We are proud to annouce our wonderful speakers for our third annual Texas Unschoolers Conference!
We want to thank the people who are giving of their time and energy to be with us during our stay at Hill Country Cottages & RV Resort. Not only will our speakers be sharing wonderful talks with you, they will be fully immersed in conference activities throughout the event.
So, without further ado, here is the speaker lineup.
Sue is an amazing Unschooling advocate and has paved the way for so many of us. The Pattersons were a military family and unschooled in Alaska, California and Texas. She has three grown unschooled kids who are doing spectacular things in the world.
Sue has a beautiful website full of unschooling wisdom, has written for numerous homeschooling magazines and is currently the editor of The Homeschooler Post, a free online magazine. She has been a part of various homeschooling/unschooling groups and has started a few of her own. You may want to join her wildly popular Facebook Group, Unschooling Mom2Mom where she has gained nearly 7,000 members since inception in August 2014. Her book entitled, Homeschooled Teens, chronicles 75 teens and young adults who share what their lives were like as they homeschooled and unschooled through their teen years. It’s an interesting and thought provoking book and we’re looking forward to having it available for purchase at the conference.
Sue coaches a limited number of people each month who are struggling with unschooling and/or are leaving the school system and feel overwhelmed with how to educate their children in this non-traditional path. Find out more about the various ways she is helping families at www.SuePatterson.com
Her talk at the conference will be titled, “Unschooling From the Heart”. Using Joyce Fettroll’s awesome Unschooling Toolbox, Sue helps parents get to the heart of what makes unschooling work. Join us for this interactive (sometimes rowdy) workshop. And, yes, Sue will bring Kleenex! Sue brings with her so much knowledge and experience and we are so happy to have her!
Sue will also host a nightly wrap up session and Q&A where families can gather to process all of the information they have taken in throughout the day.
In addition, Sue Patterson will head up our mentoring program, which connects those new to unschooling or new to our conference with more seasoned unschoolers. New comers can feel confident that they will receive a warm welcome through this program and hopefully cultivate long lasting relationships with other families attending the conference.
Michelle Conaway, founder of Texas Unschoolers, is mom to three great kids and wife to a wonderful and supportive husband, Stacy Conaway. She has written for several homeschooling and unschooling magazines and is currently a columnist for The Homeschooler Post. Her commitment to empowering others to rethink the way they educate is her passion.
Her Texas Unschoolers website and Facebook group evolved out of a vision she had for unschooling in the state of Texas. She knew that somewhere in this great state of ours there had to be others who believed in respectful parenting and the power of learning through living rich and joyful lives. The Facebook group is now at 1,000+ members, the website is thriving and the 2014 and 2015 TexUns conferences were both a great success. She also created the popular Facebook group, Creative Unschooling Kids, where homeschooled and unschooled kids share their creative work. She is happy to be a part of a community that is endeavoring to live lives filled with joy. She is currently organizing the upcoming 2016 TexUns conference, organizing the TexUns News, adding new resources to the Texas Unschoolers Website, writing and facilitating all of her family’s interests.
Michelle believes that all children deserve the right to evolve into who they were born to be rather than be shaped into something that someone else believes they should be. Her children challenge her every day to remember that they are their own people and that with her partnership, acceptance and love they will flourish.
Michelle will be co-speaking with her husband Stacy in a talk entitled “Living the Dream”. They will discuss how they have arranged their finances and lifestyle in a way which serves the way their family wants to live. Michelle and Stacy will share stories from their own lives about the changes they’ve had to make and the questions they’ve had to ask in order to travel, explore world schooling and live lives filled with joy. They will facilitate a conversation after the talk to discuss what holds us back from living the lives we want to live. We hope that this conversation will empower families to identify the lifestyle they want and take steps towards realizing it.
