Meet the AmblesideOnline Auxiliary

The AmblesideOnline Auxiliary assist the Advisory by working on curriculum-related projects and answering questions in the forum about the curriculum. They were asked to help based on their knowledge of Charlotte Mason and their understanding of AO's vision.

The Auxiliary members are:

♥ Phyllis Hunsucker ♥
☼ Kathy Livingston ☼
♫ Lani Siciliano ♫
♥ Amy Tuttle ♥
□ Naomi Goegan □
★ Brandy Vencel ★
☺ Caitlin [Bruce] Beauchamp ☺
☼ Rebecca Capehart ☼
♫ Tim Laurio ♫

♥   Phyllis Hunsucker lives in Ukraine with her husband and four children, who were born 2003-2011. So far one has graduated from AmblesideOnline, and three are still studying hard. Phyllis loves Ukraine and dreams of when homeschooling will be a common option for Ukrainian families.

Phyllis herself was homeschooled all the way through and thanks her parents for starting her on the path that led to Charlotte Mason. She found AO and started studying Charlotte Mason's books in 2003. Those early years of mothering were a wonderful time to read constantly and soak up as much as possible. There's not nearly so much time for that now, with real school going full time!

AO readings and narration, poetry, Bible, tri-lingual schooling, CM-style reading lessons, nature study, and math . . . those are all parts of the Hunsucker homeschool that go relatively well these days. Phyllis thinks that she could definitely improve in implementing music and art, copywork, and memorizing, among other things. It's all a work in progress!

Phyllis really enjoyed the special opportunity to attend a day of the ChildlightUSA conference in 2012 and meet internet friends in real life. Since then she has been able to contribute to AO by helping to set up and administrate the AO Forum. She has also enjoyed working out a Bible schedule for the younger years and just being a part of the world of AO behind the scenes a little.

☼   Kathy Livingston lives in northeast Texas, where she has the blessing of a circle of friends who also use Charlotte Mason's principles in their homeschools. She married her high school sweetheart, taught 10th grade English, programmed computers, earned a masters degree, then settled down to raise a brood of wonderful, strong-minded children. She teaches the fourth grade Sunday School class, volunteers with 4-H, almost always attends the local weekly parkday, and tries to stay sane as a highly controlling person in the midst of chaos.

Kathy discovered Charlotte Mason when her oldest child was 2. After initially considering the modern classical approach, reading For the Children's Sake came as a revelation--the Charlotte Mason approach included the academically challenging aspects while dealing with the child as a person. She soon read Charlotte Mason's first volume and found herself printing chapters to share with the other playgroup moms!

Not too much later, Kathy joined the AmblesideOnline Yahoo group and has never looked back. Soon after the Year 0 group formed, Kathy joined that list as well and found a wonderful community of moms with young children. She and Lani eventually became moderators of that list and now moderate the Year 0 area of the AO Forum. Kathy also helps oversee the Bible and Language Arts areas of the forum. All three are areas where she has found CM's principles to be of immense value to herself personally as she educates her own children. Kathy blogs at Piney Woods Homeschool.

♫   Lani Siciliano has been married to her high school sweetheart since 1998, having met back in 1984. They are the proud parents of six children, four graduates of AO and all taking college courses. The oldest is a member of the US Army and three are full time college students. They relocated from New England to Tennessee in 2018.

They discovered homeschooling early on, meeting other homeschooling families via La Leche League. Lani began networking with other area homeschooling moms when her oldest child was just two years old and was soon introduced to Charlotte Mason by a local mother who recommended she read "A Charlotte Mason Companion." Her journey was only just beginning.

A CM study group for mothers held over a period of years allowed Lani to learn before her children were even ready for year one. Once her oldest was of first grade age, she stumbled upon AmblesideOnline one day, although she had already purchased and begun a popular literature based homeschooling curriculum. God truly led her to AO and she never looked back. This was the education she desired for her children, all spelled out for her. The daughter of a school librarian couldn't have been more thrilled!

Soon afterwards Lani joined the AO yahoo group and others, including AmbleRamble and the Year O list. She was flattered, and a bit overwhelmed, when asked to help moderate the latter group. But she and Kathy had a wonderful time together helping other mothers of little ones learn about CM and AO over the years.

In addition to the support received from the AO groups and forum, Lani was thrilled to belong to a small AO co-op group of families meeting weekly for Shakespeare reading, studying Plutarch's Lives, picture study, art lessons, composer, folk songs and hymns, nature study, public speaking and book groups as well as the occasional field trip or party during her children’s early years. She has coordinated CM study series as well as presented at local conferences regarding a Charlotte Mason education in multiple states. Her current CM studies have lead her to a better understanding of the depth, breadth and rigor of a CM education for high school aged students. The book "Norms and Nobility" by David Hicks has inspired her as it clearly did for members of the AO Advisory.

