Independent Education
Program Team

Program Directors

sam martineau

Samuel Martineau

General Director, Speech & Debate Director

Teaches Speech & Debate

Sam has taught speech and debate to thousands of homeschooled students over the course of seventeen years. He is the founder and director of the Wasatch Independent Debate League and the Independent Education Program. He is a 2021 U.S. Distinguished Teacher and a recipient of the KSL:Teacher of the Week award. He has seen significant success in coaching in the National Mock Trial Competition, International Public Policy Forum, and Utah Model United Nations.

Samuel Graduated Magna Cum Laude from Weber State University with a B.S.and teaching certification in Communication Teaching and History Teaching.

Samuel Martineau

Email: sambmartineau@gmail.com
Phone: 801-244-6577

toriann

ToriAnn Perkey

Executive Director, English Director

Teaches English, ACT Prep

ToriAnn has been teaching English and writing in the homeschool community for almost 10 years, and she’s been involved with editing, curriculum development, and publishing for over 30 years. Her goal with all English classes is to create an engaging and stimulating environment that invites students to think deeply, communicate well, and appreciate the beauty of the English language. She homeschooled her four children from birth to graduation, with the youngest to graduate in 2025. She’s also mentored thousands of new and struggling homeschool families through online and live presentations. When she’s not curled up with her latest book, she loves watching British mysteries, helping entrepreneurs run their online businesses, or learning to play the mandolin.

ToriAnn graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Classical Studies (Latin Emphasis), with a minor in History and a “minor” in Editing & Publishing (the minor didn’t exist yet, but the classes did).

ToriAnn Perkey

Email: toriann@ieprogram.org

chuck higgins

Chuck Higgins

Constitution Studies Director

Teaches Constitution, Debate

Chuck Higgins  is passionate about teaching the U.S. Constitution, which he took an oath to support and defend as an officer in the U.S. military. He has traveled the world as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force and as a pilot for United Airlines. These experiences have sparked a deep interest in principles of leadership and government, which he has studied and taught to both youth and adults.

Chuck graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Applied Mathematics.  He and his wife have homeschooled their 5 children for almost 20 years. Though he can’t carry a tune and has 2 left feet, he enjoys supporting his children’s involvement in the performing arts.  When his children are not on the stage, he enjoys playing sports, hiking, camping, backpacking, and traveling with them.

Chuck Higgins

Email: chuck@ieprogram.org
Phone: 801-791-2526

Mckay earl

McKay Earl

Leadership & Entrepreneurship Director

Teaches Leadership & Entrepreneurship

McKay Earl is a God-loving, family-loving, homeschool dad of 7 and enjoys every minute of the fun ride.  A product of homeschooling himself he gained a strong foundation that led to a love for a classically based, leadership-focused education.

An entrepreneur at heart, he has started multiple businesses and works now as a marketing consultant where he has helped hundreds of small business owners grow their companies.

McKay also loves cycling, camping, and the great outdoors - and especially when he can do all three at the same time! He and his beautiful bride of 24 years live in Gilbert, Arizona.

McKay Earl

Email: mckay@ieprogram.org
Phone: 480-268-0344

russell whatcott

Russell Whatcott

Robotics Director

Teaches Robotics

Russ Whatcott is a dad of seven, married for just over 25 years to his very best friend. Russ has been in Engineering for over 20 years with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Manufacturing. He has been in problem solving and product development throughout much of that creating new technologies, new systems and new products.
Teaching robotics offers Russ an opportunity to share some of the emerging tools from a hands-on-approach to the upcoming generation of technology leaders.

McKay Earl

Email: russell.whatcott@gmail.com

Teachers

alisha jensen

Alisha Jensen

Teaches Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Alisha is the proud mother of three amazing children. She loves being a mom and she loves teaching, tutoring, and mentoring. She is excited to be part of the IEP program.

Alisha graduated from BYU with a B.A. in History. After serving a full-time mission for her church, Alisha attended Westminster College, where she earned her Masters in Education and secondary education teaching certificate.

Alisha also enjoys sewing, gardening, reading, hiking, kayaking, and playing the cello.

Arielle Hadfield

Arielle Hadfield

Teaches English

Arielle Hadfield started her career by wondering if she could write a book. She did, but it took a long time and was far harder than it needed to be. Her journey to publication taught her the skills she needed to work as a mentor to new authors on their writing journey so they could reach their goals easier.  When she began homeschooling her four children, she learned about the opportunities to teach within the homeschool community. This inspired a shift in her focus from adults to homeschool teens, and she has taught online and in person classes for several years.

She focuses deeply on providing an uplifting environment where teens can confidently explore their writing styles, think deeply, dream big, and refine their talents so they have the ability to share their thoughts and ideas with the world.

She graduated from Utah State University and lives in Cache Valley with her husband Blake, her four children, and a whole bunch of chickens.

BeckyPitcherSquare

Becky Pitcher

Teaches English

Since childhood, Becky has had a fondness for beautiful words and well crafted stories. She studied children’s literature and creative writing at BYU before homeschooling her four children.  Becky has taught both adults and teenagers and loves encouraging deep discussions and asking hard questions.  She is passionate about creating resources for parents and has created many literature-based curriculums and guides and was the editor for a faith-based home education magazine.

