VaHomeschoolers unConvention 2024 logo

[un]Convention Speaker Sessions

Julie Bogart sitting in a black wicker chair, in a white suit, with a cup of coffee smiling warmly at the camera

Keynote Address

Julie Bogart

The Brave Learner

Kids boldly tackle anything they want to learn. Yet parents worry: are my children learning all they should? Every home educator I’ve met offers me the same mission statement: “I just want my children to love learning.” When those same kids prefer to play Minecraft over dividing fractions, parents become exasperated. How can we get passion for learning into the school subjects kids need for high school, college, and career? In this session, I offer a brand new way to see the educational task. I invite you to be a brave learner yourself, attending to the details we overlook—the coziness of our homes, the well-researched principles of natural learning, and the tenderness of our intimate relationships. Discover the properties of brave learning and unleash a torrent of academic growth.

About Julie

Julie Bogart is known for her common sense approach to writing, parenting, critical thinking, and education. She’s the creator of the award-winning program called Brave Writer. In 2000, Julie brought innovation to the education market by providing the first online writing classes in the homeschooling space. Julie is also the author of the books The Brave Learner and Raising Critical Thinkers which have sold over 110,000 copies. Julie’s a popular international speaker and hosts the much-loved Brave Writer podcast. Julie homeschooled her five children who are now adults. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.






Sherry Wolfe

Homeschooling High School Without Losing Your Mind!

Are you nervous about homeschooling high school? Do you wonder how you will know what your student needs to learn to be prepared for life after high school? What ARE the options for life after homeschooling high school? Is college an option for homeschoolers? What in the world is Dual Enrollment and do we have to do it? What is a transcript and why do I need to make one? Come to this session and get these and more questions answered. We will discuss all of these topics and hopefully, set your mind at ease about homeschooling during the high school years. Also, if you have middle schoolers, come to this session so you can get yourself ready for high school!!!

About Sherry

Homeschooling is not a journey Sherry planned to take. She started homeschooling when her twice-exceptional son wasn’t thriving in public school. At that point, she committed to learning the best ways for her kids to be successful. Ten years later, Sherry is still homeschooling her 3 kids, all of whom have various learning disabilities as well as medical needs. She holds master’s degrees in education and math and has experience teaching math in high school and colleges. This education and her experience with her own kids have come together with her enthusiasm for helping other parents bring out the potential in their children.

Catina Sweedy

Catina Sweedy

What Is Unschooling and How It Can Work for You

As a student-centered approach to homeschooling, unschooling creates an educational environment that celebrates children’s natural love of learning. We will explore the philosophy, methods, and the impact of unschooling on learners and their families, as well as practical ideas of how to implement unschooling in homeschool curriculum.

About Catina

Catina Franklin Sweedy has been an active member of the homeschool community since 2008, with a focus on unschooling and youth rights. Catina joined the staff of Embark Center for Self-Directed Education in 2018, where she was finally able to combine her love of mentoring and spending time with young people with her passionate belief in the many benefits of self-directed learning. Frequently in demand as a speaker and clinician, Catina has lectured about homeschooling, video game education, and self-directed education at the Virginia Homeschoolers Conference, the Northern Virginia Women’s Summit, MineFaire, and the Alternative Education Resource Organization Conference, and has been featured on the The Unschool Files, Working While Homeschooling, and Classcast podcasts about her work in self-directed education and homeschooling. She is also a Mojang certified Minecraft educator and lives in Leesburg with her husband, two teenagers, and a menagerie of rescued animals.

Darren Jones

Gameschooling: How Games Can Improve Your Homeschool!

The Jones family has been homeschooling for over 15 years, and we’ve used games at all levels to supplement our academic studies. Whether it’s board games, cards, role-playing, or a combination of them all, games can help liven up your homeschooling from math to science to history.

About Darren

Darren Jones is a homeschool graduate and a veteran homeschool dad. He and his wife Sara have successfully homeschooled as a team for many years. Two of their children have graduated, and the other two are getting close to the end. Darren works as an attorney helping homeschool families and groups around the country, and two of his passions are playing games and helping out at his local church.

