The Best of Homeschooling Teen

Homeschooling Teen magazine was invited by the Homeschoolers of Wyoming to send them some bag inserts for the HOW convention on May 13th and 14th, 2011. We were happy to oblige and compiled a special handout featuring the best of our Homeschooling Teen profiles from over the years. This month we will also share those profiles with you!

Homeschoolers are an extremely diverse group of individuals. They grow up to be artists, athletes, musicians, scientists, professors, writers, politicians… whatever their dream or passion. Given the freedom to fully develop their skills and talents, homeschooled teens and young adults can really make a difference!

Tim Tebow, former All-American and Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida, led the Gators to national championships in 2007 and 2009. Tim was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2010. Tim was born in the Philippines where his parents were Christian missionaries, but he spent most of his childhood in Florida where he was homeschooled along with his siblings. A Florida law allowing homeschoolers to play on public school sports teams enabled Tebow to play football in high school. He led his team to the state championship and was twice named Player of the Year. Asked how he felt about being the first homeschooler to win the Heisman Trophy, Tim replied, “That’s really cool. A lot of times people have this stereotype of homeschoolers as not very athletic – it’s like, go win a spelling bee or something like that – it’s an honor for me to be the first one to do that.”

Christopher Paolini of Paradise Valley, Montana, was 15 years old when he began writing Eragon. The book became a best-seller and was even made into a movie. “Everything I did was only possible because my parents were dedicated and loving enough to homeschool my sister and me,” Paolini said. “My mother took the time to instruct us every day. Aside from textbook lessons, she had us perform many exercises designed to stimulate our creativity.” Paolini was able to pursue his passions and develop his talents to a higher level than is possible in an ordinary school setting, and he wasn’t afraid to tackle projects by educating himself. He also learned that a little hard work and persistence pays off.

Alex and Brett Harris are home-schooled twin brothers who co-authored a book, gained widespread media attention, and inspired young people across the country to “Do Hard Things” while still in their teens. Alex and Brett began a blog in August 2005 as “a teenage rebellion against low expectations.” By the following year it had expanded to become a website, Besides serving as the main speakers for The Rebelution Tour conferences, Alex and Brett are frequent contributors to Focus on the Family’s Boundless webzine as well as in publications like WORLD magazine, Breakaway, and Ignite Your Faith.

Akiane Kramarik has seen her artwork exhibited in museums around the world since she was ten. The homeschooler taught herself to draw at age four, began painting at age six, and started writing poetry when she was seven. She also speaks four languages: Lithuanian, Russian, English, and sign language. From an early age, Akiane showed a high degree of technical skill in making 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. According to Kramerik, God taught her how to paint and write, and has been appearing and speaking to her in dreams and visions since she was three. Akiane’s mom, a Lithuanian immigrant, was an atheist and her American father was a non-practicing Catholic. They, along with Akiane’s four brothers, are now devout Christians as a result of her influence. Kramarik’s paintings have sold for as much as $1,000,000, making her one of the world’s wealthiest teens. Akiane gives a substantial portion of her sales to charity.

BarlowGirl is a popular contemporary Christian group made up of three talented sisters – Alyssa, Rebecca, and Lauren. The girls were raised in a highly musical environment since their dad was a worship music leader at Willow Creek, an Evangelical Christian megachurch. Their own music is a refreshing blend of melodic voices and positive messages. The sisters pattern their lifestyle around Romans 12:2. Parents Vince and MaryAnn Barlow stated, “We decided early on when we homeschooled the children that it’s about character, not knowledge, and so that’s what we tried to instill in them.”

The Jonas Brothers – Kevin, Joe and Nick – are a rock ‘n’ roll band known for their wholesome image. The homeschooled brothers are committed Evangelical Christians who wear purity rings and abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Their father is an ordained minister and co-founder of Christ for the Nations Music ministry. Despite their background, the Jonas Brothers decided not to play Contemporary Christian music so they could reach a wider audience. The Jonas Brothers are aware of the positive influence they can have on millions of kids, and it’s a responsibility they take seriously. “We want to be a Christian influence in the pop music world,” said Nick. “It’s definitely a mission field.” The Jonas Brothers donate 10% of earnings to their non-profit Change for the Children Foundation. After Nick was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 13, he teamed up with Bayer Diabetes Care as a diabetes ambassador for young people.

