Homeschooling Teen has featured quite a few famous teen homeschoolers and homeschool graduates beginning with our first issue! Check them out:
Alyssa, Rebecca, and Lauren Barlow are three talented sisters best known collectively as BarlowGirl. Now in their 20’s, the trio from Elgin, Illinois were homeschooled before becoming the popular Contemporary Christian group they are today. Although at first glance the threesome may look like typical rock stars, they are radically different role models than most young women in the public eye. In today’s culture, the fact that they boldly stand for purity, modesty, and commitment is considered extreme by many. The three Barlow sisters pattern their lifestyle around Romans 12:2 which says, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” For these young women, the main thing isn’t being a celebrity and getting rich; it’s living godly lives, having a sense of self-worth, and being true to who they really are even when they’re not perfect.
Christopher Paolini is a homeschool graduate and best-selling author. Paolini states, “Everything I did was only possible because my parents were dedicated and loving enough to homeschool my sister and me. My mother, a former Montessori teacher and author of several children’s books, took the time to instruct us every day. Aside from textbook lessons, she had us perform many exercises designed to stimulate our creativity.” Christopher was able to pursue his passions and develop his talents to a higher level than is possible in an ordinary school setting. Like many homeschoolers, he wasn’t afraid to tackle projects by educating himself. He also learned that a little hard work and persistence pays off. His Eragon book was even made into a major motion picture.
Victoria Kasten is a homeschooled author who has sold thousands of her books worldwide. She writes historical fiction and stories about horses, and on her website she also sells matching t-shirts to go with the books. In addition to horses, history, and writing, Victoria enjoys 4-H, music, and playing the violin. Victoria donates a portion of her profits to Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Betsy-Tacy Society and the Northfield Historical Society. Victoria has participated in many events such as homeschool conventions, book tours, and book signings. Since 2007, Victoria has also been teaching at Young Writers Workshops about character development in a story. In 2008, Victoria was chosen as a finalist for the Women, Inc. Magazine contest “The Difference is You” in the “Rising Young Star” category.
The 5 Browns – all homeschooled siblings – are piano virtuosos, adept at performing individually or together in various combinations from duo to five-piano arrangements. It’s their ability to play in perfect synchronization on five grand pianos at once that makes them really stand out. These brothers and sisters are breathing new life into the classical music genre with their youthful exuberance and dynamic stage presence, awakening the joy of classical music among audiences of all ages. While most teens would consider classical music to be “old and boring,” the 5 Browns consider it to be current and relevant. Desirae says, “When you start playing without thinking or feeling, then I can see how it could get really boring. But when you’re throwing yourself into it, somehow you find new things in the music and new things that come up in your mind or how you’re feeling that make you come alive…. It’s all about love and hate and anger and joy, all these things that teenagers experience… so… translate it to your emotions, to your experiences.”
The Jonas Brothers are known for their straight-laced, squeaky-clean image despite their foray into the world of rock ‘n’ roll – long a refuge for teen angst and rebellion. Although they are evangelical Christians, the Jonas Brothers decided not to go the Contemporary Christian Music route. One of the reasons for the genre direction was to reach more teenagers. The Jonas Brothers are aware of the positive impact they can have on millions of kids, and it’s a responsibility they take seriously. The Jonas Brothers abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. In addition, they are committed to remaining chaste before marriage and they all wear purity rings on their left-hand ring finger. Nick Jonas says, “We use it as a chance to witness. We want to be a Christian influence in the pop music world. It’s definitely a mission field.”
Erik Demaine, named “one of the most brilliant scientists in America” by Popular Sciencemagazine, is a rising star in the area of theoretical computer science – specifically computational geometry, data structures, and algorithms. As a child, he had an unconventional educational background of homeschooling on the road followed by entering college at a young age, earning his bachelor’s degree at age 14. Describing formal school as “just an excuse to meet kids and hang out with them,” Erik says, “I learned to read early, but it never was as interesting to me as personal experience. I didn’t read textbooks as an undergrad. My father, Martin Demaine, had home-schooled me until I went to university. He was against the whole school thing, [and] wanted to be engaged in my education. Also, my father wanted to travel, so around Grade 2 we started traveling around North America, Canada, and the United States. I got to see a lot of different cultures, meet lots of different kinds of people, different backgrounds, different ages.”
