Pam Sorooshian is the mom of three grown-up unschooled kids. By conference time, their ages will be: Roya (30), Roxana (26), and Rose (23). Pam is also an economics and statistics professor and she runs a college theater box office. She sometimes runs games workshops for kids. Her family lives in Southern California and she is on the Board of Directors of the HomeSchool Association of California. Pam, and her husband, Cyrus, pulled Roya out of 4th grade, Roxana out of 1st grade, and never sent Rose to school at all. That was 20 years ago and they spent about a month thinking “unit studies” were a good idea before jumping fully into unschooling. Pam has been a frequent participant in online unschooling discussions and has spoken at unschooling conferences all over the country. She thinks it is interesting that her children are making surprisingly conventional adult choices considering their very unconventional upbringing. Roya is married and has a son, Wyatt, who will have just turned 1 by conference time. She has a BA in Recreation and Leisure Studies and an MS in Counseling. She’s a family therapist intern and a university professor in the Recreation Department. She also offers private homeschooling coaching by email. Roxana is in graduate school studying theater arts and has a lot of interest in dramaturgy and also doing social media work. She has BAs in both history and drama. She is doing an internship at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Rose has a certificate in interpreting American sign language and a BA in Deaf Studies. She teaches a college computer skills course and is a Kung Fu instructor. She is also a certified Signing Times instructor. In spite of, or maybe because of, their unschooling backgrounds, they have excelled as college students and have received many academic honors, awards, and scholarships.
To Pam, unschooling means creating a peaceful, safe, and loving home life with many opportunities for exploration, invention, investigation, and conversation. It means very involved parents who pay close attention to supporting their children’s interests. It means joy and closeness and a very special, and very sweet, parent/child relationship.
Reneé Cabatic is a happy mom to always unschooled twins Xander and XuMei (14 yrs old). She is married to and always learning from engineer and gamer, Chris.
She spends her time facilitating Xander’s pursuit of coding, Minecraft, DOTA2, Dungeons & Dragons, and more computing power. In spite of an irrational fear of horses, she drives XuMei to horseback lessons, watches her in Drill Team and Vaulting performances and generally tries not to squeak or suck in her breath at inopportune moments. She walks Lola the dog, pets the cats, shops for and cooks yummy food, does laundry, reads about unschooling, watches lots of television, gives young people sexual health information so they can make informed choices, and for money she bakes at night for a local café and cleans a vacation rental home on the weekends.
photo credit: XuMei Cabatic
Roya Dedeaux, now 30, was pulled out of school when she was 10 years old, and was unschooled, along with her two younger sisters. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, and baby Wyatt, where she has been enjoying hiking, exploring Hollywood and keeping up her blog, Little House in the Big Park.
Roya has an M.S. in Counseling and a B.A. in Recreation and Leisure Studies. She is a Marriage and Family Therapist intern, with a private practice in Los Alamitos, and offers email coaching for homeschoolers. Her therapy website is www.royadedeaux.com. She is also a professor in the Recreation and Leisure Department at California State University, Long Beach, and loves getting to share her unschooling philosophies with her college students.
Roya specializes in art therapy, and has spent most of her life crocheting, knitting, making journals, collaging, and following other artistic pursuits. She is a regular columnist in The Homeschooler magazine, where she writes about creativity and children. Roya sells her hand-crocheted jewelry at www.showyourcolorz.etsy.com and the fabulous “jewelry habitats” she makes with her (also unschooled) sisters at www.jewelryhabitat.etsy.com.
Chris Cabatic is a father of 14 year old twins, a gamer, and a mechanical engineer. He helps his twins Xander and XuMei to learn in their everyday life.
Chris got into unschooling in 2007 when he attended the first LIFE is Good Conference in Corvallis, Oregon with his family. He and his wife Reneé had been attachment parenting up until that point and had looked into different forms of homeschooling but had not heard of unschooling. After meeting those wonderful families and seeing the amazing relationships they had they realized that unschooling would be the next step to their relationships with their children.
