Skip navigation

Teachers

  •  Image
    Bio
    Theresa Sanford
    7th Grade Math Teacher
    Theresa Sanford
    7th Grade Math Teacher

    Theresa Sanford grew up here in the Salt Lake valley. Her father taught instrumental music at Skyline High school for all of her childhood (go Eagles!) and instilled a love of education from a young age. Her mother added to this focus on education by using her math education minor to tutor neighborhood kids in math right at the kitchen table. A tradition Theresa kept up in the years between teaching. 

     Theresa has a Bachelor’s of arts and sciences degree from Utah State University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Mathematics. She taught at Albion Middle School before she had her children. And as mentioned, kept up with the changes in math education by tutoring out of her home. Prior to starting a full time position at ELA, she spent 2 years as a substitute teacher here at ELA, including 4 long-term sub jobs.

    Theresa has 3 super amazing kids. When not teaching or mothering she keeps herself busy with a number of hobbies including decorating cakes, crocheting, knitting, reading, going to Comic Con, playing the cello, singing and acting. In fact, she has been working with ELA’s partner theater company, Kensington theatre, for the last several years. That’s how she learned about ELA!

  •  Image
    Bio
    Keith Phinney
    8th Grade Math Teacher
    Keith Phinney
    8th Grade Math Teacher

    Keith Phinney is a California native and grew up in Foster City (a suburb of San Francisco).  After a happy-go-lucky childhood, Keith attended Humboldt State University to be a forestry major.  When he realized forestry was more "tree farmer" than forest ranger, he started taking a wide range of classes in natural sciences but was always drawn to his love of history and his ability in math.  Realizing he needed to graduate eventually, and looking at his fairly random transcript, he chose math over history as it would let him graduate the soonest.  He has a BA in Math Education (but still reads lots of history!). 

    He immediately put his degree "on the shelf" and pursued a career in ministry that spanned 24 years and added another degree to his resume (an MA in Pastoral Studies).  He and his wife served university students on campuses throughout the west and in Asia.  Speaking of his wife, she is a high school guidance counselor and together, they have three children who are all "out of the nest" (two nurses and one SLCC student/Trader Joe's crew member). 

    His love for math reignited when his children started asking for help with their math homework.  He transitioned to teaching in 2014 and loves hearing students say "That makes sense."

    When not teaching, he tries to be outside - walking (with his labradoodle, Kelly), hiking, camping, stargazing, gardening . . .again, be outside!  

    Random tidbits: he wears tie-dye every day he can, is a Hufflepuff, still likes building Lego sets, wants to swim with dolphins, grades A LOT of student work at Starbucks, starts his day looking at the NASA photo of the day and hopes that one of his students will someday go to Mars.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Joyce Drury
    9th Grade Math Teacher
    Joyce Drury
    9th Grade Math Teacher

    Joyce Drury was born and raised in Delta, Utah, the fourth of five children.  She loved everything about school and was involved in many fun activities during her high school years.  Joyce played on several state championship volleyball and basketball teams.  She was the General Sterling Scholar and Valedictorian her senior year.  After high school, Joyce attended Southern Utah University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in history.

    Joyce and her husband are the parents of five children.  Four of them have attended SUU like their parents.  The youngest currently attends Mountain Ridge High School as a Sophomore.  They have three granddaughters and have had a lot of fun with them over the summer months.  The Drury family spends their summers boating and camping and enjoys skiing in the wintertime.

    Math is a hobby of Joyce's and she never tires of it.  She has thoroughly enjoyed her years teaching at Early Light Academy and look forward to helping students learn about some new concepts in secondary math this year!

  •  Image
    Bio
    Ed McFee
    Science Teacher
    Ed McFee
    Science Teacher

    Ed was born and raised in rural, upstate New York. Though coming from a family of teachers, he chose to major in biology and minor in chemistry while at Colgate University. It was while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa that he discovered a love for teaching middle and high schoolers, even the ones who sat in the front row and ate live cane larvae.  After returning to the States, Ed worked in college admissions before earning his secondary science teaching certificates and an M.S.Ed. degree from Binghamton University.

