Convention Sessions and Activities

CONVENTION 2015 (Check Back Later for 2016 Sessions!)



General Session I (Friday, 10:30am - 11:30am)


Stop the School Mentality! - Travis and Suzanne Zimmerman, Knox County Ballroom


Jesus teaches us in John 17: 16 -18 that His followers should be IN this world and not OF this world. Yes, how true! So how come when we take our kids from a school environment, we often try to make our homeschool look and act like school? We sentence our rambunctious boys to sitting properly in a desk for hours, we drown our kids in weighty workbooks, and the only trail we're hiking on is a long paper trail to meet state requirements! Isn't it time to Stop the School Mentality and train our kids in the way they should go? Laugh and learn from seasoned homeschool parents how to supplement book learning with all that is right about homeschooling, including nature walks, living history and active learning outside of the classroom!


General Session II (Friday, 3:00pm - 4:00pm)


Leaving a Legacy - Faith Berens, Knox County Ballroom


Faith Berens, a wife, homeschooling mother of two, and special needs consultant with Home School Legal Defense Association, will share her personal story of struggling with a learning “disability.” She will also share some of the lessons that God is teaching her about His ongoing faithfulness, boundless love, and the legacy we can leave to our children as a result of walking with and knowing the King of all Kings. This message will be one of encouragement and hope for parents who are raising children with special needs. Even in the most difficult places and situations, God is Faithful and True, and He will equip us as parents to bring out our children’s areas of strength and their calling and true identities.   


Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice - Evening Performance with SMASH, (6:00pm - 8:00pm)


The Merchant of Venice is an intriguing drama of love, greed and revenge. At its heart, the play contrasts the characters of the maddened and vengeful Shylock, a Venetian moneylender, with the gracious, level-headed Portia, a wealthy young woman besieged by suitors. At the play's climax, Shylock insists that a binding contract be enforced which will cost the life of the merchant Antonio. Pleading Antonio's case before the Duke of Venice, Portia shrewdly defeats Shylock's evil purpose.


General Session III (Saturday, 8:30am - 9:30am)


Fight or Flight? Choosing Your Battles - Travis and Suzanne Zimmerman, Knox County Ballroom


It's the age-old reality: kids push the boundaries and parents respond in varying ways, some helpful and some, well, not so helpful. But where do we draw the line and fight...or flight? Based on Ephesians 6:4, this interactive workshop will have you rolling with laughter as we consider real-life, everyday homeschool situations like:


* The son who wants to sport a Mohawk...for his homeschool picture. Fight or Flight?

* A daughter who waits until the last minute to do homework, then wants your help at midnight... because it's due TOMORROW! Fight or Flight?

* A kitchen that's always open for unending snacks...and unending distractions. Fight or Flight?


Laugh and learn together as we parents positively and actively respond to our kids, even between the tears of joy! 


General Session IV (Saturday, 12:30pm - 2:00pm)


Have an Amazing Marriage Outside of Homeschooling - Travis and Suzanne Zimmerman, Knox County Ballroom


Do you remember where you were when you first set eyes on your future spouse? Can you recall the butterflies and the dizzying excitement of being newly married? Then kids happened; date nights dwindled faster than a snowball in the Sahara Desert. And then homeschool happened. Maybe somewhere along the way, you and your spouse stopped happening. 


Are the days of looking longingly and uninterrupted into your best friends eyes gone forever? Well they might be, but they don't have to be! Being totally sold out to homeschooling doesn't mean you have to give up on growing your marriage. Based on Proverbs 5:18, this workshop focuses on some engaging ideas to have an amazing marriage outside of homeschooling.


* All General Session Music will be provide by David Mumford of David Mumford Ministries




Session I (Thursday, 1:00pm - 2:00pm) 


Teaching Shakespeare through Performance (Family Track) - Pastor Sam Richards, Rockland Room


The best way to teach Shakespeare (and the most fun) is through group readings and performing his plays. In this workshop, Pastor Richards will share from his many years of directing and experience with SMASH some of the nuts and bolts of teaching Shakespeare through performing. Pastor Richards will also prepare attendees for the Friday evening performance of The Merchant of Venice. He will demonstrate the play as social critique (exposing hypocrisy) and as a tale of the joy of genuine conversion. The workshop will conclude with a time of Q and A.