Blessed to be a member of the Auxiliary Board, Lani moderates at the AO Forum and is currently overseeing the AmbleRamble forums as well as moderating the Language Arts/Narration; Hot Topics and Mothering Large Families forums. She is currently an active board member with two local sports organizations (hockey and lacrosse) and was a long time volunteer within her church's Christian Education Board and also volunteered as a La Leche League leader for more than a decade, having coordinated three statewide parenting conferences (a skill she has brought to AO). Lani holds a MS degree in Human Development and Family Studies (concentration in College Student Personnel) as well as a BA in Sociology. In her professional life, she worked in non-profit fundraising as a Development Director. In whatever spare time she can find, Lani enjoys knitting; her book groups; and vegetable gardening.

♥   Amy Tuttle grew up loving the outdoors: spending summers in the woods, at the beach or in the pool, playing soccer from fall through winter and hiking as many trails with waterfalls as possible in the spring. She has always loved reading too, but admits it may have been a good thing after all that she wasn't introduced to living books at an early age, as she may have turned bibliophilic hermit right then and there.

When she and her husband were newly married, missions was not yet on the radar, but kids popped up on the screen right away; the first heartbeat was detected within a few months! And less than two years later, they were a family of four! While those first two boys were still eensy-weensy, they set off for Peru. That will have been 13 years ago this month! Their two girls were born in the US on furlough, and their fourth, another boy, was born in Cajamarca, Peru.

Today, in a city in the jungle, while her husband makes friends with every living thing, does all nature of pastoral stuff, incorporates as much action-packed river ministry adventures as is practically possible, Amy holds down the fort, studies, writes and tries to keep things sane. She and the kids are working through AO years 8, 3 and an unofficial 0.

She discovered Charlotte Mason as a primary source for education at some point during the pre-kid era, "and pretty much everything she wrote sunk way down deep, almost as if it had already been there," she confides simply. "From the start, I felt perfectly at home with CM's philosophy. Of course, the daily working out is never finished, and everyday I find there is still SO much to learn and improve on. My kids could tell you. . .   :-) But as my daughter would say, 'It's a good thing for God's grace; it's like the light of life in our story'. And she's right. Without it, I'd probably live out a withered up, broken and useless existence," remarks Amy frankly of herself.

She was grateful for the opportunity, when asked to take on a helping part in AO's story, as for years, she has considered AO to have held such a huge helping part in her own.

To read more, please visit her blog 'about me' page for the unabridged version of her bio. She links from there to more about their ministry in Peru. She blogs at Fisher Academy Internation, and organizes the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. She'd love for you to stop by and say hello any time!

□   Naomi Goegan Naomi Goegan lives in Southern California with her husband Chris and their four children - 17 (YR12), 15 (YR10), 11 (YR6), and 8 (YR2). She is half Japanese and spent much of her childhood overseas as a "third culture kid."

Naomi first learned about Charlotte Mason and her methods after taking a short survey in Cathy Duffy's book "100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum" which pointed her to a CM education. She read some of the CM books at that time: "For the Children's Sake," "A CM Companion" and "When Children Love to Learn" and found everything resonating deeply. She spent countless hours reading websites, articles, blogs, and everything she could get her hands on to figure out how to 'do' CM Kindergarten with her first child.

Her first encounter with AO left her confused and unsure of what it all entailed. She almost resigned to buying a packaged Kindergarten "kit" from Calvert School which seemed comprehensive and sure. Providentially, she met a friend on a local homeschooling field trip at that time who happened to be starting her oldest child with AO Kindergarten. The two connected, her friend invited her into her home and shared her lovely living books and plans for the year which "parted the clouds" for her.

Since then, Naomi has had a passion to help other moms learn about the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling and has run meetings, groups, and conferences in the SoCal area. Naomi keeps a website at to provide help to new CM moms, she also blogs at, Instagrams @naomi_goegan and runs the Facebook group SoCalCM.

Naomi has been a speaker for AmblesideOnline, SoCalCM, CMWest, CHEA, and CMI. She is thrilled and honored to be able to contribute as a member of the AO Auxiliary and continue in the great work they have been called to.

When she is not homeschooling she can be found hiking trails with her black lab, photographing plants and bugs, or at the beach picking through giant kelp holdfasts determined to find a new and undiscovered marine species. (July 2019)

★   Brandy Vencel married her husband, Josiah, in 2001. Not one to waste time, she delivered their first baby (a boy!) a little more than a year later. The Vencels have a total for four children: a boy, two girls, and another boy. They live in the Southern San Joaquin Valley of California, which is blessed with "outdoor weather" ten months of the year.

