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LEAP Homeschool Conference
February 17-18, 2023

Innovations Academy in Kearny Mesa
5454 Ruffin Road, San Diego CA  92123

Presenters & Workshops

KEYNOTE ADDRESS:  Strength Based Learning


Monica Cochran

Many call me a teacher or a guide, but the truth is that I am a lifelong learner who loves to help others enjoy learning as much as I do. As both an educator who has experienced the joy of learning in outside-of-the-box ways and a parent and advocate to three extremely different children with three completely different sets of needs for learning, I have learned how to customize educational experiences for those who struggle with the traditional approach to education. Through Learning Without Borders, I work with learners and their families to remove the barriers to learning, cultivate their strengths, and spark a love of learning that will follow them throughout their lives; and I help other educators acquire the knowledge and skills they need to do the same.

You can find her blog at

Workshop:  Strength Based Learning

Strengths or weaknesses? Most children have both. But which do we focus on in our home and/or classroom learning experiences? Many of us know how important it is to work with our strengths; however, putting that into practice flies in the face of how our brains are wired. In this session, you will: discover the strategies and skills you need to identify and override our natural tendency to notice and focus on what our learners are not doing well learn how to incorporate strength-based practices into your home and classroom When we build on students’ strengths and interests, we unleash the power of curiosity and agency.

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Blair Lee M.S.

Blair is the founder of Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers and SEA Publishing. She writes concept-rich, hands-on courses for the REAL Science Odyssey Series. She has also written Project-Based learning, The Science of Climate Change, and Microbiology.,,,,

Workshop:  How to Handcraft a Learner-Centered Education

At its best, homeschooling creates an education that is handcrafted to meet the unique strengths and challenges of each learner as well as the passions of the learner and their family. A handcrafted education is a learner-centered education that focuses on important and relevant academic topics that meet the learner where they are. A learner centered education also focuses on important learning and executive functioning skills. In this talk, Blair Lee will walk you through the process of providing a learner-centered education. She will include information about how to incorporate learning and executive functioning skills into online classes.

Workshop:  Homeschooling 101

The most profound part of homeschooling is the handcrafted journey that happens when an education is tailored for the individual. Doesn’t that sound like something worth providing your child? But… How do you do it? How do you provide something that honors your learner and provides the important academic skills and knowledge they need? In this Homeschooling 101 presentation, Blair will walk you through the legalities, logistics, approaches, and curriculum choices. She will give you practical advice about what you REALLY need to get started.

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DeeDee Whitley and Ximena Avalos:  The Chips and Salsa Ladies

DeeDee and Ximena (known as the Chips & Salsa Ladies), are two homeschool moms trying to figure out how to savor life through every messy moment. They draw strength from each other and like chips and salsa, they try to keep life tasty and festive. They believe in the power of community and love encouraging other homeschool parents through their YouTube channel, social media and BookShark’s podcast “Homeschool Your Way”. Combined, they share over 20 years of homeschooling experience. Their favorite things about homeschooling have been learning alongside their children and all the fun field trips and memorable moments they’ve been able to spend together.

Workshop:  Grow Your Brain, Enjoy Your Homeschool! : Cultivating a growth mindset for success and joy

A fixed and growth mindset describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement. In this workshop we’ll help you identify areas in which a fixed mindset may be blocking your child’s growth as well as your own with examples and practical solutions.

Workshop:  Don't Get Frustrated, Get Motivated! Practical tips for overcoming everyday challenges and fostering a thriving learning environment

Get practical, encouraging tips from the Chips and Salsa Ladies, on how to intentionally combat frustration during your school days. In this session, they will discuss common distractions and pitfalls that may hinder your progress and offer strategies for staying motivated all year long. With their help, you can identify and overcome these obstacles, setting yourself up for success in your homeschool journey.

Beverly Pell, PhD

Dr. Beverly Pell is a spirited, passionate, veteran homeschooling mother of three. In 2019 she became a grandmother and was stunned by her over-use of technology. Today she speaks with kids and families about healthy limits and boundaries for social media use, Internet safety, and video gaming. Beverly teaches parents and home educators to raise kids who are confident and compassionate communicators who thrive personally and professionally in a digital world. and

Workshop:  How to Control Video Gaming in Your Home

Does your kid love playing video games? When parents limit playing time, kids usually whine, yell, or throw full-blown tantrums. In this workshop you’ll learn why kids become crazy about video games and what you can do to tame the tantrums.

