Elementary School Developers
Story Author for Biographies of Great Inventors and Great Scientists Unit Studies
Rachel Snider has had her nose in a book ever since kindergarten. This habit led to her eventual graduation in 2001 from Brigham Young University with a degree in English Literature. She homeschools her 5 children and has taught various classes for Kaplan.
She has also mentored classes at Front Range Liberty Commonwealth in Broomfield, Colorado, and acts as a writing mentor and coach whenever she gets the opportunity. She always has quite a tower of books on her nightstand which she loves to read and discuss.
Story Co-Author for US History: The Building of a Nation and Story Author for Theater Appreciation Unit Study
Rachel Keppner, known as “Mrs. K.” by her Shakespeare students, and called “Mom” by her 13 children, loves to create! She has written curricula for Shakespeare that is used in both homeschools, as well as in homeschool groups in the United States and Canada. (Her Shakespeare creations can be found at www.yeshakespeare.com) She also creates music and characters when she performs onstage, as she has been doing since the age of 8 years old. She has been writing regularly since 2006, when she created her first of many online blogs, and LOVES her current project of writing US History stories for Ensign Peak Academy. When she is not writing, she enjoys teaching her children at home, reading beautiful literature, singing sacred music, and sewing costumes for plays.
Story Author for Astronomy, Physical Science and Geology Unit Studies, Story Co-Author for Human Body Unit Study
Katrina Lantz was born and raised in Arizona and currently resides in Southern Utah with her husband and five children. She has taught for five years in a commonwealth school setting, and is continuing her studies at Brigham Young University in neuroscience and psychology. As a hobby, she also loves to study astrophysics and the unifying theory of myth written about by Velikovsky and Talbot. She is the author of the children’s series Drats, Foiled Again! (Apr. 2018) and the motivational self-help book The Healing Bucket (Jan. 2019).
Story Author for Biographies of Great Scientists and Great Inventors Unit Studies
Crystal grew up in central and southern Alberta, attending University in Lethbridge and graduating with a BA in Psychology. She currently resides in Montreal, Quebec, while her husband is taking a full-time MBA program. She started homeschooling her kids after her first son attended Kindergarten, and has been homeschooling now for 7 years. She hopes to do her masters in Psychology when her 4 kids, 3 boys and one little girl, are a little older. She currently loves to read non-fiction and learn about historical figures, interesting new concepts and books on psychology and parenting. She is an avid reader, and reads aloud with her children daily, as well as on her own. She recently started writing again, something that she always enjoyed as a child and throughout her University career. Crystal also loves music, the outdoors and travelling. She’s spent 4 months of the last 2 years living in an RV trailer and travelling around North America with her family.
Story Author for US History: The Colonial Era, All Elementary School Writing and Literature
Jennifer Wheeler is an avid book reader and lover of all things literature, writing, and music. As an English Education Major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Jen added a love of teaching to her love of literature. After receiving a B.S. in English Education from IUP, Jen taught for several years in the Fairfax County Public School System where she instructed 10th and 11th grade students in English and Language Arts. During that time, she also served as a curriculum developer and testing coordinator for her team. Jen and her husband John married in 2006 and were blessed a year later with a beautiful daughter. They have been homeschooling their four children since their oldest, Katie, entered Kindergarten in 2011. Jen is very interested in various homeschooling philosophies and methods and was blessed to serve as the president of the East Coast Conference Team of Latter-day Saint Home Educators for 3 years. She is a book and curriculum junkie, and in her “spare time,” she loves to read, knit, spin, make music, and go on adventures. She is affectionately named “The Energizer Bunny” by those who are closest to her because she never stops going, and truly finds joy in learning and adventuring wherever the Lord leads her.
Story Author for The Animal Kingdom and Plant Kingdom Unit Studies
Bonnie fell in love with biology and plants in her high school science classes and loves to learn more about this beautiful world that God created for us to explore and enjoy. After traveling the United States for a year, Bonnie has settled in Alabama with her husband and five kids where plants and bugs are plenty! Learning about new things and sharing these with others is a lifelong passion.
Middle and High School Developers
Co-Developer: Computer Technology
Kaleb graduated from Eastern Washington State University with a Master of Science in Computer Science and two minors in Math and Physics. During his studies, he concentrated on AI, hacking, and Databases. His main professional career has focused on computers, but his first love had been physics and math. He loves to look at new technologies, read about what is going on in the world, loves to play RPG video games, action games, reading to his kids, and hang with the family. He lives in Farr West, UT with his wife Sheri, children, and a bunch of dogs and cats.