Michelle will also lead a talk and Q&A about self care entitled “It’s All About Me“. Topics in this area will focus on how to walk confidently as unschoolers in a world that doesn’t understand it, the importance of personal self-care as a parent and the value of a strong relationship with your significant other. We will discuss ideas on how to achieve these goals while staying present and supportive of our children’s passions.
Rachel Miller is married to her high school sweetheart, Josh, and they happily unschool with Cam and Livy in the Houston suburbs.
Rachel’s article “Fostering Community Through Play” was featured in the Fall 2014 edition of The Homeschooler Magazine. Her inspiration for this article was derived from hosting her monthly gaming days for homeschoolers and unschoolers in her community.
In addition to gaming, camping, traveling, sewing, swimming, reading, and facilitating anything else they’re interested in ~ Rachel sporadically blogs about Field Trips at the Texas Unschoolers website. Her passion for facilitating real life gatherings has sparked her desire to write about field trips and provide information on how to do this efficiently and effectively. She was recently made an administrator on both the Texas Unschoolers Facebook page as well as the closed group. We appreciate Rachel’s willingness to step up in an effort to help others on the unschooling path.
Rachel will be joined by Cam & Livy for a talk entitled, “The Cake is a Lie: Motivation in Gaming” where they will discuss what aspects of various games appeal to their family, typical objections to and concerns about gaming, and ways that Unschooling parents can support their children’s interests.
Rachel will also lead a Q&A Discussion about Radical Unschooling. We’ll discuss how it differs from Punitive or Permissive parenting as well as offer support for specific situations families are concerned about.
We are happy to have Rachel participate in the capacity of speaker and administrator of the conference “Camp Worker Program” this year. We look forward to all of her thoughts and experience around unschooling.
Amy has been unschooling with her 3 children since before they were school-age. Her daughter, Kaylee (8 1/2yrs), her son, Ben (4 1/2yrs), and her daughter Jade (3 months) have never been in school. Amy has always been interested in child development, which eventually lead her to an interest in life-learning. She and her kids are very active in their local unschooling group in the Houston area, Families Learning Freely, of which she is one of the founders and administrators.
Amy loves people and organizing events, including assisting with the last two TexUns Conferences. This year Amy has stepped into an administrative role with the conference and is in charge of “Conference Activities & Scheduling.” Amy is also administrator for the Texas Unschoolers Facebook page and closed group, and is responsible for contributing to the content and resources posted there. We want to thank Amy for all of the hard work she has done to make our Facebook presence and conferences be a reliable resource for those interested in the unschooling path.
Amy enjoys taking lots of pictures, laughing, cooking, and being with people. She is also a mentor for Elimination Communication, and an advocate for infant bodily integrity and circumcision education.
Amy will be leading another discussion on how to discuss sex and promote bodily autonomy starting at a young age. This talk was very popular last year and is back by popular demand.
Last, but not least, Amy will be offering a Cartwheel FUNshop for all ages!
Stacy Conaway is Dad to three amazing kids and husband to Michelle Conaway. He is the “brains” behind the Texas Unschoolers website and handles all of the technology issues associated with Texas Unschoolers.
His recent decision to leave the corporate world to pursue his passion of technology lead him to start CincoTec, an Apple certified technology and support business. This decision has helped to him to achieve his dream of being with his family full time, allowing him to work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. His passion for University of Texas football led him to be the owner and manager of a super popular University of Texas discussion board called HornFans. You can find him most days working alongside his family at the dinner table, in whichever city they are calling home for the moment.
Stacy will be co-speaking with his wife Michelle in a talk entitled “Living the Dream“. They will discuss how they have arranged their finances and lifestyle in a way which serves the way their family wants to live. Michelle and Stacy will share stories from their own lives about the changes they’ve had to make and the questions they’ve had to ask in order to travel, explore world schooling and live lives filled with joy. They will facilitate a conversation after the talk to discuss what holds us back from living the lives we want to live. We hope that this conversation will empower families to identify the lifestyle they want and take steps towards realizing it.
