2019 South Conference Speakers

“Charting & Staying the Course”

Keynote Speaker: 
Fr. John Whiteford (ROCOR)

Fr. John Whiteford has been the pastor of St. Jonah Orthodox Church (ROCOR) in Spring, Texas since 2001. He and his wife, Matushka Patricia homeschooled their two daughters. He is the author of Sola Scriptura: An Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology, published by Conciliar Press, and the general editor of the St. Innocent Liturgical Calendar. He is the president of the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas, and the Dean of Texas and Louisiana for the ROCOR Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America.

  Fr. John Whiteford

Fr. John Whiteford

First Lecture: "Why Bother with Home Schooling?"

Second Lecture: "Damn the Torpedos, Full Speed Ahead!"


  Preoteasa Dorothea Anitei

Preoteasa Dorothea Anitei

Preoteasa Dorothea Anitei is the preoteasa at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Orthodox Christian Church in Houston, Texas, and a homeschooling mother of seven children, ages 3 to 19. As a seventh-generation Texian, she converted to Orthodoxy as a teenager and attended St. George Orthodox Church in Houston before moving to Alaska. After a few years in the frozen wilderness of Alaska, she was blessed to marry a Romanian who was raised in the Faith in a Moldavian village; her first two children were born in Homer before the family decided to return to the Promised Land of Texas.

Her 19-year-old daughter is the assistant choir director at church and a music teacher for over 20 students. Dorothea’s other children still learn at home; her 14-year-old son is the first to attend conventional schooling, which he began this fall. At meet-the-teacher day, the new high-schooler informed his biology teacher that not only was he excited to dissect animals, but that he could butcher and process a goat in under 30 minutes. Most days allow an opportunity for the Preoteasa to practice humility. Although her family says grace over a meal of squirrel more often than they do over a meal of rabbit, they typically thank God for the goat leg of which they are about to partake.

Preoteasa has not learned much in her 20 years of parenting, but she has not given up trying.  She still goes out to her 25 meat goats at the family ranch and strives to model their benign attitude toward what the day presents. 

  Matt Bianco

Matt Bianco

Matt Bianco is the director of The Lost Tools of Writing for the CiRCE Institute, where he also serves as a mentor in the CiRCE apprenticeship program. A homeschooling father of three, he graduated his oldest two sons, the eldest of whom is attending St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. His second child is attending Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte, NC, along with his youngest (and only daughter). He is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patty. He is the author of Letters to My Sons: A Humane Vision for Human Relationships.

  Fr. Noah Bushelli

Fr. Noah Bushelli

Father Noah Bushelli is grateful to be married to a living saint, Kh. Elizabeth, who homeschools their seven marvelous children.  After serving St. Nicholas in Bridgeport, CT for three years he moved to St. Philip in Souderton, PA in 2006. He is grateful to raise his family in this warm, generous, faithful and vibrant community and is working very hard to meet the demands of parish life as well as focus on "the one thing needful".  He spends his down time taking walks, reading theology, changing diapers, telling stories to his children, playing a little guitar. 

  Julie Dreher

Julie Dreher

Julie Dreher is Head of Grammar School and a fourth-grade teacher at Sequitur Classical Academy, a hybrid school in Baton Rouge. Before joining the faculty at Sequitur, she homeschooled her children for more than ten years, taught in co-op settings, and tutored individual students in grammar and writing. The Drehers are members of St. Matthew the Apostle Orthodox Church in Baton Rouge, where Julie sings in the choir and serves on the mission council.

