IDEA Curriculum Fair 2019: Speakers with Learning Workshops

Keynote speaker: Julie Bogart

Click here for more info about Julie and her workshops. Other speakers below.

Adelaide Olguin

Representing TalkBox.Mom

Learning workshop in Anchorage and Juneau
Travel the World While You Homeschool – Smart Family Travel on a Budget

Adelaide Olguin, the owner of TalkBox.Mom, has homeschooled on three continents (and counting) with her two boys and husband and has helped thousands of families to talk in foreign languages. She created TalkBox.Mom to help other families start talking in and understanding foreign languages within days, like her family does as they travel. Now parents who thought they could never learn a language are shocked that they’re talking with their children!

Adelaide worked in the Fashion Industry in Europe until she had her first son and realized there was a large gap in language resources for families. She could conduct a meeting in German but could not figure out how to change a diaper in German. A couple years later, her and her husband started working remotely and traveling the world when Adelaide realized that parents are the greatest language teachers in the world, teaching babies all over the world to talk. She decided to start learning and teaching her family languages she didn’t know by following this same pattern–and the results are incredible.

Cindy Wiggers

Representing GeoMatters

Learning workshops in Anchorage
Cultivating a Love for Learning
Notebooks: The Secret of Adding Spice to Any Curriculum

Cindy Wiggers is an author, publisher, and national speaker. She is the developer of the hands-on Mark-It Timeline of History, creator of Trail Guide to Geography series, wife, mother, grandmother, businesswoman, and veteran homeschool parent. Her practical approach to teaching is drawn from real-life experiences and reflects her heart to help children develop a delight in learning.

In 1979 Cindy and her husband, Josh, established Geography Matters to create multi-level materials that enable families to learn together. GeoMatters continues to design and publish maps and other educational resources, including the Trail Guide to Learning curriculum series, Adventures of Munford series, and Eat Your Way cookbooks. Josh and Cindy make their home in Kentucky, where she enjoys gardening, hiking, grandchildren, and dark chocolate.

Colleen Walker

Representing Self ESTEAM Learning

Learning workshop in Anchorage
How to Design an Engaging Science Unit (STEAM Focus)

Colleen is a passionate educator who shares her excitement for science by creating engaging and hands-on laboratory experiences. Her inquiry-based lessons encourage students to explore concepts and ask questions to continue their growth well after the lab experience. Seven years of teaching experience, curriculum development and a Master’s degree in education, have given her the ability to fine-tune the elements of an engaging science lesson. Colleen is eager to share her knowledge with educators and has presented Professional Development courses for the Mat-Su Borough School District and the Alaska Society for Technology in Education (ASTE) Conference.

Deb Mackie

Representing IDEA Homeschool (High School Specialist)

Learning workshops in Soldotna, Anchorage, and Fairbanks
Keeping Doors Open ~ Making Opportunities
Making a Portfolio – A High Schooler’s Resume

I am a past homeschool mother of two grown daughters. I homeschooled K-12 for both girls and worked for many years as a regional field rep for IDEA. During those years I researched and learned a lot about how to prepare my own children for life beyond high school. After they graduated and went on to college I went back to school myself and earned my Bachelors in Education. I am now a contact teacher for IDEA as well as the High School Specialist. A portion of my work day is dedicated to learning about and sharing with our IDEA families about high school opportunities and how to be prepared for the many options beyond high school. I have over twenty years in homeschool education and love helping families navigate high school and the preparation for the next steps beyond.

Dennis DiNoia

Representing Mr. D Math

Learning workshops in Soldotna, Anchorage, and Fairbanks
Goal Setting – A Family Event!
How to Speak and Talk Math
SAT Math – It’s Not the Math, it’s the Question that is Confusing!

Dennis DiNoia, M.A.Ed has been immersed in education for almost 30 years.  He holds a M.A. in Education from the University of South Florida and has been a Florida State Certified Secondary Mathematics Teacher since 1988.  He is affectionately known to all of his students as “Mr. D”.

