Barry Atwell is a chaplain with Truckstop Ministries Inc and the assistant district leader with them. Additionally, he is the volunteer mentor of the K.I.D.S. Inc and Marion County 4-H STEM club. Over the years, evangelism has become a natural part of Barry’s everyday life. In addition to sharing the gospel with people he meets in the market place, Barry spends time on the streets proclaiming the gospel through open air preaching, sketchboard evangelism, one on one conversations, as well as proclaiming the gospel through social media. God has not only given him the passion to share the gospel to but also the calling to equip others to do so as well.
Barry is married and has two teenage children who are home schooled. He overcame dyslexia and learned to speed read. Prior to being a full time chaplain, he worked in the financial services industry. God called him away from that to a life dedicated full time to the gospel.
Our Tech-Help Guy!
Elianah Atwell – Teen Instructor
Elianah Atwell is 15 and beginning her 10th grade year in the fall of 2019. She is a self-confessed bookworm, Bible lover, chicken wrangler, horse enthusiast and in 4-H Dog club. Elianah is passionate about learning how God’s truth can work in our real life as well as helping Christian girls find true friendship by supporting and encouraging each other to be the best they can be in Jesus.
Sherri Atwell – Instructor
Sherri Atwell has a degree in Elementary/Middle School Ed and Learning Disabilities. While in college she was introduced to homeschooling by her pastor and his wife. As she worked on her degree she became increasingly dissatisfied with what she saw going on in the public schools and she knew if God blessed her with children, she wanted to homeschool. When she graduated she spent the next two life changing years as a missionary in Albania at a pivotal time in their history: only a few years after communism fell. When she returned home she moved to Indianapolis where she met the love of her life and spent the next five years in youth ministry. She and her husband Barry married in 1999 and began their adventure in homeschooling when their son was born in 2000 followed by their daughter in 2004. They are still actively involved in ministry through her husband’s position as a Chaplain for Truck Stop Ministries and their inner city church with incredible outreach programs for all ages. She loves to read, learn new things and re-learn the old which is one of the best parts of homeschooling.
Alane Abbett – Instructor
Hi! I am so excited to be able to teach my favorite subject through EOA. I discovered my love of history while in college at Northwestern University. I walked into a world history class during my freshman year and discovered that the study of history was fascinating and included much more than memorization of random facts, dates, and people. I discovered that the study of history was relevant to my world and helped to explain patterns in culture, countries and my community. I graduated with a degree in history and went on to pursue a Masters degree in speech-langauge pathology, which was my career until I “retired” to homeschool my three sons: Ben (20), Luke (16), and Levi (13).
As a home educator, I have had the honor to teach not only my own children but in small co-ops as well as in Classical Conversations Challenge level programs in my community. I have a strong affinity for the classical model of home education, but we have certainly included an eclectic mix of other learning models over the 17+ years of home education. I love to learn along with my students. As a matter of fact, I tend to call myself the “Lead Learner” rather than teacher. I love to help my students make connections in class through Socratic dialogue and conversations.
When not homeschooling, I teach English online to Chinese students, ages 4-14 and keep my two teens hollow legs filled. I love to read historical fiction as well as historical non-fiction books, take naps, travel, and find excuses for not exercising.
Blossom Barden – Instructor
Blossom Barden is a wife of 20+ years with two kids. She currently lives with her family in Ohio (and loves it). Their oldest graduated from homeschool in 2015 (and community college 2017); their youngest graduated this May (2017). They’ve been homeschoolers since 2009 (upper elementary through high school) using AmblesideOnline’s free homeschool curriculum.
Blossom holds a BA in Anthropology/Sociology and History, a M. Ed. in Teaching and Learning, Leadership and an educator certificate from ACSI. Her dream is to someday open a brick-and-mortar school in Ohio- in God’s time. She aligns her teaching to a relational education philosophy, (or as she once heard: moral constructivism), aka Charlotte Mason. Most of her degree work for both undergraduate and graduate was done online so she is familiar with how it works. However, she is thrilled that EOA includes the very important aspect of LIVE classes, with required visual interaction.
Johnna Buntin – Instructor
Johnna is currently homeschooling her youngest child, after graduating two (much) older children from public school.
