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2018 Speakers 

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Josiah BurkeJosiah Burke
Josiah is a career IT contractor, currently employed as a full time Network and Security Engineer, and has worked in multiple industries, including government, finance, tech start-ups, healthcare, insurance, and manufacturing. He is a firm believer in education both in and out of the classroom and is, himself, self educated. Despite a relatively rough background and an atypical life path, he’s managed to navigate his way into a successful and demanding career. While at UWG, Josiah will be giving a talk on Self Education and Career Advancement, as well as something called “The Imposter Syndrome”, which plagues many of those that are self-educated in a degree dominated workplace


Don DeSerannoDon DeSeranno
Don is first and foremost a Husband and a Father. He and his wife Corissa are both “stay-at-home” unschooling parents of their four kids. They are almost always all together, and they travel the world more than they are at home. Don is an entrepreneur and an investor. He manages his financial planning company that he started in 1999 and his other businesses and investments from home or wherever his family travels. Don and his family are able to do what they choose, being together and traveling the world, because of their financial freedom.

Foundations of Financial Freedom
Foundations of Financial Freedom is for kids and the parents of kids who want to make their own rules and have fun whenever they want, and don’t like being told what to do. How can you become financially free to be forever in charge of yourself and your life? How young can you get started, and what are the first steps? We will answer these questions and more as we lay the Foundations of Financial Freedom.


Ed Forteau
Ed had successful corporate careers in engineering and sales and marketing management with two Fortune 500 Companies. He left the corporate world to pursue his passion of being a consultant and advisor to business owners and entrepreneurs. Along the way, he’s delved more deeply into his areas of interest and now helps people find ways to healthier living through his radio show, Power Up Your Health, and web properties, including The World’s Greatest Food Fight.


Lillie Forteau
Lillie, always unschooled, is a writer, entrepreneur, graphic designer, and artist. She is passionate about social justice and equal rights, and is a history buff. Lillie is a musician (voice, ukelele, and guitar) and cosplayer, leading workshops in this field. Pop Culture is where she’s at – ask about her fandoms! She’s been to every single UWG.


Get Pop Cultured
What is this thing called pop culture? It’s all around you! How did it evolve so fast throughout history, what does it mean, and why it is never a waste of time and money.

Creative Writing Workshop for Beginners
Learning the craft of writing takes a lot of time, energy, and perseverance – and time spent in chairs. In this talk and workshop, you’ll learn terminology, point of view (and what you’re most comfortable writing), writing tips and tricks, ways to publish online, creating likeable characters and characters with depth, successful worldbuilding, and how to gain an audience (and fans!). Please bring paper, a pen or pencil, and creativity. We’ll practice positive feedback for those who want to share their work.


Julie Bond Genovese
Julie is an inspirational speaker, creative soul coach, workshop leader, artist, unschooling mom and best-selling author of her award-winning memoir, Nothing Short of Joy, endorsed by Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Christiane Northrup & Dr. Bernie Siegel. Julie has been featured on TV, online & radio including ABC, NBC, FOX, Oprah radio, Barcroft TV, Huffington Post, Maria Shriver, FinerMinds and Tut.com. Being born a dwarf, with degenerative arthritis, was not the poison Julie originally believed – it became the cure. After desperate years of humiliation, self-rejection & operations (including two brain surgeries,) Julie realized that the biggest thing standing in her way was her B.S. (Belief System.) Julie mentors spirit-led folks on how to bless the BS, view challenges as sacred choices made by the soul, build soul-blissipline, dive deep while lightening up, and energize ginormous joy. Find her at https://nothingshortofjoy.com/

Aligning with the Soul’s Joy: Unschooling Ourselves from the BS (Belief Systems)
More than any outer adversity, losses or challenges, our inner BS is the biggest block standing in the way of an awesome and fulfilling lifetime. By consciously questioning our beliefs, we open up to greater possibilities and empowerment. Carl Jung said, “The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of the parents.” The clearer we are on our own path, the more loving we can be as parents. The more devoted we feel to our own passions and soul-blissipline, the brighter example we become for our family and their unique dreams. No matter what difficulties come our way, an open heart and mind align us with our best selves. Join us for an interactive discussion on how to shift our daily focus toward greater peace, presence and inspiration!

