WHO Board Members
Chair – Amy Beckstead-Leonard
Due to my positive experience as a homeschooled child, I decided to home-educate my own children long before their birth. Today, I’m part of a never-quiet household of five children, ranging in ages from twelve to one. I love the challenges of homeschooling, which I face daily, as I adapt to the needs of individuals at all different levels while trying to remain in one piece. In 2003, I began a homeschool co-op, Families Homeschooling for Excellence, and I enjoy the companionship of other families on their own educational journeys. I have served as the Treasurer of WHO for the past several years. I continue to volunteer on the Board to help ensure that homeschoolers in Washington retain the opportunity to homeschool independently, and to help them value this privilege.
Secretary – Holly Ramsey
My homeschooling journey started in 2001 when I pulled my then 5 year-old out of private school. We have never regretted that decision. I now school two boys, ages 15 and 9. In addition, I have the privilege of teaching writing and Spanish in an academic co-op in Puyallup. My family is also very involved with the Mel Korum YMCA homeschool swim & gym program. Educating my children at home has allowed me to meet their unique needs and tailor programs that focus on their strengths and support their passions. It has also allowed us to build very strong family relationships. Throughout the last 10 years, I have become a strong advocate for homeschooling and my membership in WHO reflects my interest in keeping independent homeschooling available for future generations.
Advocacy Chair – Jen Garrison Stuber
We fell into homeschooling in 2003, when my then seven year old became a second-grade drop-out. It was a bit of an adjustment for both of us, as my daughter had been at the school for just over 3 years, and I was making a radical transition from college professor to homeschool mom. But after those initial bumps, we haven’t looked back. Homeschooling has allowed us to provide an education uniquely suited to our daughter’s mismatched collection of strengths and weaknesses, catering to the former while mitigating the latter. Along the way, I became a vocal advocate for independent homeschooling, run a local support group (in Spokane, on the sunny side of our state), and joined the WHO Board in January 2010. I serve as the Advocacy Chair and teach WHO’s Parent Qualifying Course at Convention.
Member-at-Large – Pam Kindle
We came to homeschooling by default, but it became a way of life. We took our vacations in the off-season, learning wherever we went, whatever we did. And frequently our travels inspired new subjects to pursue further on return. I wanted more… more positive influence, more educational options, more time with my kids… than my local schools – public or otherwise – could provide. And I wanted to instill in my kids a life-long love of learning. Homeschooling provided a way to do all of that and more. We ended up homeschooling our four boys for fourteen non-consecutive years, spanning pre-k to high school.
I continue to stay active in the homeschool community because education is too important to leave to a one-size-fits-all approach and because homeschooling is still one of THE very best all-around options out there. It was there for my family when we needed it, and I want to make sure it’s there for others when they need it too.
Our family has homeschooled since day one, when we decided we didn’t want to begin sending our oldest off to school all day long just as her little sister was born and I was quitting my full-time job. It was undoubtedly the right decision. Not only have we been able to give our children a great education tailored to who they are, but my children, though far apart in age at 13, 8 and 4, really know each other and our family is closer as a result of our homeschooling. It has also given our family a chance to travel a lot in the off-season and given the kids the chance to pursue their passions (so far I have a very talented singer, an aspiring artist and a little guy who never met a ball he didn’t love, so I think we’ll be adding serious athlete to the list!) We also enjoy gathering with our small co-op and I love to talk homeschooling with pretty much anyone, anywhere. I’m excited to be part of the WHO board so I can continue to educate, serve and advocate for homeschoolers across the state.
Member-at-Large – Nickie Ament
I am a married mom of 3, one of whom is special needs, from Spokane. We’ve been homeschooling that kiddo for 2 full years now and love the freedom that it allows our child to grow from. I love my job as a caregiver in home health, and have been doing this kind of work for 15 years now. I’m also in school myself, getting my Master’s degree in psychology so that I can continue on and advocate for those who need me (I haven’t picked an area I want to go into, yet). I’m so honored to have an opportunity to help the WHO board in any way I can.
Member-at-Large – Jennifer Caraway
We have homeschooled from the beginning. My husband and I wanted to homeschool since our children were born. We were both public schoolers and felt that we could do a better job for our kids. Plus we enjoy having them around! It’s allowed us to stay close as a family. We have 2 kids and work full time. We make it work so that the kids always have a parent at home with them. Both of us homeschool the kids. One of the many great things about homeschooling is there is no set schedule. We can homeschool at night, during the weekends, while running errands or on vacation. It’s allowed our schedule to be flexible. Homeschooling also allows us to go at our own pace, whether that’s moving ahead quickly or taking the extra time to work on a subject. Our kids still get lots of social time with their friends. They participate in science fairs, give presentations on topics that interest them and we have the world and the library to educate them. We feel our kids get a lot of opportunities public schoolers don’t get because we have flexibility on how we educate them. We are unschoolers, which means that our education approach is self-directed. Whatever interests them, we get the tools they need to continue their learning. We can expand on each topic of interest and explore how other topics are related, making each lesson one that spans multiple subjects. It’s amazing how a question your child asks can lead you down this adventurous path leading to more learning. Education and learning are important to us. Our goal is to instill in our kids a love of learning, a thirst for knowledge and the tools to seek it out their journey. I’m proud to be a member of the WHO Board and supporting other families on their path of homeschooling.
Executive Director – Debbie Jurasek
I began homeschooling in 1989, just 4 years after the homeschooling law in Washington was passed. It was never my intention to homeschool, but when I went to check into kindergarten for my first born, I was told that they would be sharing the bathroom with drug rehab patients but not to worry, there would be guards in the bathrooms. That made me think long and hard about my choices. A good friend told me about homeschooling and my husband thought it was a great idea. I cried. So began our journey. I always told myself, I would take it one year at a time. We ended up homeschooling our 3 boys all the way through high school and I never regretted my decision. All 3 of my boys are grown, gainfully employed and doing well. 2 of them are married with children (being a Gramma is the best). Our family is very close and we see each other often. I began volunteering for the Washington Homeschool Org. as a phone volunteer and volunteered in different ways throughout the years. I am now the Executive Director and I am humbled and honored to serve in this position for an organization I am passionate about.