Chris is an avid gamer and has been playing since he got his first Atari 2600. Since then he has enjoyed playing on multiple generations of Nintendo, Sony, and Xbox consoles. The game franchises he enjoys the most are Halo, Little Big Planet, Assassins Creed, and Tomb Raider. He has logged over 1,100 verifiable hours gaming while still being an attentive father and provider for his family.
Shannon Loucks is a mom to two always unschooled boys, ages 12 and 10. Before meeting her boys she obtained a Bachelor of Education, certain that her calling was to be a teacher. Quickly disillusioned by the system, she sought out situations that allowed her to delight in the wonder of learning as it naturally unfolded for children. This found her in preschools, recreation centers and traipsing overseas to open an international school in Tokyo. All of this confirmed what she suspected, children truly do learn from their own desires and passion and her role was simply to bear witness from the sidelines leading so naturally into a life of living and learning alongside her own children. You can read more about their unschooling life at breakingdaylight.org.
Colleen Paeff is a former preschool teacher turned unschooling parent. In her family’s pursuit of educational freedom, she has evolved from a Waldorf school parent who eschewed video games to a passionate advocate for game play. Colleen teaches online research skills to homeschoolers and their families and has led teen clubs focused on crafting, film appreciation, and video games for her local homeschool group. She lives in Los Angeles, CA where she and her husband, Warren, radically unschooled their son Jerry (19) from the time he was 11.
Marina is a lifelong unschooler, including attending school of her own choice for three months in third grade, six months in seventh grade, about five years in community college, and three years getting her BA in The Psychology of Society and Culture. Her husband Zack has even less time clocked in school, with one year of massage school and three years of nursing school under his belt. They have two children, Rosa (3) and Ezra (almost 1) who are happily unschooling their way through basic understanding of psychology (what does my sibling do when I take their toys? how about when I give them toys?), liquid dynamics (what happens when I kick really hard in the bath?), architectural engineering (how many blocks can I stack on top of each other?), film and media studies (Frozen), literature (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), and entropy.
Marina works as the National Volunteer Program Coordinator for the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, which works to expand care and choices at the end of life. Her most difficult adjustment to the working world was realizing that not everyone thinks “Why?” is an appropriate question. Her favorite things about living in Portland, OR, include rainy days being the perfect excuse to curl up with tea and a book, high standards for good coffee, and the country’s first nonprofit brewpub.
Ronnie Maier and her family have been unschooling together since 2003. Currently, her 20-something daughters are at the University of Washington while living at home, so the Maiers are on an entirely new (and decidedly more traditional) phase of their educational journey, with unschooling “in the rearview” and yet still an intrinsic part of their lives and relationships. Ronnie writes and speaks on themes of acceptance, trust, and overcoming the shame we parents experienced as kids. For most of their unschooling, she has been the income-bringer through her career in the software industry; she brings the perspective of the working parent and has had considerable practice balancing (or trying to) the often opposing forces of corporate priorities and unschooling principles. She’s looking forward to seeing you all.
MJ Maier is a grown unschooler, now all of 22 years old. She quit school at the tender age of 10 and stayed out until she dove back into standardized education to attend community college (and graduate with an Associate’s degree) before moving to the University of Washington where she is majoring in psychology and minoring in gender, women’s, and sexuality studies, with plans to move on to graduate school and eventually be a counseling psychologist. Her day job is bartending and, yes, she knows how to make your favorite drink/will make you your favorite drink. In her spare time, she is passionate about third wave feminism and all-around social activism, sex education (she will definitely happily give your kids The Talk if you ask), reading books and the written word in general, and clothes/fashion. Her activism definitely extends to children and the treatment of them in society, which goes hand in hand with her passion for whole-life unschooling. She lives in the Seattle area, but spends her free moments out of the city at Mt. Rainier now that she has discovered snowshoeing and rediscovered hiking. Her New Year’s resolution was to expand her social circle, so don’t be afraid say hi!
