good books. They realized how uniquely pleasurable their approach was when they found themselves in the presence of mothers who would burst into tears over their homeschooling experience. "It's just so overwhelming!" these moms would cry.
One day, Becky came to Sarita and said, "You know what we should do? We should start a home school supply company that gathers all the best of the best homeschooling materials, puts them together into a complete package, including a thorough Instructor's Guide, and makes them available for an international audience...."
Becky didn't want to run the company herself, but, having lived and attempted to homeschool for many years in North Africa, she knew what American moms face when they're living in Third World countries. She wanted the company she was envisioning to meet the peculiar needs of women in those circumstances. "I'll help you get the company going," Becky said, "but you'll have to make it work on a day-to-day basis."
Sarita talked the idea over with her husband, John. The two of them thought that Becky's idea sounded good. It would be a wonderful service to so many of God's people living around the world who do not have access to the kinds of resources those of us living in the United States do.
And so the three decided: Sarita would pick books with Becky's help; Becky would write the guides; and John would fill in the gaps, editing, typesetting and providing whatever additional help the two women might need.
And that's what they did. Sarita chose the books. Becky drafted the original Kindergarten through Third Grade manuals. And John did the editing and typesetting.
Sarita handled all aspects of the business for the first year. She worked out of a one-stall garage that the Holzmanns rented down an alley from their home.
By 1991, when the Holzmanns moved to Colorado, the business became a full-time concern for both of them: 20 to 30 hours per week for Sarita (on top of homeschooling); 60 to 80 hours per week for John. Sonlight Curriculum took over both stalls of the Holzmann's garage in June of '92 and became Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. in July of that year.
It was in the summer of 1992 that Sonlight Curriculum hired its first employee — John's sister — who worked till the end of the summer. In the summer of 1993 we hired several part-timers, one of whom remained on staff through the winter.
In January, 1994, our staff was up to two part-timers besides John and Sarita.
In May 1994, we hired our first long-term employee, and by that September we had two full-timers plus a part-timer to take us through the winter.
Today, we have more than 30 dedicated people in full-time, long-term staff positions. During the summer, our ranks swell into the eighties or low 90s.