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About our Staff

Tarla Gernert

Founder and CEO

Tarla Gernert started Homeschool Connections in 2002 because she wanted help as she homeschooled her own children. She wanted a high-quality program that brought in passionate teachers and experts to teach her children specific subjects. Thus, Homeschool Connections Educational Services was created. Starting in Rochester Hills, the program quickly grew to multiple campuses in various communities, serving hundreds of families each semester. Tarla earned her B.S. Degree in Education at Liberty University and has taught in a variety of schools including public, private, and homeschooling programs. but her true passion is helping people figure out how best to educate their children and prepare them for the rest of their lives.

Becky Thompson


Becky Thompson started working with Homeschool Connections in 2012 as a Campus Supervisor. Becky is passionate about making Homeschool Connections the best we can be in order to serve our families and positively impact our community. Becky has been married to Doug for over 20 years and together they have four children and three grandchildren. She loves enjoying the setting of her country home and cottage with her family, reading, kayaking, and generally relaxing in her free time.

Pamela Koskinen

Vice President of Finance and HR

Pam has been part of Homeschool Connections since 2005 when her children started taking classes. She was a Campus Supervisor for years and moved into the position of Finance and HR in 2018. Pam and her husband Dan have been married since 1989 and have 3 adult children, two of whom are married. They homeschooled their children from kindergarten through high school graduation! She has an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Oakland Community College. Pam and her husband live in North West Michigan with their favorite dog Oakley! She enjoys spending time with her family & friends, going to the beach, playing pickleball, biking, tennis & living up north.

Shelly McMahon

Vice President of Operations

Shelly and her family have been involved with Homeschool Connections from its founding. Throughout the years, her kids have attended classes while she worked part time as a teacher. In 2013, she stepped up to become a Campus Supervisor. Shelly is now the Director of Campus Operations. She is a graduate of Michigan Christian College with over 25 years of homeschooling experience.

Heather Ekstrom

Faculty Director

After serving as a campus supervisor and then teaching math with Homeschool Connections for 7 years, Heather is now blessed to be Faculty Manager. Heather graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Math Education and is state certified to teach math for grades 7-12. Heather has been married to her husband, Lee, for 30+ years. They have 4 sons, all of whom were homeschooled and have graduated. Heather’s husband and their four sons are all Eagle Scouts. Heather is active at her church of 24+ years, where she serves in the children’s ministry and as a barista raising money for missions. In her spare time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family and friends, taking pontoon rides on Big Lake, and attending PureBarre classes as much as possible.

Vickie Turner

Marketing Manager

Vickie began working with Homeschool Connections in the fall of 2018. She serves as the Marketing Manager, overseeing the website, social media, and communications. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Media Marketing from Maranatha Baptist University in 2013. After graduation, Vickie stayed on at Maranatha as a dorm supervisor for three years, then worked in a local bank as a marketing assistant. Vickie loves to travel and is also a photographer.

Courtney Lee

Systems Specialist

Courtney’s journey with Homeschool Connections started in 2021 and she is now a technology teacher and Systems Specialist for our admin team. Courtney studied Web Development/Design after graduating high school and more recently became a Nationally Certified Veterinary Assistant. Some things that she enjoys outside of the classroom include: working with animals, learning through nature, making soap, and gardening.

Ambir Leon

Admin Specialist

Ambir has been working at Homeschool Connections since 2022 on the Admin team. Her daughter has
attended Homeschool Connections for 2 years and loves the extra special classes she gets to take like
Lego Engineering and Art and Nature. Ambir has a background in Operations, Project Management, and
Computer Information Systems. She spends her spare time with her husband, George, and their
daughter, and the spunky dog Oreo. She is passionate about homeschooling and provides unique
opportunities for homeschooling families. Reading is a gateway to education and loves to read herself
and read the classics to her daughter. “The only vital method of education appears to be that children
should read worthy books, many worthy books” ~Charlotte Mason

Tammie Carollo

Campus Supervisor

Tammie has been in the role of campus supervisor as well as a teacher here at Homeschool Connections since September.  She studied communications at Moody Bible Institute and worked as a paraprofessional in her local school district.  She enjoyed homeschooling both of her children and made good use of Homeschool Connections when they were young.  In addition to being a licensed hairstylist, Tammie enjoys writing, singing, and playing piano.  She has had the honor of being in the teacher role in various forms, including piano lessons, children’s church, and Mops mentor.  She enjoys time spent with family and meaningful conversations with friends.  She is beyond grateful to be given the opportunity to step into the teacher role here at Homeschool Connections.