2019 Featured Speakers
Aaron Eden works with schools and families around the world to re-humanize education and parenting. He helps adults re-frame their understanding of the relationships involved in learning, to become trusted partners rather than managers. Aaron's work spans from coaching parents on how to support Self-Directed Education, to transforming schools from command-and-control to co-creative communities, to starting schools from the ground up and building capacity in teachers to hold space for self-direction. Aaron is the father of three self-directed children. You can visit Aaron online at edunautics.com.
Akilah S. Richards is a writer, an unschooling organizer and podcaster, and a founding board member of The Alliance for Self-Directed Education. She is the primary voice behind Raising Free People Network, a community-oriented project that uses various media and trainings to challenge and encourage social justice minded people to explore privilege and power in their relationships with children. Akilah's focus is helping Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities utilize unschooling as a tool for decolonizing learning, and for liberating themselves from oppressive, exclusive systems.
Elana K Arnold
Elana K. Arnold is a National Book Award finalist and the author of the BAT trilogy, beginning with A Boy Called Bat, a 2018 Global Read Aloud selection. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of California, Davis, and she is on the faculty of Hamline University’s Masters in Writing for Children Program. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her family and many pets.
Erika Davis-Pitre and her husband Michael have 4 children - one daughter (40) and three sons (36, 34 & 26). They also have two sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law and two grandsons(12 & 5).
She and her husband have recently moved back to San Francisco full-time after living in Connecticut for more than a decade.
They have been unschooling for many years and love it, so Erika is always looking for opportunities to share their unschooling joy with others.
Erika has spoken at many un/homeschooling conferences, led quite a few funshops/workshops and has hosted and participated in many round table discussions about unschooling all over the US and Canada.
She especially enjoys talking about unschooling teens, sharing the joy of unschooling and celebrating diversity through unschooling.
And last year, she agreed to become Co-President of HSC, adding her voice to an organization that is all about supporting all homeschoolers in California.
George Kaponay is now in his eighth continuous year of traveling and learning from the world with his wife Bobi and their twin teenage children Réka and Lalika.
Together, they have visited and lived in more than 45 countries on six continents, with their journey of learning and discovery being the catalyst for adventures that have seen George and his wife create and co-found The Intuition Game and Labour of Love, a game and process to help you find your true direction and see your family, group or business ventures come to fruition.
George is also Co-Founder of the At Home In The World Family Retreats, a two week retreat held twice a year, focusing on assisting families to create deeper connections through the realisation of their greatest strengths, empowering them to live the lives they dare to dream. George and his family's story has been inspired by In-The-Moment / Inspiration-Led-Learning, something which has seen their daughter Réka (17) become one of the world’s youngest published authors at 14 with her debut novel Dawn of the Guardian, and their son Lalika (17) start his own entrepreneurial venture to assist other travellers to find the most cost-effective, convenient and sustainable ways of travel through his own Travel Concierge Service, Destinator Travel. George is committed to playing a leading role in the development of the Long-Term Family Traveling community, facilitating and fostering new learning opportunities for families through travel, and most importantly to developing deeper connection with his own family as they continue to travel the world.
Kirstin Eventyr loves to translate seemingly unreachable information into accessible content that can be easily assimilated to support folks to live better lives. Her fascination for the brain and brain development has flourished and deepened through her 25 year career as a mental health counselor.
As a homeschooling parent she saw connections in brain science that showed how the brain learns best in a homeschooling environment, and she had to share the news!
Kirstin is the mother of two home schooled daughters, ages 14 and 15. She is passionate about ways of living and learning that are rooted in authenticity; and it is this commitment to authenticity that led to her to unschool. This choice has allowed her to deepen into trusting herself and her children, and continues to be a blessing for her whole family.
In 2014 Kirstin began a school for adults interested in holistic healing, Awakening to Wholeness: The School of Embodied Energetics. She has graduated two 2-year cohorts, and currently works with her graduated students in an advanced studies program.
