The Homeschool Iowa Conference offers an exceptional line-up of speakers with workshops covering a wide variety of topics.

NICHE invites speakers who present messages of hope and encouragement along with plenty of practical ideas and insight to help you as you teach, nurture, and develop the gifts in your child.

We pray that you come away refreshed, re-energized, strengthened, inspired, and full of fresh ideas for the year ahead.

You’ll find it helpful to review the workshop schedule ahead of time to get an idea of what is offered and to help plan which sessions you’d like to attend.

Scroll down to learn more about this year’s speakers.

Keynote Speakers
Click on each speaker to view biographical information.
Heidi St. John
Heidi's Workshops
  • Becoming MomStrong
  • Fearless Mothering: 5 Things Every Mom Needs to Go the Distance
  • The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide™ to Daylight: How to Fit Your Size 16 Day Into a Size 10
  • Better for Best: Keeping Christ as the Center of Your Home

Eric Ludy
Eric's Workshops
  • Raising William Wallace: Parenting with an Epic Outcome in Mind 
  • Made Excellent for Marriage: A Practical Roadmap for Romance that Lasts
  • Fortification: You Don’t Need to be Bullied around by the Devil Anymore!
  • Incorrigibly Cheerful: Finding Happiness that Lasts Beyond Circumstances
  • Fearless: Living Impervious to the Frets, Forebodings, and Anxieties of Life

Sonya Shafer
Sonya's Workshops
  • Charlotte Mason & Her Methods
  • When Less Is More: A Call to Simplicity
  • Laying Down the Rails
  • Keep It Simple: How to Teach Your Whole Family Together
  • Inside a Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Featured Speakers
Scott Woodruff

Scott Woodruff, a follower of Christ since his conversion in 1971, earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Virginia in 1980. He's worked for HSLDA since 1998, assisting thousands of home educating families in dealings with social workers, police officers, truant officers, principals, superintendents, and prosecuting attorneys.

Scott has represented HSLDA members in court and has appeared before many state legislatures to fight against repressive homeschool legislation. He is a frequent speaker at homeschool conferences and on radio programs across the country. Scott and his wife, Jane, homeschooled all three of their children.

Scott's Workshops
  • Homeschooling with Confidence: Understanding Iowa's Homeschool Law
  • Defending Homeschooling in Times of Tragedy
  • Keeping Your Family Safe
Leah Nieman

Speaking about technology and social media is what Leah loves! Leah has been speaking for over 8 years to parents, homeschooling groups, schools and teens about technology, social media, and parenting.

She’s a popular speaker who offers sessions, advice, and resources so parents can raise kids with a healthy perspective of technology and social media.

You can find her eBooks - Apps All Parents Should Know, Let’s Get Social: A Straightforward Guide for Kids on Social Media, and Connected: A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat, as well as tips on technology and social media at leahnieman.com.

Leah's Workshops
  • Guiding Our Kids Through Social Media
  • Taming the Techie Monster
  • Learning with Technology
  • Online Classes: Knowing What You Need
Faith Berens

Faith Berens lives in Virginia with her husband Matthew, daughter Hailey, and son Hayden.

Faith joined the HSLDA team of special needs consultants in 2008 and homeschools her children. She also works as a private educational consultant and evaluator.

Some of her passions include reading for pleasure, singing, traveling, nature/science, leading Bible studies, and teaching reading to struggling students.

Faith holds a master’s degree in reading and has over 15 years of teaching experience.

Her areas of expertise are early childhood literacy, reading assessment, and the identification and remediation of reading difficulties and disabilities.

Faith's Workshops
  • Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
  • Dyslexia Demystified—Definitions and Hope for Homeschoolers
  • Walking on the Homeschool Tight Rope: A Practical Guide to Balancing Life and Lesson Plans
  • Tackling Tricky High School Issues: Practical Help and Guidance for Homeschooling High School Students with Special Needs
Also at Thursday Mini-Conference
  • Teaching Struggling Learners at Home
  • Developing and Drafting Student Education Plans (SEPs)
Susan Lovig

Susan is a happily married mother of four with a passion for sharing what the Lord teaches her. 

Before her "real life" started (motherhood and homeschooling), she was a professional teacher with a specialty in learning styles and remedial reading. 

