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Special Education

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    Bio
    Michelle Searle
    Special Education Director
    Michelle Searle
    Special Education Director
    Michelle Searle was born and raised in a small town in Idaho, which is where she developed a love for nature and being outdoors. She is the mother of three busy young adults, and loves spending time with them. In her free time, Michelle enjoys traveling with her husband, shopping, reading, and watching documentaries. 

    Michelle has been working as a Special Educator for almost twenty years. In those years, she has had experience in Elementary, Middle, and High School classrooms and taught many children with disabilities. Michelle has also been a Department Head for special education, and a member of the Utah State Board’s Special Education Advisory Panel, which advises the State Board of Ed on all issues impacting children with special needs in the state of Utah. 

    Michelle’s most recent job was working as a school administrator for Primary Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health, which serves children in long term care for emotional and behavioral disabilities. Michelle is currently completing her doctorate in Special Education leadership in Emotional and Behavior Disorders.

    Michelle is excited to represent special education and serve the children and families of Early Light Academy.
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    Alison Preusz
    Grades K-4 Special Education Teacher
    Alison Preusz
    Grades K-4 Special Education Teacher

    Alison Preusz was born and raised in Connecticut. She lived in Germany, Tennessee, Georgia, and Washington state while her husband was in the military. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education/Elementary Education (Learning Disabilities) from Brigham Young University. Alison has enjoyed helping children learn in special education classes and seeing them make wonderful progress. She has 5 grown  children and 6 (soon to be 7) grandchildren. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading historical fiction and swimming. Alison looks forward to helping students at ELA learn and meet their goals.  

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    Anne Trout
    Grades 5-6 Special Education Teacher
    Anne Trout
    Grades 5-6 Special Education Teacher

    Anne was born and raised in Arizona. She attended Utah State University and received her bachelors in Communicative Disorders. For the past two years she has lived in Mississippi, but is grateful to escape the humidity and return to Utah! She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, photography, and hiking in the beautiful mountains! 

    She is passionate about teaching and is so excited for to work with the students at Early Light Academy! 

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    William Lickiss
    Junior High Special Education Teacher
    William Lickiss
    Junior High Special Education Teacher

    William is beginning his first year of teaching this year and is excited. Although this is his first year, William began his career with Early Light Academy as a paraeducator in 2017 which influenced his decision to become a special educator! William is also an RBT (registered behavior technician) where he provides in-home behavior intervention services for young children with autism. William has worked in adaptive summer camps as team lead and director, in hospitals helping patients apply for social security and medicaid, and plans to continue education in the field of Behavior Analytics. 

    Although William has lived in Texas, California, Colorado, and Nevada, most of his life he grew up in Herriman, Utah where he currently lives. William enjoys videography, photography, card games, audiobooks, hiking, scuba diving, learning new languages, and any adventurous thing!

    William loves ELA and it is the reason he decided to change his major to special education. He hopes he can make as big of a difference at ELA as it has made in him. 

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    Melody Andreasen
    Junior High Special Education Teacher
    Melody Andreasen
    Junior High Special Education Teacher

    Melody Andreasen has spent half of her life in California and the other half in Utah! As a child she loved to ride bikes, play hide ‘n seek, was wicked at tetherball and was excited for every moment she spent camping and hunting with her family. In her teens, she loved going to school and learning every chance she got, wherever she was. This was also when her love of fast cars and motorcycles developed and hasn’t dimmed! Her husband is retired military and she has one son, Walker, who she says is the best kid in the world! He has been married to his sweet wife Kayla for 8 years. They have six beautiful children that Melody spends every minute she can with!

    Melody has had many experiences in her life that have allowed her to become who she is. She has worked in retail management, as an administrative assistant to CEOs, human resources officer, owned her own business, worked with an airline, served as a substitute everything for a Utah school district, and found her favorite job when she became a teacher! She loves watching the students grow and work through solving problems and becoming a better student, a better person, a better leader and seeing the WHOLE world around them!

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    Ashlie Hatton
    Special Education Teacher
    Ashlie Hatton
    Special Education Teacher

    Ashlie Hatton is happily married to her husband and has a beautiful daughter. She was born and raised in Utah and has lived there most of her life, but had the chance to live in Japan and Virginia. While in Virginia, she played colligate softball as a catcher. Mrs. Hatton recently graduated college from Brigham Young University with her degree in special education and has completed all of the required classes for her special education secondary math endorsement. 