Normal is Overrated - Travis Zimmerman, Rockport Room


While many of us don't like to think of ourselves as being that different from our public school neighbors, we really ARE different - we are aliens in this world (1 Peter 2:11). Yet, it is helpful to remember why we are doing what we're doing, and Who we are doing it for. This will (to some degree) separate us from this world. And not to put too fine a point on that, we need to know what to do when things get tough and questions get tough. "So are you homeschooling again this year?" one mother in-law inquires. "Aren't you worried about socialization?" pipes in a supportive friend. "Is it normal to homeschool?" wonders a neighbor. This workshop encourages us to remember that the sacrifices we are making are worth it, and that normal is truly overrated.   


Why and How to Use "Olders" to Tutor "Youngers" - Benjamin and Cady Crosby, Camden Room


With four younger sisters, Benjamin and Cady serve as tutors to their younger siblings. Why do they do this, and how is it practical? Find out the answer in this presentation by the two tutors, themselves!


Working and Homeschooling: Is it Really Possible?  Raylene Hunt, Penobscot Room


Today's economy can be tough on families. Often a second working parent is needed to help make the ends meet. And in single parent homes, working is an absolute necessity in most cases. But does needing to work mean homeschooling is impossible? If you are working and homeschooling, join this interactive workshop as we discuss challenges, and come up with creative solutions! 


Veil of Tears: The Plight of Women in South Asia (Vendor Workshop) - Jessieka Matthews (Gospel for Asia), Schooner Room 


Women in South Asia are often abused and trampled on, many of them not knowing Jesus. This workshop shares how GFA supports women missionaries who are reaching out to these women with the love of Jesus. 


A World of Words (Vendor Workshop) - Yvonne Blake (Polliwog Pages), Monhegan Room


Let's create an imaginary world! Beginning writers and younger children attending this workshop will learn to use descriptive words to bring their stories to life.


Session II (Thursday, 2:30pm - 4:00pm)


Tackling Tricky High School Issues - Faith Berens, Rockland Room


This workshop addresses some of the challenges associated with homeschooling struggling or atypical learners in the high school years. Do you have questions such as, “How do I award my child with special needs a diploma?” or “What do I do since my child with dyslexia can’t read typical high school level material?” Faith discusses alternative course work, specialized curricula and learning materials, assistive technology, transcript options, possible graduation guidelines/high school programs for special learners, post-high school options, as well as offer tips for navigating the process of applying for testing accommodations for the college boards.  


Getting Started in Homeschooling - Carolyn Simonds, Rockport Room


Are you just beginning to homeschool? Are you researching the option for your family? Plan to attend this workshop! The following topics will be covered:


• Maine’s homeschooling law

• Record keeping

• Curriculum planning

• Helpful resources

• Portfolios and evaluations

• Support groups

• Special needs

• And much more!


Titanic Heroes (Family Track) - Benjamin and Cady Crosby, Camden Room


The sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912, was one of the most tragic events in all of history. More than 1,500 people perished in a horrific accident that has been pondered, written about, and even turned into a box office-smashing blockbuster. But what is the true legacy of Titanic, and what we can learn about heroism from it?


Start Your Own Theater Group - Pastor Sam Richards, Penobscot Room


Using his SMASH handbook, job descriptions and organizational chart, Pastor Richards will inspire you to make dramatic productions (both large and small) a part of your homeschool experience! This workshop will also be an open forum with plenty of opportunity to ask questions, share and discuss ways to incorporate drama in your own curriculum.


Homeschoolers and the Library - Jean Young, Schooner Room


 Rockland Public Librarian and former homeschool mom, Jean Young, says, "All you need to homeschool is love and a library card!" Library Skills is a required course for homeschoolers. In this session, Jean will share a librarian's commitment to assisting families, including homeschool families, provide an overview of services and programs, and discuss the kinds of resources that are available at the library.


Should You Teach Electronics, and Why (Vendor Workshop) - Karen Miller (Applied Inspirations) Monhegan Room


Electronics is all around us and is a growing field, but should you teach Electronics to your child? Have you ever thought about teaching Electronics but did not know where to begin? Or, maybe you did some circuits that snapped together and your child loved them, but did not know where to go from there? Do you have a "Science Kid" and need more in depth hands-on science material? Come hear a down to earth, non-technical talk about Electronics from a homeschool mom. 


