How the pandemic birthed Sovereign University

Sovereign University student Shawn Sophia Harrell, age 8, gets class work done while home school teacher Shawn Harrell talks with her brother Kingston Harrell, age 10, in his West End home, Mon. Jan. 24, 2022

This post was originally published on St. Louis American

By Sylvester Brown, Jr.

The two-story brick home stands out on a micro block on the west side of the city. The dwelling on Clara Avenue, on a one-way street off Page Avenue is neighbored by homes, some abandoned, weed-covered or in various stages of disrepair.

Not so with the home of Shawn and Denecia Harrell. A soft, yellow chandelier light from the front porch window accents the white-painted porch and white wrought iron security door. Inside this warm setting, the day’s classes for Sovereign University, a homeschooling program are about to begin.

The dining room where the chandelier hangs has been converted into a workroom of sorts. Surrounding the six-foot oak wood table are bookshelves and roll-away carts with pull-out draws marked “supplies, markers, paperclips, glue and paints.” Atop one cart sits an ample quantity of sanitizers, aerosols, and disinfectants.

“We take the kids temperature’s before they come through the door every morning,” Shawn Harrell, the founder of Sovereign University LLC, explained. “We also have someone come in every two or three weeks to deep clean the house.”

Harrell said he’s not an “anti-vaxxer,” even though he’s not vaccinated. He doesn’t like the label. “I’d say we’re pro-choice,” he said. “We have parents who are vaccinated, some who are, and others who left their jobs because they didn’t want to be vaccinated.”

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