All in the Sussmann Family

Mar 28, 2024 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

In 2023 IEW released Introduction to Public Speaking. In honor of this, IEW hosted its first annual speech contest and received submissions from all over the country. After much deliberation, the winners were announced in January 2024. Three of the winning speeches were given by brothers Xavier and Blaise Sussmann. In light of this, we reached out to their mom, Jennifer, to discuss their family’s experience with public speaking.

Jennifer and her husband, Ross, have seven children ages thirteen months to seventeen years. After looking at educational options when their oldest was close to school age, they were drawn to homeschooling. Over the years, homeschooling has worked well for their family.

Jennifer did not intend for speech and debate to become a large part of their lives. When her oldest daughter, Audrey, was in middle school, she joined a forensics team in their enrichment co-op. She loved it! When the coach moved away from the area and Audrey wanted to continue, Jennifer stepped in. She searched for a public speaking course and found IEW’s Speech Boot Camp (now discontinued and replaced by Introduction to Public Speaking). She started it with her daughter and one other student. This led to her becoming connected with the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA), which Andrew Pudewa highly recommends. Having heard Andrew speak at conferences, she trusted his advice. As Audrey began participating in speech and debate competitions, her gregarious twin brothers, Blaise and Xavier, were eager to participate as well. Soon they were also competing in several categories at NCFCA events.

When Jennifer saw the announcement for the IEW Speech Contest, she forwarded it to her fourteen-year-old sons and encouraged them to enter. In true teenage fashion they procrastinated, submitting their speeches the night of the deadline. However, their efforts paid off. In January 2024 when the winners were announced, Xavier had won first place in the narrative category and second place in the persuasive category while Blaise had won third place in the self-introductory category. You can find links to Xavier’s speeches along with several of the other winning speeches in the January 2024 Magnum Opus Magazine newsletter. The boys used some of their prize money to purchase elegant new surplices, which they wear when performing altar service at their church.

Blaise and Xavier continue to take part in NCFCA competitions and are currently preparing for the first event of the season. They enjoy math, economics, and public policy debate. Maybe we will see them running for public office one day!

We want to thank the Sussmanns and all of those who participated in the first IEW Speech Contest. We look forward to entries for the 2024 Speech Contest, which will be announced soon. Make sure you are signed up for IEW’s monthly newsletter for this and other news from IEW. All of this is part of our efforts to provide teachers and teaching parents with methods and materials which will aid them in training their students to be confident and competent communicators and thinkers. 

by Deanne Smith

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