Empowering Journeys: Homeschooling and Online Education Success Stories

Well-Trained Mind AcademyFamily Interviews, General Education

Homeschooling has always been a fantastic choice for families looking to individualize their student’s education. With the rise of online schooling platforms, homeschoolers have found new avenues to customize their educational journeys, blending digital resources with hands-on learning experiences. Through the stories of four unique students, this article delves into the transformative power of homeschooling and online education, showcasing how each child has utilized these platforms to carve out a personalized education. From overcoming learning challenges to pursuing specialized interests, these four learners exemplify the power of the flexibility and innovation inherent in homeschooling and online schooling, offering inspiration and insights for families navigating alternative educational pathways.

The Siebelink Family

Let us introduce you to long-time Well-Trained Mind Academy mom, Lisa Siebelink. Lisa homeschooled all four of her children through high school. Her oldest son, Isaac, entered 9th grade just as the Well-Trained Mind Academy opened. Lisa was relieved to have strong academic support during her kids’ high school years. This was especially important for her two middle children, Stella and Lincoln, but for very different reasons. 


Stella had a promising career as a ballet dancer, and she was a strong academic student. Stella had the opportunity to leave California, where she was from, to pursue ballet in New York City. WTMA gave Stella and her parents the safety net they needed to feel confident sending her to the other side of the US to follow her dream of becoming a professional dancer. They knew she would still get the same rigorous education in New York as she would at home. Her mom said, “I knew exactly what she was getting in school no matter where she was in the world. And because I knew she was going into something very risky like ballet I knew she had to have a really strong Plan B. And for her, Plan B was always academics.” 

While in New York there were times Stella would jump off the subway, run into a coffee shop, and log into class in between rehearsals. She had maximum flexibility along with the benefit of live classes. For Stella, the ability to interact with her teachers and fellow students was critical to her learning success. She was able to keep up her rigorous high school academic plan while also pursuing her dream.

Stella’s plans changed when she was injured. However, she was able to quickly pivot and focus on her academic career. Now she’s going to Concordia University Irvine, where she is in the honors program and has been recognized for her service and leadership. Her mom glows as she says, “Stella’s professors are amazed at her writing skills.” Through WTMA’s rigorous academics, community support, and flexible online platform, Stella was empowered to do her best in class while dancing. Despite facing setbacks, Stella’s resilience and dedication to her studies paved the way for her to thrive in higher education, embodying the ethos of adaptability and perseverance fostered by homeschooling and online schooling.


Lincoln, Lisa Siebelink’s third child, also flourished while at WTMA, but under very different circumstances. Lincoln was diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia in 7th grade. Once Lincoln and his mom knew what they were dealing with as far as his learning differences were concerned, they were able to craft a program that worked with Lincoln’s strengths and provided him an academic challenge without extra frustration. They took a slower pace and focused on narrative-based learning. Online math classes proved beneficial for Lincoln as he could watch and participate without the pressure of writing notes in real-time. Having access to recorded lectures and slide decks was very beneficial for his learning process. Despite his learning challenges, WTMA classes provided a supportive environment where Lincoln could participate equally. 

Especially important to Lincoln was the connection he made with his instructors. His history teacher, Mr. Caro, brought such life to the subject that Lincoln became something of a history buff, despite struggling to remember facts because of his dyslexia. The Siebelinks are grateful for a safe learning space where students like Lincoln were not singled out for their differences. Now Lincoln is graduating, and will be attending Westmont College with both academic and music scholarships. Lisa also let us know that Lincoln was invited to be a President’s Leadership Fellow, where he will participate in “a one-year seminar experience reserved for high-achieving, leadership-minded incoming students.” This is particularly impressive since Lincoln overcame so much on his academic journey. Lisa credits both Lincoln’s tenacity and the education he received at the Well-Trained Mind Academy for his success. 

The Proepper Family

Katherine Proepper faced similar challenges to Lisa with her two middle children, Sara and Matthew. Sara struggled with pre-algebra until she found a curriculum that suited her learning style, while Matthew faced challenges with writing and executive functioning skills. Katherine stressed that the personalized learning approaches, supportive educators, and resources like tutoring offered at the Well-Trained Mind Academy were essential for the success of her students. 


In 5th grade, Sara initially struggled with pre-algebra, trying multiple curricula without success. Since she was homeschooling, she was able to take a break from math for a year and try again in 6th grade. Sara’s breakthrough came when she enrolled in Pre-Algebra with Mrs. Ostaff, who taught math in various ways to accommodate different learning styles. Through Mrs Ostaff’s engaging teaching methods and passion for math, Sara’s attitude towards the subject transformed, and it became her favorite class. Encouraged by her success in pre-algebra, Sara continued to excel in math.  

The Well-Trained Mind Academy allowed Katherine to customize Sara’s learning experience by choosing the best instructors to fit Sara’s learning style, while incorporating a mixture of live and delayed classes.  This flexibility nurtured Sara’s natural curiosity, while the variety of assignments, even in math, provided an outlet for her creativity.

Sara is graduating high school this month, and in August will complete a dual Associates Degree in Liberal Arts and Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences from Santiago Canyon College (with a 3.97 GPA!).  Finding the right teaching approach made all the difference in her learning experience, and she credits much of her success while dual-enrolled in high school and college to the math and writing classes she took at WTMA.


Matthew enjoying the views from Catalina Island during Spring Break.

Matthew, Katherine’s youngest child, faced challenges with writing and executive functioning skills, particularly in areas like time management and assignment completion. Middle school was a struggle. Katherine had a hard time figuring out how to get Matthew to manage his time and to do his school work. Outsourcing became a lifeline. In addition to taking classes at the Well-Trained Mind Academy, Matthew started tutoring with Mrs. Otto for help with his Expository Writing II class. Katherine thought Mrs. Otto would just help Matthew learn to write, but in fact because she was working with him one-on-one, she was able to identify other blocks in his learning process and adjust the content of their tutoring sessions to meet his most immediate needs. For example, in one assignment he had to produce notes. Instead of just showing Matthew how to take take notes on the assigned reading, Mrs. Otto saw that he needed help with the overall skill of note-taking, not just reading comprehension. The personalized approach was exactly what Matthew needed to build back his learning confidence.

Executive functioning skills, like time management and follow-through, are crucial for success. Katherine found a way to guide Matthew in developing these skills without overly pressuring him. She has faith in the skills he’s building in his classes, so when he misses and assignment or turns something in late, she is able to support him in getting back on track. What used to be a trigger for big fights is now just a gentle conversation. Katherine emphasized the importance of fostering a supportive relationship with her child and offering guidance rather than nagging. Katherine’s goal is ultimately to empower Matthew to become an independent learner by graduation, and she very much feels he is on his way!

The Power of Homeschooling and Online Education

Stella, Lincoln, Sara, and Matthew each had a different need when it came to their education, and the powerful combination of homeschooling and online school gave them what they needed to achieve their goals. Their parents, Lisa and Katherine, personalized each approach to their children’s education so they could pursue their passions, overcome learning challenges, and thrive academically. Stella’s journey exemplifies the flexibility and support offered by online schooling while Lincoln’s experience highlights the importance of accommodating learning differences and providing a supportive environment where every student can flourish. Sara’s and Matthew’s stories underscore the significance of finding the right teaching approaches and support systems to foster academic growth. By prioritizing individualized learning and fostering a nurturing environment, homeschooling and online education empower students like Matthew, Sara, Lincoln, and Stella to reach their full potential, equipping them with the skills and resilience needed to succeed academically and beyond.

Share the love!