Panel and Funshop Presenters
Robin Bentley, who in the hula community goes by her Hawaiian name ‘Ehulani (meaning “Heavenly Redhead” ), has danced in the Talent Show at almost all the LIFE is Good conferences. Now that she has a few years of hula under her pa’u skirt, she’s ready to spread the aloha with a funshop or two! Robin is mum to Senna, who has always been unschooled, and spouse to Ross, who is almost always away coaching race car drivers during LIFE is Good (which is why you don’t see him!).
Robin is hosting the Show Me How to do the Hula! and Hawaiian Lei Making funshops.
Rich McCloud wrote his first song when he was 10 and has been writing, singing and performing ever since. He currently has 2 albums and has another one on the way. Rich performs with his band or accompanying himself with a guitar. He has been teaching songwriting randomly throughout his youth and has been teaching more consistently the last year and a half.
Rich is hosting the Songwriting For All funshop.
Heidi Snavley is a certified yoga instructor, registered with Yoga Alliance. She is Alaskan born and raised but newly planted in Murrieta, California, where she lives with her husband, Martin, and her 16 year old daughter, Calista. She also has two grown sons who live in Tucson, AZ.
Heidi is hosting the Yoga with Heidi funshop.
Senna Bentley has never been to school (and still isn’t going at age 20!). Her passions are video games – Pokemon and Fire Emblem, amongst others; cosplay and drawing; Fall Out Boy and videogame music; online Pokemon roleplaying and anime conventions. She’s happy to coach Pokemon gamers any time during the conference!
Senna is hosting the Pokemon Single Battle Tournament! funshop.
Cat-love runs in the family, Owen is resident cat-whisperer. Deep inside, he’s warrior at heart, but is more of a gentle giant on the outside, and he dreams of becoming a world traveler/learner on his own. While you may see Owen play-fighting (a favorite activity), he actually is quite shy around others, and would be very grateful if you approached him first and said hello. (Social anxiety is a bitch sometimes. If he turns you down, don’t take it personally, he’s probably just feeling too shy to participate.) He plays video games A LOT, adores a good science fiction game or television story arc, and would happily marry his “soulmate,” a sweet 17 year old kitty named Angel-Rose. PurrrrrrrrrrRRrrrr.
Owen is co-hosting the Donate Food for Animals! funshop.
Mim lives right here in Vancouver with her husband and two unschooled boys, 7 cats, 2 dogs and a turtle. Because that isn’t enough animals, every year, she opens her home up to foster cats and kittens from the local shelter, for up to 18 animals at once. Yeah, the crazy cat lady, that one. In her not very copious spare time, she writes about unschooling life, the universe and everything, works as an autism and health advocate, cooks, edible gardens, play various instruments, binge watches stuff with her kids, plays online games with her kids, acts as assistant to the director/video editor/all around “do this now” person for one of the boy’s wildly successful Youtube Channel and dreams of taking her family to Hawaii (one of these years). Meow.
Mim is co-hosting the Donate Food for Animals! funshop
Hazel is an always-unschooled 10-year old who loves Littlest Pet Shop, anime, crafting, Minecraft, role playing, eating yummy things, baking, fashion, and cosplay.
Hazel is hosting the Littlest Pet Shop Meetup funshop.
“Kristin is a loving sweethearted mother of three. She is always nice to everyone and she’s very good at cutting strawberries. She takes us places we want to go and feeds us. She plays games with us and is a good winner/loser. She’s an all around very good person. She also works at pottery.” Cooper Lake, age 11
Kristin is hosting the Meet and Greet for Newbies funshop.
Becky & Mary Bella Betts
Becky and daughter Mary Bella are happy unschoolers from Walla Walla, Wa. They absolutely love LIFE is Good conferences because it provides an amazing opportunity to bond with a like minded tribe. In Walla Walla, Becky loves to garden, plan her family’s next adventures, and advocate for children and peaceful parenting. Mary Bella loves to, draw, and travel, particularly to Miranda Sings shows!
Becky & Mary Bella are hosting the Mom & Dad Makeovers funshop.