  Christi Ghiz

Christi Ghiz

Christi Ghiz - While it may appear that Christi isn't poster child material for promoting homeschooling, she might just be an ideal candidate after all.  Kicking and screaming, Christi began homeschooling her son after her husband suggested that they give it a try.  She never imagined she would survive the first year, and never dreamed she would make it to her fifth year.  Daily, she wonders who's teaching who?  She taught her son multiplication in the third grade, but that same year he taught her forgiveness seventy times seven.  She continues to teach hurriedness and a strong work ethic, and her son works just as hard at teaching her to slow down and play hard.  In her short career as a homeschooling mom, she has made lots of mistakes, but she has also learned some really important secrets and she's willing to share it all. Join her for an honest, open discussion on Charting a Course: Homeschooling 101.

  Dr. Gary Hartenburg

Dr. Gary Hartenburg

Dr. Gary Hartenburg specializes in ancient philosophy and generalizes in other areas of philosophy, theology, and literature. His interest in ancient philosophy concerns the intersection of epistemology and metaphysics as well as the difference between knowledge and belief. When not reading works of and about the ancient philosophers, he enjoys reading poetry and novels, in particular the poetry of T. S. Eliot and the novels of Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. Dr. Hartenburg also enjoys teaching and thinking about business ethics, though he thinks that even that topic is best understood by reading through the ancient works on ethics.

He was born and raised in Ypsilanti, Michigan, moved to downtown Chicago for college, spent a year studying abroad in Glasgow, Scotland, sojourned for about twelve years in southern California, and now calls Texas home.

  Jennifer Hartenburg

Jennifer Hartenburg

Jennifer Hartenburg is a homeschooling mom, writer, and classroom teacher, and holds a bachelor of arts in English Literature and a master of arts in Education from Biola University where she remains a perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute. She began teaching literature and writing in 1997 and helped pilot an interactive online program for highschool students through Biola University beginning in 2000. She now offers summer writing camps in the Houston area, and she is an Accomplished Instructor with the Institute for Excellence in Writing. At her parish of St. Paul's Orthodox Church in Katy, TX, Jen loves being in the atrium with the children as they participate in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Her educational approach continues to be informed and refined by the living stream of Orthodox tradition, the classical liberal arts heritage, and the writings of folks such as Charlotte Mason, Jacques Maritain, and Sofia Cavalletti. When she's not teaching, Jen enjoys hiking, dancing, drinking tea, listening to the rain, and writing. Her poetry and creative non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in literary journals including Rattle: Poets RespondWeber—The Contemporary WestThe Saint Katherine Review, The Other Journal, Dappled Thingsand The Christian CenturyJen is continually rediscovering the power of word and world to startle and heal us with beauty

  Mary Kaufman

Mary Kaufman

Mary Kaufman is a homeschooling mother of three children, ages 7 to 14, two of whom have special medical needs.  Because her children see specialists in various parts of the country, she has become well-versed in solo cross-country travel with children and adept at homeschooling in odd places like waiting rooms and hotel lobbies.   When not on the road, in a hospital or standing in line at the pharmacy, she is busy cooking, cleaning, teaching, spending time with her husband, and writing science lesson plans for Memoria Press.   In her spare time (usually after the family is asleep), she steals away to her sewing room to piece quilts and make dresses while listening to Ancient Faith podcasts.   Mary and her family live in the Dallas area and attend St. Maximus the Confessor Orthodox church in Denton.  

 Elizabeth Lewis

Elizabeth Lewis

Elizabeth Lewis is the instructor of Middle School Science and Math and the Garden Director at The Saint Constantine School. In 2015 she graduated cum laude from University of Houston with a BS in Human Nutrition and Foods. She has over five years of experience with all ages of children as a nanny and a tutor. Elizabeth has always loved working with children, but discovered her passion for teaching as a Sunday school teacher. She is currently a Sunday school teacher at Saint Joseph’s Orthodox Church, where she assists in nurturing the relationship between Christ and the child. Elizabeth formerly served at Target Hunger through Americorps where she planted, grew, and distributed fresh produce to low-income communities in addition to recruiting and training garden volunteers.

