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Transcripts of The Link's 5th Annual Homeschool Conference

by the Lepperts

Dear Reader:

This year at The Link's 5th annual homeschool conference, I decided to try something new and have a number of our speakers present five minutes of heartfelt advice or insight about homeschooling. We had hundreds of positive comments on our Evaluation Forms about this opening Keynote Montage. People got so much out of it that I wanted to share it with my Link readers. I hope you enjoy it. Please consider joining us at the next Link conference, June 6-9, 2002! (See registration info on p. 76.) Thank you for reading The Link. Warmly, Mary Leppert

Michael Leppert
My name is Michael Leppert. Along with my wife, Mary and son, Lennon, we publish The Link homeschool newspaper, sponsor of this conference. On behalf of Mary and Lennon, I would like to welcome all of you to the 5th Annual Link "kid comfortable" homeschooling conference. Today's keynote will follow an unusual format in that it will be comprised of six 5-minute speeches by six of our workshop presenters.

Before we begin, I would like to say a bit about the type of person who attends The Link conference. Because we attract people from all backgrounds of homeschooling, our demographic mix is as broad as the general population. And, you are unusual people, even within the realm of homeschooling. You are willing to come to a conference where you will come in contact with people who's homeschooling ideology you don't share. You are not afraid to hear about a new idea or concept. Even if you don't agree with it, you understand that you can handle hearing about it. At this conference, conservatives can rub elbows with liberals and maybe even find out that the other side has something worthwhile to offer, worth considering anyway.

Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis
Our first speaker is Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis. We went to a homeschool conference a few years ago and Mary Leppert "accidentally" attended a Mariaemma workshop. She was going to go to the History of John Holt but when that was full, she went to the Learning Styles workshop that Mariaemma was putting on and it totally changed her life. All of Mary's life she had felt that she didn't fit in with school, she wasn't the learning style type that school was built for. She just naturally assumed that she was deficient. She attended Mariaemma's workshop, got some of her paperwork, brought it home. …And now, I would like to introduce Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis. MPW: Hi, everybody. I would like everyone who has a talent to stand up. If you know you have a really great talent, stand up. (Nearly everyone stands.) Oh, my gosh, you must have all come to my workshops! How am I going to make the point now? (They sit.) If you know you are very smart, stand up. Not quite as many that time. What happened to the rest of you, you're not smart? Okay, let's see . . . who is good at figuring out the VCR and remote controls, stand up. Now just stay standing. Okay, so if you're good at whatever I am going to say, stand and remain standing. Gardening, cooking, caring for kids, being compassionate, hiking, swimming, working with animals, singing, dancing, maps & directions, batting a ball, fixing things, being organized . . . is everyone standing up now? Okay, I'll stop. Here's the deal, in most audiences, hardly anyone stands up, for real. So, why do people hesitate to stand? Because of the school model that we've grown up with. Too many of us grow up thinking that we are just average or not very smart, even though we all started out as very eager and very smart learners. But the best education is the one that draws out each student's talents, interests, skills, natural abilities and learning styles. And the teacher becomes the mentor, the coach and the cheerleader. This is the most powerful teaching model and this is why homeschooling is so powerful. You can pay attention to the kid who needs to drum on the table or the one who memorizes better when shooting baskets; the one who is interested in rocks; the one who keeps excellent rhythm or is very coordinated or a whiz on the computer; great with animals or a natural comedian. If you will follow this model, your children will always have the confidence and belief in themselves to stand up when asked if they are smart or talented. Since all of you are already doing that, I know you are going to pass it on. Did you know that confidence and beliefs are the best indicators of success in life? In the words of a homeschooling mom and writer, Tracy Gibson, "Homeschooling is one of the most challenging and most rewarding things you will ever do. There is nothing more satisfying than teaching your child. Your family members will grow closer and your family ties stronger. Homeschooling is much more than an educational choice. It is a life." Now, I'm going to give one more chance to the people who did not think they were smart the first time. If you are smart enough to come to this conference to learn more about how to mentor your child, stand up now. You'd better all stand up. Now you're ready to go out and be your child's learning success coach. I wish you a very wonderful conference weekend.

Michael Leppert
Now, our next speaker is probably known to most of you. If you are new to homeschooling, you're going to hear the name John Taylor Gatto bandied about constantly. (Applause) There is something about John that reminds me of a Roman senator. I picture him standing in front of a large group of people orating. For those of you who don't know, John Taylor Gatto taught junior high school in New York City for 30 years. He received the Teacher of the Year award for both New York City and State three times, and the last time was the year he retired……..And now, Live, from New York, it's John Taylor Gatto!

