About the Scholé Sisters

Scholé Sisters began in 2014 as the brain child of Sarah Mackenzie after she had self-published the first edition of Teaching from Rest. She pulled together friends Brandy Vencel, Pam Barnhill, and Mystie Winckler to form a joint blog about homeschooling classically from a state of rest.

After Read-Aloud Revival took off, Sarah passed the reins of Scholé Sisters over to Brandy. Blog posts moved to the individual authors’ sites and Scholé Sisters spent a year as a monthly email newsletter edited by Mystie.

In 2016, Brandy began the Scholé Sisters podcast, as a place to discuss issues relevant to homeschool moms trying to learn and grow in their understanding and application of classical education principles. With guests like Dr. Christopher Perrin, Ravi Jain, Cindy Rollins, and Karen Glass, as well as other reading and thinking homeschool moms like Amber Vanderpol and Ashley Woleban, the Scholé Sisters podcast has become a go-to source of inspiration for home educators.

In 2019, Pam, Mystie, and Brandy invited Abby Wahl to join the team as well, particularly to tend the developing online community Scholé Sistership.

Scholé is the opposite of stress.

Meet the Scholé Sisters

Brandy Vencel

  • married to Josiah for 21 years
  • mother of 4, from 19 to 13
  • graduated one student!
  • writes at Afterthoughts
  • INTP
  • Ambleside Online Auxiliary member
  • mastermind behind the podcast

I came up with the idea for doing a Scholé Sisters podcast back when I realized @hspambarnhill and @mystiewinckler and I were having these great conversations on Voxer all the time … why not RECORD them and find other people to talk with about these things, too? I’m so glad we decided to go forward with it because even though I spend far too much time editing out stupid things I say, I love these ladies so much and couldn’t imagine life any other way.

Hi! I’m Brandy Vencel (@brandyvencel), host of Scholé Sisters. 👋 I like to superimpose my image on photos of places I’ll probably never go. This is me in Switzerland. 😉

About Brandy:

• I am a Christian. That’s the most important thing I could tell you.
• I’ve been married to Josiah (“Si”) for 19 years (but who’s counting? 😎). Our four kids are 19, 17, 15, and 13. That’s right. We have four teenagers.
• Si and I met our first week of college at Biola University. It was friendship at first sight. We fell in love and married almost five years later. We planned to travel the world, but instead we had a baby a couple weeks after our first anniversary.
• Our kids have always been homeschooled using AmblesideOnline, a free curriculum that uses Charlotte Mason’s classically-based principles to prepare them for a life of rich relationships. I still remember the day I first stumbled upon it. It seemed so dreamy; I figured I couldn’t possibly afford it. Turns out, it’s FREE. 🙌
• I love studying Charlotte Mason, classical education, and reading philosophy in general. Actually, just reading in general. But I have to be careful with novels because they make me a bad mom.
My blog will be 17 years old this year. It contains my thoughts on homeschooling, Charlotte Mason, and motherhood.

Hi! I’m Mystie Winckler (@mystiewinckler), writer of emails and general taskmaster for Scholé Sisters. 💜 

Mystie Winckler

  • married to Matt for 19 years
  • mother of 5, from 17 to 8
  • writes at SimplyConvivial.com
  • has the life goal to read Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible before she’s 50
  • INTJ
  • website & email master

I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, back when it really was weird. My husband was also a weird homeschooler who made smoke bombs in his garage.⁠

We married at 19, finished our college degrees at 20, and started our family back in our hometown at 21. At first we said we wouldn’t homeschool, but then the joke was on us when the classical school we tried to help start didn’t work out. Now when my teens compile their own lists about what I’m doing wrong, I just smile, knowing 1) I earned it and 2) they’ll do and say the same things in 20 years. ⁠

Thinking of homeschooling as Plan B, I researched classical education, homeschooling, and educational philosophy as much as I could so I could do it well, maybe even as well as a school. Twelve years later and I wouldn’t trade homeschooling for any private school in the country. I’ve learned so much alongside them (both in knowledge & character), and they have time to learn deeply and still have free time and a life their own beyond school. ⁠

While still teaching my oldest phonics, I found Cindy Rollins and although it took her 5 years to get me to read Charlotte Mason, I did read Leisure the Basis of Culture, Poetic Knowledge, and Norms and Nobility because of her blog-based book clubs. Through her, my understanding of the classical tradition underwent a dramatic (and also lurching and awkward) shift. ⁠