The 5 Browns – Ryan, Melody, Greg, Deondra and Desirae – 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 many teens think classical music is “old and boring,” The 5 Browns consider it to be current and relevant. These piano virtuosos are adept at performing individually or together in various combinations from duets to complex five-piano arrangements. The homeschooled siblings became the first family of five ever accepted simultaneously to the Juilliard School of Music.

Erik Demaine joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he was only 20 years old, becoming the youngest professor ever at MIT. Erik had an unconventional educational back-ground of homeschooling on the road followed by entering college at an early age. Demaine was raised by his father, a goldsmith and glassblower whose only degree was from high school. Together, father and son traveled to art shows in the U.S. and Canada where they sold crafts to support their journey. Erik’s father instructed him for as little as an hour each day from a homeschool manual, leaving Erik free to pursue his own interests and spend time reading in local libraries. Erik started college at 12 years of age and finished his bachelor’s degree two years later at age 14. A mathematical and computational genius, Demaine was named “one of the most brilliant scientists in America” by Popular Science. Demaine is the leading theoretician of “origami mathematics,” which uses paper origami models to demonstrate mathematical concepts and apply them to disciplines like architecture, robotics, and molecular biology. In 2008, Erik collaborated with his father on an artistic collection of mathematical origami displayed at the Museum of Modern Art.

Zac Sunderland set off on a quest at age 16, not only to see the world and to have the adventure of a lifetime, but also to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. A homeschooled straight-A student, Zac brought his books to study on board so he could finish his high school education during the 40,000-mile journey. Thirteen months later he returned, the first person under 18 to sail all the way around the globe. Soon after, his 16-year-old sister Abby attempted to be the youngest female circumnavigator. She took her books along, too. Although Abby’s trip ended abruptly when her boat was dismasted in a storm, she became the youngest person to sail around Cape Horn. Zac and Abby grew up in a sea-faring family and spent their whole lives around boats. A 56-ft. sailboat was their first home, and they also lived aboard a sailboat during a three-year family cruise.

Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) is a young Latina Congresswoman listed by TIME Magazine as one of 40 “rising stars of American politics” under age 40. Jaime was homeschooled through ninth grade. “My parents taught me God first, family second, and service to community a close third,” Jaime said. In 2001, she performed 2000 hours of community service at Ground Zero in New York. As a college student, Jaime had the opportunity to intern in the Washington State Senate as well as in D.C. After graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in political science and communications, Jaime was hired as Senior Legislative Aide for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. By age 29, Jaime was serving in the Washington State Legislature. Elected to the 112th Congress, Jaime is the first homeschooled member of US Congress in recent history.

Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011, is a mostly homeschooled Christian who lifted her eyes and hands heavenward when she was announced the winner. The pageant judges were awed by Teresa’s confidence, saying she was quite poised for a 17-year-old. Homeschooled until her junior year in high school, she then graduated early by taking a double load of classes. Teresa plans to attend Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. Although she has to defer enrollment until after her reign is over, Teresa will be able to utilize the $50,000 Miss America scholarship to pay for her college education. Scanlan wants to study American government and eventually pursue a career in law and politics. Her platform as Miss America is “Eating Disorders: a Generation at Risk.”

Lila Rose, President of Live Action, has been rallying pro-life activists and rattling abortion industry advocates since 2004. Homeschooled through the end of high school while attending a Christian school and a junior college part-time, Rose was just 15 years old when she started Live Action. After enrolling in UCLA, she founded a pro-life student magazine, The Advocate, now distributed nationwide. Rose’s undercover campaigns at Planned Parenthood centers across the country have exposed staff members repeatedly breaking laws, covering up abuse, and giving inaccurate medical information.

Bethany Hamilton, an avid surfer since age 8, started homeschooling after sixth grade so she could devote more time to the sport. One day she was attacked by a tiger shark off the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii, which resulted in the loss of her left arm. Less than a month later, the 13-year-old returned to surfing with an unbelievably positive attitude. Overcoming all odds, Bethany went on to win several professional championships. The story of her tragedy and determination to rise above adversity has inspired millions worldwide. Hamilton launched her own foundation, Friends of Bethany, to support shark attack survivors and traumatic amputees. She is also involved in other charities as well as Christian organizations committed to sharing the gospel with the surfing community. Her autobiography, Soul Surfer, is now a major motion picture.

To view our complete collection of Homeschooling Teen profiles, click here.

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