Johnna’s major in college was Elementary Education. During college she taught part time in a residential treatment center for troubled and orphaned children.
Her professional background is in Human Resources and Financial Institutions.
Born and raised in North Central Texas, she still can not claim a love for the heat so December through February is her favorite time of year.
Volunteering is dear to her heart, therefore she tries to plug in wherever she and her daughter can throughout their community.
Her passion is traveling! She will take weekend trips or weeks long trips. Either way brings much pleasure.
Hobbies include crafting, geocaching and making her families health and beauty aids.
She and her daughter currently make and sell snacks at their local Farmers Market.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Ana Carmona – Instructor
Ana is a native Spaniard who graduated from English (Licenciatura en Filología Inglesa) from Universidad de La Laguna and obtained her National Teaching Certification (Certificado de Aptitud Pedagógica) from Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Since she was a little girl, she dreamed about becoming a teacher, and God has granted her that dream in ways she had never imagined. She has been a tutor, a language guide, and a classroom teacher; she has taught children of all ages and adults; she has taught in person and virtually; she has volunteered for Christian schools and at church; most rewarding of all, she is home schooling her four wonderful children. Her husband, also from Spain and with the same educational accomplishments, is a public school teacher.
John Ciesielski – Instructor
John Ciesielski is a husband and father of five. John has a life long passion for gardening and plants, as well as a degree in Ornamental Horticulture from the University of Connecticut. After finishing his degree, he interned at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts. He has worked as a private estate gardener in CT for the past 15 years. His hobbies include gardening, growing giant pumpkins, fishing, and basketball.
David Cooke – Instructor
David Cooke is a history major in his fourth year of college, and an aspiring history teacher. He enjoys writing & theological discussion as well as, of course, history! He is 21 years old and lives in the eastern part of Long Island, New York State.
Heidi Dages – Teen Instructor
My name is Heidi Dages and I am a fourteen year old, I love books, Narnia, writing, and everything guinea pig related! I own 3 beautiful guinea pigs and 4 rabbits. I live in central PA.
Olivia Dages – Teen Instructor
Olivia Dages is a seventeen-year-old girl with a love for sign language. She has studied American Sign Language for over six years. She also enjoys reading, acting and spending time with her animals.
Miranda Harris – Instructor
I am a homeschool mom to 3 wonderful children, and wife to my loving husband. We have been homeschooling for 13 years. I am also a certified life coach and counselor, and taught Sunday school at my church. I have taught various co-op classes over the years, open and run my own school for homeschoolers, and worked for our state homeschool organization. I am a children’s book author and animal lover. I look forward to meeting many new friends and families.
Kara Holloway – Instructor
Kara and her husband Court are on staff at their church. They have 4 children, who are 5,7,10 and 11. Her education philosophy can best be summed up as: read good books, and then read some more.
Cobey Ledford – Instructor
Cobey is a senior homeschooler who lives in North Carolina. Cobey has invested his time and talent in the community through 4-H and Trail Life. In recognizing his efforts, he recently earned the gold Congressional Award. Cobey’s deep interest in politics is seen through working on campaigns, paging for NC House and Senate and on a debate team. Cobey participates in two different shooting sports teams one of which he is the president of. He also attended the Free Enterprise Challenge at Wingate University and as CEO won the challenge for his company. Some of Cobey’s other hobbies include History, Water Skiing, Water Tubing, Travel, Snow Skiing, and Investing.
Lily Palfrey – Teen Instructor
My name is Lily Palfrey. I am 16 years old and starting my junior year. I am a very active teenager. This summer I participated in the Wildlife Habitat Education Program (WHEP) where I won 1st place in the state. Then traveled to the WHEP nationals in Kansas. I completed Wildlife Leadership Academy (WLA) “Bucktails” and learned all about whitetail deer. Because I have completed WLA I am now a Wildlife Conservation Ambassador. I was a junior instructor at the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Camp Cadet in Indiana County and attended the PSP Commissioner’s Honor Camp at the PSP academy in Hershey. I am a 2nd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do. I enjoy 4H, reading, animals, fishing, and meeting new friends. I am really looking forward to exploring nature and sharing my knowledge with everyone!