Stacy, along with Eric Smith will also co-host the popular Dad’s Only discussion, where unschooling dad’s can ask their questions and provide their insights about matters of unschooling.
In school, Eric was not one to buck the system, yet he still got in trouble in first grade for writing word problems in his writing journal. He has continued to do and learn math at every opportunity, adding a Math minor to his degree in college, and gaining his Doctorate in Chemical Engineering while taking as many extra math courses as possible. Eric is currently a manager at MSI Kenny in Houston where he writes software to model fluid dynamics in oil pipelines. He continues to learn new coding languages & higher math on his own.
Eric and his wife, Amy, have 3 children, Kaylee (8 1/2 years old), Ben (4 1/2 years old) and Jade (3 months) who have always been unschooled. Besides math, Eric’s other hobbies are researching home theater systems, convincing his friends to buy gaming consuls & high quality TVs, studying Austrian Economics, and learning all about Apple products. He also enjoys playing video games, although lately that means almost exclusively playing the Lego Movie Game with his kids.
Eric will be hosting a workshop entitled: Computer Based Maths
Schools teach computation, not math. No one needs to do long division when there’s a calculator in your pocket. In higher level courses, analytical solutions are taught when the vast majority of these problems are solved numerically. …Math education in schools is lagging way behind the times. Math should not and cannot be segregated from other educational disciplines. Come blur the lines of math, data science, engineering, and computer programming in a math workshop. Bring a laptop to play along, no pre-installed software is needed, just a web browser.
We’ll start with an activity geared for age 5 and under and then slowly get more complex all the way up through things geared for teens and adults. All ages are welcome.
Eric, along with Stacy Conaway, will also co-host the popular Dad’s Only discussion, where unschooling dad’s can ask their questions and provide their insights about matters of unschooling.
Kate Averett is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studies gender, childhood, parenting, and the family. For her dissertation, she has spent the last two years researching homeschooling in Texas – reading blogs and websites, attending conferences and conventions, and surveying and interviewing parents – in order to better understand the many reasons why parents choose to homeschool and/or unschool their kids. When not working on her research, Kate enjoys reading, dancing, watching TV crime dramas, babysitting, and spending time with her 6 nieces and nephews, who are some of the coolest people she knows. Kate and her wife are “mamas” to a 5-year-old yellow lab named Henry Louise.
In her talk “What Do Children Need? Findings from the Texas Homeschool Project,” Kate will present some of the findings from her dissertation research about the diverse ideas parents have about what a “good childhood” should look like.
Jackson is a grown unschooler with a passion for Shakespeare, video games, and all things musical. He will be speaking about his path from unschooling, to Austin Community College for an Associates Degree in Japanese, and finally to the University of Texas, where he earned a BS in Communication Studies with a 4.0 GPA. He will compare his life as an unschooler to his experience in college and his post-grad career, discussing the challenges involved in each transition, and how his unschooling background prepared him for them.
We look forward to welcoming Jackson and hearing more about his unschooling life.
Alyssa Braddock, grown unschooler, grew up in a military family moving from San Antonio, to Alaska, to California, and then back to Texas. She has lived both in the country on a ranch as well as in the suburbs, but no matter where she lived, she was pursuing her interests in animals and dance and then later in make-up and hair. She landed a year-long internship at a natural make-up store in Austin, Texas at 14, and then at 15 decided to “try” high school. She made the drill team and did well in her classes. But after a year and half, decided that enough was enough and opted to return to her unschooling life. At 17, she was accepted into Avenue Five Institute, a Vidal Sassoon cosmetology program and graduated in what would have been her “senior” year. She is now 22 and works at a prestigious salon in north Austin.
On a personal note, she married her best friend, who is now a local firefighter and together they have a nearly one-year old baby. They bought a house last year outside Austin, and she remains close with multiple generations in her family.
She’d love to have you follow her on Instagram!