IDEA Curriculum Fair 2014: Special Speakers

Attendee Welcome Page ~ Anchorage ~ Fairbanks ~ Juneau ~ Soldotna

Brian Wasko

Representing WriteAtHome

Workshops: Evaluating Student Writing ~ How to Mark Up a Student Paper Like a Pro (Only Better) ~ A Journey of a Thousand Miles: The Writing Process ~ Mind Numbing to Mind Blowing: How to Write an Essay that Someone Might Actually Want to Read ~ Solid Strategies for Slaying the SAT Essay ~ Words Are Awesome!

Brian Wasko has worked with teenagers since we was a teenager himself. He taught high school English for eleven years, coached wrestling for nine years, and has served as youth minister and family life pastor for more than twelve years. He has been a Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle leader, summer youth camp speaker, and (believe it or not) a Christian rapper. He currently directs the Home School Enrichment Program for Sovereign Grace Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, where he also teaches weekly literature, grammar, and logic classes. He is the founder and president of, a revolutionary writing skills development program serving middle and high school students around the world. Brian has also worked as a freelance writer and editor, and is the author of WriteAtHome’s proprietary curriculum. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1988 with a B.A. in English and a Virginia teaching certificate. Brian’s lively, informal speaking style is popular with audiences young and old. Through his speaking, Brian is able to communicate his infatuation with words, his passion for learning, and his deep love for teenagers.

Brian currently lives in Virginia Beach with his wife Melanie and his four home-educated teenages daughters Stephanie, Taylor, Kerri, and Madison.

Candy Matheny & Linda Thornhill

Representing TRISMS Curriculum

Workshops: Is It Time to Stop Educating and Start Thinking and Creating?

Candy Matheny is a home school mom of 4 with 20 years home schooling experience. She has a B.S. in Music Therapy, past Administrator of Tulsa Academic Cooperative and a founding board member for NOAH, a Homeschool sports Association. Currently serves as a substitute teacher for mentally, physically and emotionally challenged students, manages her business as a Health and Wellness consult with Beauticontrol and an intricate part of the TRISMS team. She encourages women to be surprised and delighted everyday through teaching their children and developing their own talents and skills. We are our children's best cheerleader.

Linda Thornhill graduated from the University of Tulsa with a B.S. in education in 1977. Her senior paper was on curriculum and learning styles. She has experience with various learning settings; open classroom, multi-level, and peer grouping, within the public school system. She home schooled her three sons, and currently teaches art classes and TRISMS courses in home school co-ops as well as teaching art individually and at a private school. Linda has a talent for weaving subjects together to create a whole picture.

Cindy Wiggers

Representing GeoMatters

Workshops: Raising a Critical Thinker ~ Roots Have Fruits

Cindy Wiggers has been involved with the homeschooling movement since 1989 when she and her husband began teaching their three children at home. Few choices of curriculum existed at that time and most were written for classrooms. It didn’t take long for her to realize teaching in a home school setting with multiple ages and levels of students needed a totally different approach. So began her journey, studying the writings of Raymond and Dorothy Moore, Dr. Ruth Beechick and others who understood the dynamics of educating children at home. The perspective of Dr. Beechick, in particular, helped form her philosophy of education, and later her personal relationship with Debbie Strayer helped solidify her understanding of the value of a natural approach to education.

From these beginnings Cindy and her family established Geography Matters, a publishing company which develops and creates materials to help parents establish an environment that inspires a love for learning and encourages the development of critical thinking skills in their children. She authored and co-authored The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide, Trail Guide to World Geography, Trail Guide to U.S Geography, Trail Guide to Bible Geography, and created the Mark-It Timeline of History. Her company publishes the popular Trail Guide to Learning Series, which fully utilizes the natural learning methods developed by Dr. Beechick and includes the vast wisdom and insight of authors Debbie Strayer and Linda Fowler. Cindy resides in Kentucky where she enjoys working with family, gardening, and helping enrich the homeschool journey of the next generation, her grandchildren.

Debbie Oberste

Representing RightStart Mathematics

Workshop: Critical Thinking in Mathematics ~ Get a RightStart™ (or ReStart) in Fractions! (product workshop) ~ Mastering Math Facts with Card Games (product workshop)

Debbie and her husband Chris have been married for 24 years and have six children. In 1993, she started the journey of educating her children at home; three have since graduated and the fourth will be graduating this spring. Her children present a wide range of talent and challenges which has kept Debbie seeking the best ways to help them. She also does what she can to encourage parents and empower them to do the best job possible. Her oldest daughter is now married and has three children. Debbie is looking forward to helping home educate the next generation.

Janet Beckett

Representing Greenways Academy and Institute for Excellence in Writing

Greenways Workshop; The Successful Online Classroom in your Home Classroom

IEW Workshops: Learn to Read and Write with PAL (product workshop) ~ Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum

Janet Becket understands that homeschooling offers the ability to truly customize out classrooms to each student's ability and level of learning. She works with students in both homeschool and tutoring environments and she is pleased to be able to share with you suggestions on making your homeschool a positive learning environment that will work with how your student learns. Alaska is home to Janet and her family and she knows that The Greatland is a great place for homeschoolers!

Jean Burk

Representing College Prep Genius

Workshop: Build an Amazing Homeschool Transcript ~ Free College Can Happen to You ~ Limited Language – Limited Mind

Author Jean Burk is a homeschooling mother and creator of the revolutionary College Prep Genius curriculum which has helped thousands of students prepare for the SAT & PSAT/NMSQT. Her expertise has been featured on FOX, CBS, NBC, and the Homeschool Channel. Jean currently travels across the United States speaking about how to go to college for FREE!