John Taylor Gatto
Thanks, Mike. Actually, it's live from Pittsburgh. I wanted to bring you folks a piece of good news. I was wondering what to say, this format is a little unusual, and it struck me that I would bring to you something that came to me when I was watching television on the road . . . my wife won't let me watch television, so every now and then I sneak it. I was watching a special on the A&E channel, called "How To Recognize a Cult." As soon as I heard the first principle - and this was a long show - I grabbed a pen.

The first thing a cult does is it keeps its victims unaware of the big picture. Right away I felt a sense of déjà vu. Second, it exercises total control over their time and their environment. Third, it creates fear and dependency in its members. Fourth, it suppresses old customs brought from home or from the new cult member's traditions. Fifth, it instills new believes important to the cult's security and sixth, it allows no criticism. Now that was the whole package! I'm not going to tell you what that reminded me of. So, if you don't do any of these things, you can't be cult. Good luck, God bless.

Michael Leppert
Okay. Our next speaker is also potentially well-known and if you don't know her yet, you will by the end of the conference, I hope. Diane Flynn Keith is from the Bay area, she is the founder of the online Journal of Homeschooling and founder of™ and Diane has a column called "Wax On, Wax Off" that has been a regular feature of The Link for about the last year and beginning with the next issue, she will add a second column called "Carschooling™." Please welcome Diane Flynn Keith.

Diane Flynn Keith
Thank you. Those of you who know me and have seen me speak before, I never speak without providing food. It's one of my learning differences. I would like my son to come forward, please and would you mind distributing these. It's a little gift that I have for you. I bought about 300, it looks like there a few more people here, so couples, if you wouldn't mind sharing, it's a little Hershey's hug and kiss, and you should share that if you're a couple, anyway.

