You'll soon notice that these bios are longer than usual. This is because we want to include the story, and not just facts. If you prefer short, just skip; if you want depth, read on!
Quick Links to take
you directly to the bios of:
Homeschool Mom, Author, Pioneer,
Leader, Speaker & Course Instructor
Barb and her husband Dave have been married since July of 1975 (46 years,) Dave was a Kelso cop for 39 years, having retired in 2017. They are both loving his retirement! (Barb says she personally will not retire until her body gives up.) They homeschooled their 3 kids from birth, for 24 years, ending only because they graduated the youngest from our home school.
After (reluctantly) reading Home Grown Kids by Dr. Raymond Moore, her thinking was turned up-side-down and in-side-out. She has been homeschooling ever since. She got out of “Egypt,” but it took some time to get “Egypt” out of her, which she did through much self education letting the Lord lead her and change her paradigm.
Barb has since written 8 books on a variety of topics for homeschooling parents, spoken around the country at many homeschool conventions on many homeschool topics, led private Homeschool Oasis moms' groups in her home for many years, and created a homeschool course that she has been offering for over three decades. (Which is why it keeps "evolving" in technology.)
Her latest homeschoolish activities are focused on helping create a “net” to catch those coming out of the public school system, and offer them encouragement and resources - which is what HS Alliance is all about. Barb is delighted to serve you alongside the others leading the Homeschool Alliance!
My name is Maggie Kennedy. I am the solo parent to 6 incredible children and 3 fantastic grandkids. I am the interim Pastor at Shekinah Christian Center. I facilitate services on Sunday’s and provide a platform for pastors, teachers and worship leaders to move in the gifts that the Lord has put in them. I coordinate with multiple ministries and organizations that utilize the Shekinah building as well.
I’m also a co-founder and Director of The Gathering Spot. We are a homeschool co-op that meets at Shekinah on Mondays and Thursdays. We are an "Interactive Age-Integrated Social and Skill Development co-op/community.” My hope is to support and empower families on their unique homeschooling journey. We desire to encourage children to grow into adults who are able to relate well in all levels of society and culture. We aspire to create space for families that are likeminded, to have have a safe place to gather where relationships can grow and be strengthened.
My passion is for homeschool mommas to get the HEART of what homeschooling is. I want so badly to help alleviate their stress and shame and help empower them with what is already inside of them! I believe that homeschooling is a calling and that families already have the strength and wisdom to taken on this endeavor. I love building bridges with individuals and organizations to provide a comprehensive support system that can ensure success for each individual homeschool student and parent.
My family line is rooted deep in the Public School system. My father was my junior high and high school principal. My grandfather was my fathers principal and my great grandmother was the teacher of the small schoolhouse in Clayton Iowa that served all grades. Education runs deep inside of me. I never could have imagined that it would take shape the way that it has.
I discovered early on in my college career that teaching and administration in the public school system was not the path that the Lord had laid out for me. I shifted my own educational trek to Psychology/Social Work and Art, of all things!
Our homeschool journey began in the early, mid 2000’s. I was blessed enough to have a strong support system with some incredible homeschool pioneers in our region. They sowed seeds that took root and have helped to empower what I’m able to do all these years later. In those beginning months, I had a ton of self doubt and felt like I was failing my children because I kept comparing myself to how public school was structured and how I observed other homeschool families to be.
When I got connected to some other homeschool families that mindset shifted. I began to detox from the public school expectation mindset and take on what I believed the Lord was showing me for each one of my children. Different curriculums worked for different kids, within my own family. Different schedules, different learning styles, etc. and homeschooling allowed me to help my kids flourish in what they were called to!
We did take a break from homeschooling through a difficult season within our family and I sent my children back to public school. All 3 of my older children graduated with honors. My oldest daughter skipped a grade and still graduated on time. All 3 of them have a strength of character that I might not have had the opportunity to help grow and develop if I had chosen differently early on.
I felt the Lord calling me to homeschool my younger 3 children a few years back. I hesitated because I carry the weight as being their solo parent and sole provider after their father’s passing in 2018. But God. But God made a way and showed me that the timing was vital for my children. I removed them from the public school system and restarted our homeschool journey. We went through a long season of unschooling and I am very big on lifestyle learning. I have found that this is what works best for my children.