Mai Lon Ross
Thinker, observer, analyzer, questioner. Tend to come up with the great response three hours after the fact. Mom of two, 11 and 8. Always looking for new opportunities.
Mai Lon is hosting the Icebreakers for Introverts funshop.
My name is Joel Berrelleza. I am 16 years old, I am a photographer, And cant wait to meet everyone at the conference.
Joel is hosting the Ultimate, Banana, Everyone Is It Tag funshop.
Sabine is co-hosting the YouTube Share and Tell funshop.
Aliana & Viola Cerullo
We are The Cerullo Twins! We love: Dancing, Singing, Skiing, LIG, And DOLLS!
Aliana & Viola are hosting the American Girl Dolls funshop.
What can I say about me that hasn’t already been said in FBI files, various district attorneys’ charging documents, or court records? I’m the happiest husband in the world, being married to my sweet Ronnie. I’m the happiest dad in the world to 22yo MJ and 21yo Chloe, not to mention a few “loaner” sons and daughters from among our unschooling community All else is subject to change without notice.
I blog at http://pvmaro.blogspot.com which is mostly my stream-of-consciousness psychiatrist, although I do occasionally have something to say about unschooling; so if you search for that term at my blog, you’ll find a few posts. Most of our unschooling family life has been documented at Ronnie’s blog http://zombieprincess.blogspot.com.
The Chapman-Knight Family
We are Kristal, Robin, Sam, Matt and Noah living an unschooled life on Vancouver Island , British Columbia. We enjoy drinking maple syrup, eating smoked salmon, saying ‘eh’ at the end of our sentences, playing hockey in our sleep and relaxing in our igloo.
The Chapman-Knights are co-hosting the Super Smash Bros Wii U Tournament funshop.
The Cabatic Family
We are Renee, Chris, Xander and XuMei living and laughing in Corvallis, Oregon, USA! We enjoy eating marianberries and filberts, drinking craft kombucha, and riding horses in our sleep. We don’t know how to pump our own gas, and we don’t own an umbrella.
The Cabatics are co- hosting the Super Smash Bros Wii U Tournament funshop.
Lisa lives in the panhandle of Idaho with her two sons, Joe (12) and Broin (2) and her husband, plus a few animals. She came to unschooling when her oldest son was 2 and hasn’t looked back. She enjoys traveling and anything technology-related.
Lisa is hosting the Self Publishing for Fun and Massive Profit funshop.
Tasha Robertson & Benji B’Shalom
Tasha Robertson and Benji B’Shalom started the Portland Quidditch League in 2013. Since then, they have founded Oregon’s first competitive team, the Portland Augureys, and lead them to US Quidditch Regionals this past March.
The Portland Quidditch League helps to develop quidditch in the Portland area, and to keep the Oregon quidditch community open and safe for all people. Benji is a lifelong unschooler, and Tasha has been unschooling since she was 12.
Tasha & Benji are hosting the Real-life Quidditch funshop.
Joey & Anne-Marie Fjeld
We’re not British but love their TV, fancy teapots and cucumber sandwiches.
Joey & Anne-Marie are hosting the Anglophiles’ Afternoon Tea Party funshop.
Robyn Coburn is mom to always unschooled daughter Jayn (15) and a writer, textile artist and résumé coach. She has spoken at numerous unschooling conferences, and lives in Los Angeles with James. Currently she is writing the authorized biography of her late father-in-law, the Oscar winning actor, James Coburn.
Robyn is hosting the Decoding a Job Listing funshop.
Stephanie is hosting the Repurposing Cork funshop.
Kathryn & Edward Robles
Kathryn and Edward are the parents of four awesome kids ranging from under a year to seven years old. Kathryn was raised in a very relaxed homeschooling home and they are totally excited to unschool their family. They live in Portland with three cats, a dog, two goats, multiplying rabbits, and nine chickens.
Kathryn & Edward are hosting the Duct Tape Creations funshop.
David is hosting the Mutant Toy Making funshop.