I have had the good fortune of homeschooling my sons for nine years and this much I know: That we can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, which is a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people. And I have accumulated a few pointers along the way to that end, that I'd like to share with you. Please teach your kids because you think it's a privilege and a really good idea. Learning with your children is a way of expressing affection for them. Giving them knowledge is like giving them a big hug. And if you do that with that thought in mind, you will develop an environment that has mutual respect and good will. And it will not only last you throughout your homeschooling days, but throughout your lives together. Teach your children when they're in a really good mood. Make sure they're rested and fed and well and happy. You can't teach anything to anybody who's miserable. And the really cool thing about homeschooling is that you can target the time when your child is most receptive to learning. So, your child might just hop right out of the bed and be ready to go at 7:00 o'clock in the morning or you may have a kid who gets energized at about 8:00 o'clock at night. You don't have to teach on a school schedule from 9:00 to 3:00. You can use the good times to your advantage. Teach when you're in a good mood. If you're tense and uptight because the dog peed on the carpet and the washing machine broke down and it's just too bright outside - take some time off! If you're fatigued and disorganized you can't enjoy yourself and your kids won't enjoy the learning process, either. Above all, homeschooling should be a joyful experience. You need to be flexible in homeschooling, be willing to get rid of what doesn't work, even if the textbook costs $60. Get rid of it if it's not bringing joy into your home. There are a lot of successful homeschoolers out there who know this because they have used curriculum fairs in which they sell to you all the things that didn't work for them! So, take your cue from them. You also need to be flexible because your child is changing every single day. It's not just his body is growing and developing; his needs, his abilities, his interests shift at an astonishing rate of speed. What worked yesterday may not be suitable at all to who your child is today. I once heard that when you kiss your child and say "Good night" you should actually be saying "Good bye" because your child won't be the same tomorrow. So you be ready for whoever stumbles out of bed and sleepily shuffles into the kitchen the next morning! I want you to keep your promises to your children. Don't use a promise as a leverage for learning unless you intend to keep it. So, for example, "If you do your spelling workbook, honey, I'll play Barbies with you for an hour." If you make a promise like that, you keep it. Don't give the gift of knowledge with the expectation of gratitude and thankfulness demonstrated through correct answers to your endless questions and testing. Knowledge is a gift and should be given freely without strings attached. Above all, I want you to remember this: You're not just teaching your child, you're teaching your grandchild's mother or father how to teach them. Everything that you do every day in homeschooling affects your lineage for generations to come. I think that's a very humbling thought overall. Before I sit down, I want to share with you a little story that I think really drives home the point of the most important part about homeschooling. When my kids were about 6 and 8 years old, I told them that I was going to talk at a homeschooling presentation and I said, "I need to tell these parents what the best thing about homeschooling is. Can you tell me what you think the best thing about homeschooling is?" Well, my older son, who is very pragmatic, says "Mom, just tell them to sit their kids down at the dinner table every single morning for about an hour-and-a-half and cover history, math, spelling, arithmetic, everything, because you want to get all that stuff out of the way so you have the rest of the day to do the things you really love. Like, I like music and I love astronomy. Because that's the best part about homeschooling is having time to do the things you really love to do." And I said, "That's great advice, Nick. Thank you." I turned to my younger son, Chad, and I said "Chad, what do you think the best thing about homeschooling is?" He said, "Well, I can tell you what I hate about homeschooling!" My heart dropped down to my knees. With a deep breath I said, "What's that?" He said, "I hate doing the stuff I don't like to do. I hate doing all of that writing and math and spelling." I pulled him into my lap and I cuddled him for a few minutes and I said, "I can understand that. Most people don't like to do things that are difficult or frustrating or they just plain old don't like to do. Is there anything that you like about homeschooling?" He thought about that for a minute and said "Nick's right. Getting all that really hard stuff out of the way is a good idea, because then you can do what you really love to do and I really like to collect coins and read and draw." I cuddled him for a few more minutes and then he said "But Mom, don't forget to tell them the best part about homeschooling." I said, "What's that?" and he said, "It's having plenty of time for hugs and kisses." (Applause.) As I said, there are plenty of academic ways to fill your days homeschooling and it's a rather minor part of the whole. The greatest gift that passes between parent and child is the gift of time and attention freely given to one another and it's the thing that will nurture that little spark of magic in your child that will transform them into the vision of the adult that you hold for them. The relationship between you and your child is what ultimately will determine the success of your homeschool in the long run. It's the one thing that will outlast the academics, the degrees, grades, whether or not your kid can recite all of the state capitals or solve quadratic equations. Your relationship with your children is the most important part of homeschooling and nurturing it is the most important part. You need to cherish your time together with your children because as anyone who has grown children can tell you, the time with them goes way too fast. So the little gift that we've given to you today is a reminder from my son to you that the best part about homeschooling is having plenty of time for hugs and kisses.

Michael Leppert
And just to give you an idea of just how sharp Diane is, she must have learned from the Mayor Daley School of Public Speaking, she took the person that was functioning as our time-keeper and had him pass out hugs and kisses, so she got an extra two minutes. Good work, Diane! Now our next speaker is a veteran homeschool dad, a veteran of past Link conferences, one of the most popular speakers we've had because he deals with writing and English which are one of the two most-feared subjects parents can teach their children. Richard Prystowski is a homeschool dad of three and as a second job he is a Professor of English at Irvine Valley College. He has a very warm and intelligent, insightful style that has been overwhelmingly popular with our past attendees. So now, for five minutes - well, three minutes, Diane took two of yours - Richard Prystowski.

Richard Prystowski
First thing I want to do is thank Mike and Mary for all of the incredible work they continue to do on behalf of homeschoolers. And to you in the audience, please give yourself credit for the things that you do right; you do an awful lot of things right. One of them is that you have taken the time and made the effort to come to this conference. I think you should give yourselves a hand, too. This way if I don't get applause, I'll take some of that with me. . . Please remind yourselves of why you're doing this in the first place. We get all caught up in issues of curriculum, and whether we should do history, if so, what history, and all of this business. The same with English and math, but my guess is that what was true for my family is probably true for many of you out there: The questions of curriculum came second, not first. What came first were the desires to advocate for our family's needs; to show love to our children in a way that we didn't feel could be accomplished by other people, outside. The issues from the heart and soul came first. Then, after we got going we said "Oh, what about curriculum?" and probably all of us tried to check it out right away. Keep in mind that that isn't what drove you to do this. What it was, was your heart; your sense of compassion for your family. I think it is very centering to remember that. I can tell you as a teacher that there is nothing magical about curriculum. Don't buy the illusion that there is something special about this curriculum or that one; in fact, in my writing classes, I tell my students that they're allowed to customize any of the assignments that they want as long as they are meeting up to the "standards" of the course -- which are very flexible. Homeschooling allows you that flexibility. Life is the curriculum and everything else that you do out of that is a spin-off of what meets your needs - your family's and your kids'. The final point I would like to make, I ask you, as you are struggling and enjoying meeting your family's needs, don't reserve your family's love just for your family. One of the great criticisms of (homeschooling) by public education is that it's isolationist and I don't think we do any great service to ourselves or our communities if, as homeschoolers, we become isolationists. So I would ask us to find a way to enact our love interdependently because we can't live in isolation and not everyone has the freedom to make the choices that we've made. I wonder how many of the women who are cleaning your rooms in this hotel have the choices you have? I think we need to remember that we are part of a greater collective and that one of the great ways to honor our taking care of our family's needs is to become ambassadors for love and peace; to become true role models of a better way and to honor our hearts by making them public. Thank you.