Unless you hate heat, of course.

Brandy "discovered" Miss Mason via a blog when her oldest was 4. She told her husband about her interest and he purchased all six volumes for her on her birthday that year. What a feast! It was basically love at first chapter--possibly even at the prologue. She invited Charlotte Mason into her heart immediately thereafter.

Brandy is an alumna of Biola University and Talbot Theological Seminary. She organizes two local CM reading groups and also a CM co-op. Her favorite book is Poetic Knowledge by James Taylor. In her spare time she reads, blogs at Afterthoughts, makes sourdough bread, and collects small farm animals. So far she has laying ducks, Kinder dairy goats, and rabbits. When she sells her house someday the ad will say "comes with petting zoo."

♫   Tim Laurio is a first-generation AO graduate, Leslie Laurio's son. He was homeschooled all twelve years and finished high school in 2008. That same year he met another AO graduate, a beautiful young woman named Hannah, while they were both attending a Charlotte Mason conference. They sang a duet, swapped stories about Narnia and Northanger Abbey, and discovered a mutual love for Tchaikovsky. Five years later, they have just celebrated their first wedding anniversary (!) and continue to enjoy a shared world of stories, music, and art thanks to their common upbringing. They are currently living in Boston, where Tim works full-time while Hannah finishes school.

Tim graduated college in 2012 with a B.A. English and a minor in music. He plans to return to school to continue studying music, and is currently taking voice lessons and singing in an opera while preparing for college auditions. In his spare time he studies orchestration, arranges for choir and orchestra, and tries to find the time to practice piano. He and Hannah frequently collaborate on creative projects: at the moment they are co-directing a choir at Berklee College of Music, as well as developing stories and writing screenplays for an original sci-fi series.

Tim took an early interest in Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education. The light bulb went on when he heard a lecture about relationalism at a CM conference. Seeing CM through the lens of relational thinking helped him to understand why concepts like "children are born persons" and "education is the science of relations" are so powerful and so life-giving. (That was the same conference where he met Hannah, right after he graduated high school--2008 was a big year!) He continues to explore the commonalities between relational thinking and Charlotte Mason's philosophy. On a more practical level, he is hugely grateful for the AO education that he grew up with, and he and Hannah look forward to bringing up their own children the same way--whenever that day may come!

☺   Caitlin [Bruce] Beauchamp

☼   Rebecca Capehart helps moderate our teen forum. She was born in 1990 and is the fifth of Advisory member Wendi Capehart's seven children. She was born in Japan, although her parents moved before she was old enough to remember it, a fact which continues to make her bitter. She was exclusively homeschooled all of her life, until she graduated and went to college.

Rebecca works at her local library, attends a community college while studying library science, and snuggles on the couch and picks paint colors and flooring for her future home with Logan Judy, whom she expects to marry in May, 2014. They have known each other for five years, although for the first two years he wondered if she was mute.

Rebecca loves Doctor Who, Tolkien, Chinese food, dogs and almost all living things (her mother bitterly notes that the first time Rebecca said 'I love you' it was to the family dog). She loves to read and reads very fast. After she sneaked her school book Waterbabies and finished it in a day when she was not yet 8, her mother learned to hide the schoolbooks and give her lots of free reading. Another favorite book around the same time was Pilgrim's Progress, which was supposed to be a family read-aloud, but which Rebecca often stole from off the bedside table so that she could read ahead.

Rebecca is the family bread baker and laundry soap maker, so when she moves out they will have to eat their sandwiches without bread and never have clean socks. (she jests, she jests. ☺)

She is the proud aunt of several adorable nieces and nephews, and her favorite gifts to give them are picture books.

Melisa Hills and Jeanne Webb were Auxiliary members between 2012-2016, and, while not currently serving in an Auxiliary capacity, they are still active contributors to the AmblesideOnline project.

You can learn a little more about Auxiliary members by taking a peek at some of their favorite children's books.

Due to time constraints, Advisory and Auxiliary members rarely respond to private email queries regarding book substitutions, scheduling, homeschooling, etc. and we rarely review books or curriculum programs (we might make an exception if a free sample/book is provided!) Questions about implementing the curriculum that are directed to Auxiliary members will not likely receive a response. If you contact us and don't receive a reply within a few days, ask your question on the forum. We have many, many helpful AO moms there who are likely to be able to help you.

AmblesideOnline's free Charlotte Mason homeschool curriculum prepares children for a life of rich relationships with God, humanity, and the natural world.
Share AO with your group or homeschool fair! Download our printable brochure