    Ed has been teaching chemistry, earth science and physics for over 20 years and now brings his depth of experience and background to Early Light Academy.  He and his wife, Michele, have four grown children, all of whom have waited patiently in the car while dad collected rock and mineral specimens from roadcuts around the northeast. Three of the four are currently in earth-science related fields, so the love of earth history must have worn off.

    Ed and his wife have explored the Erie Canal and its laterals and have immersed themselves in the social, military and geologic history of New York State. Now they plan to search for the lesser- known stories of the people and places in Utah and surrounding states. When not traveling, Ed enjoys reading about the men and women of science whose insight and creativity forged new discoveries about the natural world.

    Ed is excited to be teaching at Early Light Academy. He looks forward to sharing his love of science and teaching and for the opportunity to learn from a great group of teachers and students.   

  •  Image
    Bio
    David Stone
    Science Teacher
    David Stone
    Science Teacher

    David was born in Olathe, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City not unlike South Jordan. His childhood was spent doing all sorts of things that kids do in the movies – riding bikes and scooters around the neighborhood, going to the pool, building a tree house (a huge, awesome tree house), and exploring everywhere we could find.

    After 18 years in Olathe, he moved about 30 miles west to Lawrence, Kansas, home of the Jayhawks and the University of Kansas. There he got cheap student tickets to KU basketball games in Allen Fieldhouse and stayed in a dorm with his best friend who he had known since he was 9 years old. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and was lucky enough to teach the general and organic chemistry labs during his last 2 years in school.

    For a long time, he had wanted to move to the mountains, a product of yearly trips to Colorado from his home in Kansas. When David graduated from college, he looked to move to Salt Lake City for its proximity to the Wasatch mountains (as well as Arches, Zion, Canyonlands, etc.). Over the summer, he was excited to find Early Light Academy and become a science teacher for this awesome school!

  •  Image
    Bio
    Doran Brooks
    Junior High Science Teacher
    Doran Brooks
    Junior High Science Teacher

    Doran was born and raised in May Pen, Jamaica. During his time in Jamaica he spent most of his time working at his parent’s restaurant, going hiking and playing cricket. After completing high school, he migrated to Fairfield, CA to live with his father. 

    While living in California, Doran found his love for volleyball, road tripping and photography. He coached several volleyball teams and has even assisted with coaching ELA’s boys and girls volleyball teams in the past. 

     Doran attended Brigham Young University- Idaho, where he enjoyed the wide-open space and natural wonders that Idaho had to offer. He realized early on in high school his love for Biology and decided to study Biology as his major. However, after his freshman year he discovered Exercise Physiology and decided to change course in order to become a Physical Therapist but couldn’t resist the urge to take a biology class every semester even when some of them weren’t necessary for his degree. He earned his B.S in Exercise Physiology and after 7 months of successfully shadowing and working with a therapist, he came full circle and realized that it was indeed the biology/physiology in his major that he loved and excelled the most in.

     Doran is excited to teach and what better place is there to begin that journey than Early Light Academy!

  •  Image
    Bio
    Mathew Sherwood
    Career & Technical Education Teacher
    Mathew Sherwood
    Career & Technical Education Teacher

    Mathew Sherwood was born in Michigan where he enjoyed the wonderful Great Lakes and all the fun outdoor activities that go along with them. He attended Michigan State University and received his Bachelor's degree in Telecommunications with a minor in Business. After college he and his soon to be wife, Sarah packed up and moved to South Carolina to enjoy some sun and experience life in the south. While in South Carolina he worked as an IT specialist for the school district in the small historic town of Abbeville where his wife eventually became the mayor. While working for the school district Mathew learned of his desire to teach children and eventually transitioned into being a CTE teacher who taught engineering and computer classes. After two years of teaching and the end of his wife's term as mayor the couple decided to embark on a new adventure and move west, the mountains were calling. Utah is home now for Mathew where he looks forward to teaching 7th-9th graders at Early Light Academy. When he’s not teaching you can find him snowboarding, camping, hiking or anything outdoors with his wife and two dogs, Bailey and Charlie.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Kevin Worthley
    Social Studies Teacher
    Kevin Worthley
    Social Studies Teacher

    Kevin Worthley grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he spent the cold winters reading every history book he could. Social Studies was his favorite class in junior high and high school, so it makes sense that he became a teacher of that subject. Kevin graduated from North Central University in Minneapolis, with a Bachelor’s degree in education with a social studies concentration. Additionally, he is currently in a program to earn his Master’s degree in political science.

