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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.

AI: the Future of Customer Communication

Many businesses communicate with their customers using social media. More people are communicating through messaging apps, which have surpassed social networks in terms of usage. It is predicted that 80%+ of business to customer communication will be through messaging apps and chat bots using artificial intelligence, making it prudent for anyone who owns a business to understand how they work, and how best to use them.


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.


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 with 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.

Transgender 101

As a cis-gender woman I cannot claim to understand all things trans*. I can, however, share what I have learned through our family’s journey and the amazing people I have met along the way.

Let’s talk about terminology, affirmation, learning, safety, inclusion, diversity and advocacy.

Yes, My Son Lives in a School Bus: Supporting Our Childrens’ Dreams While Cultivating Our Own

In November of 2015, my son became the proud owner of a 2001 Thomas 72 passenger school bus. At first, I was in a bit of a shock-the fact that my 18 year old owned a bus, AND at the enormity of the project.   Then I started reading bus blogs and searching  out pictures of people’s conversion projects because *I* wanted a bus too!

“Bussey-Bus” is not the beginning of the story; however, it is more like the middle. Join me to talk about our children’s dreams and ambitions and how supporting them can feed our own aspirations.

Bus Build/Bus Life Roundtable

Join our experienced bus build panelists at our Bus Build Round Table for a lively discussion of all things relating to bus conversion. Share your stories, ask questions and meet other bus enthusiasts. With Paxton Hodgson and Eric Viele


Fred Kluth: Father, Husband, Friend, Dungeon Master, Reverend-Minister, and Corporate Ad Man Shaman

Fred spent his childhood dreaming of ministry, literature, and art while his parents kept telling him he had to focus on a standard education to go college and get a decent job. He eventually found his way back to his intrinsic path and is dedicated to continuing to open those doors for both himself and his children – and anyone who comes to him seeking a way out of the matrix back to their true nature.

Everybody: role initiative

Demystifying Dungeons and Dragons: How D&D launches us into a world of imagination, research and teamwork

In this engaging, light-hearted presentation, Dungeon Master Fred and his daughter, team-player Vivian Kluth, share their practical insights about the game and exactly how it’s a fun and exciting journey in an imaginative world of role-playing, where the by-products of game are the life skills learned. Vivian will share how she developed research tools, exercised her reading and writing skills, and used the experience of working with a team to overcome obstacles. They will enthusiastically share how fantastic the game is; cover the basics of game play; share heart-warming anecdotes about working with a team to achieve goals; how to play out scenarios to resolve conflicts; and discuss the hidden lessons learned.


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.

After Unschooling

How does non-traditional education and parenting change your perspective on markers of adulthood, and the ways in which your child will pass into it? Maybe not as much as you’d fear. I’ll share the ways my children achieved their goals in creative ways, and how I let go of my fears for their future and trusted their direction.


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.


Dana Stewart

Aiming for the Ivies? Applying to College as an Unschooler

If you think your unschooler might want to apply to colleges at some point, it’s probably not too early to start looking into how the process works and what exactly the schools will want from you. As a college professor myself, I thought the application process would be a breeze for me to navigate, but that was far from the case! I’ll share what I have learned this year while helping my 17-year-old unschooled son prepare his college applications. Topics I will cover include: the transcript, the school counselor letter, financial aid, the alumni interview, “demonstrated interest” and campus visits, helpful online resources, the SAT Subject Tests, and more. Please note: I warmly invite the participation of any parents who have also been through this process with their unschoolers and would like to share their tips.

Eric VieleEric Viele
Hi, I’m Eric. I’m a entrepreneur and alternative educator, hailing from Grass Lake, Michigan. I’ve been unschooled my whole life. I’m now 20 and live in a bus I fixed and converted myself. Lemme toss some of my interests at you: blacksmithing, auto mechanics, computer engineering, electrical engineering, massage therapy, adventure! I recently worked on an educational program in Colorado, now I’m mining bitcoin.
I love to talk, I hope I get to talk to lots of people this year.

I Unschooled and lived!
At the age of 20, you could say I’m past school age. After a life of Unchooling, this is where I’m at. Allow me to be your test subject! Come with questions, or just come to hear an unschoolers tale. I’ll touch on how I learned, on what I did and didn’t learn, on how I made friends, and many more things that were easier or more challenging due to my education.

Independence and happiness
When you’re a young person, can there be a perfect marriage between supporting yourself and still doing what you love? Can you still play D&D while you’re swimming the sea of busyness known as college? Is it Impossible to still play a lot of video games while working a full time job? Let’s find out!


