Event coordinators Brandy Thomas, Stephanie Pragel and Alanna Johnson (Not pictured: Elizabeth McDowell) (Heather Mann for The Tribune)
CULLMAN – Saturday marked the second annual North Alabama Homeschool Expo (NAHE), bringing students, parents and outside educators together at the Cullman Civic Center. The expo featured vendors specializing in educational items and homeschooling help, workshops and lectures for attendees to visit (as well as recordings for anyone who missed a lecture) and hands-on activities for children.
Exhibitors ranged from textbook companies and homeschooling organizations (Bob Jones Homeschool, Teaching Textbooks, Paw Print Books, Cullman Homeschoolers, etc.) to performers like Southern Starlets and Seed-Harvest Music Academy. In addition to browsing the books, attendees could listen in on workshops about various topics including "Beginning Homeschooling," "Mentoring Your Daughter," "Financial Wealth for Teens" and "Bible Resources for Homeschoolers." Children were also given workshops to attend, though these were more activity-oriented than lectures; kids could take part in a creative writing workshop or a "Seed Safari," listen to presentations about the moon from the U.S Space & Rocket Center or learn an introduction to robotics.
Event coordinator Stephanie Pragel said the idea to hold the expo stemmed from a visit to another homeschooling expo she and her business attended in Birmingham. "We were down at the convention and talking to all these people, and we just saw that there was a huge need in the northern part of the state to get the homeschooling community together and know what's available for them," she said. Her family business, 4 the Love of Learning, has been the primary host of the NAHE, but she thanked the event's sponsors for all their help and expressed hope for getting other homeschool groups in the region involved with hosting future expos.
When asked about the homeschooling community here in Cullman County, Pragel said it's larger than most people would expect. "Homeschooling is always growing, always getting bigger, and Cullman's a great place to homeschool! We have so many activities and so many opportunities within the county."
She also addressed the misconception that homeschooled students aren't properly socialized, saying, "We actually struggled with being over-socialized. There are so many opportunities for our children out there that we actually struggle with finding time to stay home. My kids have friends just like children that go to public school."
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