Aaron Vanek is the Vice-President of The Game Academy, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to creating and utilizing role-playing games for education. He has participated in role-playing games and live action role playing (larp) for over 30 years. He is the former editor of Larp World Magazine, a co-creator of the Larp Census, and has designed interactive and game experiences for the Girl Scouts of America, the West Hollywood Book Fair, Sanrio, Inc., the UCLA Game Lab, the Paul Biane LIbrary in Rancho Cucamonga, and the San Diego Public Library, most recently an ARG for their First Folio Exhibition. He created 17 edu-larps for schools and consulted for Texas State University for their nursing simulation program. He currently teaches analog game design to middle school students at the private Kabbalah Children's Academy in Beverly Hills. He is a regular speaker at game and fan conventions such as San Diego Comic Con, Games for Change Festival, and many more. Visit Aaron online at www.thegameacademy.org.
Brian Mansfield is a father of a 5 year old and stepfather of a 23 year old (homeschooled since middle school) with a career in medical imaging. First introduced to roleplaying games with the original Dungeons and Dragons at the age of 8, Brian has been a gaming geek his entire life.
Carlos Angeles is a a native Spanish speaker from Mexico City with 22 years of experience teaching Spanish as a second language. Carlos has homeschooled his son for four years and currently teaches and tutors Spanish for children, teens and adults. Carlos also teaches a Bilingual Science class at Viva Homeschooling Co-op and has taught Mathematics through board and card games with Great Educational Experiences (GEE). Until November of last year Carlos lead a Strategy Games Club in partnership with the Palos Verdes Library District. Carlos believes that there is no subject that canít be taught through games, especially for children.
Edward Stafford likes to give discarded items new lives as something fantastic and otherworldy. He looks at printer ink cartridges and bubble gum containers and sees spaceships. Give him an old squirt gun and contact lens containers and he'll turn it into a Flash Gordon laser pistol. Edward is an avid model maker, painter, and board gamer. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends, making music, and hiking in the woods. His wife encourages his mad scientist tendencies, and his three children are quite happy to be the recipients of the weapons from his workshop. Visit Edward online at www.game-runner.net, where he serves as the Chief Board Game Ambassador.
Kristin Shepherd is a homeschool mom of one bright, energetic and creative 8 year old. In her past life, she was a classroom teacher of 32 'gifted' fifth and sixth graders. Her teaching experience taught her that children come with an endless variety of personalities, experiences, interests and talents and that through self-directed play they can have many of their individual needs met. In 2015 she began studying the value of play at the University of Gloucester in England (Play isnít taken very seriously at most US Universities) and earned her Masterís in Play and Playwork earlier this year.
Kristin believes that free play with loose parts can help us learn, have fun and develop resilience. She is now the director of the non-profit organization, Recess Revolution, which brings a free play with loose parts program to groups of children and families all over Southern California. For more information, see www.recessrevolution.org.
Roya Dedeaux is a grown unschooler who lives in Southern California with her husband, toddler Wyatt, and newborn Lilyanne.
Roya has a M.S. in Counseling and a B.A. in Recreation and Leisure Studies. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with a private practice in Los Alamitos, and long-distance counseling for homeschoolers. Her therapy website is royadedeaux.com. She is also a professor in the Recreation and Leisure Department at California State University, Long Beach, and loves getting to teach classes about play and leisure! She believes strongly in the importance and power of play for all ages, and has spent the majority of her personal and professional life inspiring others to become more playful.
Roya specializes in art therapy, and has spent most of her life crocheting, knitting, making journals, collaging, and following other artistic pursuits. She is a regular columnist in The Homeschooler magazine (http://www.hsc.org/magazine.html).
Visit Roya online at www.royadedeaux.com.
Zach Foley is proof of that anyone can make games. Without so much as asking permission, he made games for the web, for mobile, on kickstarter, and even for Las Vegas casinos. He even went so far as to win an award for making games in his job as a senior game designer at Gamblit Gaming. And now heís got the nerve to lecture his fellow homeschool families about how to make their own games? Well, at least heís got cool hair. Weíll give him that.