Michael Leppert
Our next speaker is known to any of you who have pondered the question "What about college?" Cafi Cohen's book is probably one of the most well-thumbed among homeschoolers because when you realize that homeschooling is a good fit for you, there is going to be someone in your family or your workplace, somewhere, who is going to come out and say "Well, what about college?" Cafi's got two new books out as well that are very useful, especially if you have teenagers. Now for five minutes, Cafi Cohen.

Cafi Cohen
A show of hands, please, this one is interactive! How many of you have occupied a younger child while teaching an older child to read? I see about 30 percent of the hands raised. How many of you have used math games to teach math? I see about 25 percent of hands raised. How many of you read or speak a language other than English? About 30 percent of hands. How many of you are amateur or professional artists or writers or musicians? Up to about 35-40 percent of hands. How many of you have sent a homeschooler to college? Down to about five hands total. I want all of you to know that the expertise at this conference resides not only in the speakers that you will hear, but in the person sitting to your left and right. You are surrounded by homeschooling expertise and this conference is an opportunity to take advantage of that particular fact. To that end, I urge you, of course, to attend as many workshops as possible. Speak to every vendor, even the ones that you would normally ignore; meet as many people as possible. Are you shy about meeting people? Ask them, "Where are you from? Why are you homeschooling? How long have you been doing it?" It's very difficult to resist a question that has the pronoun "you" in it. I am a homeschooling mother emeritus; that means I have been out of the "business" for several years, actually about seven. My homeschooled children through high school left home at ages 16 and 17, never to return. We talk to them three to five times per week. They live in different cities, but they have been out on their own for that long. Probably the most valuable piece of advice from our experience of having completed the journey and now looking back on it, is "Make mistakes." If you read a book by David and Mickie Colfax "Hard Times in Paradise" which is a description of their life on a very remote California ranch without utilities, and homeschooling their four boys there, you will learn that they failed at almost everything they tried. As a result, they tried a lot of different things and so did their four boys. Most of them ended up at Harvard after their homeschooling experience. They failed their way to success. You can do that, too. We probably made more mistakes homeschooling our children than we did things right. In fact, I'm sure we did. And things turned out extremely well. Our son flies F-16s in the U.S. Air Force and he says "Every day I can't believe they're paying me to do this. To play with these big, wonderful airplanes." Our daughter is working full-time and she earns about $80,000 a year, working in a small, college town where many people with master's degrees are waiting tables, because she knows how to find resources and she knows how to network. We failed our way to success; you can, too. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. God bless all of you in your homeschooling efforts.

Michael Leppert
Now, I'd like to introduce Dr. Mary Hood. She is a well-known homeschool advocate, writer, and a homeschool mom of 17 years. Mary is known for her relaxed homeschooling approach. She has authored many books on homeschooling and she is one of our most popular conference speakers. We'd like to thank Mary for coming all the way from Atlanta to be with us. Now, Dr. Mary Hood.