After recording over 500 instructional videos, writing thousands of quiz questions and course practice problems with step-by-step solutions, the Mr. D Math curriculum ranges from Pre-Algebra to Pre-Calculus. His online students are across the United States and Mr. D has worked with students on 3 different continents! This math program infuses problem solving and treating math as a language as the basis for its delivery and offers the equivalent of a personal teacher in one’s home or co-op.  Mr. D is a master of distance-learning platforms with his highly successful live online classes for students.

Elizabeth Nicolai

Representing Anchorage Public Library

Learning workshop in Anchorage
Statewide Research Resources & Skills

Elizabeth Nicolai is the youth services coordinator for the Anchorage Public Library. She has been a professional librarian for 15 years, most of that time in youth services. She has presented at many homeschool conventions (including IDEA in the past) and taught homeschool programs in libraries in three states.

Eric Stasak

Representing Stock Market Companion

Learning workshops in Soldotna, Anchorage, and Fairbanks
Beyond Gaming and Shopping…Exciting Ways to Use the Internet to Learn about Finance and Investing (using free and safe resources)

Eric Stasak is a homeschooling father of 5. Since 1991, Eric has been learning, applying, and teaching about growth and value stock investing. Since 2004, he has been teaching and guiding homeschool students about common stock investing. His engineering degree, decade of work in overseas cultures and service as a community college Vice President and Chief Financial Officer provides a foundation for clear and practical thinking and exciting teaching about finance and investing. Eric is passionate about sharing his knowledge of finance and investing to the next generation! You will laugh with him about his successes and failures and be encouraged to try some new ideas on your own.

Julia Renfro

Representing ACPE – Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

Learning workshop in Anchorage
Show Me the Money

Julia helps Alaskans develop personal learning & career plans (PLCPs), and encourages parental engagement by sharing her career services; human resources; job center; secondary & PSE, and corporate training experience. She contributes nationally by participating in CIS system development, and serving as Alliance of Career Resource Professionals President and Career Information System Executive Board Member.

Kay Gibson

Representing Oak Meadow Independent Learning

Learning workshop in Soldotna and Anchorage
Earth, Air, Fire & Water: Observations in the Natural World

Kay earned a BA in Environmental Studies, an MEd focusing on both integrated day and Waldorf Curriculum, and a Master’s in Teaching from SIT (School for International Training). She has worked in Waldorf Schools in both the elementary and kindergarten/nursery programs. Kay spent two years in the Peace Corps in Macedonia where she was an English resource faculty and advisor working with all ages from pre-K to adults. She also led professional development workshops on natural science curriculum to teachers through the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

Kevin Fochs

Representing FFA

Learning workshop in Anchorage
Agriculture and Natural Resource Education in Alaska

Kevin grew up on a cattle ranch in the small town of Shawmut in central Montana. He earned both a Bachelor of Science and Masters Degree from Montana State University. Kevin was a high school agriculture educator and FFA advisor for 32 years in Montana; enjoying the last 26 years of teaching in Livingston, MT. Currently, Kevin works closely with IDEA’s FFA Chapter, Midnight Sun, and a few other homeschool chapters throughout the state. Kevin’s goals are to strengthen agriculture and natural resource education and FFA in our state and proactively advance agriculture in Alaska.

In December 2018 he finished the fourth year as the State FFA advisor for the state of Alaska. Under his direction, FFA programs have increased from 6 to 18, while FFA membership has more than tripled. During his teaching career he served as the President of the Montana Association of Agriculture Educators. He was elected to represent agriculture teachers in Region 1 (the 11 western states including Alaska and Hawaii) on the National Association of Agricultural Educators Board of Directors. He also served on the National FFA board of trustees.

Kit Strauss

Representing Foreign Languages for Kids

Learning workshop in all locations
Facts and Myths About Foreign Language Education

Kit graduated in the top of her class at Cornell University and then earned a law degree at University of Virginia. After having children, Kit decided to parent full-time, becoming very involved in her children’s education, including teaching them foreign language from a young age. When Kit discovered the lack of quality foreign language products and programs available to parents like her, she began creating her own games and activities to teach her kids and had tremendous success with her children learning Spanish and Mandarin. Wanting to help other families achieve similar success, Kit went to create Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids® to give parents a genuine opportunity for their students to succeed with foreign language.

