Bill and Gail Biby
Gail and Bill Biby got involved with the homeschool movement in March of 1991 when Rev. Clinton Birst, director of the North Dakota Home School Association and the North Dakota Family Alliance. Clinton asked to volunteer to do some organization and typing. After six months, she was hired, and for the next six years she assisted Clinton by answering homeschool questions, writing a monthly newsletter, organizing and running the yearly conventions, and publishing a monthly North Dakota insert for Teaching Home and Citizen magazines.
Her devoted husband, Bill, was a continual support and encouragement. In 1997, Rev. Birst stepped down from the NDHSA and NDFA and Gail was hired by the NDHSA as their secretary. The NDHSA office was moved to a basement apartment in Bill and Gail’s home. In addition to what she did for Clinton, Gail researched and wrote manuals for public school superintendents and monitors, an Annotated North Dakota Century Code for parent- directed private home education, and a home school guide to high school. She visited with support groups and maintained a registry of such.
Through all of these duties, Bill assisted Gail whenever possible and or necessary. This included folding, addressing, and sorting 2200 sheets of paper each month for the newsletter. His continual support has been essential. Additionally, Gail has penned, advised and promoted legislation that has enabled us to experience many of the freedoms homeschoolers enjoy today.
In 2003 Gail resigned her position with the NDHSA and moved to Argusville, N.D. where she continues to work as the publications editor for the organization. At present she writes the monthly electronic newsletter, The Eclectic, as well as a legislative alert during the N.D. legislative sessions, and is compiling a history of home schooling in North Dakota. Gail also continues to assist, advise, and encourage the board of directors when requested. She currently enjoys gardening, spending time with her family, researching and writing (including articles for national magazines), and crocheting.
Behind the scenes, the Bibys have been the heart and soul of the NDHSA for many years. Thank you, Gail and Bill!
Morris and Jackie Conklin
In 1987, the Conklins already had a deep conviction about what educational plan would be best for their family and would bring God the most glory. Undaunted by the illegality of homeschooling in N.D., Morris went to school and earned a BA in elementary education. This allowed them to homeschool without threat of arrest and as Morris puts it “homeschool without some of the legal challenges that some of our colleagues suffered.”
Conklins homeschooled from 1987 to 1994, and in January of 1994 the family left for Portugal to serve as missionaries.
In remembering those pioneer days Morris writes:
“As for the legal case, we were never compelled to open our school to monitoring or to submit our students to the local school district for the prescribed standardized achievement tests. We did administer the tests ourselves voluntarily and nothing ever came of it that affected our homeschooling.”
Though Conklins may minimize the importance of Conklin vs. Sanstead, it was an important milestone. The case (Civil N. 92-31) was filed by HSLDA in Southeastern Judicial District Court of N.D. challenging the Department of Education’s regulations which mandated mental aptitude testing. Consequently, the Department of Education [DPI] agreed to rescind their regulations and stated in the stipulated order of dismissal, “students involved in home based instruction do not have to take aptitude tests.” The court order was signed June 1993. Mental abilities testing (the old IQ tests) were too easily used against a homeschooling family if for example the testing showed a performance possibility above what was currently being seen.
Morris states, “Our greatest struggle might have been with the attitude of the local superintendent of the public schools; that along with the scorn of some well-meaning Christians.” He relates one of the many blessings was one day while watching his sons scrimmage with the local public school football team, the coach commented, ‘Morris, I respect what you are doing with your sons. I only wish I could do the same.’”
Morris states, “We don’t have any regrets nor have we ever heard any from our sons about homeschooling.” The Conklin boys are all married and serving the Lord.
The Conklins served as missionaries in Portugal for 20 years, retired from missions in July 2014, and since August 2014, they have been actively involved at Evangel Assembly of God in Bismarck where Morris is the Care Pastor.
We praise God for their courage, devotion to family, dedication to God, and pioneering efforts in North Dakota that ultimately benefitted all homeschoolers.
Allen (and Barb) Entzel
The Entzels began homeschooling in 1989 when their oldest turned seven. It was the year the first homeschool statute was passed by the Legislature. They state, “We owe a debt of gratitude to those pioneers who faced court, challenging their decision to homeschool before the law allowed.”
Their initial motivation to homeschool was boredom on the part of this first child; they were convinced he would be bored in a traditional classroom and that they could better feed his curiosity. “The longer we homeschooled, the more advantages we saw!”
All the children are successfully launched. Eric, 34, is a computer programmer and was homeschooled exclusively. During his treatments for leukemia, homeschooling proved especially valuable as he could work at his own pace and rest as needed. Emily, 30, homeschooled through her junior year is now an administrative secretary. Kyle, 28, homeschooled through grade 8 is an elementary music teacher. Leah, 25, homeschooled through grade 10 is a music teacher, also, and Elizabeth, 22, is finishing her degree in biology. All the children were actively involved in public school music classes.
And what was one of the greatest lessons they learned? The necessity for “continual reliance on God for the strength and wisdom to tackle teaching our children and the opportunity to teach them critical thinking skills to prepare them for life!”
Their greatest challenge? “… time management for all of us.” The Entzels say the greatest blessing experienced during those long years of homeschooling was “…time spent together and homeschooling allowing our children time to pursue music, piano lessons and whatever interested them through the years.”
Always devoted to truth and gently honestly, the Entzels say the greatest obstacle in their homeschooling adventure was pride. So, these verses served as a constant reminder to their family: Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may present unto Thee a heart of wisdom.” Galatians 6:9: “Let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing.”
Allen and Barb declare: A wise women once said, “The proof is in the pudding.” We have had no regrets about homeschooling and I don’t believe any of our children do either. We enjoy the adults they have become and thank God for how He has blessed our family.”
And we thank God for His blessing to homeschoolers in North Dakota for Allen’s service on the Board of Directors. How we praise God for the many ways He raised up those who would prove through their devotion that homeschooling produces godly offspring; that their tremendous effort is worth it; and that each who has gone before was there for ‘such a time as this’.
Allen served on the NDHSA board for 10 years during the 1990s. His soft-spoken, gentlemanly approach to everything was a great asset to the association. We remain indebted to him for his wise, steady leadership.