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.