Tara C. Allred-Niekamp
Instructional Design Template
Tara Allred-Niekamp is an author, educator, and instructional designer with a passion for learning. She has designed online courses for K12, Inc. eCornell, Junior Achievement, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and IBM, as well as other education-based companies.
Prior to her instructional design days, Tara was involved with outreach education and program development for several Utah museums and informal educational organizations.
She has a particular love for the sciences, literature, and especially the gospel of Jesus Christ. In her free time, Tara enjoys writing fictional stories, spending time with her game-board loving husband, or playing with her two active terriers.
Mother, Wife, Nutrition Coach, Ultrarunner, Triathlete, & CrossFitter
Growing up I was an avid basketball player. I dabbled in other sports, nothing too serious.
10 years ago I started running and haven’t stopped since. I have run everything from a 5k to a 100 mile ultramarathon (yes all on my own 2 feet and yes without stopping). In the last few years I became a Nutrition Coach, began CrossFit and completed my first 70.3 Ironman. Fitness has given me not only physical health but mental health and strength as well.
Aaron Andrews was born and raised in Shelley, Idaho. After serving in the Iowa Des Moines Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he attended Southern Virginia University. There, he went to many Remote Area Medical clinics to volunteer in providing healthcare to rural communities, studied bacteriophage virus proteins, and received the school’s Distinguished Leader-Servant Award. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry in 2019 and has since worked and volunteered in laboratories, doctors’ offices, and as a paraprofessional for a middle school in Virginia.
Aaron enjoys learning about neat scientific breakthroughs and reading a good fantasy novel. He currently lives in Alpine, California with his wife, Emma.
Developer: Human Geography
Kimberly Bingham is an online educator and homeschooling mother of four. She currently teaches English as a Second Language through an online platform, and has worked as an international relations consultant. Prior to educating her children at home, Kimberly served as a Logistics Officer in the United States Marine Corps, successfully completing deployment missions to Afghanistan and Iraq. She received commendation for providing seamless logistics support to 5 forward-deployed operating bases simultaneously in support of global operations. She enjoys volunteering with the Red Cross, and Kimberly is the Illinois State Ambassador for Home School Legal Defense Association Compassion, which allows her to serve homeschooling families in need. Kimberly believes deeply in integrity, diligence, and service to others. She is a life-long learner with a passion for foreign languages, music, and Brazilian martial arts. Kimberly is excited to be part of the Ensign Peak Academy team!
Co-Developer: High School Chemistry, Middle School Chemistry and Ecology, Middle School Geology and Astronomy
Co-Developer: Computer Technology and Earth Science
Amy Cloud earned a B.A. degree in Political Science and Economics from Brigham Young University in 2016. During her time as a student, Amy traveled to the Middle East to work and study on two separate occasions. Additionally, she was blessed with the opportunity to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cambodia. After graduation, she enlisted in the US Army as an Arabic linguist in order to serve her country. She served honorably for 5 years and during that time had the privilege to go on a combat deployment to Iraq. Through college and the military, Amy has a wide variety of teaching experience including; foreign languages, math, science, political science, and computer technology.
Amy currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and loves spending time with her nieces and nephews. She loves outdoor adventures, traveling to other countries, and learning about other cultures. Amy enjoys debating, working with her hands and spending time with her dog.
Co-Developer: British Literature, English: Writing Skills; Developer: High School World Literature, English: Writing Adventures
Developer and Self-Paced Program Mentor: High School Music Appreciation
Leah Ellis was born and raised in West Valley City, Utah. She currently resides in Kaysville, Ut where she runs Ellis Music Studio. She graduated from BYU Idaho, with a BA in music, string emphasis, and a minor in Marriage and Family Studies. Leah enjoyed 19 years of private violin lessons, including 8 years under the instruction of Emily Day-Shumway, former member of the Utah Symphony and Concert Mistress of the Utah Chamber Orchestra. Leah performed in the Utah Youth Philharmonic for 6 years, and in the BYU-Idaho Symphony Orchestra and ensembles for 4 years, along with multiple community orchestral and choral events. Leah also performed with her family bluegrass band “The Wildflowers” as a fiddler and vocalist for 8 years. While violin is Leah’s main instrument, she also enjoys playing the piano, viola, cello, guitar, and singing in home activities and numerous events. Leah has 2 years’ experience as a private tutor in elementary level reading, literature, art and music theory, and has 10+ years’ experience teaching private violin lessons to students of all ages. She has taught two previous online Music Appreciation courses. Leah served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission, Portuguese speaking. Along with music, Leah also enjoys drawing, painting with watercolors, reading, and being with her friends, family and husband Spencer Ellis.
