By Clonlara School
Growing up in central Virginia, Joe Maltby had been homeschooled his entire life. At 14, he moved to northeast Colorado, where he enrolled in Home-Based Education Program (now the Off-Campus Program) for his high school years. After graduating from Clonlara, Joe stayed in the state, earning his undergraduate degree at University of Northern Colorado where he majored in History.
Since middle school, Joe’s goal had been to pursue a career in public service. So in 2005 he moved back to the Washington, D.C. area, the epicenter of that field, to attend law school at George Mason University. After graduating, Joe worked at Mason for several years, then joined the U.S. federal government in 2010 and embarked on the career he’d been working toward.
Joe is now employed at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), his third federal agency. He began at the Department of Homeland Security, and then moved to Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. In September 2019, Joe started with the VA, where he works in communications analytics for the VA’s Office of Information and Technology. Looking forward, Joe comments, “I want to stay at the VA for a while and get more involved with policy and operational issues, so I can help veterans and their families.”
Reflecting on his Clonlara experience, Joe enjoyed the freedom that the homeschool program provided him. “I think that freedom helped because it forced me to succeed or fail on my own,” he observes. “I didn’t have the structure and guardrails of an on-campus experience, so I had to learn to be accountable to myself and to the goals I was setting for myself. It’s helped me manage my own life and solve my own problems as an adult. I think a lot of homeschoolers have that experience in one form or another.”
Joe offers this advice to Clonlara students, as they contemplate their future: “There are two basic approaches to planning your life. One is to set a goal, even a general one, and take any path that leads closer to it. However, if you don’t know what you want to do, another approach is to just try a lot of things. Keep getting new experiences and see what you like about each of them. Eventually, where those positive traits overlap, you can build a future. But you should never feel bad for not knowing.”
This speaks to the values of curiosity and lifelong learning that Clonlara espouses. Explore…try new things…learn as you go. “The secret of adulthood is that no one knows what they’re doing, we’re all just trying as best we can,” Joe emphasizes. “You should always be learning, even long after Clonlara.”