Special Session (Thursday, 6:00pm)


Your Kids Are Online. Now What? What You Need To Know! - Victoria Kempf, RN, Rockport Room


The online world is rapidly changing, which has made parenting that much more challenging. Ask yourself these questions: Are you the same kind of parent online that you are offline? If not why not? Find out about the many risks to kids when they go online, such as online predators, social networking and apps, sexting and cyberbullying. Learn what the steps you can take to prevent them and mitigate the consequences. The more parents know, the safer our kids will be.


Special Session (Thursday, 7:00pm)


HOMEschool Community Building, Schooner Room


Join our keynote speakers, Travis and Suzanne Zimmerman, and HOME for a special session to encourage and equip all those who encourage and equip other homeschoolers! Tavis and Suzanne will share their homeschooling journey through extreme challenges, and how God provided during their greatest times of pain and need. You will be encouraged through God's provision to overcome your own homeschool difficulties, grow in Christ and lead others to do the same.

In this interactive session, you will also spend some time reflecting and remembering why you began homeschooling, what the challenges were and what would have provided help and blessing. Come to share your stories, laugh and be reminded of God's faithfulness!

Refreshments will be served.


Session III (Friday, 9:00am - 10:00am)


Reading Difficulties: Remediation Strategies and Techniques - Faith Berens, Rockland Room


Do you have a student who is experiencing some reading difficulties? This session will introduce the 5 Pillars of Reading: Phonemic awareness, phonics (decoding and word recognition), fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Faith will offer guidance on how to identify the area, as well as the level of reading difficulty, and also share practical teaching tools, strategies and techniques in order to remediate your child's reading struggles.


Homeschooling on a Budget - Suzanne Zimmerman, Rockport Room


Last time we checked, our local tax office didn't credit back our local school taxes to us because we no longer use the public school. And let's face it, while homeschooling is priceless, it's certainly not cheap! Guided by a seasoned homeschool mother of five, this workshop offers a clean approach to homeschooling without getting taken to the cleaners. Budgeting and garnering practical tips to help your dollars stretch makes sense when educating at home!


Irony of War: Unsung Medical Heroes of the Great War (Family Track) - Benjamin and Cady Crosby, Camden Room


There are many tales of heroism and self-sacrifice during the Great War. The heroes behind the lines who were organized to repair wounds are the focus of this moving presentation. Benjamin and Cady have chosen to focus on the work of the medical teams who ministered to soldiers from injury to their final destinations. In this presentation, they'll teach you about the medical system during World War I. They'll challenge you to acknowledge the sacrifices these personnel made. And they'll inspire you to imitate their heroism, and become "modern day stretcher bearers." 

The Importance of Play in the Early Years - Raylene Hunt, Penobscot Room 


The early years are a critical time to instill a love of learning in children. Young children love to explore, discover, listen to and share stories. All too often, however, parents just beginning their homeschool journey feel that they must "do school" at home.  As a general rule, young children do not love textbooks and worksheets. Do they really learn without them? Take a deep breath, and join early childhood educator and homeschooling mom, Raylene Hunt, to explore the ways young children learn through play.


Free College at Your Fingertips - Jean Burk, Schooner Room


Are you ready to make $500 an hour? Although it sounds too good to be true, it’s possible to earn this much in scholarships for college. Author, Jean Burk, will teach you two important concepts: how to get into the college of your choice, and how to find the scholarships to pay for it. You will learn methods of receiving substantial scholarships that go beyond tuition and may include room and board, graduate school, and money to study abroad! Unlock the keys to finding free college at your fingertips!


The Logic of English: A New Way to See Words (Vendor Workshop) - Alina Lavaliere (Logic of English), Monhegan Room


Are you tired of saying "that is an exception" when kids misread or misspell words? Discover surprising linguistic tools that logically explain 98% of English words. You will wonder why someone didn't tell you this in kindergarten. This knowledge revolutionizes reading and spelling education, and is stirring up communities across the nation. Learn why so many math and science minded kids struggle with English, and how to reverse this crisis. You will leave with a vision for changing literacy education, not only in your homeschool, but in your community!