Dr. Mary Hood
I want to begin this with something that I didn't know was going to happen this morning. You know the best-laid little educational plan never really quite goes the way you expect it to. When Mariaemma was doing her thing - and I know she had certain points she was trying to make - but I sat here and learned something completely different than what she intended. It kind of reminded me of something about me. As she was telling everybody "If you're this, stand up; if you're this, stand up." And I was thinking "Yeah, I could stand up for that; and for that." But I didn't. And why didn't I? Because you all were. And I reminded myself that basically, I'm a born radical. If you're all standing up, I'm gonna to be sittin' down. If you're all sittin' down, I'm going to be standing up. That's what got me my FBI file back in the 60s. It's probably what drove me to homeschooling in the first place and now I just don't have as many opportunities to be real radical. I have to pick my opportunities carefully. My oldest son is 23 and I have two kids who have homeschooled all the way through and are adults, and three more at home. And this is a natural time for me to reflect because my daughter graduated from college last weekend. For the last week I have been hearing about one hundred people saying to me "You must be so proud. After you're homeschooling efforts." And what keeps striking me is, "No, I'm not." I guess I'm proud of Jenny and I'm very glad to see the type of person she's become, but the bottom line is: Jenny just graduated from college, not me. And I think that one thing we really have to guard against as homeschooling parents is we tend to be control freaks. Because if somebody says, "What do you do?" and you say "I'm vice-president of such-and-such a bank", they know what you do. And if you say you're a homeschooling mom, they look at your kids. So it's very tempting to start looking at them as products and I'm no more proud of Jenny for graduating from college than I was ashamed when my first son was blowing it for the first couple of years when he went off. That was not a reflection on relaxed homeschooling, that was a reflection on Sam, who happens to be a total ditz sometimes and that's what he was doing. I knew when he was two years old that he was a scientist. He's the ditzy, absent-minded professor, scientist-type. I used to say that he couldn't go to the street and take the garbage and get back in a day but on the way he would have figured out something about the origins of the Universe. He tried music for awhile and suddenly, at the age of 20 or so he realized, "Hey, I'm a scientist!" And I went, "No, duh, I knew that when you were 2." Now he just got a $2,500 research grant for the summer to go dig in the sand which is what he has basically been doing for 22 years -- only now he's being paid for it. I have a son who's 17, almost 18, who graduated from high school supposedly and is clinging onto the doorposts with both hands. He has no basic plans beyond Friday or so. Again, I could be sitting here going "Oh no, oh no, I've got one graduating and he's not going to college, and doesn't know what he's doing." But it makes no difference to me whatsoever. If he wants to set up his apartment downstairs, that's fine. He's a big cleaning freak. God gave him to me because I lived through my first son who was a total slob. Dan cleans and arranges and sooner or later he'll figure out what he's going to do. But the point of thinking through that is probably the biggest single thing that I learned from my homeschooling: The importance of treating your people as individuals. I would be no better to try to push Dan than I would have been to hold back Jenny. And to remember that they are unique individuals who have been loaned to you for awhile, they're not your products, not your property. You can't turn Person A into Person B and if you try to do that too long, you're just going to destroy your relationship. Other than that, my main message to people always is that when I talk about "relaxed homeschooling" what I simply mean is that you are a family, not a school. A couple of my workshops are on that topic. You're not a teacher, you're a mother; you're not a principal, you're a dad; you don't have a classroom, you have individual relationships with your children and what that means is that you don't have to act like a school. You don't have to get up in the morning and do science from 9-10 and social studies from 10-11 and you don't have to teach all those things. In my latest newsletter I have an article called "How To Graduate With A Degree in English Without Ever Studying Language Arts" and basically, we didn't do any of that stuff. We lived together as a family and we read, read, read. We had lots of good experiences. I set goals for the kids; they set goals for themselves, and we just lived together, worked together and had a good time together. We never turned into a school and we never turned into "Am I Abeka? Or Bob Jones? Or Konos?" mentality. We picked out specific things for specific reasons for specific goals and just had a great time together and we're still having a great time together. My youngest son is 10. I have a 14-year-old daughter, who spends 25 hours a week dancing ballet right now. So you just do what it takes to raise these kids the way you're supposed to and you don't try to control their lives. I really believe that if you do that, you'll do what you're supposed to be doing. As a Christian, I believe God called me to homeschool, but I believe He called me to be a family at home, not to set up little miniature institutions. Anyway, I hope to see some of you at my various talks. Thanks a lot.

Michael Leppert
Thanks, Mary. And now our 7th speaker is Mariaemma's partner. Victoria has homeschooled her grown son. She has had experience in homeschooling as well as working in the learning-styles analysis field. She co-authored their excellent book "Discover Your Child's Learning Styles" and has done work with conflict resolution. Please welcome Victoria Kindle-Hodson.

