2022 Speakers 

Jennel Benson


Jennel is a former TAB member and a long time 4H member.  She has had the opportunity to attend a plethora of skill building conferences and will be sharing job seeking and interview skills in a workshop for youth and as a discussion on how parents can help their kids with this process.

Cindy Gaddis

Topics TBD

Jen Kendall

Jen Kendall has been attending UWG since 2010 – and has the totebags to prove it! She has two children, ages 17 & 15, who are thrilled to be attending their 10th Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering. Although her kids have always been home educated, it took Jen several years to call herself an unschooler. Now she runs and/or moderates several unschooling-focused groups, including two Facebook groups and an Unschooling Gamers discord server. She and her husband and kids live on a little hobby farm in Northeast Ohio.

An Unschooling Retrospective

Looking back on 18 years of home educating, would I go back and do anything different if I could? Here’s our family’s story, including the small but important events that made two parents steeped in schooly thought transition completely to unschooling.

There’s An App For That

When should your kid get a phone/tablet/device? Should you let them have TikTok? What even is a Discord? Let’s talk about some of the tech platforms out there and how to help your kid develop a healthy relationship with them.

Kim Lowery

Permaculture, Food Forests and Gardening Round Table Discussion– Join in a lively discussion of all things gardening related, with an emphasis on integrated growing techniques.  What’s worked, what hasn’t, what’s your next big project or your favorite part of your garden.  We’ll have a projector and screen available for anyone that would like to share pictures.



Liz Ryan

Liz Ryan is a whole lot of things, once she stopped focusing on her “whole lotta not’s”. Imagine that? She has unschooled her kids accidentally since her first was born in 2011. She has been on a constant journey since then, unlearning all that she grew up believing to be true. She has an affinity for all forms of the word “f*#k, sprinkling it like MSG. She has been a financial advisor since 2006 and working independently since 2011. She published a children’s book in 2017 after self-learning the process from start to finish. She spends most of her days figuring out what substance she stepped in, trying to drink enough water & coffee, and living the dream attempting to be present. One of her biggest accomplishments though has been accepting herself for who she is, so she can do the same for her kids, and anyone she meets.
Welcome Home To Ourselves: Changing Our Narrative
Body positivity is a buzz phrase that has made its rounds all over social media, but what does that look like in action? What does that look like in the midst of day to day life? How does this have anything to do with unschooling? As parents of unschoolers many of us have tuned to deschooling ourselves, or even our kids if they started out in public school. It only takes a few minutes of walking the halls of UWG to see our kids living their truths unapologetically, but how do we get to that same space?  How can we meet ourselves from a place of love and compassion, changing our narratives of intrusive thoughts, our egos, and our stories we have created about ourselves? When we embrace the human we already are, and always have been, the lies we were conditioned to believe melt away.
Come join our little magical community for an interactive experience of peeling back all of our layers, our fears of being seen and heard, and living in the now! Uncover your badassery and show up as the best human for yourself. Preteens, teens, adults: this is for all of us.
“My love, if you don’t speak to yourself like the most beautiful love story you have ever read, then how are you speaking to yourself? If you don’t look at yourself and see your soft rolls sitting one on top of the other, like volumes in a library, then how do you see yourself? If you don’t feel all that life has to offer in this very exact moment, in your very exact body, taking up all the damn space, then what do you feel? You ARE the better. You ARE the best. There is simply no room for anything else.”
The Science Behind Journaling & How It Can Alter Your Life
Join Liz for an in-depth journey through “future self journaling” from the work of Dr. Nicole LePera. Learn how you can rewire your neural pathways to heal through the simple act of journaling. The daily practice can be done by anyone, children included. We will discuss the science behind journaling, walk through the daily practice step by step, and dive deep into healing ourselves. There will be Q&A, and journaling resources on hand for adults and children. Liz will give real examples of how this has changed multiple areas of her life, from relationships with her children to relationships with herself. Come relax and join our community in this transforming act of compassion for ourselves.

Steve Ryan

Steven Ryan and his family has been a part of the UWG community for the last 6 yrs. Steven and his wife Liz decided to unschool shortly after having their first child Sully (9), before knowing anything about unschooling. They now have 3 more children: Maggie (6), Veda (4), and Redd (2). Steven comes from a rural community in PA and was pushed through school, as most of us were. From selling candy in 3rd grade with a friend out of a tackle box and being suspended for it to flipping items like helicopters. All to keep from having to work a 9-5 job. Steve would probably have been voted in high school least likely to succeed, although from a past riddled with the makings of a mini-series, he consistently proves there is no clear path to success in life. Steve is the perfect mix of Sanford and Son meets Elon Musk. His entrepreneurial spirit and drive is contagious! Come join him this year at UWG to share his version of the chickenpox lollipops!

What would life look like if… – A DIY approach to acting on those what ifs!

From the beginning of time, everything has had to be tested before it has hit “its” stride. We are not different, whether that be with unschooling or pursuing interests, hobbies or careers. I am no Tony Robbins, but I do my best, in my way, to inspire others to step outside their comfort zone and be their very best.

Fear is a motivating factor for all of us. From heights to spiders, they are real…but some are unwarranted fears that stem from a deep inherited gnawing that “we just can’t” or “aren’t good enough” or whatever adjective you use.

I want to share my experience and, ultimately, hope and motivation to explore more of those things you keep putting off, whether it be wanting to write a book, pursuing a career, or asking for that raise. It takes the right people at the right time to help bridge the mental gaps we create in putting thoughts into action.

With a little encouragement and effort, we are capable of amazing things! My title, “What would life look like if I…” is then something each year we can share collectively at UWG. I will have a sign up book and I will periodically check up on you to see how your pursuit in conquering your “thing” is going.

Come join me and let’s mark this day as the day you decided to move forward in wanting to …

Heather Schleidt

Heather Schleidt and her husband live on a 65-acre farm and run three restaurants. She never intended to homeschool, let alone, unschool, but after learning about the principles of unschooling and researching many of the pioneers like John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, and Sandra Dodd, she was intrigued at the idea of allowing her children the freedom to design their own life, free from arbitrary rules and assignments.  Heather and Markus have four children and each of them have a unique path they are on. The oldest, Mitchell, got married in 2020 and started his own business in 2021. Lukas,18, has found his own passion in working out, playing chess and video games, and spending time after work with his friends. Their third son, Parker, focuses on video games, Boy Scouts, and working a part-time job. Heidi, the youngest, dances and has been in professional shows and is currently starting her own Etsy business. The original critics of the unschooling path have seen the joy that the children have for life and have leaned into trusting the process. One of Heather’s passions is to get people to educate themselves and to challenge them to think outside of the box. Unschooling works for many families – come learn how unschooling might work well for your family!!

Unschooling 101



Ask an Unschooled Teen

This is a great opportunity to get answers to your most pressing unschooling questions from the perspective of a teen or young adult unschooler.

Grown Unschoolers 

Join unschooled young adults for a fun and informative Q and A session.

Unschooling Q & A 

Are you new to unschooling? Thinking about trying it out, but you have nagging questions in the back of your mind? Are you worried about Math and science? Chores and personal hygiene? Video games? Bring your questions and let’s discuss everything you ever wanted to know about unschooling but were afraid to ask!

Our Unschooling Q and A panel will include veteran unschoolers Jen Kendall, Heather Schleidt, Barb Splett and John Splett.