Middle School Mentors

Jennifer WheelerJennifer Wheeler

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: American and British Literature, English: Focus on Language Arts (Middle School Learning Communities 1 and 2)

Self-Paced Program Mentor: World Literature, English: Language Arts Companion

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

Carolyn Marriott

Carolyn Marriott

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: American and British Literature, English: Focus on Language Arts (Middle School Learning Community 3)

Carolyn Marriott has a passion for learning and teaching. Besides homeschooling her own seven children, she has decades of experience teaching youth in church and academic settings. Recognizing the value of community, she and her children participated in homeschool groups in Washington and Utah where she taught a variety of topics from Spanish, to U.S. History, to Economics. She currently thrives on learning with the students at Ensign Peak Academy. 

Carolyn has traveled in Chile, Central America, Europe, Canada, Argentina, and the United States, broadening her appreciation for the beautiful world and its people. She served a mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and received a BA in Spanish from Brigham Young University.

Currently, Carolyn lives with her husband and mother in Wallsburg, Utah. She loves digging in the dirt, reading and discussing classics, sewing aprons, going on long walks, and hosting “poetry teatime” for her grandchildren. 

Tresta Neil

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: Middle School Science (Middle School Learning Communities 1, 2 and 3)

Tresta Neil is a mother of eight darling children and many borrowed children. When her husband Thom introduced her to the idea of homeschooling, she thought he was crazy. Twenty years later she is a strong advocate for homeschooling. She has been teaching online classes in math, science, symbology, constellations, and addiction prevention for the past five years. She is a mentor for homeschool mothers and their parenting/schooling/faith needs. She graduated from BYU Idaho and Weber State University before her mission to the Netherlands. Her mission president used her nursing skills in the field and she continues to use them within the hospital and at home. The area of science can lead to doubting God’s word or it can strengthen our love and awe for God. Tresta is passionate about showing how all sciences testify of Christ.

She is the author of God Saw That It Was Good and other homeschooling books. She directs homeschool and other faith promoting events. She is the co-founder of Called to Learn, restoring and preserving Gospel culture of learning patterned after the temple, with her husband. She and her son, Izaak, have a podcast called, Gospel Theory. Her passion is teaching, writing, and telling God’s Story. If you ask her about her most embarrassing moment she will tell you a story about sitting on a cactus.

Heather Burton

Self-Paced Program Mentor: American and British Literature, World Literature, English: Focus on Language Arts, English: Language Arts Companion

Heather Burton earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with Distinction from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada in 1989, eight months after her first child was born. She served as a supply teacher for several years while her husband finished law school, then happily embarked on 25 glorious, adventure-filled, busy years as a full-time mother to eight sons and one daughter, homeschooling all the way.

During this time, Heather organized and nurtured a number of learning communities, both for homeschoolers and avid self-educators. She enjoyed speaking opportunities on topics related to leadership education, personal and family development, and educational reform. Heather has written extensively on these and other topics, publishing many articles online.

For the past seven years, Heather has taught in a public alternative school, currently working with students in Grades One through Nine. Her primary subject area is English Language Arts, although she has developed and taught classes in all core subject areas. She loves to help struggling readers and writers find their way to confidence.

In the spaces between work and homecare, Heather practices permaculture, meditates with art supplies, develops current writing projects, and treasures time with family and friends, especially out of doors. She lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountain foothills in Alberta, Canada.

IMG_1406Jim Herlihy

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: Principles of Liberty (Middle School Learning Communities 1, 2 and 3)

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.

Marie Withers

2020-2021 Live Program and Self-Paced Program Mentor: Middle School Art Appreciation (Middle School Learning Communities 1, 2 and 3)

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.

IMG_4278Von Hansen

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: US History (Middle School Learning Communities 1, 2 and 3)

Hearing Elder Neal A. Maxwell speak during the bicentennial celebrations of the Constitution in 1987 kindled a fire in Von’s heart for learning and sharing about the hand of God in history. That led to a bachelor’s degree in History from Brigham Young University in 1999, where some of Von’s favorite classes included History and Philosophy of Science, Constitutional History, and Religion and Thought in East Asia (although his all-time favorite was probably a Shakespeare class!). In 2007, Von was inspired to quit his job as he dove into the master’s program in Political Economy at George Wythe University, where he relished the most intense year-long learning experience of his life.

Von finally crossed the “T”s and dotted the “I”s on that experience and and graduated in 2016 — a long journey from hearing Elder Maxwell speak, but well worth the trip.
In 2007, Von also began designing and teaching a series of four courses on Providential
History. Since then, he has held classes for homeschool students ages 11-17 and adults all
across the Wasatch Front from Huntsville to Santaquin. His favorite comment from that
experience came from a new student who said that a friend had told her about “this
wicked-awesome history class” that she just had to come and try out. She ended up staying for three semesters.

Von has been a serious student of constitutional forms for more than twenty years — not just THE Constitution, but all societal forms (as in, “What form does our government, economy, education, media, family, religion, etc. take?”). He worked for four years as a team lead at US Synthetic, a world-renowned leader in “lean manufacturing,” where he gained an in-depth understanding of that important and growing business form. Von also has recently written an essay on the nuclear family form and its amazingly important influence on the other societal forms over the last 500 years.

Von is married to the talented and beautiful Amy Hansen (nee Hawkins), and together they have seven children and five grandchildren, for whom they both beam with pride and joy. One of Von’s most cherished activities is to discuss the topics of the day, movies, books, etc. with his family and to learn from his children and sons-in-law as they become men and women of sound understanding themselves. Von served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Republic of Korea, and he thinks that Korean food must be what the Greek myths talk about when they describe ambrosia, the food of the gods.

Meredith BeardMeredith Beard

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: US Geography (Middle School Learning Communities 1, 2 and 3)

Meredith is the mother of three homeschooled children. She has a great love of learning and enjoys studying a wide variety of subjects, including the gospel of Jesus Christ. She is currently living in Utah, after a recent move from Hawaii. She has loved living in many places, including Michigan, California, Nevada, Indiana, Idaho, Hawaii, and Utah. Each place increased her love for the geography of the United States.

Her hobbies are spending time with her family, knitting, and traveling. After nearly finishing a bachelor’s degree as a young woman, she returned to her college studies a few years ago, and completed a BS degree from BYU-Hawaii in Elementary Education with minors in Science and History.

Meredith loves serving in the gospel of Jesus Christ especially among the youth of the
church. She served a mission in California. Her favorite teaching opportunities have included teaching early morning seminary and serving in the Primary.


Leah Ellis

Self-Paced Program Mentor: Middle School Music Appreciation

Developer: Middle School Music Appreciation

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 eight 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 six years, and in the BYU-Idaho Symphony Orchestra and ensembles for four 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 eight 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 two 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, her husband Spencer Ellis and her son Caleb.

Connie VossConnie Voss

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.