I see Scholé Sisters as the next generation attempt at the same thing Cindy did for us while she had teens and we had preschoolers: introducing the ideas and challenges and books that we didn’t know we needed, but that helped us grow, mature, and, ultimately, become better homeschool moms. ⁠

Wrestling with new ideas, having assumptions challenged, and discussing both awkwardly: that’s how the friendships behind Scholé Sisters began and really, that’s all we’re doing still. And we’d love you to join us in all three because it’s the process of maturity and growth, which homeschool moms need just as much as our kids. ⁠

Abby Wahl

  • married to Matt for 17 years
  • mother of 5, from 16 to 11
  • raises sheep as well as children
  • INFJ
  • Director of all things Sistership

 I am a new addition to the podcast and I love to start and join conversations in Sistership: Scholé Sisters’ private, online community where we talk, think, apply, and discuss all.the.things pertinent to a homeschooling and self-educating mama.

I met Brandy, Mystie, and Pam at a Schole Sisters’ meet up at the first retreat in 2017. “I knew” if they met me, we could be friends.

My husband is Matt and we have been married for 17 years. We met at a rock concert, through mutual friends. We became friends and when I was in college he invited me to church. My conversion and baptism at age 19 changed my life completely. It is still baffling to my family.

I never thought I would homeschool our kids, I was fine, and my husband was a bit weird. Yet, I married that awkward unsocialized homeschooler, who wore socks with sandals, and dorky glasses (imagine Where’s Waldo). He’s not allowed to do that anymore, as per our prenuptial agreement. As September loomed and I looked at my 5yo boy and thought, we can do kindergarten at home.

Fast forward ten years, we are still homeschooling and it is better and more challenging than I imagined, but the good days exceed bad. My kids are learning true, good, and beautiful things. They are experiencing a wide and generous curriculum. Homeschooling allows us to take a month to work lambing, helping thousands of sheep birth their lambs each spring. My kids are sixth generation sheep herders and have their own flocks.

I love to read and discuss books. Sometimes I moonlight as a strategic planning consultant, but mostly I herd children during the week and sheep on the weekends. When time allows I like to paint with watercolors, I love to exercise, play softball and participate in #fitbit challenges. I am so excited and feel humbled to be part of Scholé Sisters. I really love this community, that thousands of women, just like me, are reading, discussing and learning for themselves and their posterity.

Pam Barnhill

  • married to Matt for 19 years
  • mother of 3, from 15 to 12
  • writes at PamBarnhill.com
  • INTJ
  • chief opener of worm cans

I am a former high school journalism teacher who had kids later in life (oldest sister by about 9 years y’all — it’s me and these whippersnappers). Once the kids came I quickly decided I really wanted to stay home and enjoy them. Plus having been in the public school system all my life and seen the direction it was headed, I really didn’t want to send my kids there. My main complaint is that teaching to the test leaves little room for real learning.

I am the lazy sister as I do the least behind the scenes and mostly just do what Brandy and Mystie tell me to do.

I am not solidly CM. I am not solidly Classical. We are less structured and more educationally relaxed than the other sisters. I am also not nearly as well-read. If you can relate to me, then I am doing my job right. 😉

I love learning, and I love Morning Time. One day (soonish) I hope to retire and spend all my time reclaiming the education I never had. For now I will raise these kids and do the best I can.

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Pam

  1. I did singing telegrams to help pay my way through college.
  2. Every job I ever had as an adult was a direct result of skills I learned in high school yearbook class. (God bless you Ms. Barlow.) .
  3. My husband and I have been together for 30 years! 💕
  4. I didn’t know I was allergic to cats until two years ago. (My mom is allergic so we never had them.)
  5. I took up ice dancing as an adult and got to partner once with 1976 Olympic bronze medalist Jim Millns.  I still miss skating terribly.
  6. I am a Catholic convert as of 11 years ago.
  7. I’ve read more John Holt than Charlotte Mason.
  8. I love to dance. Tap and ballet are my favorites.
  9. I can sing the lyrics just about every Beatles song ever written. Amazes my husband.
  10. Friends is my favorite TV show. I am not sure I would start watching it now, but we quote it so much even our kids quote it, and they have never seen an episode. “Custard…good. Jam…good. Meat… GOOD.”