Mary Frances Pickett – Instructor
Mary Frances Pickett is a homeschooling mom of four children. She and her husband John (and the kids, of course) currently reside in Saint Louis, Missouri. All of the children have been homeschooled since kindergarten, primarily using the Ambleside Online curriculum. Mary Frances has also taught at co-ops with children from a variety of homeschooling backgrounds.
Mary Frances earned a BS in Business Administration from Samford University and a Masters of Taxation from the University of Alabama. She worked as a CPA for seven years before God called her to leave that profession to open Gluten Free Cooking School, an online cooking school for gluten free home cooks. She continues to pursue a career as a business woman while keeping a home and mentoring her children.
Grace Rutherford – Teen Instructor
Grace Rutherford is a thirteen-year-old girl who loves theater, reading, and running. She aspires to work in the Coast Guard and pursue and law enforcement career for the future. Grace also loves sports. She runs cross country, wrestles, and plays competitive judo (a martial art). This year she took 2nd in the country at the U.S. Open International Judo Tournament. When it comes to academics, Grace is all in! Her favorite subjects are English, Biology, and Algebra. Grace also enjoys playing chess, singing, and growing in her faith.
Elijah McKay – Teen InstructorElijah McKay is 15 and lives in Boyce, VA. He is a chess enthusiast and semi-regular tournament player with a United States Chess Federation rating of around 1200.
Nick Rutherford – Teen Instructor
My name is Nick Rutherford and I’m 17 years old. I like to do long-distance running, judo, wrestling, and hiking, and am involved in the Sea Cadets and Boy Scouts. This is my final year of high-school, and along with learning alongside my students I’ll be studying Law, Literature, Calculus, USA History, Psychology, and Environmental Science. My sights are currently set on being a lawyer, and so I’ve participated in relevant programs including TeenPact, iGovern, and various workshops and classes. I’m excited about what the future will bring, and am dedicated to using all it bestows to its full potential.
Elijah McKay – Teen InstructorElijah McKay is 15 and lives in Boyce, VA. He is a chess enthusiast and semi-regular tournament player with a United States Chess Federation rating of around 1200.
Lani Siciliano – Instructor
Lani is the mother of six children, homeschooling five still at home. The oldest graduated their homeschool in 2017 and is serving our country as a Paratrooper in the US Army . This will be her third year teaching with EOA. Lani is a member of the Auxiliary Board of AmblesideOnline, a free homeschool curriculum that uses Charlotte Mason’s classically-based principles to prepare children for a life of rich relationships with everything around them: God, humanity, and the natural world. She started a support and activity group for local CM homeschoolers in her new home state of Tennessee as well. Additionally she has served as a member of the board of the Connecticut Homeschool Network. She holds a BA in Sociology and an MS in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Rhode Island. Lani has worked in non profit administration in fundraising, grant writing, and event planning including conference planning and execution. She also have a background in higher education administration, career counselling and placement. She served as Director of Vacation Bible School with the Monroe Congregational Church for many years; a Cub Scout Den Leader; La Leche League Leader; Girl Scout volunteer; youth hockey team manager; and many other community roles.
Alice Silva – Teen InstructorAlice Silva is a 16-year-old Junior who lives everywhere. She currently lives just outside New York City, but she goes wherever The Lord sends her to. She has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her short story, Luci, won a Scholastic Art & Writing Award in March of 2017, and has participated in multiple exclusive writing programs in universities such as NYU and University of Iowa. Alice loves dedicating herself to learning and having new experiences and hopes to one day have a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Columbia University.
Through many people and ways, God has shown her that her talent and desire for writing was given by Him to inspire the world with the hope that is in him, and she will always dedicate her words to her Creator.
She currently plays the cello and avoids bookstores to not be tempted to buy all the books. As she also knows she still has much learn, she is excited to be able to give the knowledge of writing that she already has to others. “I don’t know what I’m more excited for: teaching or learning with my students!” ~Alice
Sarah Smith – Instructor
Sarah Smith is a 2nd generation homeschooler who fully understands the pain of being in trouble for reading too much. Now homeschooling her own 5 children, she also understands the frustration of trying to get the attention of someone who is absorbed in a book. Within her local co-op she has taught classes on Shakespeare, fine art, poetry and music appreciation; she looks forward to sharing these passions with the Empowered Academy community. An avid admirer of Charlotte Mason, she homeschools using the Ambleside Online curriculum and continues to pursue her own education as she teaches her children. Firmly believing that Shakespeare, martial arts and a well-stocked yarn collection can improve any home, she is grateful to God for placing her into a life where printed words are widely available.