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De'von Truvel

De’Von Truvel is a Game Designer, Author, and Educator with over a decade of experience. He inspires scholars and Entrepreneurs to connect with their unique genius through the untold stories of Black History. In 2017 De’Von created Black Wall Street The Board Game to increase financial literacy and Black history knowledge in a fun way. He plans to continue to find innovative ways to inform his community as a game designer, author, filmmaker, and educator. His motto; “Remember, Relearn, Rebuild.”

Workshop:  Gamified Black History and Financial Literacy

Play Black Wall Street is a gamified education company on a mission to teach the legacy of Tulsa's Black Wall Street in a fun way! Join this session to learn about the history of Black Wall Street, the creation of Black Wall Street the Board Game, and how to use it in your homeschool curriculum. See you there!

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Laena West

Laena West lives in sunny San Diego with her husband, kids, and their rowdy dog Ranger. As a second generation homeschooler, Laena offers insight and experience from both the student and teacher perspective to the homeschool community. The West's two beautiful daughters were homeschooled through graduation and are now grown, one married and one in college. With two active elementary aged sons, Laena is still very much in the trenches of homeschooling. Her unique experiences have allowed her to become familiar with a wide array of learning styles, challenges, and needs. This has given her a passion for creating homeschooling materials that address those needs, are fun for kids to use, and make moms excited about teaching. Most days, she and her adventurous boys can be found exploring San Diego, one field trip at a time.

Workshop:  Harnessing the Power of Field Trips

Homeschooling Philosophies, Curriculum, Routines, and Schedules, can and do ALL change on our homeschooling journey. The one thing that always delivers exceptional educational experiences, and helps us get closer to our homeschooling goals remains a constant - Field Trips! Learn how to easily incorporate Field Trips into your homeschooling, how to overcome common reasons we hesitate to take them, also learn simple tips to maximize your Field Trip experiences. You will be inspired and empowered to get out and explore by this veteran homeschool mom of four.

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Kerin Groves, PhD

Kerin Groves, PhD, is a career coach and small business consultant. Her coaching clients include young adults, entrepreneurs, mid-life career changers, and restless wanderers. She teaches career workshops and is the author of "Career Exploration for K-12 Students." Dr. Groves helps young people prepare for adulthood and teaches parent educators to weave career exploration into homeschool curriculum and daily life.

Workshop:  Career Exploration for Students:  A Roadmap for Parents

Will your kids be prepared for life after graduation? Career coach Dr. Kerin Groves shares some common but avoidable mistakes parents make in future planning with students, and provides parents with positive and practical tips, dos and don'ts, savvy strategies, and relevant resources. Parent educators will learn how to identify and build on a student’s natural gifts, start early, think beyond high school, and seamlessly weave career guidance into K-12 education and everyday home life.

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Dr. Joshua Feriante, DO, MBA

A California native, Joshua grew up in the Bay Area homeschooled by two loving parents back when homeschooling was publicly derided. Thanks to the opportunities and flexibility that homeschooling offered, he enjoyed many unique experiences such as becoming a licensed Ham Radio operator at ten years old and participating in aerospace engineering projects associated with Stanford University several years later. Wanting to accelerate his studies, he attended a local community college before graduating Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Jose State University shortly after turning eighteen. Following this, he served a two-year religious mission where he became fluent in Spanish before attending medical school and becoming a psychiatrist. He has published multiple scientific articles, written a book chapter in psychopharmacology for pediatric psychotic disorders, and educates medical students and the lay public regarding topics in mental health. He is interested in promoting homeschooling as a viable alternative to traditional educational modalities while understanding through observation and lived experience the challenges associated with this choice.

Workshop:  Outcomes of Homeschooling: Exploring Objective Data and Personal Experience

How well do homeschooled children do in the real world? Deciding to homeschool can be fraught with questions like this and many more. How do homeschooled students perform academically compared to their traditionally educated peers? Is my child destined to be socially awkward? Will he or she be successful as an adult? Fortunately, research exists that explores these questions and offers data-driven insight to inform your decision with whether to homeschool or how to improve the homeschooling experience. Join this presentation to learn more about what has been found in the last forty years as homeschooling has quickly become a growing national phenomenon. Objective findings will be illustrated with personal experience in the opportunities and struggles of homeschooling in California.


Christine Kuglen

Christine Klugen is an opinionated person who tells it like she see it. She considers herself an advocate for children. She comes from a big family, then became a teacher and finally a mother to four incredible children. She homeschooled her children for 16 years, each for a different length of time and in different ways. Twelve years ago she founded Innovations Academy K-8 Charter School and currently attempts to maintain a life while she directs the school. In her next career she may be a midwife, lactation consultant, parent educator or internship developer.

