Roya Dedeaux is a grown unschooler who lives in Southern California with her husband, two kids, and assorted chickens and dogs.
Roya has an M.S. in Counseling and a B.A. in Recreation and Leisure Studies. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with a private practice in Los Alamitos, and long-distance counseling for homeschoolers. Her therapy website is royadedeaux.com. She is also a professor in the Recreation and Leisure Department at California State University, Long Beach, and loves getting to teach classes about play and leisure! She believes strongly in the importance and power of play for all ages, and has spent the majority of her personal and professional life inspiring others to become more playful.
Roya specializes in using art in her therapy practice, and has spent most of her life crocheting, knitting, making journals, collaging, and following other artistic pursuits. She has a monthly yarn subscription business (yarnofthemonth.com), sells earrings online (royaboya.etsy.com), has an unschooling blog (womenofwonderblog.com), and is the author of Protect Their Passions a workbook with practical exercises to help work parents through emotional and logistical barriers to connecting more with their children (http://patreon.com/royadedeaux).
Erika Davis-Pitre and her husband Michael have 4 children – one daughter (40) and three sons (36, 34 & 26). They also have two sons-in-love, two daughters-in-love and two grandsons (12 & 4). She and her husband have recently moved back to San Francisco full-time after living in Connecticut for more than a decade. They have been unschooling for many years and love it, so Erika is always looking for opportunities to share their unschooling joy with others.
Erika has spoken at many un/homeschooling conferences, led quite a few funshops/workshops and has hosted and participated in many round table discussions about unschooling all over the US and Canada. She especially enjoys talking about unschooling teens, sharing the joy of unschooling and celebrating diversity through unschooling.
And she is a Artist Trading Card(ATC) fanatic-if you don’t know about ATCs please ask!
Carolyn’s main influence in unschooling was her mom, who had read all of John Holt’s books and subscribed to Growing Without Schooling, even though 4 out of her 5 children went to traditional public school (and the 5th was home/unschooled for a relatively short time). Her mom also was an early advocate of extended breastfeeding and LLL. Her mom, Granny Jean, lives in a little house in Carolyn’s back yard, and continues to be supportive of unschooling.
One of Carolyn’s favorite jobs was working as a camp counselor in North Carolina while in (and just out of) college. It fueled her love for activity, adventure and working with kids. It was also where she learned to play guitar, a skill she has continued to hone and enjoy. Her next dream job was working as an assistant for the children’s summer reading program in Jackson, WY, which eventually led her to get her Master’s Degree in Library Science, working full time while going to school for 2 years and 8 months.
She worked in both public and school libraries before the birth of her first daughter in 2002. After that, she consulted part time in libraries until the family moved to Portland in 2008 to live around a larger community of unschoolers. She was the first employee of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (founded by an unschooling family), and worked part time as their events manager for 5 years until beginning a career in real estate in 2017. She loves helping unschooling families living in or relocating to the Portland metro area.
Carolyn separated from her partner of 20+ years in the spring of 2015, and her divorce was final in the fall of 2017. With some creativity and help from family and friends she has been able to continue to unschool her daughters who will be 17 and 13.5 at the time of the 2019 conference. They have attended every LIFE is Good conference and Carolyn has spoken at three.
Matt & Kiera Cook
Matt and Kiera Cook have been married for 14 years and are the parents of 4 radically unschooled kids who have never been to school; Alex (13) Bossy Jossy (7), Weston (4), and Zadie (2).
Matt works as an install manager for a Sign company in Long Beach, California. A high school drop-out who found his calling in construction; he loves to spend time with his kids, play video games and make cool things.
Kiera works from home as a maintenance manager and bookkeeper, jobs she fell into but allow for the flexibility she needs to do all the things. In addition to facilitating the interests of her 4 kids, Kiera loves all things artsy and crafty. Her current passion project is Women of Wonder Blog where she tells stories about her family and also sells her creations (currently headbands).
Marieke van der Graaf
Marieke (pronounce ma-REE-ka), lives in Orange County, Southern California as a single mom with 5 kids (16b, 15g, 13b, 3g and newborn baby girl). The older kids were born in The Netherlands, where homeschooling wasn’t legal, however she figured it out and legally homeschooled in the Netherlands until she moved with her family to the US in 2007. The kids have been unschooled since 2012. Her family has traveled extensively and lived in Cambodia from 2014-2015, where again (home/un)schooling wasn’t a common option. Marieke is a licensed foster parent in California and has fostered 19 kids, and was able to adopt her daughter from foster care who is now 3 years old, her 15yo daughter is adopted as well, while her 2 boys are biological kids and her newborn daughter is a foster child.
As the sole provider of 5 kids, and not being allowed to work a job in the US because of her visa status, she has always been very creative in finding ways to make money, while spending as much time with her kids as is possible, mostly through avid traveling. Marieke currently runs 4 income producing businesses, including Branding Personality, a digital marketing agency; Laundrylicious – a laundry valet service; Carlicious – a car rental company; and Staylicious – vacation rentals. She thrives to set up her businesses so that they can run without her and is continuously exploring new income streams.