Convention Speakers

Keynote and Featured Speakers and Presenters for 2016 (so far!)

Christopher Lowell as Benjamin Franklin


A native New Yorker, Chris has spent over 50 years as both teacher and actor.


Since 2004, he has presented Benjamin Franklin’s life and values on a full-time basis, coast-to-coast and abroad. Because Ben himself was so multi-talented, and his contributions to his community and nation so impressive, Chris has been invited to speak to an unusually wide variety of organizations, from professional associations and non-profits to law firms and school groups; from governmental agencies to libraries and health-care organizations. As Ben, Chris has given Convocation addresses, keynoted fund-raisers for state Humanities organizations, and presented Ben in French at diplomatic dinners in Paris for the French government. Of more immediate interest, he recently presented a key address as Franklin to the Southeast Homeschool Convention in Greenville, SC.


Chris’s presentations as Ben have been endorsed and praised by many, including today’s three most important Franklin biographer-historians, Walter Isaacson, Mark Skousen, and Pulitzer-Prize winner Gordon S. Wood. 


Hal and Melanie Young


Fresh from a state tax audit to prove that yes, they’re all ours, Hal and Melanie Young, authors of the Christian Small Publishers Association 2011 Book of the Year, Raising Real Men, are parents of six real boys and two real girls. They have homeschooled through eight high-risk pregnancies, three re-locations, two decades, and 181 degrees of longitude.


Hal and Melanie have served on the Board of Directors of North Carolinians for Home Education for over 14 years, including three terms as President for Hal. They have published articles with The Foundation for Economic Education, Homeschooling Today, the John Locke Foundation, Homeschool Digest, TEACH Magazine, Homeschool Enrichment, the N.C. Family Policy Council, the Heartland Institute and more.


Hal and Melanie have made more than 50 media appearances in venues as wide ranging as The Jesse Lee Peterson Show and the Bob Dutko Show to Mancow’s Morning Madhouse and CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. They are sought after conference speakers who routinely draw standing room only crowds with their mix of uniquely entertaining cross-banter and practical, powerful Scriptural principles. Their dramatized audiobooks, such as Hero Tales from American History by Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, are gaining a following across the country, as well.


Hal & Melanie have glorified the Lord through some extreme challenges recently, though, with Hal successfully fighting stage IV cancer and their youngest dealing with a life-threatening heart condition. Despite it all, the Youngs live in noisy familial bliss in North Carolina. 


Dr. Duke Pesta

Dr. Pesta received his M.A. in Renaissance literature from John Carroll University and his Ph.D. in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature from Purdue University. He has taught at major research institutions and small liberal arts colleges, on a wide variety of subjects at the graduate and undergraduate level, including courses on Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, the Bible, Russian literature, Christian Apologetics, and C.S. Lewis.

He has been active in educational reform, and was instrumental in developing and implementing an elective Bible course that is currently available for public high school students in Texas.

Dr. Pesta is an engaging and animated speaker, whose experiences as an educational reformer, university professor, high school teacher, and the administrator of an online home school curriculum uniquely qualify him to address the current state of education in our country. He speaks at home school conventions and educational conferences across the nation on topics including the necessity of homeschooling, the decline of morality and critical thinking in the public schools, and the myriad ways that the educational establishment indoctrinates students. He is currently in demand on the speaking circuit as one of America's foremost authorities on the dangers of Common Core.

Dr. Pesta has delivered over 400 talks on Common Core in 40 states. He has been interviewed on radio and television over 1500 times, including places as diverse as the United Kingdom, China, Canada, and Mexico. He has spoken on the lecture circuit on subjects ranging from the Founding Fathers, to the Christian Apologetics of C. S. Lewis, to the history of educational reform, to the politicization of the study of history in our nation's schools. He hosted a radio segment entitled Classical Gasp for public radio, which considered current events through the lens of historical precedent.

Yvonne Blake 


Yvonne Blake, author and educator, lives in Searsport, Maine. After raising her family and teaching school, she developed her writing skills by completing the Journeyman Course of the Christian Writers Guild and participating in the Faithwriters Organization. She continues to teach children how to write with tutored lessons on her Polliwog Pages and also writing workshops at schools and libraries. Yvonne has published a variety of books, including a missionary biography, God Talks in Tenek Too, and two middle-grade historical novels, A Home for Phoebe and Going Home with Phoebe. 

John Sommo

 John Sommo has been teaching bicycle safety for almost 20 years.  He has completed several bike adventures including a cross country trip.  John leads bicycle and kayak trips for LL Bean.  He is a nationally certified instructor through the League of American Bicyclists, as well as a registered Maine Guide.