As a homeschooling mom, Jean did not have the financial resources to send her children to college. When she discovered that SAT & PSAT were the keys to getting huge scholarships, she began to research the tests to understand how to prepare her children for them. She discovered that these tests could be taught! They weren’t IQ tests, but rather critical thinking exams. After both her children received full-ride scholarships, Jean began teaching these secrets to other homeschooling students. Her program College Prep Genius is the culmination of more than a decade of research, classroom experience and SAT experience.

Keith Howe, M.B.A.

Representing Moving Beyond the Page

Workshop: Hitting the Mark ~ Understanding Giftedness

Keith is a father of four and a co-founder of Moving Beyond the Page. Since 2005, he has helped develop this unique curriculum that engages learners with creative and interesting projects while continuing to challenge them academically. He speaks with thousands of parents each year and understands the needs and challenges of homeschool families. Keith received his B.S. in biomedical science and holds graduate degrees in business administration and theology. He enjoys spending time each day educating his kids in science, social studies, and mathematics. A life-long learner, he enjoys encouraging his own family and others in their pursuit of knowledge.

Monica Irvine

Representing The Etiquette Factory

Workshops: Come and Listen, if You Dare! Etiquette for Teens ~ Manners Matter & Mean Success

Monica Irvine, President and creator of The Etiquette Factory, LLC, is a master motivator and dedicated instructor who loves to help children and adults see the benefits and rewards of having proper etiquette, mastering professionalism and excelling in social skills. As a Certified Etiquette Instructor and working in the hospitality industry for 24 years, Mrs. Irvine specializes in etiquette and professional instruction to help ensure the success of each individual both personally and professionally.

Mrs. Irvine is the published author of three books on Etiquette including: Etiquette for Beginners, Etiquette Intermediate and Etiquette Masters, in addition to authoring several monthly columns in national publications such as Everything Knoxville, The Homeschool Handbook and the Homeschool Magazine. Mrs. Irvine is a national speaker, speaking to thousands of parents, educators and children every year.

Residing in Knoxville, TN with her husband, Mrs. Irvine spends her free time playing tennis, running and enjoying her family of three boys and a granddaughter. You may contact Mrs. Irvine at or via her website at

Patricia Padgett

Representing Create Press, Inc.

Workshops: Grammar Sleuth: Uncovering the Secret Codes of Sentences! ~ Putting Thoughts on Paper with Success! ~ What's in a Story?

Patricia Padgett has specialized in the process of learning for over 22 years. Trish’s passion for empowering students and teachers lead to a Masters Degree in Curriculum Development and training in research-based, multi-sensory instruction. She is currently the owner and Director of Foundations for Reading & Learning and co-author of Writing Adventures®. The focus on language and process-based curriculum prompted the creation of Writing Adventures. This structured, systematic program applies meta-cognition to teaching the scope and sequence of the writing process: language building, sentence structure, paragraphs, essays, and narratives. Trish has spent the last 12 years training and coaching educators, paraprofessionals, and home school families in the application of research and process-based writing principles. As many teachersost homeschoolers feel unprepared to teach the writing process, the primary objective of the coaching is to empower the teacher with the skills to be taught as well as how to teach the skills. Home schoolers all over the world use Writing Adventures to supplement their Language Arts curriculum.  Trish provides support via phone calls and emails to assist parents with integrating more writing experiences throughout the day.

Trish is currently the President of Create! Press, Inc., the publisher of the board games, workbooks, manuals, and graphic organizers that comprise the writing system.  She has presented several workshops at national and international conferences.  As Director of Foundations for Reading & Learning, a private learning center, Trish identifies learning strengths and weaknesses in youths and adults and develops and administers individualized cognitive therapy plans.  She also consults with schools and learning centers across the country in the areas of reading, spelling, language comprehension, writing, and arithmetic.

Tom Clark

Representing VideoText Interactive Homeschool Math

Workshops: Can Mom or Dad Really "Teach" Story-Problems? (And Why Would You Want to Anyway?) ~ The Seven Laws of Teaching at Home ~ Top Ten Myths About Homeschooling Math ~ Why Does Homeschooling Math Often Strain Our Relationship with Our Children? (Let’s find the trouble spots!)

Thomas Clark, president of VideoText Interactive, is a life-long teacher of Mathematics and Science with 49 years of experience at all levels. As a result, he is convinced that everyone has the ability to understand mathematics. In the last 20 years, he has focused on the development of multimedia programs that challenge traditional methods of instruction by emphasizing the “why” of mathematics, and has further directed his attention toward helping homeschooling parents become more effective instructors. He is the author of “Algebra: A Complete Course”, and “Geometry: A Complete Course (with Trigonometry)”, both of which are available in hard copy and online.

Vicki Dincher

Representing Debra Bell's Aim Academy

Workshop: Help! The Way I Teach, The Way He Learns Don’t Match ~ Math and Science, Math and Science, Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage ~ The Scientific Method for Dummies OR How to Be a Scientist ~ What's a Lab?

I’ve taught science for over twenty years to my own four children and to children of fellow homeschoolers. In fact, I’m still teaching science in live weekly classes for homeschoolers in my area and biology, chemistry, physics, and intro to chem/phys online. And now that I’ve graduated from teaching my own kids, I’ve taken to writing student science notebooks for Apologia and other science stuff. I love to travel. Seeing some of the natural wonders of the world is definitely on my bucket list, so I am very excited about my trip to Alaska! I enjoy sharing life with my husband, Jerry, and my four kids and their spouses.