Harmonizing Our Relationships (with Partners or Kids) using The Work of Byron Katie
“The teacher you need is the person you’re living with.” ~Byron Katie. A conscious relationship (with ourselves, partners, kids or friends) is one of the most powerful tools for personal joy and spiritual growth. By recognizing when we project our painful thoughts & feelings about ourselves, onto those closest to us, we can begin to free ourselves from conflict. Relationships act as an insightful mirror of the denied aspects within ourselves. What we judge or ignore within ourselves, we’ll notice crawling all over others. By honoring our truth and “Loving What Is,” we can use any adversity as a catalyst for growth and compassion. These wake-up calls from the soul teach us how to champion our true selves while learning to live peacefully with our families. As we change our inner perspective, the healing and peace ripples outward. Join us in an interactive workshop and discussion on how to shift anger, overwhelm and judgment into mindfulness, freedom and love.


Mary HerringtonMary Herrington
Mary specializes in parenting in partnership with her children who both suffer from different mental illnesses. She has been unschooling for 9 years and would love to share with you tips and tricks for parenting a child who is suffering from anxiety and/or depression. Come hear her story and see if you can see yourself or someone you know. Visit her website at: www.maryherrington.com to learn more.


Raina Hodgson
Pronouns She/Her/Hers
Raina and stay-at-home dad, Steve, have 3 boys – Paxton (20), Kasper (16), and Avery (12), and they share their home with 3 dogs, 2 cats, 4 guinea pigs, 5 rats, 2 fish, an antique newt, and a 94 year-old grandmother. What began as a one-year experiment to not send Paxton to kindergarten evolved into a lifelong embracing of what comes naturally… As natural as sharing sleep with a baby, comforting a crying toddler, and truly enjoying teenagers…Unschooling isn’t something this family does, it is just who they are.

Trained as a Speech Language Pathologist, Raina currently works for a national rehabilitation company, leading operations for in-home out-patient therapy services in 23 states. She is a project leader for 4-H, a PFLAG parent, and her favorite store is the grocery store. When not working or attending some sort of meeting, you may find her playing the dogs and the kids, trying a new recipe, and/or enjoying a tasty beverage… all while planning how she can change the world, one small step at a time.


Denise Metzger
Denise is a single adoptive mom of 3 grown kids after fostering 31. They were able to unschool all the way though since the adoptions were finalized before school age! She also taught piano and voice privately for all her life (since age 11) and is an all-denominational minister. She finally felt like she found her tribe when she first came to UWG and still likes to come even though her kids have “aged” out!!

Let’s Not Judge Lest We Be Judged!
I don’t think unschoolers are prone to judging each other, but how do we speak to those in our lives who don’t get it? Who don’t have the desire to spend time with their kids like we do? Who don’t have the freedom and feel guilty? And to those who judge us because we are not allowing our children to socialize?

Field Trips for Unschoolers
Where DIDN’T we go as unschoolers? We had SO MANY “on the spot lessons” in our lives from the community around us. I KNOW We turned some people ON TO the idea of homeschooling/ unschooling. Let’s open this up to a forum discussion with everyone attending and add their experiences to share!


Michelle Nardi
Michelle is the midwest mother of three grown Unschoolers, who are 22, 23, and 27 years old. Scattered around the country, her children are thriving adults and still her favorite people to spend time with. Now an empty nester, she’s very active in her local bicycle community and looking forward to her next adventure.



Heather Schleidt

Heather and her family have been on the journey of unschooling since day one. They did not start out with unschooling, but through transitions and learning more about the WHY of unschooling, her family has embraced the concept for almost 10 years. She and her husband, Markus, have four children that have never been to school. Heather enjoys reading, dancing, and traveling the world with her kids and hubby!

