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

Director of Finance

Pam has been a part of Homeschool Connections since 2005, when her children started taking classes. She has an associate degree in Liberal Arts from Oakland Community College. Pam married Dan in 1989 and they have 3 adult children. They homeschooled all their children from kindergarten all the way through to their high school graduation! Pam and her family live on a farm in Dryden where they have 4 horses, 3 cats and their favorite dog, Oakley! She enjoys living life in the country, being with her family, biking, tennis & going up north.

Shelly McMahon

Director of Campus 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.

Carrie Hensler

Director of Business Operations

Carrie Hensler started with Homeschool Connections as a campus supervisor in 2015 and is now our Director of Business Operations. She has been married to her best friend, Keith, for 25 years, and is in her 13th year of homeschooling, with only one of her three children yet to graduate. She loves to plan, systematize, and organize – for fun! She is a former homeschool blogger, founder of the 5:11 Homeschool Mom’s Group based on I Thessalonians 5:11, a young-adult mentor, lesson plan creator for Teachers Pay Teachers, and loves helping parents feel equipped to answer the call to teach their children at home.

Heather Ekstrom

Faculty Manager

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.

Tara McKnight

Family Relations

Tara Mcknight has been teaching for over 11 years both in the public and private sectors. Her unique training lies in Waldorf education, where curriculum is developed by the teacher, and every lesson is crafted with artistic skill. She is currently homeschooling her 16 year old son and appreciating the new state of freedom it has brought her family.

Mackenzie Peck

Marketing Assistant

Mackenzie grew up taking class at homeschool connections starting in 4th grade. She was homeschooled since 1st grade and hopes to homeschool children of her own in the future. She graduated high school in 2020 and married her husband, Foster, later in the year. Now she works for Homeschool Connections as a Marketing Assistant where she has the opportunity to learn from Vickie and all the other wonderful ladies on staff. She enjoys playing guitar, crocheting, and reading in her free time.