Formerly known as the HOUSE Conference
Featured Speakers
Pat Farenga Penny Gardner Robin Schneider
author and speaker author author
Growing Without Schooling
Charlotte Mason Study Guide
Teaching Science Skills at Home (Without Being a Rocket Scientist)

Patrick Farenga worked closely with the author and teacher John Holt for four years, until Holt’s death in 1985. He is the President of Holt Associates Inc. and was the Publisher of Growing Without Schooling magazine (GWS) from 1985 until it stopped publishing in Nov. 2001. GWS was the nation’s first periodical about homeschooling, started by Holt in 1977.

Mr. Farenga now works as a writer, speaker, and education consultant.

Penny Gardner, author of the Charlotte Mason Study Guide: A Simplified Approach to a Living Education; Italics, Beautiful Handwriting for Children; and the Nine-Note Recorder Series is the mother of six children, ages 21 to 6. Penny has degrees in Elementary Education and Music Education. She taught in public schools for four years before marrying.

She is an enthusiastic fan of Charlotte Mason's innovative concepts and has many examples and ideas to share.

Robin Schneider comes from a family of scientists, and has a degree in chemistry herself. Her interest in science education began at age seven, when she started critically examining different methods of teaching science that she'd encountered. In the years that followed, she developed methods to make science both enjoyable and understandable. After testing and refining her ideas on her four homeschooled boys, she turned them into a book so that everyone could benefit from her experience.
More Presenter Biographies
Carol Severson and her husband, David, are home educating veterans of more than 20 years. Carol has spoken at many home education conventions and seminars, and she has written several magazine articles.


Tom Clark is a teacher with 30 years of classroom teaching experience, in addition to serving as a math supervisor at the state and district levels. This award-winning teacher believed that taking a multimedia approach toward teaching mathematic and algebraic concepts would make a difference in learning and comprehension, so he developed a new approach to teaching Algebra. VideoText Interactive now has a series of Algebra programs, which have chalked up spectacular results in national trials and classroom pilots.  He is currently designing a Geometry course, which will be available in May 2006.


Cindy Gaddis is the mother of 5 children, ages 8-16, whom she has been living with and learning from through homeschooling over the last ten years with her husband, Weston. Cindy has worked with the homeschooling laws in four states. She has published in Home Education Magazine and Growing Without Schooling. Cindy has also presented in workshops at several state education conferences on teaching strategies for the autistic children.


Idy Ciss hails from Senegal.  His grandparents were well known dancers in their village, and it is from them that Idy received his gift.  From the time he was five years old, the people of his village loved to watch him dance, and he was always called upon to perform for special occasions and ceremonies. Also a teacher and singer of traditional African songs, he made his professional debut with Les Ballets "Kolam Sererer."  He is also a former member of Ballets Africans Silimbo.  Idy currently serves as the assistant to the Artistic Director of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, offering his expertise as a consultant, choreographer, and principal dancer.


Debbi Salisbury, a homeschooling mom, is from a family of actors and directors called Salisbury Actors Group Productions. Two of her children are actors, as well as cable TV directors and producers. Besides acting in film, TV and on stage, Debbi has directed cable TV shows, short films and plays. She is currently working on two cartoon voiceovers as a voice actor.


Craig Sjogerman (Questor the Jester) is a playwright, actor, vaudevillian and homeschooling dad. He has been involved in children’s theater since 1978. In San Francisco he founded Picadilly, a circus, and taught and performed for Make-a-Circus. In Chicago, his plays for children have been produced at Imagination Theater, Whirlwind Performance Company and Gaia Theater, which he co-founded and where he was the Artistic Director for ten years. He has performs locally and across the country.


Dona Zeffery is a 5th degree black belt, a martial arts instructor of ten years and a Du Page County deputy sheriff.


Christine Field practiced law for eight years before becoming a full-time mom. She and her husband live and homeschool their four children in Wheaton, Illinois. Three of their four children are adopted. They are also active foster parents. She is the author of several books including Coming Home to Raise Your Children, A Field Guide to Homeschooling, Life Skills for Kids, and Help for the Harried Homeschooler.


Alison McKee’s articles have appeared in Growing Without Schooling, Home Education Magazine, Homefires: The Journal of Homeschooling, The Relaxed Homeschooler, F.U.N. News: Family Unschooling Network, and Homeschooling.com. She homeschooled for 20+ years and has written books concerning unschooling and creating college transcripts.


John Upchurch, a homeschooling dad, has been involved in the music business for 15 years and has played on over twenty albums. He has toured extensively in the US and his music has been featured on television and radio. He has worked with about 100 bands to design and produce award-winning custom packaging and has judged packaging for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.


Patty Kelly-Huff is a mother of six and has been homeschooling for a decade. She was a successful debater in college and a former debate coach at the University of North Texas. She shares her tried and true methods for successful homeschooling.


Karen Rittle has homeschooled her three children along with her husband, Mark, for close to ten years. As a special education teacher she always places her students’ self-esteems above all else. Karen’s energy abounds particularly when sharing stories and cooperative games with her family and friends.


Karolyn Kuehner is a homeschooling mom who left school early, finishing her pre-college education at home.  She is a former Professor of Piano at Roosevelt University and is the founder of Hands On! Children's Art Museum of Chicago, located in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago.


Cindy Wiggers has been teaching her children at home since 1989. She is co-author of The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide. She is a life-long learner whose interests include Bible, history, nature, health and nutrition. She and her husband, Josh, have developed an Interactive Timeline and a variety of outline maps that are used by homeschoolers all over the world. She teaches homeschool parents how to incorporate geography into other subjects of study using practical examples and first-hand experience.


Teri HeinichenOwens, RN, began her training as a critical care nurse in Chicago in 1983. She has studied herbal healing arts since 1995 and is currently completing her masters equivalent degree in herbal and Chinese medicine. She has taught a variety of herb classes to all ages at area grammar schools and in the field. She is the founder of Eco Kids, a children’s learning program focusing on herbal facts and lore, medicine making and earth ecology. Teri’s garden contains over 70 medicinal herbs, many of them endangered, and she is a home-schooling mom.See her web site at LaughingLadybug.com



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