Becky loves hiking and exploring (always with a book in hand and children in tow). She is excited and delighted by the beautiful, precious world around her and always has a new hobby or interest.

Becky Pitcher

Email: rebeccah.louise@gmail.com
Phone: 952-451-5076

Casey_Christensen_1

Casey Christensen

Teaches Robotics

Casey Christensen loves learning and has a passion for technology and innovation. He received his bachelor's degree in business management with a minor in statistics and later went on to receive his Masters in Business Administration from BYU. Casey has worked for technology companies, startups and political campaigns. These experiences have given him unique opportunities to find innovative solutions to tough problems.

desiree

Desiree Preston

Teaches English

Desiree Preston loves to explore big ideas with young people and has been teaching homeschool English classes for more than a decade, specializing in literary analysis.  She draws on her degrees from BYU in English and Philosophy to ask hard questions.  She also has a minor in Logic, so she expects to engage in well-reasoned discussion.  She is always learning from her students, her peers, and the world at large.

Desiree has homeschooled her seven children for over 20 years and thereby gained a measured perspective about homeschooling junior high and high school.  Her homeschool philosophy has evolved over that time without compromising academic rigor or passion for learning and fun.  She has been blessed to see her eldest children accepted to the university of their choice and develop into incredible young adults.

Desiree reads books whenever she can sit still, but has been known to devour audio literature while skiing, driving carpools, hiking, doing dishes, road tripping, and hammocking.  She has a reputation for terrible puns, losing her car keys, and finding common ground with everyone she meets.

Desiree Preston

Email: desiree.preston@gmail.com

ellen burns

Ellen Burns

Teaches Robotics

Ellen Burns has been a homeschool mom for fifteen years. She was extremely impressed by the robotics program last year through IEP and is looking forward to helping the team really excel in the upcoming year.

In addition to homeschooling the tail end of the Burns clan, she teaches math at Utah Valley University and is planning on earning a doctorate in math in the next few years. 

She has one husband, eight children and four brilliant grandchildren. In her free time, she loves to read classic fiction, organize musical numbers for church, and chase solar eclipses.

Ellinor Petersen

Ellinor Petersen

Teaches Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Ellinor Petersen grew up in Sweden, the daughter of two entrepreneurs. She is the mother of six children. At first attempting to gain permission to homeschool in Sweden, and fighting in court for about two years for this right (and losing), she relocated with her family to the United States in 2015, and she has been homeschooling since then.

She has encouraged her children to learn entrepreneurship from a young age, and has supported them with entrepreneur markets, selling door-to-door, taking orders and delivering, and marketing. She is also the founder and owner of Petersen Baked Goods, a home-based bakery with a specialty in Swedish cinnamon rolls.

Ellinor has taught music, Swedish, English, Scandinavian choir, conducting and science in a variety of settings, from public school grades 2-9, to university, to a homeschool co-op, and to teens in her neighborhood. She loves languages and keeps up a 4+ year streak on DuoLingo. She plays the viola, the violin, and the piano, but her main instrument in college was voice.

She graduated cum laude and with University Honors from Brigham Young University with a double major in Music Composition and Theatre Arts Studies. She also has a Master of Library and Information Science from Borås University in Sweden. If you want to hear some of her compositions, you can find recordings at ellinorpetersen.com.

jamie whittier

Jamie Whittier

Teaches Debate

A Utah State graduate with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Jamie Whittier has worked with many businesses in her career managing public relations campaigns, writing marketing, email and social media campaigns, and organizing events and conventions.

But her favorite career is her job as a stay-at-home homeschool mom of four, wife to Shane, and lifelong learner.

Aside from teaching speech and debate classes, she co-directs Heber Valley Children’s Choir and loves gardening, reading, chocolate, and Garth Brooks concerts.

Jamie Whittier

Email: jamiewhittier@gmail.com
Phone: 435-671-2673

jantzen russell

Jantzen Russell

Teaches Debate

Marketing Director

Jantzen Russell has years of teaching experience from a variety of school, summer camps, and church assignments. He's passionate about education and helping teens.

He's a freelancer at heart, with an ever expanding list of projects and interest. He grew up homeschooled, and is an alumnus of the WIDL.

Jantzen Russell

Email: jantzen@ieprogram.org
Phone: 801-647-0212

marisa sharp

Marisa Murdock Sharpe

Teaches English

Marisa has many years of teaching experience including public school, private tutoring, preschool, university undergrad courses, and homeschool classes. Language arts is her favorite subject to teach, and she is happy to be teaching English for IEP. She earned a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education/Elementary Education and a Master's degree in Elementary Education from USU.

She has two children and enjoys poetry, riding her bike, hiking, traveling, quilting, and power naps.

Marisa Murdock Sharpe

Email: marisamsharpe@gmail.com
Phone: 801-529-6126

mary stoddard

Mary Stoddard

Teaches Debate, Constitution

Mary is a proud homeschool grad with a passion for quality education and mentorship. In high school, she was a successful competitor in the WIDL and participated in an independent, student-run debate and moot court club. Prior to her work with the IEP, she taught American history and civics for homeschooled teenagers. She has also worked as a music teacher for the past ten years, giving piano and voice lessons from her home.