Alicia Thorson – EOA Founder, Instructor
Alicia is the Principal, Founder, & Chief Encourager here at EOA. She has taught Spanish for K-6th graders, assistant taught several grades (in brick & mortar school), & graduated Summa Cum Laude from UMASS. With a degree in English, Alicia is a lover of words, writing, poetry, and grammar. She even won the spelling bee in fifth grade.
The Lord’s plan to open Empowered Online Academy was a complete shock to Alicia, but she could not be more excited to come alongside Him, & offer a unique, God-honoring, & refreshing approach to homeschooling. She has always believed in children, & their abilities. EOA celebrates their gifts & talents!
Jack Thorson – Kid Instructor, EOA Kid Instructor Trainer
Jack is a spunky, inquisitive, creative, & energetic 8th grader–currently our teacher here at EOA. His dream is to follow in his daddy’s footsteps, & go to MIT. He is super excited to be teaching a Minecraft class with his big brother, this coming fall!
Joshua Thorson – Teen Instructor, EOA Webmaster
Joshua is EOA’s “WebMaster”. He has most definitely followed in his daddy’s footsteps, with an engineering brain and love for all things nerdy… Legos, building things out of wood, Minecraft, D & D, & rocketry. He will be teaching a Minecraft history class this fall! You should go check out the official poster he made that totally isn’t stolen from a different movie!
Subscribe to my YT channel!
Talia Thorson – Teen Instructor, Trainer, Tribe Leader, EOA Co-Founder
Talia Thorson has a huge passion for teaching and loves bringing spunk and energy to her classes! Talia is a Special Effects Makeup artist and graduated from Cinema Makeup School’s Bootcamp in Hollywood. She hopes to spread her love for learning to all of her students.
Check out all of Talia’s classes and join the Tribe today!
Tatum Thorson – Teen Instructor, Chief EOA Artist, EOA Co-Founder
Tatum Thorson has an impressive record of teaching incredible classes for EOA. This year she leaves us to pursue her dreams of becoming a Disney animator. Prayers and best wishes for you, Tatum, as you attend the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design. GO, SCAD BEES!
Lynda Wiebe – InstructorLynda Wiebe lives to learn. The more she learns the more she falls in love with our great Creator. Her favorite ministries are Answers in Genesis & Lamplighter Ministries. She is the the wife of farmer/rancher Tim Wiebe for 20 years. Together they have 5 children (15 year old twins Dusty & Colton, 13 year old LukaBella, 10 year old Lacianna, & 8 year old Ty Rody) They love the big Texas sky especially at night.She loves all things Charlotte Mason. She has homeschooled their children since birth with the greatest emphasis being on life lessons. “We learn what we live & we live what we believe”.
She is passionate about teaching Children’s Church and about teaching the children the Bible starting with the book of Genesis. The prophetess Hulda from the book of 2 Kings gives her the courage she needs to keep studying and keep teaching. Her favorite way to study is through travel. She has been blessed to travel extensively throughout the continental US, Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Italy & Israel. Greece being next on her bucket list.“Our belief defines our behavior”
(Ham, Ken. & Beemer, Brett. Already Gone. Master Books 2009)
LukaBella Wiebe – Teen Instructor
LukaBella Wiebe is Texas born & raised. She loves growing up on a homestead surrounded by chickens, cows, horses, their dog “Cooper” and her cat named “Silk”. She loves watching the deer & wild antelope that roam the grasslands around her. She is 13 years old and has been homeschooled since birth. She loves Jesus and seeks to honor Him. She is a lover of books, ballet, baking and sewing. Her favorite time periods are the victorian & colonial eras. She has taken multiple online classes herself and is excited to now apply the things she has learned by teaching an online class for EOA.
EOA Course(s): Little House on the Prairie