Once her children arrived, the Lord began directing down different paths than she could have ever expected – and in her spare time she has written and published Picture Words: A Phonics Reader (Books One, Two, and Three), spoken at homeschool conferences, run a successful internet business selling her sewing inventions (washable refills for swiffers, among others), taken her wares to craft shows, and helped moms make the transition to cloth diapering. 

Her husband is particularly happy, though, that in recent years she began 30-day freezer cooking and grinding her own wheat for homemade bread.

Susan's Workshops
  • Can I Really Homeschool?
  • Am I Going to Survive This Strong-Willed Child?
  • Figuring Out Learning Styles
  • Training Your Built-In Labor Force
  • Once-a-Month Cooking
  • Sewing
Heidi Franz

Heidi Franz is a stay-at-home, Jesus-seekin' momma of four who loves to connect with and encourage other women!  

She is passionate about helping parents and teachers build in their children and students a solid foundation of academics, Bible, character, and obedience.  Through various internet platforms and as a speaker at conferences, Heidi shares practical tools to immediately transform a home or classroom. 

Having earned a master’s degree in teaching, Heidi is currently working on a PhD in mommyhood, being a wife and friend, and growing in her relationship with her Savior.

When she's not blogging at Our Out-of-Sync Life or developing ideas for the ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum website, she can be found doing the same things you do:  loving, laughing, calming, training, and impressing upon her children to live for Christ in this "out-of-sync" world. 

Heidi and her husband are raising their children in the rolling hills of Arkansas.

Heidi's Workshops
  • Using Teachable Moments to Guide Your Children
  • Teaching the Little Ones in Your Care
  • Flourishing in Motherhood
    (Being Intentional with Your Day)
Sara Carothers

Sara has a B.A. in French/Secondary Education and an M.A. in Curriculum. She now works as an educational consultant for Rainbow Resource Center. 

Sara notes that working at Rainbow has opened up a different side of education for her and she finds the homeschooling world fascinating, especially how customizable it is to the student.

Sara gains a special feeling of satisfaction guiding homeschooling  parents in finding the right resources to teach their children.

Sara's Workshops
  • Passion to Profession: Encouraging Young Entrepreneurs
  • Foreign Language: How to Work It into Your Home School
  • Supervising Teacher Resources
Cathy Angel

Cathy has been teaching students to read for over 40 years.  Her experience includes teaching all grades kindergarten through fifth, Title I Reading and preschool.  She has been an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa and a Literacy Consultant at Grant Wood AEA. 

Cathy began writing her materials to enable her Indiana daughter to be successful in homeschooling her 5 children! 

Currently, she is an independent Literacy Consultant and is tutoring several children.

She graduated from UNI, earned a Reading Endorsement from Winona State University and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Administration from Drake University. 

Cathy and her husband live in Waverly, Iowa.  She relishes spending time with her twelve grandchildren!

Cathy's Workshops
  • Teaching Reading Is as Easy as 1, 2, 3 
  • Writing with Rhythm: A Handwriting Curriculum that Works (Noon Exhibitor Workshop)
Daniel Currier

When skeptics challenge Daniel concerning his faith, he wants to have well thought out answers. 

His goal is to pass along any knowledge he have so others can also make a defense for Christianity. 

As a junior high, high school, and college instructor since 2009, Daniel has a passion to help others learn.

His biology, design and technology backgrounds give him a unique perspective to see amazing designs in nature that point to the Creator.

Daniel's Workshops
  • What Every Student and Parent Should Know Before College
  • The Right Worldview Prepares Students
  • How to Be Immune to Bad Ideas in Society
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The Mally Family

Harold and Rebekah Mally have been involved in Christian work since 1972. They homeschooled their children with the desire to see them become a team to serve the Lord together.

Their children Sarah (age 36), Stephen (age 30), and Grace (age 26), continue to work with them in ministry with the primary emphasis of encouraging and strengthening other families in the Lord. 

In 1996, Sarah began leading a young ladies discipleship group called Bright Lights. As of 2015, over 650 groups have started in 46 different states and 10 countries.

