Our Fabulous Faculty | Homeschool Connections of Michigan
Our mission at Homeschool Connections is to support, encourage and advise parents as they educate their children; to provide a variety of innovative and quality educational opportunities; to help prepare students for their future; and to have a profound impact on the educational society.
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Our Fabulous Faculty

We work hard to feed the mind and the spirit via classes that reflect the interests of students, with an all-inclusive atmosphere that encourages the development of lasting connections, and through the support we offer our students and their families.

Avalos, Carlos

Luis Carlos Avalos was born and raised in Torreon, Mexico, and has an Electronics Engineering degree from Instituto Tecnologico de la Laguna University. He moved to Michigan with his wife and son in 2011. His hobbies are playing soccer, riding bikes with his son, and puzzles. He has been teaching with Homeschool Connections since 2016. He teaches Spanish for Elementary through High School at several of our campuses.

Boyer, Amy

Amy Boyer began teaching with Homeschool Connections in 2018. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and moved to Michigan with her husband in 2005. She is a consultant for small/mid-sized businesses and has a passion for organization and finance. She has two children, ages 9 and 2, and has been homeschooling since 2012. She recently moved to Ortonville and has been learning what country living on 10 acres is all about.

Clay, Diana

Diana Clay teaches crafts, wood shop and food classes. She personally enjoys all kinds of crafts and enjoys showing students the different areas available to express their interests. Sewing and stained glass are the two crafts she enjoys the most. Diana has worked in the offices of several schools in Texas and Minnesota in a support capacity. She is married to Ray Clay III and has a son, Ray Clay IV, who also teaches at Homeschool Connections.

Clay, Ray

Ray Clay has taught with Homeschool Connections for 2 1/2 years and is very pleased to be returning for another. He has a very wide and varied education from when he was in school, pursuing degrees in mathematics, teaching, history, computer programing, engineering, and science. He has graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering but has decided his talents and calling remain in the field of teaching. Ray is also an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America and uses the knowledge he gained from that program to provide outdoor survival skills classes, in addition to the core classes he teaches. He also has coordinated the Homeschool Connections Science Fair for the past 2 years, and we all look forward to him doing it again this year. In his spare time, Ray enjoys many modern board games. His collection now includes 197 games and expansions, and the collection continues to grow.

Ekstrom, Heather

Heather has been teaching mathematics with Homeschool Connections since 2014. She and her husband, Lee, have been married for 25+ years. Heather and Lee have been blessed to be able to homeschool their four sons. One is graduated from college, one is attending college, and two continue with Homeschool Connections. Heather and her family are members of North Oaks Community Church. Heather holds her Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Wayne State University.

Foster, Cathy

Cathy Foster has more than 30 years’ experience teaching children. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Oakland University and earned her Master’s Degree in Reading and Language Arts from Michigan State University. She has always had a belief that children learn best in a comfortable, fun, hands-on environment. She has always loved teaching science and has had an interest in technology. She became inspired when teaching a coding class using the robots Dash and Dot. She watched children fully engaged in the learning process while still having fun. This class motivated Cathy to start a business called TechKnowKids in 2016. Cathy has a collection of robots and teaches coding and STEM classes in a variety of settings. She is excited to be teaching coding and STEM classes Homeschool Connections! Cathy has a husband and enjoys traveling and cooking!

Gibson, Christine

Christine, along with her husband Kevin of 30+ years, has homeschooled five children - leaning towards an unschooling, individual and deinstitutionalized approach. She believes children aren’t standardized, and neither should their educations be. An alum of College for Creative Studies and Western MI University, Christine worked full time as an Illustrator and exhibit designer for the US Army. After marrying and beginning a family, she moved to work from a home studio, focusing on illustrating children’s books and periodicals. With a huge amount of support and help from her family, Christine designed and managed Rochester College’s Community Mural Project, a 1,800 sq. ft. mural painted by over 170 volunteers, in 2017. She is currently on staff at Doxa Church in Rochester Hills, enjoys whole food cooking and making a home for her family, any activity near water and bicycling the trail on warm sunny days.

Hermez, Zina

Zina Hermez is a new teacher with Connections and will teach writing and grammar courses. She’s been an educator for over fifteen years. Zina received a B.A. in English with a minor in History from Oakland University as well as an associate degree in General Studies. She tutors English as a Second Language to adults (mostly engineers) and their families in both the corporate and private (home) settings and also teaches classes at a Language center. She has tutored and homeschooled children in subjects like Reading, Phonics, Writing, Grammar, Math, Science, and Study Skills. Some of her hobbies include writing in her journals, listening to music, taking road-trips, and being social with family and friends.