Workshop:  Learning Through Internships, Volunteering and Shadowing

Helping a young person on their journey towards knowing "what they want to do" can be challenging. One way is to help them interact with adults who are already engaged in similar endeavors. This can be through shadows, internships, volunteering and simply connecting for a conversation. In this presentation, we will share ideas about where to start and how to connect with a variety of possibilities out in the world.


Jill Pearson-Keltner, M.Ed.

I love education and learning. It is what I do and who I am. I love exploring the world, sharing knowledge, learning from others, making connections, co-designing activities, creating, experimenting, and playing. In our learning communities, we discover more about ourselves and our world.  My favorite educational experience was homeschooling my two boys in K-12th grades. They are now young men, one a graduate from UC Berkeley and one working in the film industry in San Diego and LA.  I’ve been an educator for 30 years, learning with young kids to adults and working in tradition and very untraditional settings. I teach Iyengar yoga classes and workshops at the San Diego Yoga Studio.  Together with my partners, Jennifer Mercer and Teresa Draguicevich, I helped create Learning Journeys Forum, a community space that supports homeschooling parents and students in San Diego through parent professional development and high school homeschool classes.  Through all these experiences, I have learned that when learners are given agency over their learning journeys, they find they are able to effect positive and powerful change in the world; this is a goal I have for all learners of all ages.  

When not teaching, I love to do yoga, read, travel, kayak, hike, and play with my dog and my kids.

Workshop:  Crafting a Trail Guide for your Learning Journey

This workshop will offer hands-on activities and tools to guide you in creating a Learning Journey for your family.  It is easy to simply survive each chaotic day as a homeschooling adult.  However, when we take time to create an intentional plan for our family's education and reflect regularly on that plan, we empower our children to participate in their learning in new, exciting ways.  Learning becomes more intentional, powerful, and joyful


Jennifer Mercer, M.Ed.

I am incredibly blessed to have always been able to do the work of my heart -teaching, leading, facilitating, supporting, nurturing – and I’ve been doing this with the HLC program for the last 12 years! I’ve spent the past 30 years developing and growing those skills in many different ways as a classroom teacher, special education teacher, lead teacher, college instructor, tutor, mother, partner, Girl Scout leader, mentor, and learning consultant.  I homeschooled my two amazing daughters who are now adults I love to hang out with. My oldest is a senior at UCSB and my youngest is a junior at UC Davis. Our learning journey grew with us over the years. We’ve done it all, from “school-at-home” to radical Unschooling, to learner-centered co-designing. I hold a B.A. in Elementary Education and an M.A. Ed in Special Education from American University in Washington, D.C. I’m passionate about supporting homeschooling families to grow together! In addition to my work in the HLC,  with my partners Jill Pearson Keltner and Teresa Draguicevich,  I run Learning Journeys Forum- a community space that supports parents and students in San Diego through consulting, tutoring, Positive Discipline parenting classes and high school classes for  homeschoolers.  To relax, I am most often found at the table playing whatever game is my newest obsession (seriously, hit me up if you want suggestions), reading, Zentangling, tie-dying and spending time with my family (human and kitty!). 

Workshop:  The Brain Science of Homeschooling

What we thought we knew about learning ten, twenty, or thirty years ago is being turned on its head as study after study currently shows how our brains actually approach tasks. Using contemporary research by leaders in neuroscience, psychology and education, we’ll dispel some common misconceptions about the brain and consider ways, as home educators, that we can apply this knowledge to enhance our own family’s learning journeys.

Panel Discussion:  Graduates Talk about Their Life After Homeschooling
As homeschooling parents, we regularly worry that our children won't make in the world.  Worried friends, family members, and strangers may express their concern about "socializing our children" and "preparing them for the real world."  Come listen to Homeschooled Graduates as they share their experiences as homeschoolers and how they moved into the world beyond homeschooling. 

Panel Discussion:  Dads Talk About Their Experiences as Homeschooling Parents
Fathers and Male Caregivers take on many roles as homeschooling parent:  primary educator to supplementary educator to financier and more.    Listen to a moderated panel discussion and ask questions to hear male caregivers with different experiences describing their successes, challenges, and helpful tips.

LEAP is a San Diego Homeschool Conference with an appreciation for our ability to Learn, Explore, Advocate, and Play together. Our mission is to facilitate and create space for open, respectful dialogue in our diverse homeschooling community while supporting parents, students, and the San Diego homeschooling community.

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