2019-2020 Live Program Mentor: Ancient World History (Learning Community 1); Senior Capstone Project
Self-Paced Program Mentor: Modern World History
Developer: Modern World History, Ancient World History
Mr. Jensen is a beloved mentor for youth and has taught online history, geography, government and economics course for over 6 years. He is a popular speaker and has logged over 3000 public speaking hours, most in classroom settings across the state as a guest lecturer on the Titanic and U.S. history. He was recognized by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as a noteworthy Reagan historian and invited to address them in September 2018. He is currently working towards publication of his first book, a history book called “The President’s Pages.” He has published articles in peer reviewed history and academic journals on the RMS Titanic and serves as assistant editor and historical consultant on 3 BYU publications in the “Saints at War” program. He enjoyed serving an LDS mission in Korea and Hong Kong, and as a service volunteer in two orphanages in Thailand. He stays politically active and has taken leadership roles in local politics.
2019-2020 Live Program: American Literature (Learning Community 2), English: Writing Dynamics (Learning Community 2), Ancient World History (Learning Communities 2 and 3)
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 has been working at a charter school for the past three years. 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 resides in Provo, Utah, in a cozy apartment filled with bookshelves, art and a workbench with creative projects in various stages of completion. Accompanying him is his faithful guitar, Petunia, and the friendly garden snails that come out on his walk when it rains.
2019-2020 Live Program Mentor: Senior Capstone Project
Christopher Jones (alias Mr. C) has for several years taught classes on history, civics, and Defense Against the Dark Arts both on- and off-line as part of the growing private/homeschool movement. This will be his third year teaching full time. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.A. in Classics (Roman History) and minors in English and History, and has a lifetime in politics—including running a presidential campaign–to go with acting, singing, and writing. A sought-after speaker on education and history, he is also a working writer, with four published books, dozens of articles and essays, and a long-running popular blog. Mr. C resides in Lehi, UT with his wife Mrs. C, their eight children, two cats, and a growing flock of free-range finches.
2019-2020 Live Program Mentor: Family Science (Learning Communities 1, 2 and 3)
Laura Hickson graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Development in 2000. After graduation, she worked for an agricultural consulting firm and had the opportunity to travel around the United States conducting research. She also has experience in management, sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, and teaching several forms of dance. Her opportunity to teach Gospel Doctrine for almost 10 years has allowed her to feast upon the words of Christ, deepen her testimony of the gospel, and become comfortable leading group discussions.
So far, Laura’s most exciting adventure in life has been her role as an eternal companion to her husband and mother to their 5 children. She began homeschooling in 2008 when her oldest daughter was ready for kindergarten. Since then, she has attempted to implement personalized education plans for each of her 5 children based on learning style, ability and interest. Trying to maintain a simple, yet effective method of integrating gospel instruction, character development, etiquette, work ethic, music skills, physical education/ nutrition, foreign language study, homesteading skills, language arts, math, history, financial literacy, and nature study while having clean clothes to wear and something relatively healthy to eat has proven to be her greatest joy!
Laura and her family live on a small farm in Texas with their children, lots of Golden Retrievers, a Great Pyrenees, some goats, chickens, a miniature horse, honey bees and a garden. She loves sunshine, digging in the dirt, and hearing her children laugh. Her dream day is one spent kayaking in a little pond surrounded by towering pine trees on the land where 4 generations of her family have been raised. She is thrilled to have a chance to share her passion for family life with the students of Ensign Peak Academy!
2019-2020 Live Program Mentor: American Literature, English: Writing Dynamics (Learning Communities 1 and 3)
Self-Paced Program Mentor: Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, English: Writing Essentials; Senior Capstone Project
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.
2019-2020 Live Program: Earth Science (Learning Communities 1, 2 and 3)
Molly Christensen graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Statistics. Since then, she has found great passion in being a mother and mentor to her 7 children. She will start her 20th year of homeschooling this year. She has 4 kids still homechooling, 1 on a mission and 2 graduated from BYU.
She has founded several highly-successful homeschool co-ops, written mounds of curriculum and taught many, many classes to youth and adults, including Latin, science, math, leadership and lots more.
Despite swearing that she’d never speak in public again after taking a public speech class in 9th grade, Heavenly Father had different plans, and she has become a popular speaker and teacher. In her “spare” time, she loves learning and reading, snow skiing and hiking with her family.
Molly also stays busy running her own business, Building Heroes Academy, where she helps homeschool moms find the balance of running a home and homeschooling while raising their kids to be heroes. She believes that all people were born good and have a greatness to develop. She is passionate about sharing her love of learning and encouraging others on their journeys to greatness.
Self-Paced Program: Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, English: Writing Essentials
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.
Self-Paced Program: Health
Developer: Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, English: Writing Essentials, Modern World History, American Literature, English: Writing Dynamics, Ancient World History, Family Science, Entrepreneurship, Earth Science
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.
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, three handsome sons-in-law and seven terrific little grandchildren.
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.
Developer: High School Music Appreciation Course
Leah Ellis was born and raised in West Valley City, Utah. She currently resides in Rexburg, ID where she recently 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.
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.
Developer: Studio Art; High School Art Appreciation
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.