Paul Veit

Paul Veit is a graduate of Nyack College and Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary.  He is pursing on-going paleontological training at the Mt. Blanc Fossil Museum.  Hie is ordained in the Christian Ministry Alliance and is licensed as an evangelist.  He is the Founder and Director of Declaring God's Wonders, Inc., an evangelistic ministry, and The Dinosaur Encounter, a Creation Learning Center located in Bridgeton, Maine.  Paul is married and has four children.


Blaikie Hines


Born in Connecticut in 1949, Blaikie Hines is a well-known fine arts conservator who specializes in 19th century paintings and frames. He is also a Civil War collector, historian, and author. Blaikie grew up in Connecticut in a family steeped in the history of the American Civil War.  Blaikie's first book published in 2001 was "Civil War Volunteer Sons of Connecticut. His newest book published in 2011 is "The Battle of First Bull Run - Manassas Campaign July 16-22, 1861 -  An Illustrated Atlas and Battlefield Guide". It  is the only illustrated atlas and battlefield guide book for the first battle of the American Civil War.  He makes his home in Thomaston with his wife, Judith


Josh Lebel

Josh and his wife, Tiffany, have been married for 8 years and have three beautiful children, Cadence, Silas, and Gideon. In 2007-2009, they attended Christ for the Nations Bible Institute where Josh earned his degree in Missions.  Both of them felt a strong calling to train up and mobilize young adults to walk in the calling God has for them, and be change agents in the world.  Upon graduating, they moved back to their hometown of Biddeford, ME.  In 2011, they were given the opportunity to do what their hearts desired, and joined YWAM!  They did their DTS in Victoria, Texas, and then staffed a DTS in Madison, Wisconsin.  Following Madison, Josh and Tiffany went to work pioneering 360 Maine, and continue to innovate it today!  

Zach & Kim Mazone  

The Mazone family believes that healthy lifestyle choices prevent and reverse many life-style related diseases experienced by Americans. Zach is a Family Medicine Physician at Central Maine Medical Center and Kim is a health educator and fitness trainer.  Sienna is a teen chef who was the 2014, Maine state winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Recipe Contest and has appeared on Love Maine Radio, Good Day Maine with news anchor Jeff Peterson, and in many newspapers. Lucca and Sienna teach "Kids2Kids", healthy cooking classes for young people in Lewiston. The Mazones are a homeschooling family and part of the Homeschoolers of Maine Leadership team. 

Carolyn Simonds


Carolyn Simonds has been actively involved in HOME's ministry for many years.  She is a veteran homeschool mom of six children.  Carolyn serves as a teacher and mentor to other HOME leaders, as well as a Board Member for Homeschoolers of Maine.


Kathi Kearney

Kathi has served on the HOME Board for many years. She has worked with homeschooling families in Maine for more than 30 years, and helped to author Maine’s homeschool law. Kathi teaches gifted & talented students in Maine, is a Professional Associate with the Gifted Development Center in Denver, and teaches online courses for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Chris Wilcoxson

Chris and his wife, Tiffany, are founders and pastors of Life Source Ministries in Brunswick, ME. They have served within HOME's ministry as coordinators in various areas for a number of years, and currently serve as HOME Board Members. For Chris and Tiffany, homeschooling was a decision of faith made together before having children. They have a heart for helping families build healthy homes, as well as fighting for parental rights. Chris and Tiffany reside in Georgetown, ME with their seven children. 

Raylene Hunt 


Raylene is from Camden, Maine. She has been homeschooling since 2001, when she withdrew her oldest child (who graduated homeschool in 2010) from public school. Raylene continues to homeschool her teenage son. She has been serving with HOME since 2005 in a variety of capacities.  She is currently a local homeschool group leader, and serves HOME as a Virtual Office Assistant helping to coordinate many projects.  Raylene is also the founder and lead educational facilitator of Creation Exploration Ministry.

Bill Clarke

Bill is a homeschool Dad, member of the HOME Leadership Team, a software entrepreneur and technology enthusiast.

Noah Miller

Noah Miller is a gifted musician who plays several instruments, including the bagpipes, penny whistle, and guitar. He has studied at the College of Piping in Prince Edward Island, Canada and has been playing music professionally for the past two years. As a homeschool graduate, Noah has an avid interest in history. He especially enjoys learning about the musical culture behind many time periods throughout history. His musical style is eclectic and he is experienced in a wide range of musical genres, some of his favorites being folk and Celtic.

Cassandra Beaulieu


Cassandra is eighteen years old and a homeschool high school graduate. She has been taking piano lessons since the age of five, and has had several different teachers along the way. Cassandra has studied both sacred and classical piano, but has used her ability primarily as a church pianist, accompanist, and ensemble leader. She is currently studying accounting from a local university, and hopes to further her knowledge of music to the college level, as well.


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