Hartman, Alyce

Alyce Hartman attended Ohio State University. She majored in Journalism and minored in Art History. She worked 19 years as a marketing and public relations consultant, is a children's book author, and has more than a decade's experience as a freelance writer. She homeschooled her four children and currently oversees a literacy program for a non-profit organization, serving youth, on the east side of Detroit. Throughout the year, she facilitates camps for kids, works with homeschooling families, and writes STEM, nature, and garden-based curriculum for preschool and elementary school students. Alyce brings her joy of teaching and creativity into the classroom and fully engages her students in the learning process.

Houck, Lisa

As a homeschool mom of over 20 years, Lisa has been teaching grammar, writing, history, and science classes for years, and has a passion for seeing children well-educated and set-up to succeed. Having experienced children who were either struggling learners or advanced learners, she strives to make her classes a positive and encouraging environment and is happy to work with parents who have struggling or advanced learners. She loves the freedom for delight-directed education, being creative, and wants students to have more time for the things they enjoy, yet she also understands the importance of setting them up to succeed for high school/college/career training by giving them some structure, taking quizzes in an environment that is out of the home, learning to follow directions, and meet assignment deadlines. She believes these activities in small doses helps prepare them for their future and build their confidence through success!

Jagod, Jessica

Jessica Jagod started working with Homeschool Connections as a substitute teacher in 2017 at most of the campuses. She taught a variety of subjects at the elementary and middle school levels. She has taught the past 6 years at the Downriver Christian Co-op in the areas of History, Science and English. She has home educated her three children for the past 17 years. She attended Western Michigan University and graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in Communication. Jessica, her husband, and 2 children reside in Clarkston. Her oldest son attends Cedarville University. Jessica met Scott in 1994 and got married in 1996.

Kapusta, Wendy

Wendy Kapusta has been a teacher for over 25 years! She’s taught in the public schools and has homeschooled. Wendy currently teaches at both at Homeschool Connections and HighPoint Hybrid Academy. She also offers tutoring. Wendy has wanted to be a teacher since she was 5 years old and it is one of the greatest joys in her life. Wendy has 4 wonderful children who are in various stages of high school and college. Her family also shares their home with a guinea pig named Miss Sprinkles and their dog named Sniper.

Kearney, Danielle

Danielle Kearney taught various classes at Homeschool Connections for the 2017-2018 school year. She earned her teaching degree in elementary and special education from Eastern Michigan University and her master's degree from Marygrove College. She taught for 13 years as a special education teacher in Livonia Public Schools. She loves teaching math and helping students use critical thinking skills to solve all sorts of problems. Danielle and her husband live in Farmington Hills where they can frequently be found on a baseball field or football field cheering on their two sons.

Khalil, Daniel

Sensei Daniel Khalil has been involved in the martial arts his entire life. He started karate (all because he wanted to be a Ninja Turtle) in 1993. Sensei Khalil has worked his way up, perfecting his skills in multiple martial arts. He has achieved great success through training, tournaments, demonstrations, and, most importantly, teaching classes. Through traditional subjects such as Basics, Kata (forms) and Self Defense, he focuses on teaching physical skills for better fitness, health, and overall well-being. Sensei Khalil uses the physical skills to teach the intangibles, such as confidence, self-control, hard work, and discipline. He feels these are the real benefits of training in the martial arts. His goal is to pass on what he has learned and enhance the lives of all his students, their families, and our community.

Knaggs, Jennie

Jennie Knaggs is a composer, vocalist, and instrumentalist based in Detroit, Michigan. She has performed extensively in The United States and Europe in a wide range of musical styles, including classical, folk, pop, and new music. With 18 years of teaching experience in music, songwriting, and theatre arts, Jennie helps each student fuel their creativity with a strong backbone of technique, providing a language of music perfect for any genre. Under her guidance, her students have participated in Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) Honors Choir and Solo and Ensemble; Blue Lake International Choral Ensemble; won vocal scholarships from Lake Orion School District, as well as awards in local songwriting competitions. Jennie and her husband own Orion Music Studio (Lake Orion), and several Homeschool Connections students have lessons there. When she is not performing, writing or teaching, she is enjoying motherhood with her 1-year-old.