Co-Developer: British Literature, English: Writing Skills
Developer: US Government and Citizenship
Co-Developer: American History
Austin Hepworth is an attorney licensed to practice in Utah and California. Austin views American History as an important subject that helps us better understand the decisions we should make today to improve the course of our country. Austin has had the opportunity to review American History through the lens of the law, court precedent, and other legal or political forces that have helped shape America into what it is today. Austin graduated first in his law school class, has participated in cases and legal issues around the country, and enjoys helping students connect their past to their future through the study of American History.
Austin was homeschooled from grades 3 – 9, and is currently a homeschool father of seven children. He served a mission in Taipei, Taiwan and speaks Mandarin Chinese. Austin enjoys rollerblading, camping, reading, and writing. He also believes strongly in the potential that the youth of today have in shaping a better tomorrow for America.
Co-Developer: Principles of Liberty Part 1
Jim has a passion for history in general and, more specifically, the founding era of these United States and the Providential hand that played such an important role in the birth our great nation. Jim’s casual reading collection includes biographies of Adams, Jefferson, Washington and others, as well as many volumes dealing with our American founding and its fascinating transformation from fledgling colonies to the most prosperous, free nation in the history of the world. Jim recognizes the importance of bringing to life these ideas and principles in young people and preserving our unique ‘American experiment’.
A graduate of Woodbury College (now Champlain College) in Montpelier Vermont, Jim worked nine years as a facility manager for mentally ill adults and, for the past 17 years, Jim has owned and operated a sales and marketing firm based in central New York State. Jim enjoys the natural beauty of upstate New York and can be found hiking in the Adirondack Mountains as often as time permits. At home, Jim is married to Sheri, and is busy with a blended family with six children at varying stages of life. He is also active in church, takes an occasional online class, and loves playing the guitar.
Jenny Hochstein certified to teach yoga in 2009. She has been teaching community groups and private yoga courses for the last 12 years. She is mom to five kids and wife to a husband she loves dearly. She loves her family and enjoys doing yoga with her husband, her kids and her baby. Jenny enjoys gardening, hosting a book club, and growing tulips. She loves sushi, art, being outside, music, and homeschooling. Jenny started practicing yoga when she was fifteen years old, during one of the most stressful times of her life. She knows from first-hand experience how yoga can help heal emotional and physical wounds. Jenny is especially eager to teach youth and is looking forward to sharing her knowledge about how yoga can boost energy, strength, happiness, confidence and a positive outlook on life. She specializes in a unique form of yoga that combines yoga meditations centered on Christ, Father in Heaven and nature. She is passionate about teaching beginners and experienced youth. Jenny feels grateful for the opportunity to share her gift with others – a gift she for which she feels thankful and with which she strives to glorify Heavenly Father.
Co-Developer: Modern World History, Ancient World History, American History
Mr. Jensen is a beloved mentor for youth and has taught online history, geography, and government and economics courses for over eight years. He was recognized by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as a noteworthy Reagan historian and invited to address them in September 2018. He has published articles in peer reviewed history and academic journals on the RMS Titanic and served as an assistant editor and historical consultant on three BYU publications in the “Saints at War” program. He hopes to one day launch his dream project, “Highways of Heroes,” honoring our nation’s veterans. He enjoyed serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Korea and has participated in humanitarian endeavors in Hong Kong and as a service volunteer in two orphanages in Thailand.
For 20 years, he has been active in the Sunday School organization, serving as a teacher multiple times and as Sunday School president on both the Ward and Stake level on multiple occasions. Harmonizing his faith with his teaching talents is one of his greatest joys, and one he feels blessed to share with your children.
Jeff’s greatest passion is for his faith and family. He and his wife have welcomed three enthusiastic and passionate boys into their family who always keep them entertained and on their toes. Hiking by day and stargazing by night, being outdoors surrounded by nature is Jeff’s happy place. He also loves relaxing to movie scores, occasionally escaping to Middle-earth, chatting with complete strangers, and finding beauty and meaning in cultures across the world.