Special Session with HOME (Friday, 12:15pm - 1:15pm)


Time for Q and A! - Carolyn Simonds, Rockport Room


Have you been wandering the Exhibit Hall aimlessly? Are you still wondering why you are here? Do you have unanswered questions? Bring your lunch and your questions to this session of blessing featuring HOME Leader and veteran homeschool mom, Carolyn Simonds. Meet and speak with your HOME Regional Representative, too! Then attend the rest of the convention feeling more encouraged and confident.  


Session IV (Friday, 1:30pm - 2:30pm)


Developing and Drafting a SEP - Faith Berens, Rockland Room


Does your child have a learning disability or perhaps severe special needs? Have you pulled your child out of public school where he used to have an IEP (individual education plan)? Participants will learn the purposes and benefits of writing an SEP, student education plan, the homeschool version of an IEP. This workshop also provides guidance in how to draft an SEP. Participants will look at sample student education plans, receive a template of a Student Education Plan, and a resource list of books that will assist them in drafting their own homeschool student education plan.


Boys to Men: Growing Our Boys to Be Leaders in the Home - Travis Zimmerman, Rockport Room


Godly men are increasingly under attack on many fronts, leaving many men and boys diminished, or, at least, confused as to their roles within relationships, families, and society at large. Instructed by a father of 4 boys, this workshop centers on Christ's servanthood model by offering practical lessons and tips to help families raise boys to be leaders in their homes.


Four Immortal Chaplains: Legacy of Virtue (Family  Track) - Benjamin and Cady Crosby, Camden Room


It sounds like the beginning of an old Joke. A Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi, and two Protestant ministers were on an Army transport ship in the beginning of World War II, along with 900 other soldiers. They were eight hours away from their destination when the ship was struck by a German torpedo. Everyone rushed on deck; few had life jackets on. The chaplains leaped into action, opening lockers with extra life vests, and handing them out until there were none left. Each chaplain then took off his own and handed it to a man who didn't have one. These four went down with the ship together. 


In this presentation, Benjamin and Cady will teach you about the importance of military chaplains. They will challenge you to reflect on the sacrifice that these four made, and question if you would have done the same. And they will inspire you to imitate their heroism in your own life.


Don't Leave the Arts for Last - Panel of Veterans, Penobscot Room


Though Fine Arts is a course requirement for Maine homeschoolers, many parents feel inadequate when it comes to incorporating this into their curriculum. What can be included in the study of Fine Arts? Do you need any special talent or expertise to bring this subject to life for your children? How much time should be devoted to this subject? Find out how these veteran homeschoolers teach and inspire with confidence and ease. 


Dirigo HOME "Open House" - Schooner Room


Come to learn more about a new program for teens designed to fulfill high school credit! Through Dirigo HOME, homeschooling teens (13 and up) will learn both independently and together as a group about Maine History, civic responsibility, leadership and community service through hands-on activities, field trips, participation in National History Day, visits with state and community leaders, special projects, and more! 


Poetry with Pizzazz (Vendor Workshop) - Yvonne Blake (Polliwog Pages), Monhegan Room


Teens attending this workshop will learn to use literary techniques to write poetry that will dance and sing! 


Session V (Saturday, 9:45am - 10:45am)


Before Phonics: The Missing Ingredient in Reading - Faith Berens, Rockland Room


We all know that phonics is a must in teaching our children to read, but what about phonemic awareness? What is it and why is it important? Have a child who is not "getting" phonics, or struggling with beginning reading instruction? Or perhaps you have a child who has "sloppy speech" or doesn't seem to "hear" things correctly? Poor phonemic awareness could be partly to blame. This session will provide parent-teachers with an understanding of phonemic awareness skills and how these skills (or lack thereof) impact a child's ability to become a proficient reader. Participants will receive a phonemic awareness assessment that can be used at home, take part in interactive activities in order to "play" with phonemic awareness, and be given a list of curricula, materials and games that address these important, foundational skills. 


Help! Technology is Invading My Home! - Travis and Suzanne Zimmerman, Rockport Room


From iPods to iPads and DVDs to DVRs, technology has invaded our lives, threatening to take over our families - and homeschooers are no exception. Using practical examples and interactive discussion, this workshop discusses how we can establish healthy technology boundaries, so that we can score the good - and reset the bad.