Krall, Deniese

Deniese and her husband Bryan have been married 28 years and have 3 adult children. Deniese has facilitated all kinds of homeschool classes in her home when her children were young. Deniese has taught all subject areas and has worked with a wide range of different learners. Deniese graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. She returned to Eastern Michigan University and received a Literacy Specialist Degree. Deniese has worked closely with Eastern Michigan’s Reading Diagnostic Program. She is trained in Reading Recovery, Phonemic Awareness and Michigan Literacy Progress Profile (MLPP), and in using the Qualitative Reading Inventory. Also, Deniese has tutored for thirty years and has been working with students taking the MCAT and SAT Assessments.

LaBruzzy, Terri

Terri LaBruzzy is passionate about education and has been involved in her children's schools since preschool. Whether a supporting role in the classroom or managing reading/comprehension programs, Terri has found great purpose in working with a multitude of students and fostering their growth. With growing, active kids, she and her family focus on healthy habits and lifestyle. Building on that, Terri and her youngest daughter have bonded over their Crossfit programs. Terri, her husband, and three children live in Clarkston and she will be teaching PE classes at our Clarkston campus. Terri graduated from the University of Michigan but is proud to be a Spartan Mom as her son heads to Michigan State in the Fall. Her daughters will be a Freshman and Senior.

Lane, Virginia

Virginia has been in education for over 30 years. She has had the opportunity to teach in many different settings and in a variety of subjects. Virginia has a BA and credits for her master's degree from Oakland University. She is trained and certified in the Montessori method, as well as Orton-Gillingham instruction. She possesses certifications in Reading and Language Arts. She has taught for Homeschool Connections since 2012. Before working for HSC, she was employed by Computer Explorers. Some of her classes include Robotics, Engineering, Video Gaming, Clay Animation, Digital Movies, and Green Screen. Virginia also teaches Language Arts, History, Geography, Science, STEM classes and Higher Order Thinking skills. She incorporates a multi-sensory and cross-curriculum approach in her teaching style.

Locke, Deb

Deb Locke has a life-long interest in science, history, literature and music. She graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in science with concentrations in Early Childhood Education and Business Administration. Her professional work experience has centered on the automotive industry, with 20+ years at General Motors in various engineeringcapacities. She is co-owner of Sarai Music Ministries which has been offering custom curriculum designs for homeschool programs and community enrichment workshops for the past 10 years. Deb is active in the Lapeer Concert Community Choir, is a musician/vocalist in the Praise Team- Rejoice, supports the Children’s Choir and leads the Women of Faith Bible Class at her church. Deb has been teaching in the Homeschool Connections program almost since its beginning.

Marsh-Hatty, Suzi

Suzi Marsh-Hatty has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama and is a professional vocalist who has traveled the world performing. Suzi’s passion includes imparting her wisdom and experience through engaging educational programs and teaching fitness techniques to help her students get stronger in every way--confidence is the key to success. When students attend her fitness or vocal classes, they will be given the tools and techniques to be confident onstage and offstage. Suzi’s voice class is a program that incorporates breathing, physical, and vocal exercises for the students. They learn goal setting, proper technique for protecting the voice, and confidence-building skills. Her classes provide core training and breathing (imagine: ballet meets Pilates meets child -appropriate dance music). Shes uses chairs as stabilizers and any fitness level/ age group may participate. Students will create their full potential while having so much fun; they won’t even realize that they are learning!

Nalian, Cheryl

Cheryl Nalian has a degree in Early Childhood Development and Liberal Arts. She has Continued Education credits at Oakland University and has attended other training and seminars for art and education. Cheryl has worked with children for over 25 years. Her experience includes being a child care center director and working in preschool programs and elementary-age programs for Troy Public Schools. She is very active at her church where she has helped in Sunday School classes, Awana, and taught homeschool art classes. Cheryl has been married over 21 years. Her husband, who has a doctorate in theology, is a missionary and is the founder of the Stand Strength Team. Together, they have been homeschooling parents for over 10 years. Cheryl believes children learn best when using all their senses and she incorporates this in her lessons. Her goal is to help children develop a love of learning.

Necula, Sabine

Sabine Necula will be teaching German this year. She is a Native German, born and raised right in the heart of Germany about 100 miles north of Frankfurt. Sabine went to business school in Kassel, Germany. After finishing school, she worked as an Industrial Sales Representative for a company in Kassel, taking care of customers in Europe and Canada. In 2006 Sabine moved to Michigan to be with her husband T.J. They have two daughters; both have been homeschooled since pre-school and have attended Homeschool Connections for several years.

