About my relationship to HECOA
I was the original creator and director of HECOA (Home Education Council of America), however I have not had any interaction with HECOA since late 2017.
Below is the summary of why I sold HECOA in 2017 and what happened after that (feel free to contact me, I would love to hear from you!)
HECOA (Home Education Council of America) was a labor of love which I began building in 2003, and it was intended to be an authority on homeschooling in a time where the lines were beginning to gray with charter schools coming into the mix of home education. I had a strong vision for parents to gain confidence and to know what is possible if they truly let go of conventional education. They just needed the steps on "how" to "do" unconventional education with accountability for peace of mind.
Thousands of homeschool parents turned to HECOA for training, support, clarity, and mentoring over the years. While a few other homeschool sites were offering pre-recorded online conferences, HECOA was the only organization for some time which offered LIVE online conferences so you could interact and ask questions in real time. HECOA was also well-known for the amazing field trips (Disneyland, Tall Ships, Yellowstone and other national parks, etc.)
In 2016, I began having symptoms of a serious illness that was affecting my ability to think and speak, making it more and more difficult to run the conferences. Due to immense pain and weakness, I cancelled all upcoming field trips. Doctors kept telling me I had the flu, but in early 2017 I was diagnosed by a holistic practitioner with Lyme disease and began intense treatments which only made me more exhausted and weak. My husband pleaded with me to sell HECOA and promised to take care of me financially if I would just let it go.
After interviewing several potential people to step into the role of director for HECOA, Jen seemed to resonate the most with the core principles and vision. She was a vibrant, young homeschool mom who was enthusiastic about field trips and had demonstrated the talent to take the collection of over 500 video trainings on the site and edit them into something more dynamic.
Jen was introduced as the new director and hosted the 2017 Not Back to School Summit while I helped her in the background for that one event. We spent many hours on Zoom calls as I trained her on the systems and methods, as well as advising her on the importance of staying connected with the subscribers.
She received a huge archive of videos, training materials, downloadable files, and a website which contained resources not found anywhere else. Jen was equipped with all the tools she needed to take HECOA to soaring heights, with no money out of pocket. I simply handed a thriving, profitable, rapidly growing business to her. That said, I explained to Jen that the real value of HECOA isn’t in the “stuff”, it’s in the connections available to the subscribers. She was handed social media accounts with an audience which was paying attention and interacting regularly. I advised her to nurture the subscribers and never let them go more than a week without hearing from HECOA, as people relied on the mentoring tips and encouragement to get them through the challenges of homeschooling.
It is always emotional to hand your business over to another person, but I truly believed Jen would follow through on the things she said she wanted to do and that the subscribers were in good hands. It didn’t take long before I saw there were months at a time where no communication was sent to the subscribers at all. The NBTS Summit was eventually moved out of September and into the summer, detracting from the original intent and overall message of NOT back to school. As people were contacting me and asking what was going on, I could only reassure them to be patient as Jen works to make HECOA her own. My primary focus was my health and the promise from my husband that he would care for me after I sold HECOA.
In mid-2018, I received a different diagnosis from a medical doctor whereby I was told that I never had Lyme disease at all and the harsh treatments for Lyme only allowed the actual issue to manifest into a full blown autoimmune disease. Bloodwork confirmed I had active Epstein-Barr. At the time, the doctor said he was not allowed by insurance to treat EBV (that has since changed but there are insurance regulations), but he had every confidence that now with the correct diagnosis I would be able to find relief from the pain and fatigue. He was right! In June 2018, my EBV number was 484 and by November 2018 it had dropped to 14. I felt amazing and, coincidentally, lost 45 pounds as I healed myself from a serious autoimmune disease!
However, in mid-November 2018, the unthinkable happened just as I was emerging from the illness. My husband of nearly 30 years received news of an inheritance and decided that he didn’t want to be a 55 year old married grandfather. He stated, “I want to be 25 and redo my life and this is my opportunity to do it!” So, out the door he went and I was left penniless with a whole bunch of nasty legal issues that continued to get worse as he became more and more cruel, in motion after motion after motion. It became a full time endeavor just to respond to all the phony motions he kept filing for the sake of running me out of resources. In late 2019, after a devastating legal mistake, I learned that I contracted EBV through the iniquities of that man. I sought and fought through several years of mental health therapy to heal and move forward from 3 decades of deception. Homeschooling and what was happening at HECOA was the last thing on my mind.
The contract that Jen and I agreed upon granted her full license to market and re-purpose everything that was on the HECOA site, however, I retained legal rights to reproduce the 7 areas of my personal intellectual expertise. I would have had to re-film or re-write, but it was clearly stated that the 7 areas would not be considered competition, but intellectual rights. Those 7 areas were listed on the contract (Homeschooling High School and Beyond; Skipping Middle School; The Ultimate Homeschool Workshop; Teaching Mastery series; Group Leader Training series; Pre-Algebra Mastery Series; and Teaching History using Family Genealogy). The contract included a standard 2-year non-compete agreement where I could not be in any type of business that would be considered competition for 2 years, but those 7 areas were specifically excluded from the non-compete clause. I was so ill when I gave everything over in 2017 that I had not intended on returning or reproducing anything. And of course, my ex-husband ensured that I was quite busy for the next four years! But the protections were there for both Jen and myself.
Four years after Jen took over HECOA, I was facing massive financial issues from the divorce proceedings and needed an income fast. Several speakers who had become close confidants over the years advised me to just do what I know, to release something for homeschooling from one of my 7 areas. I was hesitant, concerned about what people would think after watching HECOA dwindle away. Would they connect me to that? Nonetheless, The Simple Scholar (TSS) launched in late August of 2021 with the Ultimate Homeschool Workshop 3-day event. Again, this was four years after selling HECOA, two years past the non-compete clause. There was nothing that I could do to save HECOA but I am disappointed in how it dissolved without any concern for the subscribers.
We all face trials in our individual families and we try not to let it affect our life purpose but sometimes it just does. While we can never predict what life will throw at us, I’m completely healed from the EBV, and confident that it won’t ever be able to overtake my immune system again. I’ve come a long way in understanding the immune system and the ineffective methods versus effective methods to rebuild and strengthen from within. Someday, I will start a website or write a book telling all about how I healed EBV. But rebuilding within is not solely the physical, it involves the mental and emotional as well. Now, I’m healthier and happier than I have been in decades. What a journey!! God is good and I am grateful to be free from all of the things that weren’t necessary to mention in this letter.
I am grateful to those who advised me to step back into the homeschooling community – it has been an exciting two years and I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the people I love and admire – homeschoolers!!
The Premium membership at TSS includes those components of amazing training that I gave at HECOA in my 7 areas of expertise, but it’s updated with new information in an easier to follow, course format. Some things are handled more efficiently than before. For example, rather than doing one-on-one transcript reviews, the Premium membership meets as a group on the first Tuesday of every month and I prepare transcripts in that meeting followed by mentoring and advisory reviews. This strengthens the members as they support each other face to face. The Skipping Middle School material is now called Ditching Grade Levels, and segues perfectly into the all-new Teaching Mastery series which is getting fabulous reviews. There are several other signature programs which have been completely revamped and updated as well. And I’ve released some e-books for people who just want the nitty gritty without the ongoing mentoring and training that comes with the membership.
As far as live events, we have been conducting a monthly workshop with featured speakers this year, which has been wonderful. We had the Great Education Shake-Up conference in late September 2022, and will do it again this year as I try to bring back all your favorite speakers!!
Hope to see you over at The Simple Scholar!