This week, several hundred homeschooling families will descend on Historic Fredericksburg to take part in an annual conference held in the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center. This marks the 18th year since the inaugural event, though the organization behind the conference has changed greatly over the intervening years.
It all began in 1994 with a small group of individuals wanting to bring together people on the East Coast who chose to teach their children at home and affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over time the event grew in scope and focus, adding in a separate event geared towards the teenage children and those new to the world of home school.
The conference is still based on the East Coast, but is now an international event where those of different beliefs attend and speak. It is organized by the Latter-day Saints Home Educators group, headed by Culpeper resident, Misty Foxley.
"We're very happy to be hosting Susan Wise Bauer for a full-day seminar this year. I personally think she is responsible for launching the classical education movement across America over the past 2 decades. She's a very effective mentor of teachers," states Foxley, referring to a special seminar on Wednesday, May 16 entitled, “A Well-Trained Mind."
Bauer was homeschooled herself and now teaches at William & Mary where she received her Ph.D. Also on that day is a beginner’s seminar geared towards those new to the homeschool arena entitled, “Trust in the Lord With All Thine Heart."
The theme for the main conference this year is, “The Things That Matter Most” and will be held May 17-18. Currently there are two days of programming, an exhibition hall, and several hundred people estimated to participate in this year’s event.
Coinciding with the adult activities will be a special youth conference for teenagers with 18 presenters, a performance by Sandra Turley, games, workshops, a digital showcase, and a talent show. This will be the ninth year the youth event will take place and the theme for their conference is “Fear not, I am with thee” taken from Isaiah 41:10.
“Our focus with the youth is to not only provide a place for them to meet other homeschooled kids from across the Eastern US and Canada, but to realize what a unique opportunity they have going for them in home-based education. The sky is the limit for these kids. If we can just help them recognize that they need to take personal responsibility as students over their own education and prepare themselves for making a difference for good in the world. Most youth drag their parents to the conference, not the reverse,” Foxley remarked.
While the conference planners are members of the LDS Church, this event is open to anyone and not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in any way. Visit www.ldshe.org where you can find information on schedules, presenters, and pricing for the event.