    Kevin moved to Utah 10 years ago, and was one of the original teachers at Channing Hall in Draper, teaching there for all 10 years before joining the ELA faculty for the 2016-2017 school year.

    When not teaching, Kevin can be found at a soccer field or hockey arena, watching his three children playing these sports, which are dear to him. Kevin has been married to his wife, Jenny, for 12 years, and they have one son and two daughters. He also enjoys the beautiful mountain trails here in Utah.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Nathan Jones
    Junior High Language Arts Teacher
    Nathan Jones
    Junior High Language Arts Teacher

    Nathan S. Jones was born in Salt Lake City and moved around all over the Western United States. He graduated from high school in Mesa, Arizona, earned his B.A. in English Literature at the University of Utah, his Masters of Education at Utah State University, and after more than five years, he finally earned a Doctor of Education degree through the University of Northern Colorado.

    Now an 19 year 'veteran' teacher, Nathan enjoys writing stories, hiking and being with his wife and five children (NOT in that order :). 

    One interesting thing about Nathan is that he is a TRIPLET. Yes. He has two brothers his same age, who, along with most of his five sisters, still live in the Phoenix, Arizona valley.

    He is very happy to have found the best place to teach: Early Light Academy!

  •  Image
    Bio
    Mikayla Lightheart
    Junior High Language Arts Teacher
    Mikayla Lightheart
    Junior High Language Arts Teacher

    Mikayla Lightheart grew up out in the boonies of Eagle Mountain, Utah. Her childhood was spent playing with her 4 younger siblings, riding her bike, and reading wherever she went. When she was 16 years old, her family moved to Oregon City, Oregon where she became a true northwestern girl who loves the rain and trees. Though she moved back to Utah with her husband to attend school, she takes every opportunity to return to Oregon.

    Mikayla graduated from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor’s in English Secondary Education. Mikayla’s love for reading from when she was a little girl has manifested into her desire to share that love with her students. She believes the world is able to be opened up with reading and writing and she wants to show those possibilities. Mikayla teaches 7th and 8th Grade Language Arts.

    Mikayla, her husband, and their two cats (Miso and Katsu) currently live in the Orem/Provo area. They enjoy watching movies, playing video games, and trying diverse foods together. Mikayla is excited to become a member of the Early Light Academy family and to work with all the amazing students, parents, and teachers.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Toni Butler
    Theatre/Drama Teacher
    Toni Butler
    Theatre/Drama Teacher

    Mrs. Butler grew up in Taylorsville, Utah and graduated from Taylorsville High School. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Education from the University of Utah. She has been a drama specialist (implementing, creating, and teaching) at several theatres and public schools throughout the Wasatch Front. She taught theatre for four years at East High School. She is the President of Kensington Theatre Company where she is a producer, designer, actor, teacher and director.  Mrs. Butler is also a founder of Early Light Academy.

    Mrs. Butler has an infectious passion for theatre and youth and loves sharing this passion with the students at Early Light Academy.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Candice Kugler
    Music Teacher
    Candice Kugler
    Music Teacher

    Candice Kugler grew up on a ranch in North Dakota in a family where singing and playing music together was a common occurrence.  She was raised on bluegrass and gospel music and her first solo was singing in church at 4 years old.  In high school Candice’s family moved to Manhattan, Kansas where she would eventually graduate from  Kansas State University with a degree in Music Education.  It was there that she joined a folk/rock band and met her husband Kyle- who plays the guitar.  

    Candice has been at Early Light Academy since it opened its’ doors in 2009. Her vision and hope is that every student who comes to her class will be encouraged to work hard together to create music that is beautiful and moving.  She loves getting to “show off” all of her students efforts during the year in ELA’s very own theatre space!  Her students enjoy Candice's sparkling personality, encouraging demeanor, and technical expertise.   