  Benjamin Lyda

Benjamin Lyda

Benjamin Lyda is a master teacher with over 15 years experience in the classroom teaching a vast array of subjects including English composition, literature, history, debate, speech, gifted and talented, and special education to 6th-12th grade students. He holds a Master of Humanities degree from the University of Dallas. For the last four years Benjamin has devoted his spare time to building Homeschool Humanities, a support service to homeschool families providing enrichment courses in humanities and The Children's Shakespeare Academy. He was interning with Ambleside International in the spring of 2017 when he was invited to work at Ambleside School of Fredericksburg as the lead high school teacher. Founding Saint George School is the culmination of his life's work and a heart felt dream of a father for his children

  Hope Reynolds

Hope Reynolds

Hope Reynolds is the First Lady of the Saint Constantine School, and an Instructor in Instrumental Music. She has a bachelor’s degree in music from Wheaton College. She was the instrumental director at New Covenant Christian School for grades 4-12, where she directed the junior high band, the senior high band, and a select ensemble which performed in the community. While at New Covenant, Hope founded The Barbara Perkins Music Festival for Christian schools in the Rochester area. She then spent the next twenty years in Classical education and homeschooling her four children.

Hope enjoys spending time with family, working on crafts, cooking, reading biographies, playing the trumpet, and singing in the choir at St. Paul’s Orthodox Church. She loves to have tea with anyone who wants to talk about education, music, family, Jane Eyre, and Christianity.

  Dr. John Mark Reynolds

Dr. John Mark Reynolds

Dr. John Mark Reynolds John Mark N. Reynolds is President of The Saint Constantine School, a kindergarten through college program. He was provost at HBU and the founder of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University. He writes a daily column for Patheos and is the author or editor of several books and numerous articles. Reynolds is married to Hope and has four adult children. He is a member of Saint Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church where he serves on the parish council.

  Jennifer Sierra

Jennifer Sierra

Jennifer Sierra wasn't born in Texas but she got there as fast as she could.  She was born and raised in Arizona but relocated to Texas in 2005 with her husband and children.  Jennifer has been married to her husband Daniel for nearly 27 years.  In that time God has blessed them with 11 children, ages 7-25.   Daniel and Jennifer came into the Orthodox Church in 1997 with their 3 children at the time.  Jennifer started home schooling their children in the fall of 2001.  They didn't intend to educate their children at home but after coming into the Orthodox Church they decided it was very important for their children to be fully immersed in the Faith. Since then 5 of her children have graduated from high school while being home schooled.  Her oldest son has graduated from Texas A&M University, while his 2 sisters are still attending school there, one graduating Spring 2018 and the second in Fall 2018.  Two of her children are married and she has one grandson.  Jennifer and her family love to travel around the United States and abroad. 

  Dr. Mark Tarpley

Dr. Mark Tarpley

Dr. Mark Tarpley was born in Commerce, TX, a small, university town.  He grew up in a home of educators in which his dad was a university professor and his mom was an elementary school teacher.  During his college years, he met his wife, Sophia, and shortly after, they were received into the Orthodox Church together. Today, they have seven children, ages 5 – 17.

Mark earned his B.A. in Religious Studies from Southern Methodist University, and his M.Div. from St. Tikhon’s Theological Seminary.  His thesis at St. Tikhon’s was entitled, “Toward a Chaste Union: The Ascetic Ethos of Christian Marriage in the Patristic Tradition of the Orthodox Church.” Mark’s area of focus in his doctoral work, also at SMU, was centered on Patristics, family, and education.  His dissertation was entitled, “Between Martyrdom and Christendom: A Consideration of Family and Public Life in the Thought of St. Gregory the Theologian.”  

Recently, Mark contributed an article entitled “St. Gregory the Theologian, ‘the Stamp of God,’ and Raising Christian Children Today” in the book Glory and Honor: Orthodox Christian Resources on Marriage published by SVS Press.  Further, Mark started an Orthodox education site entitled LivingOrthodox.org that includes forthcoming publications.