Co-Developer: Modern World History, American Literature, English: Writing Dynamics, Ancient World History, Family Science, Entrepreneurship, Earth Science, Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, English: Writing Essentials
Diann Jeppson is devoted to creating fulfilling learning experiences for students. Diann’s experience includes 18 years as producer of Simulations Week and 23 years as producer of the Liberty Girls program (history-based experiential learning for children) and 5 years experience teaching and directing American Youth Leadership Institute, a youth civics education organization.
Health: Diann operated a natural food co-op for seven years, published a health newsletter and taught monthly nutrition classes at a local fitness center for 18 months. In the subject of health, she is self-educated through extensive reading and has healed herself from a lengthy chronic illness.
Finance: Diann is fluent and experienced with QuickBooks, reading financial statements, personal finance, business finance and non-profit finance. She chaired the monthly finance and budget committee meetings for a large non-profit for six years. She has created and managed numerous budgets and accounts over many years.
Family Science: Diann produced 12 large conferences titled “The Family Forum,” featuring speakers and workshops on a wide variety of topics related to strengthening the family as the core unit of society. She has studied the topic widely and is excited to share her enthusiasm about the family with students.
Diann has fulfilled numerous speaking engagements at home education conferences and seminars in the US and Canada. She has chaired four non-profit educational organizations and has 10+ years experience as a parliamentary procedure consultant and trainer. Diann enjoyed performing for 8 years in a family bluegrass ensemble called “The Wildflowers” (guitar and vocals).
She and her husband Adam live on a 2.5 acre homestead in Mount Pleasant, a small Central-Utah town in a secluded high-mountain desert valley. Adam is the town gunsmith. Adam and Diann have four delightful daughters, handsome sons-in-law and eight terrific little grandchildren.
Co-Developer High School Chemistry
Co-Developer: Life Skills
Co-Developer: American Literature, English: Writing Dynamics, Ancient World History, American Literature, English: Writing Skills, British Literature, American History
Joseph Ramirez was born in the right century, because this century has access to all of the other centuries. A self-taught historian, a driven novelist, and enthusiastic teacher, Joseph is excited to serve as a mentor for Ensign Peak Academy.
Joseph served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Atlanta, GA. For a small-town Idaho boy, used to potato fields, mountains and rural roads, metropolitan Georgia was about as foreign as it gets. He quickly connected with the South, and the many cultures from all over the world, and he still gets caught saying, “yes, Ma’am,” “yes, sir,” and “y’all.”
Joseph worked at a charter school for three years before teaching history, English and literature for Ensign Peak Academy’s 2019-2020 school year. When he’s not teaching, you’ll often find him at the local library, researching and writing his next book. In his off time, he enjoys vintage swing dancing, learning historical skills, shooting firearms, playing his guitar and making things with his hands.
Joseph and his wife Charis and little princess Rosie reside in Springville, Utah. He enjoys shelves full of books, art and a workbench with creative projects in various stages of completion, and his faithful guitar, Petunia.
Developer: Career and College Prep
Co-Developer: Life Skills
Mrs. Simonson has been teaching junior high, high school and college for many years. She has always been passionate about distance education and how accessible it makes education to all people, no matter where they are or what their circumstance. This passion led her to pursue a Distance Education emphasis when earning her MEd from Utah State University.
She has a rather large family, which includes seven children, three bonus children, two dogs, and a fish. The children are spread out from Montana to Utah to Maryland, with three still living at home.
In addition to her position at Ensign Peak Academy Mrs. Simonson also teaches for an online charter school, BYU Idaho, and homeschools two of her children. At church, she enjoys a calling as one of the Activity Days leaders. Mrs. Simonson has a firm testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She loves that together, she has the opportunity to teach and learn in a Christ-centered environment. She is looking forward to a wonderful year mentoring Entrepreneurship!
Developer: High School Honors Seminar
Dr. Elizabeth Smailes is a mentor for serious readers. She believes that edification and education can, in the right setting, support and build on one another. As a seminary teacher for over 15 years she has a broad gospel base. She believes that when this gospel base is used to judge all other literature, the result is electrifying. Dr. Smailes is a graduate and former mentor from George Wythe University. This educational background enables her understand how students can see themselves and the world through the lens of great leaders and thinkers of the past and present. She studied Logotherapy and received a certificate of completion from the School of Logotherapy, located in Dallas, Texas. Logotherapy was developed by neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frank. It is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. She believes that we are here to inspire one another and receives her most tender inspiration from her grandchildren, as she sees hope and joy in their eyes.