    Candice lives in South Jordan with her husband and 3 daughters (one ELA alum and 2 current ELA students), her sweet Australian Labradoodle Reese’s Pieces and her farm cat Sunshine

  •  Image
    Bio
    Michelle Willis
    Music Teacher
    Michelle Willis
    Music Teacher

    Michelle Willis studied at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) and Boise State University and graduated with a B.A. in Choral Music Education in 1999. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to work with well-known industry conductors and composers such as Barlow Bradford, Nathan Hofheins, and Darwin Wolford. She completed her student teaching in Boise, Idaho with Becky Prindle (orchestra) and Ted Totorica (choirs at Borah High School).

    Willis has received dozens of awards for her compositions for choirs, orchestras, and solo instruments over the past 23 years and is the owner of her own publishing company, Teton Music (www.TetonMusic.com). She works as a composer for the Utah Opera Educational Outreach program and is a conducting and string theory professor with Curious.com.

    Mrs. Willis founded the Herriman Community Orchestra in 2008 and served as its Artistic Director for 6 years. She was a member of the Herriman Arts Council from 2005-2011 and served as director, producer, and conductor for that organization for numerous productions and events. She is currently the Artistic Director for the Kensington Symphony Orchestra, which is part of the non-profit group Kensington Theatre Company (www.KensingtonOrchestra.org). She is also assistant director for the Murray Symphony Orchestra (www.MurraySymphony.org).

    Mrs. Willis has taught private voice, piano, string, and harp lessons to numerous students over the last 24 years. She is the mother of 4 wonderful children and enjoys supporting her awesome and talented husband, Spencer, who sings in the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Jason Lyons
    Art Teacher
    Jason Lyons
    Art Teacher

    Jason Lyons grew up in Pocatello, Idaho and graduated from Highland High School where he lettered in cross-country and track and field every year. He continues his love of running by coaching the ELA cross country team. He has an MA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and a BA in Art Education and a minor in French from Brigham Young University. He presents at state and national art conferences, and displays artwork in various shows nationwide. He also loves to travel, play sports, read books, and be with his wife.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Shannon James
    Physical Education & Health Teacher
    Shannon James
    Physical Education & Health Teacher

    Shannon James has been a teacher at Early Light Academy for 9 years. She attended Snow College as an athletic trainer for 2 years then graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor Degree in Health Education and Exercise Science.

    Shannon has always had a love and passion for teaching health and fitness. In her early years, as a competitive gymnast, she understood the importance of hard-work, dedication, health and well-being. Since then, Shannon has achieved many levels of success in the health and fitness industry. She brings with her 20 years as a certified fitness trainer/instructor, as well as 5 years as a gymnastic coach/dance teacher. She has been instrumental in the success, development, and growth in numerous individuals striving to achieve optimal health and wellness. Through her passion, drive and focus Shannon is excited to bring her success to Early Light Academy.

    One of Shannon's life goals is to make a positive difference in her community. One way she feels she is able to accomplish this is through teaching at Early Light Academy. "I believe through teaching at ELA, we don't just have an opportunity to make a difference, we have an obligation to make a difference in the life of each and every one of our students!"

    Shannon has been happily married for 29 years to her amazing husband. They have two beautiful children. The James gang also includes a dog and two cats. She enjoys spending time with her family watching movies and football, decorating her home, gardening, working out at the gym, relaxing and sipping on a steaming hot great cup of coffee!!!

  •  Image
    Bio
    Paige Farnsworth Knight
    Junior High PE Teacher
    Paige Farnsworth Knight
    Junior High PE Teacher

    Paige Knight was raised in American Fork, Utah. Growing up with 5 brothers created her love of sports and her competitive nature. Paige graduated from American Fork High School as a state champion in basketball. She then went to Snow College on a basketball scholarship and was able to help her team become conference champions. After which she went to Utah State to finish her degree in exercise science with an emphasis in Physical Education. Paige had always wanted to become a teacher. Her father who also works in the field of education, taught her at a young age the importance of educators. She’s excited to finally become one and start her teaching career here at Early Light Academy! 

    Paige recently got married to her husband Turner. Together they enjoy spending time hiking, camping, backpacking and visiting national parks. They also love playing pickleball, spike ball and playing card games together. 

  •  Image
    Bio
    Cora Lyons
    Junior High Teacher
    Cora Lyons
    Junior High Teacher

    Cora Lyons is from Los Alamos, New Mexico. While at Los Alamos High School, Cora played 4 years of high school basketball as well as working as a research assistant at Los Alamos National Laboratory. After graduation, she decided to study Art and Italian at Brigham Young University. During her time at BYU, Cora was able to participate in a study abroad program in Italy and later an internship at the Santa Maria della Scala Art Museum in Siena, Italy. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education and Italian Studies.