Tim Tebow is the first homeschool graduate to be awarded the Heisman Trophy for most outstanding player in collegiate football. Tim’s parents, Pam and Bob Tebow, have been called “homeschool pioneers” because they began homeschooling in 1982 before this form of education became popular. Teaching their children to honor God was the main reason for their decision to homeschool. “If I could get my kids to the age of 25 and they know God and serve God and had character qualities that pleased God, then I knew God would be happy and I would be happy,” explained Bob Tebow. “The only way I could do that was to do it myself, commit to God that this is my job,” the senior Tebow continued. “Traditional academics had to take a back seat to God’s Word and character building.” In addition to family values and character training, the Tebows focused on each child’s individual learning styles, interests, and goals. All five of the Tebow children went on to receive college scholarships. In addition to the Heisman Trophy, Tim earned the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top football player twice. He also won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback, and the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete in any sport.
Zac Sunderland, born to a family of yachtsmen and shipwrights, has been sailing since an early age – a sailboat was literally his first home. This 17-year-old from Southern California, the eldest of seven children, recently made history by being the first person under 18 to sail around the world alone – a remarkable journey that took slightly over a year. Zac was inspired by the story of Robin Lee Graham, who at 16 years of age departed on his own solo global circumnavigation in 1965, but Graham did not finish his voyage until the age of 21. Graham was unschooled at sea for many of his teen years. Zac, a homeschooled straight-A student, brought books along to study on board so that he could finish his high school education during the 40,000-mile journey: “I have all my books with me. I have one more year to finish at high school and I have to send back my tests (via e-mail) to my mum. She’s going to grade them and make sure I am doing well.” Zac’s solo circumnavigation may be just the beginning of many more adventures to come, as he is already planning on climbing Mount Everest. In the meantime, Zac also hopes to write a book and put together a documentary using video footage of his voyage.
Akiane Kramarik is a homeschooled teen and art prodigy. Self-taught in painting, Kramarik has seen her artwork exhibited in museums around the world since she was 10. From an early age, Akiane showed a high degree of technical skill in the making of her strikingly realistic paintings. They appear to have been made by the steady hand and experienced eye of a much older, professional artist. It was this fine quality of her art that led her to be labeled as a child prodigy. She is a member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, and was selected as one of the twenty most accomplished visual artists in the world. Akiane gives a substantial portion of her sales to various charities.
Olivia Bennett is a 19-year-old nationally recognized art prodigy who found her unique visual gift after being diagnosed with leukemia at age 5. Her colorful floral and wildlife paintings have been compared with such masters as Georgia O’Keeffe and Claude Monet. Olivia was homeschooled through high school in a K-12 program offered by Texas Tech University. This allowed Olivia to concentrate on her art career, which is what she really wanted to do. She could “just drop everything and paint” whenever she was in the mood. Homeschooling also gave her freedom to travel. As a cancer survivor, Olivia is dedicated to helping others who are suffering hardships whether it’s from illness, hunger, or poverty. In 2003, Olivia was named “One of Twenty Teens Who Will Change the World” by Teen People Magazine.
In addition, we featured two famous homeschooled teens from history:
Joan of Arc – Only 17 years old when she was put in command of the French army, Joan of Arc is the youngest person to ever command a national military force – a feat that is all the more remarkable considering she was a girl.
John Quincy Adams – Homeschooled by his gifted mother and tutored by his distinguished father at the time of the American Revolution, this teen was already an experienced foreign diplomat at age 19.
Now it’s Your Turn!
This year we want to include more profiles of HST subscribers – so that means we need to hear from YOU!
If you are involved with an amazing project, have a special interest that you’re passionate about, possess a unique skill, talent or ability, or have accomplished something positive and extraordinary for a person your age or in your situation – be sure to tell us about it and we will feature you in our magazine!