Unschooling 101
Interested in venturing towards a more self-directed lifestyle of learning for your family? Come learn about Unschooling from a veteran who has taken the path less traveled slowly, but consistently. Heather has been an advocate for unschooling since reading books and ideas generated by the Unschooling gurus – John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, Pat Farenga, Sandra Dodd, and many more. This talk will be an evaluation of the reasons why everyone can unschool their children and how to start thinking outside of the traditional mindset of what an education should look like. Be prepared to trade that round peg in for a square one when we are done!


Deena Seckinger
Deena is a divorced mom who finds joy every day in traveling through life with her three teenage children: Olivia (19), Jacob (16), and Emily (14). After a failed attempt at educating the children through traditional schooling and traditional homeschooling, Deena started homeschooling “wrong,” as she described it…before discovering the correct term is UNSCHOOLING! She and the children have been unschooling for 13 years and “radically unschooling” for the past 6 (mostly because of what she learned from attending UWWG and other similar gatherings). For 30+ years, Deena has flown as a pilot until an uncommon illness grounded her from her position as a Delta 737 Captain in January 2016. Since then she has enjoyed more time with her children, embraced her inner comedienne and actress, and given hundreds of hours to charity work alongside her children.

The Dreaded Questions: How will they…? But what about…? Even math?!?!
Come explore with us those wonderful questions we have all heard from friends, family, and, yes, even random strangers. Here you will find reassurance that this path works, answers that have settled the fears of truly concerned loved ones, and some quips to shutdown Nosy Nellie! Most importantly though you’ll get support from long time unschoolers that, yes, if your child “needs” math, then they WILL learn math! PFA (Parental Failure Anxiety) is YOUR problem, not your child’s. Relax! Come with your questions, your favorite zingers, and an open mind as we learn how to navigate this unschooling life within the confines of a traditional landscape.

Mutual Respect, Principles, & Expectations vs. Arbitrary Rules
My grown daughter, Olivia Danielle, and I will discuss the journey we’ve spent over 20 years taking. From our life in traditional roles to our present day relationship you’ll hear our ups and downs and the turning points which changed us for the better. In this talk we’ll discuss and hopefully address some concerns you may have about letting go of the reins and trusting the process. We believe beyond everything else we’ve learned that communication is by far the most crucial foundation.


Olivia Danielle

Olivia was unschooled for most of her education starting at the end of first grade continuing through high school graduation. She spends most of her time working her two businesses, helping out around the theatre, or spending time with her family. She has been to seven UWGs and hopes to continue attending them for years to come.


Mutual Respect, Principles, & Expectations vs. Arbitrary Rules

Description above.


Eric VieleEric Viele
Hi! I’m Eric, a blacksmith and alternative educator from Grass Lake, Michigan. I grew up Unschooled and continue to practice the art of self directed learning. Some of my interests are electrical engineering, computer building and programming, travel, massage, biohacking, mechanics, alternative construction, tailoring, and communication.
Pronouns: He/Him





Ask An Unschooled Teen
How did you ___? Why did you ___? If I want to help my kid do ___, what should I do? If you have questions like, this then come on down to the ask an unschooled teen panel! There will be Talking! Teenagers! Microphones! And most importantly…. ANSWERS!! How it works: walk in, sit down, ask a panel of teen unschoolers your questions! Moderated by Eric Viele.

Teen Entrepreneurialism Panel
Ever wanted to work for yourself? Have a kid that wants to start their own business? Then come on down to the teen entrepreneurialism panel! Young adults who work for themselves will be on stage and ready to answer your questions! Moderated by Eric Viele.

Grown Unschooler Panel
Now, how does an unschooler swim from the sea of childhood into the ocean of grown human being status? Well, good question…why not ask it at the Grown Unschoolers Panel!!! We’ve assembled a whole gaggle of grown, “mature” unschoolers ready to take your questions! Moderated by Eric Viele.