Mary graduated summa cum laude from Utah Valley University with a B.S. in Accounting and a minor in Business Management. While at UVU, she also completed pre-medical studies. She enjoys staying involved in church and community volunteer work and spending time with her family and friends.

Mary Stoddard

Email: marystoddard76@gmail.com
Phone: 385-414-0381

megan lee

Megan Lee

Teaches Debate

Megan Lee is a homeschool mom of five children. She has a deep passion for the constitution and received degrees in Law and Constitutional Studies as well as Communications. She worked as a director for a learning center for several years training and mentoring youth and has a passion for education.

Speech and Debate was something she competed in throughout her entire education. It was the first class in high school that she truly felt a spark of what education could be and found it so engaging and challenging she just couldn't get enough. Speech and Debate built her confidence in critical thinking and gave her the ability to really consider, communicate and discuss important ideas. It stirred up a love for learning and for the constitution that was foundational in her life and she loves seeing her students experience those same "aha" moments.

Megan Lee

Email: m.sondere@gmail.com

naylyn

NaLyn Nelson

Teaches Debate, Constitution

NaLyn has a passion for teaching and for working with youth, so she sees this as the perfect post-homeschooling job! 

She has four adult kids that she homeschooled from birth.  She also is a proud grandma to the cutest kids on earth. She has  taught various classes for 10+ years. She loves learning and growing right along with her students.

Aside from teaching she loves reading, spending time with family, traveling, football, and cooking.

NaLyn Nelson

Email: raisinj@1791.com
Phone: 435-770-9783

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Shannon Wilkinson

Teaches English

Shannon is a mother of 6 and lives on a small farm.  Her family has chickens, goats, cats, a dog, and sometimes pigs or a cow. Shannon also loves beekeeping. She has a large garden and therefore also has to love canning! When she isn't pulling weeds or sweating in the kitchen, Shannon can be found reading a good book or spending time out in nature.  Her family loves camping, hiking, kayaking/paddle boarding, and traveling.

A favorite tradition that her family loves to do is hike Waterfall Canyon every Christmas Eve! One of her favorite trips was her 20 year wedding anniversary trip to Peru with her husband. They spent several days in the Amazon and did a 4 day hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Shannon spent several years teaching in the public school system primarily as an elementary school teacher. She left after the 2021-2022 school year and began homeschooling some of her children. Shannon graduated from Brigham Young University with her teaching degree.

Shannon Wilkinson

Email: shannon.wilkinson0510@gmail.com

simeon cox

Simeon Cox

Teaches Debate

Simeon Cox is a freshman at Mount Liberty College, studying the Liberal Arts. He is currently working at a software company as a content developer. He has participated in, and chaired for student governments, constitutional convention simulations, and mock trials for 6 years.

Simeon loves music even more than debating, and teaches piano lessons from his home. He sang with a world-class Utah choir, and toured Germany and The Netherlands with them in 2017.

Homeschooled full-time or part-time his whole life, he reads everything he can get his hands on. He loves philosophy, writing, singing, teaching, piano, and of course, public speaking.

Simeon Cox

Email: simeon.m.cox@gmail.com
Phone: 435-559-7926

Administration & Support

charlotte mckenzie

Charlotte McKenzie

Director of Operations

Charlotte McKenzie is a homeschooling mom - now for over 20 years.  She has organized,  taught and coached many classes over those years including Mock Trial, Shakespeare and lots of Knights of Freedom and Liberty Girls.  So far, 4 out of her 5 children have participated in speech and debate and all of them have loved and benefited from it.

Charlotte graduated from BYU in Human Development and has started several businesses.  She loves to organize, get things done, plan a great trip or experience, and take on big projects.

Charlotte McKenzie

Email: admin@wasatchdebate.org
Phone: 801-750-3665

kristy bitter

Kristy Bitter

Administrator

Kristy Bitter has been homeschooling her 6 children for 13 years.  She has taught many different classes from Shakespeare to Art to History to support her children in various homeschooling groups.

Kristy graduated from BYU with a degree in Elementary Education.  In her free time she loves to read, quilt, put together a puzzle or have a great discussion with her husband and children.

Kristy Bitter

Email: admin@ieprogram.org
Phone: 801-750-3665

jared

Jared Johnson

Director of Tournaments

A successful homeschool and college graduate,Jared Johnson is committed to providing high-quality courses for students pursuing alternative educations. His own education was rich and diverse, including high school college courses, AP classes, Mock Trial, Model UN, and the Wasatch Independent Debate League. These experiences prepared him for early college at Utah Valley University, a mission in Kentucky for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University.

Jared taught Speech and Debate for four years before transitioning to an IT career. He also coaches junior high and high school mock trial teams, and serves on the Communications and IT committee of the National High School Mock Trial board. He lives in American Fork, Utah, with his wife and two kids.

Jared Johnson

Email: jared@wasatchdebate.org