Leticia Smith

Representing Risas y Sonrisas –

Learning workshop in Anchorage
Learn Spanish Pronunciation FAST!

Leticia Smith is from Mexico City and has lived in Austin, TX since 1986. She received a BBA from Texas State University and an Accelerated Learning Certificate from the University of Houston. Throughout college, she worked in the Spanish Department where she acquired invaluable teaching experience at the University level. After 10 years as a Spanish instructor for elementary students K-6, Leticia developed of her award-winning program, Risas y Sonrisas

Maren Ehley

Representing RightStart Mathematics

Learning workshop in Soldotna and Anchorage
Math Myths, Math Anxiety, and Math Learning Challenges
Memorizing Math Facts Without Tears
Memorizing Math Facts Without Tears

Maren has a Bachelor’s Degree in design and art from North Dakota State University. She is responsible for marketing, convention support, along with other general office functions. She travels to conventions within the US and Canada to help children benefit from using RightStart Math and is co-teaching the online class for middle-school students.

She has 25 years of accounting and customer service experience. Maren is married with three children ranging from elementary to adult. Maren uses RightStart Math with her youngest daughter, who has excelled in math for this very reason. She enjoys painting, reading, camping, home improvements, and landscaping.

Melanie Wasko


Learning workshop in all locations
Know Thyself…and Thy Kids Too
What I Wish I Knew Then: Thoughts from a Mom Who’s Crossed the Finish Line

Melanie Wasko has a BA from the University of Virginia in Rhetoric and Communication Studies. She is married to Brian Wasko, founder and president of WriteAtHome, and has four daughters whom she homeschooled from kindergarten to college. Now that the girls are all grown up, Melanie is the Charter and Distance Learning Schools Liaison for WriteAtHome. When she isn’t working, she loves reading, hiking, photography, drinking coffee, and eating dark chocolate.

Shelly Morgan

Representing ACPE – Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

Learning workshop in Anchorage
Laying the Foundation – Early College & Career Exploration

Shelly Morgan is the K-12 Specialist with the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE). She manages the early awareness programs I Know I Can and Kids2College, and assists schools in downloading Early Career Explorers resources and establishing AKCIS Junior curriculum. She also provides trainings for volunteers, teachers, and campus coordinators. Shelly has shared ACPE’s early career exploration programs and resources with Raven Homeschool families and looks forward to expanding reach to additional homeschool families and networks.

Stephanie Bainbridge

Representing Box Cars & One-Eyed Jacks

Learning workshop in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau
All Hands on Deck K-5

Stephanie Bainbridge has a BS in Elementary Education with a Minor in Mathematics. She holds a Career CPC Elementary Education 1st-6th, Middle School Math 5th-9th and PreK-3 in the state of Missouri and Lifetime Self-Contained 1st-8th certificate for the state of Texas. Ms. Bainbridge has taught for almost 20 years grades K-8th. She has experience with students in the inner city as well as both the public and private schools. She has worked with students of all ages and ability levels including students that are ESL, ADD, ADHD, OHI, or LD. She has facilitated work with many clubs and programs including technology and curriculum committees, PTO, and math league. Ms. Bainbridge is both a National/International Presenter and Consultant for Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks.

Zach Edwards

Representing Historical Conquest

Learning workshop in Anchorage and Fairbanks
The Three Little Pigs of Amazing Curriculum and Retention

When Zack Edwards was in college, he was given a class assignment to create a product that would change the world that was doable in a dorm setting. This was the beginning of Historical Conquest. Because of this assignment Zack was able to increase his grades and finish school with a product that could change the education world for hundreds of people. This has ignited a desire to develop other products that produce the same high level (70%) of retention.

Zack started his business in Juneau, Alaska and later moved his family to Kansas City, Missouri for health reasons. He now has 4 kids between the ages of 7 to 12 who all enjoy his games. These games have become such a hit around the United States, mostly in the homeschool arena, that he has been able to quit his day job and do this full time. Yet, this doesn’t stop him from working on additional partnership and programs, especially volunteer efforts. Education and service has become his life and he enjoys every minute.