    Cora spent two years teaching Art 1 in the Granite School District before coming to Early Light Academy. At ELA Cora teaches a wide variety of elective courses including Photography, World Languages, Student Government, and School News. Cora enjoys the opportunity to pursue her passion for sports as the assistant coach for the Cross Country team and the head coach of the Girl's Basketball team.

    In her free time Cora enjoys traveling, playing basketball, creating photography, going to concerts, and reading.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Marisa Tebbs
    Spanish Teacher
    Marisa Tebbs
    Spanish Teacher

    Marisa was born in Provo and raised in Lindon, Utah.  She is the third child of four. Growing up Marisa loved to dance, cheer, run and be creative with her sisters.  Marisa has always enjoyed school and knew she wanted to be a teacher from a young age just like her mom!  Marisa attended Pleasant Grove High School where she joined the National Honor Society and Cheerleading Team.  Marisa graduated high school with high academic honors and was accepted to Southern Utah University.  Marisa received a cheerleading scholarship at SUU and was invited to be a part of the Kappa Omicron Nu Academic program.  Marisa cheered and served as treasurer for Kappa Omicron Nu for 3 years prior to serving an LDS mission to Fresno, California.  As a missionary Marisa learned Spanish and her love of the hispanic culture developed.  Upon returning from her missionary service, Marisa completed her education at SUU and received a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Science Secondary Education.  

    Marisa then began working at Channing Hall International Baccalaureate School in Draper for 7 years.  During that time, Marisa met her husband Adam and has now been married for 4 years.  Marisa has 2 amazing children, Carter (3) and Cozette (8 months) and loves being a mother.  In her free time Marisa loves to be with family, decorate, sew and indulge in yummy treats!  Marisa has been an ELA team member for 1 year and looks forward to many more to come!  

Assistants

  •  Image
    Bio
    Nikki Hill
    Junior High Assistant
    Nikki Hill
    Junior High Assistant

    Nikki Hill was born and raised in Kimball, Nebraska where she graduated from Kimball High School. She then attended Western Nebraska Community College where she graduated with an Associate of Arts degree. She has worked in the classroom for 13 years as a paraprofessional for both junior high and high school students as well as at the elementary level.

    Nikki and her husband, Robert, moved to South Jordan in 2013 with their two daughters Maddi (13), and Savannah (9). She enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching her daughters play softball, and serving on the Oquirrh Mountain Girls Softball board.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Amanda Maxwell
    Junior High Aide
    Amanda Maxwell
    Junior High Aide

    Amanda was born and raised in Utah. She attended Copper Hills High School and later the Salt Lake Community College’s Culinary Arts Program, resulting in an internship in Italy with a Master Chef.

    Amanda is married and with 2 children, a nine year old daughter and a 7 year old son, both of who attend Early Light Academy. In her spare time she enjoys spending time  with her family, hiking, horseback riding and cooking.

  •  Image
    Bio
    Jamie Greer
    Junior High Paraprofessional
    Jamie Greer
    Junior High Paraprofessional

    Jamie grew up in Salt Lake City. She graduated from Bingham High School. Her favorite classes were Child Development and teaching PreSchool. Since working at Early Light Academy, Jamie has found a love for working with the Junior High students.

    Jamie is married to her best friend. They have 2 amazing boys. She loves the Utah Mountains, going hiking, loves all things cats, Corgis, and playing video Games.

Counselor

  •  Image
    Bio
    Teena Carper
    Junior High Counselor
    Teena Carper
    Junior High Counselor

    Teena Carper is a Utah native.  She earned her BS-Social Studies Composite degree with a License for Secondary Education from Brigham Young University.  She earned her MS-Psychology degree with a License for School Counseling from Utah State University.  She has committed an entire career to help students reach their potential.  She has spent decades working with kindergarten through adult learners as an educator and a counselor.  Teena agrees with Gandhi when he said, “Be the Change you wish to see in the World.”

    In her free time, Teena loves spending time with her husband, children, grandchildren, traveling and boating.