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Passion for geography fuels homeschool mom’s award winning classes

Geography Teacher (GEOTCHR) is such a part of Patty Sepp's identity that she emblazons that upon her license plate.
Geography Teacher (GEOTCHR) is such a part of Patty Sepp's identity that she emblazons that upon her license plate.
Holly Craw

Passionate is a word that describes Patty Sepp in a number of areas. As a homeschool mom and community leader in Phoenix for 24 years and 14 years prior as a public school teacher, Patty definitely has a passion for education and homeschooling in particular. She also has a zealous fire for developing teen leadership and for the often-maligned subject of geography.

Homeschool mom Patty Sepp's passion is for teaching geographic literacy to homeschool students.
Patty Sepp

In 1987, Patty began homeschooling her three (and later four) children. Quickly getting involved in a homeschool support group, she took on leadership and support roles. When the National Geography Bee competition debuted in 1989, Patty’s oldest daughter was eligible, and with coaxing from a friend, Patty became coach and proctor for a homeschool team. This ignited her passion for the subject, a totally new direction from her previous teaching experience in vocational education. For many years since, she has headed up school-level competitions for the homeschool community, with several of her students going on to the Arizona state Geography Bee contests.

It was a natural step from coaching the Bee to joining the Arizona Geographic Alliance (AzGA) (formed in 1992). AzGA, supported by National Geographic Society, ASU, and the state of Arizona, trains K-12 teachers in all content areas to incorporate geography into their classes. Patty went through their intense summer institute and became a Teacher-Consultant with AzGA representing the Arizona homeschool community. She's created lessons for both the award-winning GeoLiteracy and GeoMath Projects, as well as the Arizona Centennial Legacy Project. These lessons are available on the AzGA's website for teachers and homeschoolers across the country.

Through involvement with AzGA, Mrs. Sepp has often been selected for exclusive key opportunities only given to their Teacher-Consultants. She has been a Presentor/Facilitator at many of AzGA's GeoFest Conferences, school district workshops, and homeschool presentations. She has won several awards for her work, and is the recipient of several grants for teaching projects. The skills, information and resources that she gained in these events were always brought back for use in the homeschool community.

While I was homeschooling, I had the opportunity to be chosen to become a Teacher-Consultant with the Ariziona Geographic Alliance (AzGA) in 1996 and provide an outreach of geographic education for homeschooling families in Arizona. My passion is to provide our homeschooled families the resources to learn geography and become informed in local, state, and world events. (Much of this was prior to the internet availability). My passion for teaching has expanded to other areas, such as classes in Arizona History, Computer Keyboarding, and Government.

In addition to the geography instruction she gave to homeschoolers preparing for Geo Bees, Patty has been teaching homeschool geography classes for several years at libraries, churches, homes, parks, and other locations. She has taught on single topics completed in one session and on the larger scale with a full-year high school class on World Geography (and other subjects) for a homeschool co-op program. Patty has also incorporated geo-technology into her homeschool classes to promote GPS/GIS skills. Parents frequently affirm Patty’s commitment to their children and the positive growth they experience, and her passion for teaching.

Other organizational involvements include:

  • AzGA (many capacities 1996 to present)
  • National Geographic Geography Action! 2003-4 & 2004-5 Arizona Coordinator
  • Arizona Geographic Information Council (GPS PowerPoint)
  • Arizona Council of Social Studies
    (Great Moments in Teaching Award - 2004)
  • Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE)--State homeschool organization--conference presenter
  • National Council on Geographic Education (NCGE Distiguished Educator Award - 2001)
  • RASI (Rock Art Summer Institute - Conservation of Native American Rock Art)
  • Utah Geographic Alliance/Community Mapping Institute

My plan is to continue offering geography classes, activities, and parent presentations that will promote geographic education for homeschooled families. I would also like to encourage homeschooled teenagers to develop leadership skills to be confident and successful in today's world. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the tremendous support given to this homeschool outreach by the AzGA organization. Without them, I would not have had the resources or the professional development opportunities which have made it possible to provide this outreach to so many homeschooling families throughout Arizona.

Editor’s Note: Patty Sepp continues to pour herself out for the homeschooling community as an “alumni mom” even though her last child graduated from high school three years ago. Quite often over the past several years, homeschoolers have won in the Arizona and other state geography competitions, being eligible to continue in the National Geographic Bee at the national level.

Next: Extreme volunteer: Patty Sepp leads homeschool Youth & Government team to honors.

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