Lalika Kaponay is a 17-year-old entrepreneur who has been traveling the world with his family since he was 10 years old. He has always had a passion for discovering unique and local travel experiences, and recently decided to put his research expertise to use, launching his own personalised travel concierge service: Destinator Travel. Lalika also loves to be out in nature, hiking, playing sports and is the family’s designated jukebox when it comes to music.
Marieke van der Graaf
Marieke lives in Orange County, Southern California as a single mom with 5 kids (16b, 15g, 14b, 3g and newborn baby girl). The older kids were born in The Netherlands, where homeschooling wasn't legal, however she figured it out and legally homeschooled in the Netherlands until she moved with her family to the US in 2007. The kids have been unschooled since 2012. Her family has traveled extensively and lived in Cambodia from 2014-2015, where again (home/un)schooling wasn't a common option. Marieke is a licensed foster parent in California and has fostered 19 kids, and was able to adopt her daughter from foster care who is now 3 years old, her 15yo daughter is adopted as well, while her 2 boys are biological kids and her newborn daughter is a foster child.
As the sole provider of 5 kids, and not being allowed to work a job in the US because of her visa status, she has always been very creative in finding ways to make money, while spending as much time with her kids as is possible, mostly through avid traveling. Marieke currently runs 4 income producing businesses, including Branding Personality, a digital marketing agency; Laundrylicious - a laundry valet service; Carlicious - a car rental company; and Staylicious - vacation rentals. She thrives to set up her businesses so that they can run without her and is continuously exploring new income streams, while traveling as much as possible.
Réka Kaponay was just 12 years of age when she was inspired by a trip to Andalusia, Spain to write what would become her first full-length fantasy adventure fiction novel: Dawn of the Guardian.
Now, Réka is a 17-year-old passionate writer, storyteller and inspirational speaker, who turned her dream of becoming a professional writer into reality at 14, and became one of the world’s youngest published authors.
A custodian of stories, Réka is a devoted advocate of life-long, inspiration-led learning, and is an example of its creative nurturing.
She shares the narrative of her family’s adventures—throughout the 45+ countries, they have traveled to together—online at her blog: Dreamtime Traveler.
Rob Endres is an Investment Advisor for Stonebrook Capital Management and he is also an insurance agent, but more importantly, he’s an unschooling dad to two boys, Brady 26 and Jonathan 22. Rob and his wife Laura have unschooled for over 17 years and now have moved from the family farm in northern IL, to sunny Los Angeles.
Samantha Matalone Cook
Samantha Matalone Cook, MAT, has almost three decades of experience in education, program development, and the arts and has worked with both small and large organizations to create educational programming that centers and connects the learner to concepts and skills. She has taught in classrooms and in private workshops, mentored other educators, and worked for and with many museums including the Smithsonian. Samantha home educated her own kids, and is a vocal advocate for consensual, knowledge and skill rich, experiential education. To see her past and current projects, including her blog and her upcoming book on Project-Based Learning and History Odyssey curriculum, please visit www.samanthamatalonecook.com
Wes Beach has 57 years' experience in education. He spent 32 years in public and private schools as a teacher in grades K-14 and as the director of alternative education programs. In 1993 he wised up and left the public schools. He is currently Director of Beach High School, a private high school consisting of a home office and an attitude that offers a wide variety of alternatives to traditional schooling. More than 1,500 people have graduated from BHS without a traditional high school education and have succeeded in a wide variety of endeavors, including but not limited to reaching the highest levels of formal education.Wes has served on the board of the HomeSchool Association of California (HSC) and is at present the Teen Adviser for both HSC and the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF). He is the author of "Forging Paths: Beyond Traditional Schooling" and "Self-Directed Learning: Documentation and Life Stories."Wes lives with his wife and two cats in Soquel, California, two miles from the waters of Monterey Bay.