Young Entrepreneurs - Benjamin Crosby, Camden Room


At 12 years old, Benjamin Crosby, along with his sister, Cady, started an educational non-profit called Titanic Heroes. Benjamin has learned a great deal about what it entails to start and run an organization! But before Titanic Heroes began, Benjamin was a young entrepreneur, making money through dog walking. lawn mowing, etc. To find out why Benjamin believes teaching entrepreneurship to young people is important, come see this inspiring presentation.


The World of Barilla Taylor (Family Track) - Kathi Kearney, Penobscot Room 


Barilla Taylor left her home in rural Maine as a teenager in 1843 and became a “Mill Girl” in the textile mills in Lowell, MA. In this workshop, families will learn more about Barilla's farm and factory experiences, the history of early industrial America, and the ways industrialization affected the roles and status of women. A rich collection of primary sources will be available to examine including letters, family Bible, maps, hospital records, city directory pages, photographs, and even a receipt for a jewelry purchase!


* This workshop will provide an excellent introduction to the HOME 2015 New England Heritage Days fall program at Lowell National Historic Park!


God's Homegrown RemediesZach and Kim Mazone, Schooner Room


Experience health, balance, and wellness at home using 8 natural remedies given at Creation to promote restoration physically, mentally, and spiritually.


Christianity in America (Vendor Workshop) - Michael Heath (Exodus Mandate), Monhegan Room


Michael Heath, who spent 20 years engaging lawmakers in Augusta from a biblical perspective, will share the state of Christianity in our culture today. Come hear his perspective on culture and education. 


Special Session with Our Event Sponsor (Saturday, 11:00pm - 12:00pm)


Inspire, Equip and Encourage with Classical Conversations! (Vendor Workshop) - Wendy Haehnel (Classical Conversations), Rockport Room


Bring your lunch and join one of our event sponsors! In this interactive and informative workshop, you will learn how to educate with excellence, find personal support for your homeschool, and build friendships for your children that will extend across New England! With Classical Conversations, you will gain the knowledge you wish you had learned as a child!   


Session VI (Saturday, 3:00pm - 4:00pm)


HLEP! My Kids Can't Spell! - Faith Berens, Rockland Room


This session addresses the importance of spelling, and presents the developmental stages of spelling. In addition, various strategies, techniques and fun, hands-on, multi-sensory methods of spelling practice are shared. Several specialized spelling programs and strategies are discussed, as well. The goal is to transform students from "I'm a terrible speller" to "I'm a good speller!"  


Priceless Jewels: Hiding God's Word in Your Heart - Travis Zimmerman, Rockport Room 


King David knew the power of memorizing God's Word, professing in Psalm 119:11, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Guided by a student of God's Word, who has committed over 1.500 verses to memory in the past 12 years, this workshop shares the amazing benefits, simple strategies and fun tactics of regularly committing God's Word to memory.


How GK Chesterton Taught Me to Love Poetry - Cady Crosby, Camden Room


Cady never liked poetry until she fell in love with the writings of Gilbert Keith Chesterton. His epic poem, Lepanto, was what made her see how truly beautiful poetry can be, and why it is so important to study. In this presentation, Cady will be looking not only at poetry, but also at how poetry influenced GK Chesterton. She will also talk about her theory on how poetry should be studied and why.

Experiential Learning: Make it Count!Kathi Kearney, Penobscot Room


"Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I’ll learn." – Benjamin Franklin


In short, experiential learning is hands-on learning. Hands-on learning is about getting out of the textbooks and into the world of discovery! Even older children learn much better when they are doing, rather than being recipients of ready-made curriculum content. But is that practical beyond the early years? Do children make sufficient progress? How do you document experiential learning? Find out the answers to these questions, and more, during this inspiring session!


U2 Can S.T.R.U.M. for Life! (Family Track) Celia Jones, Schooner Room


Come as a family to join music teacher and musician, Celia Jones, for some hands-on musical fun! You will learn about playing the ukulele, and explore the endless ways that strumming the ukulele makes you smile at any time and at any age... all while boosting your "brainpower!" Plenty of ukuleles will be available for all to use during this session. Feel free to bring your own, too!

Using Creative Talent to Correct Learning Problems (Vendor Workshop) - Michele Seigman (Creative Learning Solutions), Monhegan Room


In this session, you will find out how learning problems develop, and how you can help your loved one to correct them. The Davis methods use the learner's strengths of imagination and creativity along with hand's on learning to resolve struggles with reading, math and focus.