As a homeschool parent and current Director of The Gathering Spot, I know and understand the concerns that families have in beginning, sustaining their homeschool journey. I have homeschooled preschool to my current high schooler. I’ve homeschooled as a solo parent, as a working parent, as a stay at home parent. I’ve navigated homeschooling through illness, opposition from extended family, completely on our own and being actively involved in homeschool communities. I FIRMLY believe that if I can do it, so can YOU!
My hope is to empower others to find the strength and knowledge within themselves to embark and/or thrive through their homeschool journey! The Lord has already put in you what is needed to educate your children. You have the skills and there is a community of people to stand beside you to help navigate your own homeschool journey.
I’m Julie Ouellette and, along with my husband of 42 years, Pete, we homeschooled our 3 children for 18 years. We were reluctant at first but after seeing amazing results after only one month, we were true believers! Our kids thrived and our family became very close. We are thrilled that all of our grandkids are being homeschooled now as well!
We chose an eclectic approach called “delight-directed learning” focusing on each kid’s passions and interests. We drew on a plethora of resources to create a varied curriculum.
Now that we are empty nesters, we love being active at our church, traveling, motorcycle riding, going to the beach and hanging out with our two dogs. Of course we spend lots of time with our kiddos as well.
For many of our homeschooling years, I assisted Barb as she led homeschool groups and did newsletters and mini conferences in her home, and I am happy to be back serving the homeschool community and Barb as her secretary in this group.
I have been married to my husband, Bob, for 32 years and we have 2 daughters, Nicole and Jessica. It is truly amazing how fast time flies!
As a family, we enjoy spending most of our time together. We like to play volleyball, ride bikes, go hiking, watch Supercross/Motocross, get coffee (even though I don’t drink it) and go for long drives. Tacos and homemade pizza are on a weekly rotation at our house.
I personally enjoy playing volleyball, reading books, playing cards/games and solving mysteries with my family and friends. I have been involved in our KidsLife program at my church for over 25 years. I am the Director for our Homeschool Co-op and our Sports Program. My favorite sport to coach at G1 Athletics is volleyball, but I am also involved with the other sports we offer each session. I love giving our homeschool children a place to play sports in a fun, encouraging environment.
My husband and I both went to Columbia Heights Christian Academy. When my parents heard about homeschooling, they decided to give it a try. I was going into my Sophomore year and as a very social teenage girl, I was not happy with their decision. They asked me to give it a try for a year and if I still wanted to go back to CHCA after that time, then that was okay.
My parents and the other homeschool parents in our town were amazing! They made sure that we did not miss out on anything. We had our own volleyball team, Field Trips, homeschool support group (before we knew what co-ops were), and formal dinners so we could get all dressed up. We even got to plan our own graduations with caps, gowns, speeches and lots of cake! Needless to say, after the year was up, I was totally on board with homeschooling and never looked back.
Bob and I knew that when we had children, we wanted to either homeschool or send them to a Christian school. When our oldest child was ready for school, we decided to start homeschooling to see how it would go and it just became a part of our lives. We love the flexibility that we have with homeschooling. Bob worked shift work for many years and we were able to enjoy so much more time together since we could work around his schedule.
In 2005, I had a friend invite me to attend a co-op in Vancouver with her. She ended up moving right before the session started, so I had to go alone. I had no idea what to expect. I realized very quickly that this was a great thing but we didn’t live in Vancouver and I didn’t want to have to travel so far to have my children involved in a co-op. I started praying that someone would get inspired to start a local co-op. After 3 weeks, I started to realize that person was going to be me! Haha! So I grabbed my sister, Michelle, and sister-in-law, Sally, and we talked with our Pastor and that is how we became a ministry of New Life Church.
We have the name "First Class Cowlitz County" because when we started, we were formed after the First Class Homeschool Ministries with Jay and Heidi St. John. When they decided to move onto other adventures, we kept the name since that was how we were already known in our community. We also offer a sports program called G1 Athletics (God first), field trips, Teen nights and other events.
