Keynote Speaker:  Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal is today’s leading speaker on the engagement economy and the application of game-design to the real world.  Jane is a designer of alternate reality games, where a real-life activity is re-framed as a game.  She has created games for organizations such as the World Bank, the Olympic Games, the American Heart Association, the New York Public Library, and many more.  Jane is notable for bringing gaming to the healthcare space.  Her best-known project is SuperBetter, a mobile app and web-based game that helps individuals challenge personal health challenges and get support from their “allies” — real-life friends and family.  Her book, Reality Is Broken: How Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World, is a New York Times bestseller.  She is currently an advisor and affiliate researcher with the Institute For The Future in Palo Alto, California, where she served for four years as the Director of Game Research and Development.  Learn more about Jane at

Featured Speakers

Elana K. Arnold

Elana K. Arnold is a writer of Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. Her first three novels (Sacred, Burning and Splendor), all published by Random House, were released in 2012 and 2013. Her most recent two novels, The Question of Miracles (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Infandous (Lerner/Carolrhoda LAB) have earned starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly. Elana has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing (Fiction) from UC Davis, where she has taught Adolescent Literature and Creative Writing. She lives in Huntington Beach, CA with her husband, kids, and more than a few pets.  Visit Elana online at

Erika Davis-Pitre

Erika Davis-Pitre and her husband Michael have 4 children - one daughter (36) and three sons (33, 30 & 23).   They also have a son-in-law and two grandsons (8 & 1).  For the last few years Erika has split her time living in Central Connecticut and San Francisco.  They have been unschoolers for many years and love it, so Erika is always looking for opportunities to share their unschooling joy with others.  She especially enjoys talking about unschooling teens, sharing the joy of unschooling and celebrating diversity through unschooling.  And she is a Artist Trading Card(ATC) fanatic-if you don't know about ATCs please ask!   Erika has spoken at many un/homeschooling conferences, led quite a few funshops/workshops and has hosted and participated in many round table discussions about unschooling all over the US and Canada. And Erika's unschooling philosophy is informed by one simple fact:  That all humans are born curious, natural learners and that all children will learn best when given the time, support and the opportunity to learn what, when and how they want.

Larry Garf

Since 1973, Larry Garf has had an unusually broad range of teaching experiences; he worked in the Human Development Department at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, teaching Child Development, and, due to his somewhat unusual dual background, art as well. Larry has also taught first and second grade and special education (K-12). Currently, he teaches art to elementary age youngsters, and serves as the Child Development Specialist at Temple Israel of Hollywood Day School and Nursery School, in Los Angeles.

Larry's wife is artist/author Melanie Rothschild. They are the parents of young adult twins who attended a parent cooperative preschool, where Mr. Garf spent hundreds of happy and illuminating hours observing child development unfolding in a natural and unhurried way.

Much of Larry's writing and teaching revolve around the fact that too many of today’s young children no longer have the opportunities his own children did:  to develop and mature at their own pace, without being rushed or pressured at an early age.  HEY, QUIT PUSHING:  How We Put Children at Risk by Starting Academics Too Early, centers in on the negative consequences we create when we pressure our young children:  elevated levels of anxiety and stress, but not higher academic achievement.

Sandra Dodd

Sandra Dodd has three grown children who were always unschooled.  Once a public school teacher, she now helps unschooling families to find confidence and joy.

In 1996, Sandra spoke at HSC conferences in Anaheim and in Sacramento, so this is a twentieth anniversary, and the tenth time she has spoken at an HSC event.

She lives with her husband, Keith, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Visit Sandra online at

Sue Patterson

Sue Patterson, wife and mom to 3 grown homeschoolers, is as busy as an "empty nester" as she was while the kids were all still home!  She has been active in the homeschooling/unschooling communities for nearly two decades, volunteering, writing, speaking about their journey.  As a military family, Sue and her family moved often, meeting new people and seeing new perspectives first hand.  They lived in Texas, North Carolina, Alaska, California.
Now, Sue is a life coach and unschooling mentor, hosts the Unschooling Mom2Mom website/FB group, and is the Managing Editor of HSC's national magazine, The Homeschooler.  She is excited to share the results of her new book, Homeschooled Teens, three years in the making!   surveyed and interviewed 75 adolescents and young adults about their experiences as home educated teenagers. Their responses and Sue's helpful commentary is just what worried parents are hoping to find!
To find out more about Sue's coaching and various projects, go to

Wes Beach

Wes Beach has 54 years' experience in education. He spent 32 years in public and private schools as a teacher of several subjects in grades K-14 and as the director of several alternative education programs.  He wised up in 1993, left the system, and since then has worked full time as Director of Beach High School, consisting of a home office and an attitude.  BHS offers a wide variety of alternatives to traditional schooling.
Some BHS students have ended homeschooling, possibly early, usually wanting documentation.  Others are high school leavers, typically skipping a substantial part or all of high school and moving on beyond it.   These young people enter college or trade schools, go to work, start businesses, travel, engage in independent learning and pursue unique creative endeavors. Students who enroll for a significant period of time put together high school programs that include formal coursework, self-teaching, study with tutors, work, distance learning, volunteering, travel and inventive projects.
Wes has served on the board of the HomeSchool Association of California (HSC) and is at present the Teen Adviser for both HSC and the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum.  He is the author of Forging Paths: Beyond Traditional Schooling, and Self-Directed Learning: Documentation and Life Stories, both published by the GHF Press.

Learn more about Wes and Beach High School at