Alycia Wright

Stories of US: Crafting Inclusive Homeschooling Experiences with Diverse Books

This presentation explores how stories can bridge cultures, identities and perspectives. Learn practical strategies on how to curate a rich collection of books, activities, and experiences that will lead to more meaningful connections with others.

About Alycia

Alycia Wright, M.Ed is a former educator turned homeschool mom for the last ten years. She founded Cultural Roots Homeschool Cooperative, a nonprofit located in Richmond, Va. Alycia has spoken at numerous homeschool conferences across the nation on the topics of building community, cultural pedagogy, and anti-racism. She and her husband have four daughters, ages 18, 14, 13, and 9. You can find Alycia at her cooperatives website:

Michelle McCarthy

Yes!!You Can Homeschool your Child with Special Needs

Having a child with special needs can be challenging, and the thought of homeschooling them may feel scary. Michelle is here to tell you that you can homeschool your child with special needs. You will leave Michelle’s session with encouragement and practical tips on how to get started on homeschooling your child with special needs.

About Michelle

Michelle McCarthy, MA, is a former special education teacher of over ten years and an almost unschooling mama to two special needs kids, ages 10 and 17, whom she has homeschooled for the past ten years. Michelle owns Brave Homeschooling Educational Services LLC, which provides proof of progress evaluations to Virginia homeschoolers and will add homeschooling coaching to her business. Michelle has created over four hundred and fifty YouTube videos on her channel “The Brave Homeschooling Mama” related to special needs homeschooling and homeschooling in general, and she has presented in online conferences on homeschooling special needs kids from elementary to high school.

Michelle McCarthy in a red sweater leaning against a post with her arms crossed and smiling
Nasiyah Isra-Ul Headshot

Nasiyah Isra-Ul

Tips From a Homeschool Grad Join

Nasiyah Isra-Ul, an acclaimed rising leader and nonprofit executive who just also happens to be a homeschool graduate, as she shares her experiences being homeschooled through high school and the ways parents and students can leverage this opportunity to excel and thrive in their chosen careers and beyond. From honor societies to scholarships to college applications, Nasiyah will share the practical wisdom gained from her adventures as a homeschooled high schooler and how it helped her become a homeschool coach, advocate, and business leader in her community and beyond.

About Nasiyah

Nasiyah Isra-Ul is an incoming graduate student at Regent University. She is the founder and CEO of Canary Academy Online Inc., a nonprofit she created as a teenager to provide affordable, technology-based educational solutions for homeschoolers. She is also the co-founder of the National Edupreneur Institute. Nasiyah has served as a fellow and advisor for various organizations over the past several years and is a leadership coach and edupreneurship mentor. Her interests include academic research, policy/advocacy work, and community-based service-learning projects. She has a deep passion for student-centered, self-directed/project-based learning opportunities. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family (parents, brother, leopard gecko, and dog), reading, and further developing her skillset in multicultural cooking.

Jeanne Faulconer

Let Your House Do the Homeschooling

Let’s discuss setting up your home so it’s conducive to home education, minimizes preparation for learning, and helps children help themselves to learning materials and experiences—regardless of your homeschooling style. Ideas for the reality of having kids “use” your home all the time, coping with wear and tear, and providing a home front which works for real homeschooling families.

About Jeanne

Jeanne Faulconer and her husband homeschooled their kids for 20 years in three states. Along the way, Jeanne organized co-ops, wrote and edited for homeschooling magazines, and worked as a homeschool advocate and conference speaker. She is the former director of Brave Writer’s 14,000-strong membership community, Brave Learner Home. Her writing and homeschool advice is featured at Jeanne is a former board member of VaHomeschoolers and was named to the VaHomeschoolers Legacy Circle. A homeschool evaluator for many years (now retired from that service), she has provided annual evidence of progress letters for hundreds of families in Virginia.