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Julie Embalabala - Alternatives in Education

Julie (Van Sledright) Embalabala grew up in central Michigan in a strong Dutch Reformed community and attended parochial schools until her college years at Central Michigan University. While there she decided that when she had a family of her own, she would home school her chidren. Shortly after that she met Peter Embalabala, a grad student majoring in mathematics. Following their marriage in 1986, they moved to Springfield, Illinois in 1991. For most of the next two decades Julie home schooled their seven children. She talks extensively about that experience, highlighting the many advantages of home schooling, as well as the challenges.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

Efficient

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Early life, education and marriage to Peter Embalabala

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Home schooling experiences with her seven children

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Photos

Caption

Julie Van Sledright was one year old when this photo was taken in 1962. Her family lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the time.

Where:

Grand Rapids, Michigan

When:

1962

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Julie at five years old, circa 1966, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Where:

Grand Rapids, Michigan

When:

1966

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Julie (left) and her siblings enjoyed a day at Mackinac Island in August 1971. From left: Julie, Mark, their father Elmer, Mike and Jill Van Sledright.

Where:

Mackinac Island

When:

1971

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Jarmen and Salome Kavinguha family in Vihiga County, Kenya in 1959. From left: Jane, Jarmen, Daphine (seated), Lawrence (seated), Hellen, Buxton, Salome, Peter (infant) and Grace.

Where:

Vihiga County, Kenya

When:

1959

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Peter (at thirteen) and Mary Embalabala, circa 1973. They are behind the family home in Kenya, with large water tank in background.

Where:

Kenya

When:

1973

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Julie and Peter’s wedding party. From left: Bill Bunch, Jill (Van Sledright) Veldkamp, Jeff Spicuzzi, Julie, Peter, Jenelle Zook, Paul Kato and Lisa Eskro. The wedding was at the Mt. Pleasant Church of the Nazarene in Mt. Pleasant.

Where:

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

When:

1986

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Julie and Peter at their wedding reception at the Mt. Pleasant Church of the Nazarene in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan on May 31, 1986.

Where:

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

When:

May 31, 1986

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Julie and Peter in 1986 after their wedding reception on May 31, 1986. They were married in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Where:

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

When:

1986

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Julie and her son Jeremy in 1987. They lived at the Washington St. Apartments while Peter was enrolled at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Where:

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

When:

1987

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Proud parents Peter and Julie with Joel at his infant dedication, which was held at the Mt. Pleasant Church of the Nazarene in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan in 1990.

Where:

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

When:

1990

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Peter and Julie at Julie’s graduation from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, May 1991. (Narrator’s photo)

Where:

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

When:

May1991

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Jeremy with Grandma Van Sledright at Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, Illinois in the fall of 1991. It is tradition to rub Lincoln’s nose while visiting the tomb.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1991

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Julie’s son Jeremy was doing what Julie called ‘seat-work’ at the family’s home in Pawnee, Illinois in 1992. Peter and Julie converted one of their home’s bedrooms into a classroom.

Where:

Pawnee, Illinois

When:

1992

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Easter weekend at Washington Park in Springfield 1992. From left: Ardith Van Sledright with Joel, Martha Van Sledright (Elmer’s sister) with James, Cora, Jeremy, Julie and Elmer Van Sledright.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1992

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The family celebrated Thanksgiving in Pawnee in November 1993. From left, front: Jeremy, Cora, Alison and Peter. In the back are Elmer and Ardith Van Sledright with James, Joel and Julie.

Where:

Pawnee, Illinois

When:

November 1993.

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Peter helped Joel, Peter, Cora and Jeremy with an African hut project in November 1993 at their Pawnee home. It was an opportunity to learn more about their father’s native culture.

Where:

Pawnee, Illinois

When:

November 1993

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Peter reads The Little Pig to Alison in 1994. Reading to the children was a family tradition.

Where:

Pawnee, Illinois

When:

1994

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Peter (center in red shirt) returned to Kidinye, Kenya in 1994 to visit his father and other family members.

Where:

Kidinye, Kenya

When:

1994

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Several of the children try their hand at fishing off Granpa and Granma Van Sledright’s dock at Gun Lake in Shelbyville, Michigan in 1994. From left to right: Jeremy, Cora, Joel and James.

Where:

Shelbyville, Michigan

When:

1994

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Jeremy, Joel and Cora showed off some of the produce from their Pawnee garden in August 1994. The children were expected to help with chores, while also learning in the process.

Where:

Pawnee, Illinois

When:

August 1994

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Jeremy and Joel studying together in September 1994 in the family home in Pawnee, Illinois.

Where:

Pawnee, Illinois

When:

September 1994

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Homeschool ice-skating at the Springfield Park District’s Nelson Center in September 1994. Cora and Joel are on the ice.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

September 1994

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

A group of homeschoolers visited the Wildlife Prairie Park near Peoria, Illinois in October 1994. Peter and three of the children are pictured. Such trips were an important addition to the children’s learning experiences.

Where:

Peoria, Illinois

When:

October 1994

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Joel obviously enjoyed his homeschool field trip to a Springfield, Illinois fire station in 1995.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1995

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The cousins at Grandma’s on Gun Lake in Shelbyville, Michigan during Easter 1995. Front: Michelle and Amy Van Sledright, Alison, Shawn Veldkamp and James. Back: Melody Van Sledright, Cora, Rebecca, Kimberly and Andrew Veldkamp, Jeremy and Joel.