Bethany Ward 

Bethany serves her community as a professional interfaith Spiritual Director and Death Midwife, helping to facilitate for others the intersection of conscious living and conscious dying. She also stewards Foxfield Preserve, a unique conservation burial site in Wilmot, Ohio. Bethany is active in the death acceptance movement, inviting others to consider the dying process as an opening to become more present and loving, an occasion for profound healing, and an opportunity for participating fully in life. Find her at https://aneweverafter.com/

Preparing for End of LIfe

One of the most loving choices we can make for ourselves and our loved ones is to prepare for and plan our own death. Join us in learning what steps you need to take emotionally, spiritually, and practically for the end of life we all face. This presentation will be focused on supportive discussion, practical how-tos, documentation checklists, laws and regulations, and spiritual discourse. Learn about ways to discuss the inevitable process of dying with your children and families.


Sylvia Woodman

Sylvia Woodman is insatiably curious. She loves meeting new people, traveling to new places, having new experiences, tasting new foods, and learning new things! She has been learning, thinking, and writing about unschooling for more than 8 years. She spends time on FB writing and helping out on several unschooling groups including Unschooling Q&A, Radical Unschooling Info, and Unschooling Mom2Mom. She also spent over a decade volunteering with, and eventually leading her local La Leche League Group. Sylvia has been married to her husband Jim for 17 years and they have two children Gabriella (13) and Harry (11), who have never been to school.



So What Do You DO All Day? Or “Typical Unschooling Days”

One of the most common questions that unschoolers get asked is “What do you do all day?” Most people have an image of kids “doing school” at home with little desks, a dining room or spare bedroom converted into a “school room.” Most unschoolers I know, don’t do that. But what do they do? How do they do it? What does it look like? What does it feel like? And most importantly: How can I help you get started?



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.


Hannah Masters
Hannah Masters is 17 and has been unschooled for about 5 years. As put by her friend Lillie Forteau, “Whoa, look at this talented human being. You should like her because she’s amazing.” Her focus in life is on music, notably bass and piano. She does a lot with several different music groups and programs, including an orchestra at a local college, a Jazz Prep class at a local college, along with a high school rock orchestra, a more advanced high school orchestra, and a high school’s Jazz Workshop. Her city allows her to participate in programs at the high school as a homeschooler. In the past, she has done several music camps and even attended an Honors Orchestra for several years. She also is talented at blowing a whistle very loudly.

Lillie Forteau
Bio above

Kasper Hodgson

Kasper is a 17 year old unschooled teen hailing from Trevor, Wisconsin. He had been unschooled his whole life before starting community college at age 15, he’s now a full time college student who also works part-time. In his free time he enjoys long walks to the fridge and petting dogs.


Hans Kelson
Hans Kelson is a 17-year old computer nerd, politician, and traveler. He enjoys spending time with friends, eating chocolate, and building things – both physically and in the digital world. When he’s not watching movies on one monitor while using the other three to write code or play games, he can usually be found listening to music or high fantasy books on audible – sometimes while driving to a friend’s house in another state just because he feels like it. He’s also a huge d&d nerd, who has for some reason seen fit to be involved in three campaigns at once. It’s probably fine…


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.


Isaac Govan
Hello, and welcome to the bio of Isaac Govan. Isaac is an eighteen-year old male who has been attending the UWG conference for seven years. Isaac enjoys playing video games, sports, and painting miniature figurines; he also is passionate about anything fitness related (eating well, going to the gym, etc). Isaac currently has a moderately large role in a play written by Joe Regowski of United We Stand; he is also working on building a remote controlled plane from scratch. Isaac mines a crypto currency called ethereum with his good friend Eriqu Viola (Eric Viele). Isaac is a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol Air Force auxiliary, and dreams of being a test pilot for the U.S Air Force and someday an astronaut for NASA.

Lillie Forteau
Bio and photo above

Olivia Holt
Bio and photo above

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.


Olivia Holt
Bio and photo above

Jared Masters
Jared has been Unschooled for the greater part of his life with his journey, beginning shortly after the sixth grade. He strongly believes the best way to learn is to focus on learning what you want to learn. For him, Unschooling has given him the ability to become more engaged in learning more about his own interests. He is a college student, currently studying Electrical Engineering at Cuyahoga Community College. Though it has taken time, he has managed to find the perfect balance in his life between his studies, work, and play.

Max VerNooy

Max is a 22 year old unschooler for life. Never been to a day of school, he’s now living the dream working as a full time karate instructor. Max has a passion for working with kids in any context, though. Other than teaching, Max loves board games, martial arts, magic tricks, video games, unicycling, active games, juggling, and also games. He lives in Delaware with his parents and siblings (all of whom Max still gets along with after 22 years).




Eric Viele
Bio and photo above