Victoria Kindle-Hodson
Hello, out there! Whoa, homeschooling is growing since I did this 25 years ago, when John Holt was the only mentor we had, with his little typewritten newsletter, that I would get every month and feel so excited to get some support from somewhere out there. This is amazing. This is the fifth year I've been here and it's staring to feel like a reunion! I see lots of familiar faces. I'm delighted!

Anyway, even though this is a homeschool convention, I want to tell you two stories about school. Story 1: A first-grader can't sit at a desk for more than ten minutes and when he does, he's always squirming and fidgeting in his chair. He asks a lot of questions and talks to friends way too much, when he should be doing his work. He is called a "disruptive influence." Twenty-eight years ago that's what they called them - not ADHD. He draws pictures in the margins of his papers, so he is also called "sloppy" besides a "disruptive influence" and after three months of school, he is taken out of the top reading group -- he went in knowing how to read -- and he is moved back two reading groups. He goes home to his mom and says, "I am never reading again." And he meant it. For six years he didn't pick up a book. Story 2: A high school student is invited to join Honors English. He wins a physics contest at his high school and is sent to Chicago to compete nationally and places among the top 10 in the nation. In his freshman year of college he has one of his architectural design projects written up in a national magazine. He became the first undergraduate student to assist in the department he was in at college - he got paid to do that! It was the first time ever for an undergraduate. One of his recent instructors in aviation says that he is the best student he has ever had. Now, what do we have here? A case of an unfortunate casualty of the school system in the first case? And a case of a fortunate success of the school system in the second story? Actually, this is the story of my son, when he was in elementary school and when he was in high school, college and after. So what happened in between elementary school and high school? I'll bet you could guess. We homeschooled him! What a concept! Twenty-six years ago. Everybody advised me against it. And do you know what? We couldn't even be seen on the street during daylight hours, when school was in session. This is serious stuff! We skulked around as if we were criminals, in Ojai, California. I was a teacher, I had the credentials. I still skulked. This is scary business. But we decided this was the best path. While we were on it, I stopped trying to make my son fit a curriculum and I started making a curriculum fit him . . . We had excavating the Pacific Coast at Bates Beach - just off of Santa Barbara. It's hot in Ojai. It can be 106 in fall, so we'd take a shovel, garden spade; we'd have the garden rake, buckets, trowels, we went to the ocean. This is how we spent our days. He excavated that beach, he dug trenches and then pits and he'd do tunnels and then he went into sandcastle design. Then he would get the water, the currents flowing just the way he wanted them. This was spectacular and it augmented his playing with Legos that he did at home. I often wondered if these experiences led to his study of architecture at Pratt in Brooklyn, NY, and after college, designing houses, building houses, designing furniture and being the project manager for numerous houses in Sun Valley, ID. You already know he didn't like to read, but we were a reading family. So we read stories. We read more stories because we had more time than ever. And then we'd discuss the stories the way we always had and he'd build models, like stage sets for the stories. Anyway, I wonder if this prepared him to be willing to not only read Sophocles, Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Rolvaag, Faulkner, Hemingway, in that Honors English class. Not only did he read them and stretch himself - it was hard work, I'm telling you - he loved them. He cried over Rolvaag's "Giants in the Earth". They really touched him. Hiking, camping and rock-climbing were also part of our curriculum. Up and down the West Coast and in our backyard at Los Padres National Forest. I wonder if that led him to working and photographing in remote areas of Alaska and the back country of the Sawtooth Mountain Range and starting his own photography business? Every so often, Brian tells us how much he appreciates the fact that we homeschooled him. And although I've wondered whether there was a connection between homeschooling and this kid who cannot stop learning, but Brian knows that there is a connection. So, my hope is that you will have a wonderful conference and that you will take everything you learn and go home to bring out the star in your child!

Michael Leppert
In closing, I'd like to say is that once upon a time in America there was a fascinating generation that took a chance, created a great experiment, had faith in everybody around them that they would be able to govern themselves and take care of themselves without dropping the ball. And that incredible generation, the Founders, were raised by an even more incredible and mysterious generation who brought them up to think that way. Not only could they think that way about each other, from the heart, but they could also understand things like The Federalist Papers - they had intellectual ability as well. In my opinion, that's who we are. We are the renaissance, the re-birth of the United States and the people we are raising, all of these people from the little ankle-biters all the way up to the teenagers and beyond are the hope for the future - not only for our country but probably for most of the world. (Applause) What you're doing is about the most important thing anyone could ever do. Thank you for coming to our conference.

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