Where:

Shelbyville, Michigan

When:

1995

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Cora, Alison, Joel, Jeremy, Julie and Rebecca got a chance to tour an Air Force aircraft at Springfield’s Capital Airport in August 1996.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1996

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Embalabalas attended Springfield’s First Church of the Nazarene Christmas service. Jeremy, Cora, and Joel participated in the church’s Christmas Cantata in 1996.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1996

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Jeremy worked with Walter Robinson, a University of Illinois professor at the University’s computer lab in Champaign, Illinois in 1996. The two were collaborating on a Science-by-Mail project.

Where:

Champaign, Illinois

When:

1996

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Embalabala children all joined in the fun of Jeremy’s birthday in 1997 while they still lived in Pawnee. From left to right: Alison, Cora, James, Jeremy, Joel and Rebecca. Note the poster of Plymouth Plantation in the background.

Where:

Pawnee, Illinois

When:

1997

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Jeremy and Cora help with a Science-by-Mail experiment at Dennis and Rosalee Crady’s home in Rochester, Illinois in 1997. Noah Atkinson and Robert Crady joined in on a fun learning experience.

Where:

Rochester, Illinois

When:

1997

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Peter coached Joel’s soccer team in 1997. The soccer games were played at the Springfield, IL YMCA soccer fields. Jeremy, Joel and Peter are part of the group.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1997

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Several of the Embalabala children were involved with the Caravans Scouting program at Springfield’s 1st Church of the Nazarene. From left: Jeff Owens, Jeremy, Curtis Owens and Cora.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Peter posted Department of Natural Resources posters around the home to help teach the children about the natural world. This photo was taken in 1999 when they lived in a farmhouse outside of Athens, Illinois. (Narrator’s photo)

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

1999

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Joel is busy tearing down the kitchen chimney in 1999. The family had recently moved to their new home in rural Athens, Illinois.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

1999

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

This family portrait was taken in Springfield in 1999. Front: Rebecca, Mary and Alison. Middle: Joel, Julie and James. Back: Jeremy, Peter and Cora.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1999

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Julie and Peter moved to rural Athens, Illinois in February 1999. This was their home in rural Pawnee from January 1992 to February 1999.

Where:

Pawnee, Illinois

When:

February 1999

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

After the family moved from Pawnee to a farm house near Athens, the roof needed reshingling. Tom Hiatt, Mike Van Sledright, Jeff Tucker, Peter, Arley Wason and Jeremy are hard at work doing tear-off in the spring of 1999.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

1999

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Embalabalas took a family photo in front of their Athens, Illinois home on Easter, 1999. Front: Rebecca, Alison, James and Joel. Back: Julie, Mary, Jeremy, Cora, Peter.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

1999

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

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")

Caption

Mary doesn’t look too excited about the ride Joel is giving her in a wheel barrel in 1998. They still lived in Pawnee at the time.

Where:

Pawnee, Illinois

When:

1998

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

From left: Alison, James, Cora (milking a goat), Joel and Rebecca, circa 2000. After the move to rural Athens, the family had more room for animals, which gave the children more valuable learning experiences.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

2000

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Joel, Peter, and Jeremy are inspecting a frame of honey bees which they tended at their Athens home in 2000.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

2000

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Cora practices on the family piano in Athens, IL in 2000. Music was a passion for the girls while growing up.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

2000

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Rebecca practices the piano in the family’s home in Athens, IL in 2000.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

2000

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Alison, Cora, Mary and Rebecca all help to strain goat’s milk at the family’s Athens, Illinois home in 2000.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

2000

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

[

]

")

Caption

Mary and Peter Embalabala in the family home in Athens in 2000.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

2000

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Cora showed a Toggenberg goat at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Illinois, circa 2001.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

2001

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Joel showed a Hereford steer at the Menard County Fair in Petersburg, Illinois, circa 2002.

Where:

Petersburg, Illinois

When:

Circa 2002

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The family took a trip to Mackinac Island with Peter’s mother and sister Mary, who were visiting from Kenya in May 2002.

Where:

Mackinac Island

When:

May 2002

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The children’s Christmas Program at the Sherman Church of the Nazarene in 2004. Alison is in the back row, while Mary and Rebecca are in front.

Where:

Unknown

When:

2004

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Salome Kavinguha (Peter’s mom) at her home in Kidiye, Kenya in 2006.

Where:

Kidiye, Kenya

When:

2006

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

The Embalabalas gathered to celebrate Elmer and Ardith Van Sledright’s 50th wedding anniversary at Ludington State Park, Michigan in August 2007. Front: Rebecca and Alison. Middle: Joel, Cora and Mary. Back: James, Peter, Julie and Jeremy.

Where:

Ludington State Park, Michigan

When:

August 2007

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Aunt Martha sent this anniversary card along with a photo album she compiled celebrating Peter and Julie’s twenty-five years together. May 31, 2011.

Where:

Athens, Illinois

When:

May 31, 2011

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

A poster announcing Rebecca Embalabala’s Senior Piano Recital in March 2018. She attended Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana.

Where:

Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana

When:

March 2018

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Cora performed as a soloist with the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony (Springfield) in 2005. She was a concerto competition winner.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

2005

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



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