Middle School Mentors

Connie Voss

Connie Voss

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: US History, Principles of Liberty – Part I

Self-Paced Program Mentor: US History, World History, Principles of Liberty Parts I and II

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 and her husband Bob live in Gridley, California with their dog Odie.

Jennifer Wheeler

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: American and British Literature, English: Focus on Language Arts

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 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 three 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.

Carolyn Marriott

Carolyn Marriott

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: American and British Literature, English: Focus on Language Arts, Spanish

Carolyn Marriott has a passion for learning and teaching. Besides homeschooling her own seven children since 1993, she has years of experience teaching youth in church and academic settings. Recognizing the value of contributing to and gaining from a community, she and her children have participated in homeschool groups in Washington and Utah where she has taught a variety of topics from Spanish, to U.S. History, to Economics.

Carolyn has traveled in Chile, Central America, Europe, Canada, Argentina, Guatemala 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 youngest daughter, Lizzy, in Wallsburg, Utah. She loves gardening, eating chocolate ice cream, reading, going on long walks; and she now understands why grandparents brag about their grandkids so much.

Tresta Neil

2020-2021 Live Program Mentor: Middle School Science

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.

Leah_JeppsonLeah 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 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.

Jeffrey Van Komen

2019-2020 Live Program Mentor: Science: Cells and Classification; Heredity and Genetics

Jeff Van Komen has a curiosity for learning. He earned a BS in microbiology from Weber State University, a PhD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Rice University, and a post-doctoral fellowship in Immunology at the OMRF (Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation). Jeff has published articles and spoken at technical conferences on topics including: Maintaining Microbial Control in Manufacturing Processes, Bioremdiation of Mine Waste Waters, Immunology, Cell Signaling, Cellular Imaging and Microscopy, Membrane Fusion, Novel Scientific
Methods, and Yeast Genetics.

Jeff currently lives on a homestead outside of Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife, five children, 20 chickens, 3 ducks, 3 cats, a rabbit, a hamster, and 1 livestock guardian dog. By day, he works as a Senior Scientist, regularly utilizing his chemistry and microbiology. He also loves being part of his children’s education. Jeff has mentored classes in his homeschool community for the last 5 years. When not working, or helping with homeschooling, Jeff can be found indulging in his love for construction by upgrading, fixing, and running the homestead.

Marie Withers

2020-2021 Live Program and Self-Paced Program Mentor: Middle 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.

Kimberly  Pearson

Math Specialist

Kimberly Pearson was born in Houston, Texas and currently resides in the outskirts of Waco, Texas with her husband, 3 children, and many farm animals. She earned her bachelor degree in elementary education with a mathematics minor from Sam Houston University and earned her MBA from the University of Utah. Kimberly served the majority of her mission on Temple Square with a few months in the Blackfoot, Idaho area.

She has many experiences with teaching from elementary to adults, and particularly enjoys teaching the middle school and high school age students. For the last 15 years she has focused her time on raising and teaching her 3 children and being the executive of her home. She has a great love for learning and sharing knowledge with those around her and is excited to do this through the live learning which she loves and values as a great resource for teaching real truth of the world around us.

Kimberly has a great passion for organizing and planning. She has planned and managed many events from corporate conferences to community and charitable function, from church camps to family reunions. She enjoys challenges and has a talent for seeing the big picture as well as the detailed steps to achieve the end results. Kimberly also enjoys reading, boating, playing the piano, and serving those around her.

Rachel SniderRachel Snider

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

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.

Diann Jeppson Portrait 2017Diann Jeppson

Self-Paced Program Mentor: Middle School 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.