Meet the NextGen Homeschoolers

Renée Gotcher, Editor & Author

  • Married to Kenny Gotcher for 17 years
  • Mother of Audrey Grace (11), Claire Isabel (10) and Elise Gabrielle (5)
  • Was homeschooled 2yrs (last two years of high school)
  • Started homeschooling in 2010

Renée Gotcher is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and home educator with a passion to share her homeschooling journey and faith walk with others as an encouragement and testimony to God’s amazing grace, unconditional love and desire to continually shape us into the image of Christ.

Before motherhood, Renée’s career began in journalism. She was an executive editor for a national technology magazine and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. After leaving the journalism world in 2002 to become a work-at-home mother, Renée also started an independent business as a Mary Kay beauty consultant and served as a Sr. Sales Director for her team of inspiring entrepreneurial women until the Spring of 2011, when she decided to focus on home educating her three daughters full time and pursue new writing opportunities.

Because writing remained a personal passion throughout the years, Renée dabbled in a few communication projects along the way. She was publicity director for the Durango MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Group for two years, publishing the group newsletter and keeping members in the loop on activities and opportunities. She also started a women’s business community in Durango called the Business Women’s Idea Exchange — which remains active today under the leadership of two fabulous local entrepreneurs.

Most recently, Renée combined content from the “Durango Mama’s Diary” blog she started while living in Durango with a new personal blog she began writing last year, A New Chapter. She also launched a new writing and communications consulting business called WriteWords Ink to help other entrepreneurs and small business owners express their unique business message more effectively online, in print and in person.

Currently loving life in Castle Rock, Colorado, Renée and her family are outdoor enthusiasts who love to travel and enjoy God’s breathtaking creations, for which Colorado is an excellent showcase. Camping, hiking, fishing, snowboarding, skiing and biking are some of her family’s favorite activities. Renée also enjoys photography, scrapbooking and card-making (when she can find the time!), and is re-discovering a love of creative homemaking and cooking. Her favorite reads are Real Simple magazine and Martha Stewart Living, although she will be the first to admit her life is currently neither of these things!

NextGen Homeschool started out as an inspiring idea from Renée’s sister-in-law, fellow NextGen Homeschool Author Rosanna Ward. This blog has been a year in the making, but it reflects a lifetime of learning and God’s leading to share this journey with you for His greater glory.

Rosanna Ward, Author

  • Married to Jason Ward for 20 years
  • Mother of Hannah (18), Virginia (16), Joel (7) and Leif (1)
  • Was homeschooled from 8th grade until college
  • Started homeschooling in 2005

Rosanna Ward is a devoted wife of 20 years and mother of four children — two of which are homeschool graduates (daughters Hannah and Virginia).

Rosanna and her husband own a Daylight Donuts business in Sapulpa, OK. She is a homeschool graduate and graduated from Oral Roberts University with a B.S. in Recreational Administration. She is currently passionate about studying History and Genealogy.

Elizabeth Thomas, Author

  • Married to Anthony Thomas for five years
  • Mother of Stormie (13), Rachael (12), Faith (10), Cadence (4), and Melody (born Oct.18, 2012)
  • Was homeschooled K-12th grade
  • Began homeschooling in 2009

In 1998, Elizabeth left home against her parents wishes and spent four years in an abusive relationship, where she nearly lost her life. During that relationship, she was blessed with three daughters: Stormie, Rachael and Faith. In 2002, Elizabeth left the relationship and spent five months in a shelter for battered women with her three daughters before moving closer to her sister, Rosanna, to start over. During her four years as a single mother, Elizabeth worked two to three jobs at a time while taking classes part time. She received her G.E.D. and began taking classes at a local community college to work toward a degree.

In 2007, she met and married Anthony Thomas, and the next year she gave birth to Cadence Grace. The idea of going back to work after Cadence was born was painful, and when Tony asked Elizabeth to stay home, it was a fast “yes!” When he asked her to homeschool all four girls, that was a little harder. Now, Elizabeth loves to watch her children learn new things!

Currently residing in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, Elizabeth likes to shop and do girly stuff (like dress up and take fun pictures) with her girls. She loves makeup and doing nails. She likes to work out, ride bikes, and roller blade, as well as crafting. She loves being in church and loves praise and worship. Elizabeth also likes to garden — even when almost everything dies.  A favorite quote: “A clean house is a happy home, but a sterile house is not a home, it’s a hospital.” Elizabeth likes watching movies with her husband and thinks the most romantic thing on earth is when her husband finishes her sentences. She loves having a schedule that changes weekly and finds that homeschooling is so much more than just an education — it’s God’s plan for life.

The Thomas family was recently blessed with the arrival of daughter No. 5, Melody Rosanna Thomas, on October 28, 2012!

Cristina Eklund, Author

  • Married to Jeremy Eklund for nine years
  • Mother of son Elijah (7) and daughter Arielle (4)
  • Was homeschooled from 6th-12th grade
  • Began homeschooling in 2010

Cristina Eklund is married to Jeremy Eklund, a public high school history teacher. Cristina formally worked in Visual Merchandising for a large global retail company for five years, and not long after getting married, she and her husband moved to Nicaragua for two years to pursue their mutual desire (since childhood) to be missionaries.

Now living in Concord, Calif., they are homeschooling their 7-year-old son Elijah and 4-year-old daughter Arielle. Cristina’s husband Jeremy was homeschooled until the 3rd grade, and he graduated from California State University at Davis with a History and Teaching degree. Cristina was homeschooled from 6th grade through high school, and graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.

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