Osis, Sue

Sue Osis has been a computer instructor with Homeschool Connections for several years now. Sue values working with homeschoolers as she gets to know the children individually, their strengths and enabling their creativity to continue and develop in the technology classes. Sue’s background and education are in Occupational Therapy. She worked mainly in the public school system for several years with Physically or Otherwise Health Impaired (POHI) students and developmentally delayed students. Sue has also owned and operated a home-based floral design business, specializing in wedding florals. Sue has been married for 35 years and has two beautiful daughters who are young adults now. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, swimming, crafts, computer technology.

Oskioian, Ellen

Ellen has always loved the magic of movies and animation. Learning how cartoons have changed over the years, how the perfect character voice was found, the development of the art of scenery and casting, and everything in between has been a fascinating discovery for her over the decades. She feels her history of art and study of film-making will finally pay off in the upcoming film study and art of animation courses - two new classes! Twenty years of experience working with infants to adolescents, along with my history of multifaceted creativity, has led Ellen to the privileged position of a Homeschool Connections teacher. She has always loved kids and very much looks forward to helping children reach their full potential as creative individuals through crafting, designing, discovering, and writing. With Ellen, children will be learning and discovering together, and that is what Ellen enjoys most about connecting with your kids.

Pate, Michelle

Michelle Pate dreamed of teaching since she was a small child. She is happily married to Craig Pate and they have 4 children and 2 grandchildren. Michelle started homeschooling in 1998. So far, she has successfully graduated 3 of her children and they have gone on to be productive members in society--one of them being a diplomat! Three down, one to go! Michelle has been teaching various classes for all grade levels at Enrich Christian Homeschool co-op since 1998. She came on board with Homeschool Connections in 2016. Her passion is family! She graduated from Impact Bible Institute in 2013 and has taught and led classes on marriage, parenting, and discipleship. Michelle especially enjoys working with middle school/high school aged people. She is insistent that learning should be an enjoyable experience. Her out-of-the-box style of teaching encourages students to be engaged and participate. She loves working with art and literature and has been specializing in history. Grammar and writing skills are honed in with both literature and history classes. She is insistent that doodling is essential, and ADHD stands for Attention Differences Having Delightfulness. You will find her teaching various classes, most of which will be classes that her youngest son will need. Her classes being offered this year are in Art, History, Geography, Literature, Paper Plane and Rubber-band engineering!

Phillips, Greg

Greg had been a substitute teacher for Homeschool Connections before joining us full time. Greg has been married for 14 years to Kimberly and has a 12-year-old (Faith) and a 10-year-old (Ruth). For the last 12 years, Greg has been a stay-at-home dad. Prior to that, Greg was in the banking industry and has a degree in marketing from Michigan State. He teaches Physical Education and sports-related games and activities. Since Greg was a kid, he has loved all sports. He has played organized soccer, baseball, basketball, football, and tennis. Watching and playing sports has always been a passion of his, and Greg looks forward to sharing that with your kids.

Rector, Judy

Judy Rector is a multi-talented teacher. She teaches many of our language arts classes but also teaches French for beginners and a class entitled “People, Places, and Cultures” which is a geography course. You will enjoy her extensive talents and abilities as you learn from this fascinating lady.

Ritzrow, Heidi

Heidi Ritzrow will be teaching MS/HS Sciences, HS Social Studies, and several HS Business Electives at Connections. Heidi earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and a minor in Social Science from Tennessee Technological University in 1997. She taught in the Utica Community Schools District for 3 years before taking the honor of becoming her daughter’s full-time homeschool teacher over the past 3 years. She lives in Shelby Township with her husband, son, daughter, and adorable 2-year-old Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie) dog named Winston.

Royer, Karly

Karly Royer is a certified ESL teacher with a background in linguistics, literature, history and dance. She has taught at Palestra for many years and has taught at Homeschool Connections for three years. Karly's middle-school aged daughter keeps her on her toes, as she teaches to enjoy science, specifically chemistry. Karly really enjoys teaching writing and literature; her goal is to show students that writing can be--if not fun--at least tolerable. When not "dance momming” or teaching, Karly is usually knitting.