Developer: Financial Literacy
Samara earned her Bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in 1994. Since then, she has had many adventures in education and business. From managing car dealerships to teaching High School Algebra to managing commercial high rises, she lives by the motto “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.” [Helen Keller] Currently, she is homeschooling her children, teaching English to children in China online, and taking on creative projects in graphic design and video editing. She lives in Avondale, Arizona with her sweetheart Ray and her two favorite children. If you ask her why they are her favorite children in the whole wide world, she’ll tell you it is because she made them.
Co-Developer: Family Science
Elise graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Studies and a Master of Science degree in Family Studies from Texas Woman’s University. She has worked with non-profit organizations teaching parent education classes and leading groups for young mothers. She has also worked with LDS Family Services to enhance some of the resources they provide for families.
She has worked with youth in many capacities over the years including teaching seminary, young women’s and organizing community service projects. She has helped to manage and oversee concerts and tours for hundreds of youth, with Millennial Choirs and Orchestras. In addition, she has taught and developed classes for middle and high school students at her local homeschool group, for many years.
Elise lives in Texas with her amazing husband and is the mother of six incredible children, three boys, and three girls. She has been homeschooling for five years and has three children still at home. She enjoys family history, a good book, reading to her kids, and doing adventurous things with her family! She loves to travel and explore the world, so is always planning her next trip.
Co-Developer: US History, World History, Principles of Liberty – Parts 1 and 2
Connie Voss graduated from Brigham Young University and New England College. Her Master’s degree is in Public Policy, with a 4.0 GPA and a perfect score on her thesis. She has many years of teaching experience, including early morning seminary. She also served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Mexico and Colorado. In addition, she keeps active in local elections and state political issues. A native Californian, Connie successfully homeschooled five children. She lives in Gridley, California with her dog Odie.
Co-Developer: World Literature, American and British Literature, English: Focus on Language Arts, English: Language Arts Companion
Jennifer Wheeler is an avid book reader and lover of all things literature, writing, and music. As an English Education Major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Jen added a love of teaching to her love of literature. After receiving a B.S. in English Education from IUP, Jen taught for several years in the Fairfax County Public School System where she instructed 10th and 11th grade students in English and Language Arts. During that time, she also served as a curriculum developer and testing coordinator for her team.
Jen and her husband John married in 2006 and were blessed a year later with a beautiful daughter. They have been homeschooling their four children since their oldest, Katie, entered Kindergarten in 2011. Jen is interested in various homeschooling philosophies and methods and was blessed to serve as the president of the East Coast Conference Team of Latter-day Saint Home Educators for three years. As a life-long learner, she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Online Education and Technology for Instructional Design at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.
In her “spare time,” Jen loves to read, knit, spin, make music, and go on adventures. She is affectionately named “The Energizer Bunny” by those who are closest to her because she never stops going, and truly finds joy in learning and adventuring wherever the Lord leads her
Developer: High School Art Appreciation, High School Studio Art, Yearbook
Marie Withers is an artist and instructor. Her Education includes a Master of Arts (MA, 2019) in Art Education at Brigham Young University (BYU), a BFA Degree in Art Education from Utah State University (USU, 1988), and a BS Degree in Home Economics Education from the University of Idaho (UI, 1982). She teaches painting and drawing; and is also fluent in graphic design and photography. From 1997 to 2017, she was a graphic designer and eventually a multi-media designer at BYU. Currently, she makes and sells fine art (mostly oil paintings) and prints, in galleries, shows and online. Her work is primarily with the landscape, but she has also created figure and portrait work. She taught high school art and home economics at South Fremont High School in Idaho for two years, prior to becoming a graphic designer. During three different summers, she taught drawing and painting at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. In 1996 she had the opportunity of being an artist-in-residence for Fox Hollow Elementary School in Idaho Falls. Born in upstate New York, she spent most of her formative years in Moscow, Idaho, eventually making her way to Southeast Idaho and Utah. She now resides in Rexburg, Idaho.
Having had the opportunity of teaching early-morning Seminary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints one year, she appreciates how art and Gospel beliefs are so intertwined. Some of her artwork depicts events in Church history. She is passionate about both art and teaching and finds great pleasure in helping students discover things about our world through art.