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.

Pam was one of the Scholé Sisters for the first 6 years but in 2022 made the tough decision to step away and focus on things closer to home; her family for one, and planning for retirement. We are all good friends and while we miss her, we support her. We encourage you to find her over at Your Morning Basket.

Scholé is the opposite of stress.

Meet the Scholé Sisters

Brandy Vencel

  • married to Josiah for 22 years
  • mother of 4, from 21 to 14
  • graduated one student!
  • writes at Afterthoughts
  • INTP
  • AmblesideOnline 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 podcast. 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 22 years (but who’s counting?). Our four kids are 21, 18, 16, and 14.
• 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 18 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

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. Fourteen 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 19 years
  • mother of 5 from 13 to 18
  • raises sheep as well as children
  • INFJ
  • Director of all things Sistership
  • Embraces big hospitality whenever she can

The Sistership is 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 Scholé 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 19 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, I looked at my 5 year old boy and thought, ‘We can do kindergarten at home.’

We are still homeschooling, I have graduated one young adult, and another has chosen to attend a local Christian School. It is different than I imagined, and we will not read every book I had hoped to share with my kids.  The years are going quickly and I am so thankful I get to spend the majority of my days with my favorite people. 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. We work hard in the barns and ranching, which transfers to working hard in our studies. Four out of five of my children are left handed and also dyslexic, it has always been hard work learning to read, spell, and write. We’ve all learned that we can do hard things and persevere. 

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, lift heavy weights, and participate in #fitbit challenges. I talk to Brandy and Mystie most days. We really are great friends and sisters in Christ. I really love this community; the Sistership is the place that thousands of women, just like me, are reading, discussing, and learning for themselves and their posterity.