It has been 15 years since our first session and I am still amazed at all the great things that happen at our co-op. The friendships that are formed, the encouragement, and support, not just for the children but for the parents as well. Being involved in a co-op can add so much life and joy to your Homeschooling experience.
Most of the classes I teach are for the teens. I feel like I can relate to them because I was a homeschooled teen and try really hard to make sure we are meeting their social needs.
Friday School opens up each week with chapel. We have our own Teen worship team which starts us out with worship, then we sing a couple of fun kids songs with hand motions so they can come up on stage and get their wiggles out, we do an interactive Bible lesson, play some sort of group game, and give away lots of candy. We definitely enjoy having fun when we are together!
The vision of First Class is for homeschool parents and children to have a place to find encouragement and support, to practice their God-given gifts and talents in a supportive environment, and to build their relationships with God and others.
We like to say that our co-op is more about relationships than academics but we do add in a lot of fun learning, too! We have offered classes on science, history, geography, sports, art, drama, comedy, music, math, forensics, dissection, cooking, self- defense, Spanish, sign language, Bible and even a class on socializing.
I am excited to see what is in store for our community as we have added so many more options for homeschooling families. The Homeschool Alliance of SW WA will be a great place for people new to Homeschooling to find support and outlets for their families and help them navigate this new adventure they are on. And for those that have been at it for years, it can give them new ideas to enhance their experience.
I am a part of the Alliance Task Force which means I do random tasks as needed and as my schedule allows. The other people involved in the Alliance are amazing Homeschool veterans who have so much to offer in encouragement, support, and knowledge.
Larry is the catalyst and the visionary behind this group. Even though he has never homeschooled, his passion – and it is a very passionate passion – is to create a “net” to “catch” people as they exit the public school system.
To do this, he recruited the assistance of several homeschoolers – of various styles and experience – to help set up this group to basically prevent people from falling between the cracks of the myriad of homeschool messages out there, and get the help they need.
He wants to equip and enable people coming out of the public school system with tools that will enable them to transition into homeschooling with ease, to stay homeschooling, and to be as successful as they can be.
His hope is that the current heightened exodus from the public schools does not slow down, but that it will only increase exponentially as more decadent philosophies invade the school system and its values continue to spiral downward. The public schools are no longer neutral centers for learning, but have become tools in the hands of those with values that undermine the solid foundation of values that our country was founded on.
With the group now set up and working hard to get everything set up to function, Larry will continue the role of visionary, consultant and promoter in any way needed.
Next Larry will fill you in with much more detail
on what’s behind our group, and how we got started!
The Formation of this Group
I was not homeschooled. I did not know anyone that homeschooled. But one thing I did know was that anything had to be better than what our public school system had become.
I had retired in 1999, at the age of 56 after 30 years with a local wood products company. I had a tree farm to manage and 4 grandkids to enjoy. I was never involved in politics, but I had always been a student of public affairs and was always up-to-date about the influences and changes taking place in our society.
The trends were consistently negative with a slight reprieve during the Trump administration. The destruction of our culture was no longer in doubt with the corruption revealed in the election of 2020. Our republic had fallen. So, at the age of 77 years old, I knew it was time to act. I knew that we had to change the culture from the bottom up, starting with the schools and local governments. However, the schools were so corrupt that we had to develop an alternative system for the children, and we had to do it quickly.
I became active in an organization called People’s Rights and it was at that time that I began promoting the idea of more homeschooling. I did not know the process or system, but I pushed several like-minded people to start a homeschool, which I later understood was really a co-op. It was from that effort that the Garden Street Co-op was born in the late summer of 2021. During this process I learned how homeschooling was practiced, which included co-ops, but was not limited to them.
The challenge was not just one co-op but a system to encourage, educate, and mentor families to help them escape the destructive public education system and become successful in educating their own children.
It was this passion and need which lead me to seek out local leaders in the homeschool movement and help them create a vision to proactively seek out and help as many families as possible.
Thus, was born “The Homeschool Alliance of SW Washington,” with the mission of outreach and success. -Larry Crosby