Russell, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Russell is a former homeschool student who graduated in 2016 and has a passion for art. She been pursuing art since an early age. Throughout her school years, Elizabeth took private art lessons where she developed her skills with dry media such as colored pencils, graphite, and charcoal. After graduation, Elizabeth continued to study art on a collegiate level and even began dabbling in different types of art such as photography. Miss Russell has won many awards for her work throughout the years. Her first award was third place in a youth art competition at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra when she was in the first grade. Elizabeth has gone on to claim numerous first place awards, several second-place awards, and a few third-place awards as well as a couple best of show awards and even one overall best of show in the course of her art studies.

Schonfeld, Leslie

Leslie Schonfeld teaches Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Advanced Biology at Homeschool Connections. She is a 1985 graduate of Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Biology Education with a minor in Physical Science. She has been with Connections since 2009. Leslie is married to David and the mother of three, Mark 25, Elizabeth 22, and Hannah 19. She enjoys speaking and writing about God’s Word. She founded Dragonfly Ministry in 2008. A published author, "What's In a Name? Jesus in the Book of John" was released in 2012 and “Legacy” in 2016 and the "Legacy Workbook" in 2018. In addition, she has an Associate Degree in Biblical Studies.

Seamon, Cathie Jo

Cathie Jo is an engineer by training with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Cathie Jo worked in the auto industry for almost 25 years as an environmental engineer. About 7 years ago Cathie Jo figured out what she really wanted to do when she grew up – bring science to kids. Last year she decided to teach more and she gave up her engineering job. She thinks that it should be made fun in its presentation and that most kids learn better with hands-on experiments. In her classes, she loves when the students are involved and her “lecture” is more of a “discussion”. Her own kids often question why they must learn different facts and with her experience, Cathie Jo can often explain where it will be used when they’re older. In the past Cathie Jo also taught Algebra with Homeschool Connections and she loved bringing math to kids too.

Seguin, Emily

Emily Seguin grew up in Macomb, MI. After high school she attended Oakland University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Art Education K-12. While in college Emily worked as a caregiver to children with Autism. After graduating she worked as a substitute art teacher in Chippewa Valley and L'Anse Creuse districts. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, hiking, boxing, and watching movies.

Summers, Jennifer

Jennifer Summers is excited to be working with homeschoolers in a teaching capacity. Jennifer graduated from Bob Jones University with a degree in Social Studies Education. After teaching for 10 years in public education, she has homeschooled her children for the last 8 years. She recently graduated from Oakland University with a master’s degree in Reading and Language Arts. For the past 4 years, she has tutored students in reading and writing. As a dyslexia specialist, she helps students of varying abilities to overcome reading challenges to succeed in all areas of life. Jennifer has been married to her husband, Todd, for 20 years and they have 5 children. In her free time, she enjoys reading, making crafts, and spending time with family and friends.

Thelen, Wauketa

Wauketa Thelen is a child of God, wife, homeschool mom of two, pet parent and an avid cook. Though her job experiences cross many professions, each career move prepared Wauketa for the life she’s living now. Wauketa worked at the same credit union which taught her the importance of money management. Wauketa owned a vending company for about 7-years, which showed her the importance of response time and listening to customers’ needs. She also held a position in the General Education Department at Baker College where she learned how to teach and how to assist the adult learner with math anxiety. Wauketa was awarded Adjunct of the Quarter, because the entire class nominated her. Wauketa joined the Homeschool Connections family in 2016 where her original position was a math instructor. Wauketa has a Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies from Wayne State University and a Master’s of Science from Central Michigan University.

Timberlake, Megan

Megan Timberlake has taught homeschool enrichment classes since 2015. She joined the Homeschool Connections family in 2018 and teaches a variety of courses, including Public Speaking, Drama Club, Around the World, Citizenship, Pre-Algebra, and Soccer. Megan especially has a passion for theater education, also teaching theater classes for HighPoint Hybrid Academy. When she is not teaching, she is hanging out with her husband and best friend, Bryce, playing with her Puerto Rican rescue dog, Reggie, writing theater scripts, reading a book, making a mess in the kitchen, or enjoying a good Netflix show.

Vice, Julia

Julia Vice was born in Colorado, but currently lives in Mussey, Michigan. She attended Homeschool Connections from 2014 until she graduated in 2017. Julia was a substitute teacher and campus supervisor for Homeschool Connections last school year. Julia has also worked at the Capac Library since 2016. She is constantly learning, researching, and devouring new information. She enjoys reading, writing, gardening, hiking, crocheting, hunting, and photography, to name a few.