In 2002, Sarah, Stephen and Grace published Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends which has sold about 75,000 copies. In 2007, Sarah published Before You Meet Prince Charming which has sold about 70,000 copies. In 2012 Grace published Will Our Generation Speak? A Call to be Bold with the Gospel.

The recent increased emphasis on equipping young people in evangelism has led to the start of “Witnessing Conferences,” taught by the Mally family and other speakers they bring in to teach.

The Mally Family's Workshops
  • Learning from Dad
  • Preparing Young Ladies for Their Teenage Years
  • 5 Areas Defeating Christian Young People
  • Making Brothers & Sisters Best Friends
  • Families for the Kingdom of God
Ed Zaccaro

Ed Zaccaro is a teacher and a popular presenter at math and gifted education conferences around the country.

He has taught students of all ages and abilities and has been an advocate for gifted education as a parent, teacher, and school board member.

His students will testify to his ability to make math fun and challenging for them as well as his unique sense of humor, which comes through in his classes and workshops.

Ed has an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, a Masters degree in Gifted Education from the University of Northern Iowa, and is the author of ten math books for mathematically gifted children

Ed's Workshops
  • 8 Components of a High Quality Math Education
  • 12 Math Problem Solving Strategies
Gene Walter

Gene is entering his 34th year of business and is currently the president and general manager of Big Red Printing in Norfolk, Nebraska. 

He has been married to Becky for 34 years.  Their son, Nathan, graduated from Dordt College in May, 2016 with a degree in Digital Media.  They also have three daughters still at home.

Gene and Becky have home educated their children for 19 years and have been actively involved in their ACT & SAT preparations and in their college search processes.

Along with Nathan, Gene has been  representingOnToCollege to the home school community since 2011.

Gene's Workshops
  • It's Never Too Early to Start Preparing for College
  • How to Get into the College of Your Dreams
  • Make Colleges Want You
William J. Federer

William J. Federer is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America's noble heritage.  

Bill's American Minute radio feature is broadcast daily across America and by the Internet. His Faith in History airs on the TCT Network across America. 

Bill has authored or contributed to dozens of books, including America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, which has sold over a half-million copies.

William's Workshop
  • Miracles in American History
Daron Harris

Daron Harris is an academic advisor and coach at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). 

One of his specific roles at DMACC is assisting with access by home educated students to Senior Year Plus offerings such as Post Secondary Enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and Career Academy courses. 

Daron has been a presenter at our Homeschool Iowa "Next Steps" events, where he offered guidance to attendees on how homeschooled students can  access community college coursework while still in high school.

Daron's Workshop
  • Community College Access for High School Homeschoolers
Natalie Schneckloth

Natalie Schneckloth is a wife of 11 years to her husband Cory, mother to their 3 beautiful children and has been homeschooling for the last 8 years.

She started out as a homeschooled child until the age of 11, and was then educated in the private and public school systems.

Natalie helped create a successful co-op in the Quad Cities area, and has worked with families with varying needs and backgrounds. 

She currently serves as a Homeschool Iowa Regional Representative in Region 11.

Natalie's Workshop
  • Ideas for Successful Homeschool Co-ops
Keep calm and homeschool on!

Speaker Inquiries

Speaking at the Homeschool Iowa Conference is by invitation only. Speakers are carefully selected to fit NICHE philosophy, vision, and mission, and to not conflict with the NICHE Board of Directors’ biblical worldview. Because of the high volume of speaker inquiries we receive, we are only able to follow up with those we are inviting to speak. If we are interested in having you speak, we will contact you before the year end preceding the scheduled conference date.

Speaker packets should include:

  • Contact information, including email address, phone number, mailing address, company name, and website
  • A list of all proposed workshop titles and descriptions
  • Speaker biography
  • A high-resolution (300dpi) digital photo
  • Any requirements or accommodations you request for your speaking
  • References or listings of previous speaking engagements
  • At least two hour-long recordings of your recently presented workshops

Submit your packet to:

Conference Speakers ℅ NICHE
PO Box 158
Dexter, IA 50070
or to: speakers @homeschooliowa.org

By sending your audio recordings, you are consenting to allow NICHE to upload them to a secure site for the speaker committee to access during the review process. Please Note: Submitted items, Including workshop recordings, will not be returned.

Transform your homeschool by attending the 2018 Homeschool Iowa conference!