    Mrs. Hatton enjoys playing the piano, speaking Japanese, drawing, painting, hiking, camping and playing board games. Ashlie continues to look forward to helping children succeed, learn and grow. 


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    Felicia Patzke
    Special Education Administrative Assistant
    Felicia Patzke
    Special Education Administrative Assistant

    In November 2020, Felicia returned to Utah after living 25 years in New York City.  She moved out east to attend Columbia University where she received her Master’s in Social Work.  She later received her Master’s in Elementary Education from CUNY Hunter College, where she then proceeded to teach grades Pre-K through 6th over the next 20 years.  

    While living in New York City, Felicia was an avid member of the community.  She was an active participant in the New York Cares program, team leading and participating in a number of volunteer projects, working primarily with the senior and homeless populations.  She also was involved in the Star Learning Program, mentoring a very beautiful young lady from Honduras from 5th grade to her graduation from high school.  Felicia is very proud to share that Her Honduras friend is about to start her senior year in college!

    An avid reader, Felicia created and facilitated a book group in New York City that ran for over ten years.  In her spare time she also enjoys knitting and eating anything chocolate!

    Felicia is very much excited to be a part of the Early Light Academy community. 

Elementary Assistants

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    Jyoti Bhakta
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    Jyoti Bhakta
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Jyoti Bhakta moved here to Utah two years ago, she lives in Herriman. She has joined our ELA family and is very excited. HEr hobbies are watching movies and spending time with her family.

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    JD Durrant
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    JD Durrant
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Coming soon...

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    Lacey Ainsworth
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    Lacey Ainsworth
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Lacey Ainsworth (Miss Lacey as her students call her) is a mom to 3 crazy girls who all attend Early Light Academy, and is lovingly married to her husband Clint. She has a passion, some say an addiction, for house plants. She loves being both out in nature or curled up with her family at home.

    She is so excited to be working at Early Light Academy and can’t wait to get to know all of your students!

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    Tiffany Britton
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    Tiffany Britton
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Tiffany grew up in Sandy and is the oldest of 6. She attended the University of Utah and studied Exercise and Sports Science. She has been married to her best friend for 19 years and has 3 beautiful children. She loves to exercise, cook, read, hike, kayak, travel, go to Jazz games, and hang out with her family.

    She has many years' experience taking care of her mom with dementia, as well as working in her kids' classrooms and being a room parent. She enjoys helping people and is looking forward to working with the kids with special needs this year at ELA.

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    Deysi Harris
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    Deysi Harris
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Mrs. Harris is very excited to be working at Early Light Academy!  She grew up in the Amazon rain forest in Peru and she has lived in the U.S. for 15 years and loves Utah.  She taught Kindergarten in Peru for 7 years and loves working with kids. She spends her free time with her Husband and two sons.  They like to go camping, hiking and spend time together.  Mrs. Harris loves to dance and work out.  She recently completed her long time goal by graduating from Salt Lake Community College with a degree in Education.   

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    Berneen Peterson
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    Berneen Peterson
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Berneen Peterson was raised on a dairy farm in the small town of Tridell, Utah, where she worked and played hard. She credits her love of learning to her 6th grade teacher, Mr. McMullin, who instilled in his students self-worth and confidence and made school fun and interesting. After graduating from Unitah High, Berneen attended Ricks College (BYU Idaho) majoring in Elementary Education. She is married and has three children. As a family, they enjoy camping, hiking, and just being together.

    For the past twelve years she has assisted in special education programs in the area. She enjoys working with children and finds joy in watching them learn, progress, and succeed. Berneen is honored and excited to be a part of the Early Light Academy Special Education Team.

Jr. High Assistants

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    Julie LaRue
    Junior High Special Education Aide
    Julie LaRue
    Junior High Special Education Aide

    Julie LaRue was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee.In her spare time, Julie enjoys boxing, and spending time with her husband, three kids, and dog.

    She is excited to get to know the ELA family!

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    Rachel Anderson
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    Rachel Anderson
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Rachel was born and raised in Utah, she and her husband Jack have 3 boys and are the very proud grandparents of the cutest little girl in the world! In her spare time she enjoys camping, hiking, swimming and anything that involves hanging out with her family!

    She has made ELA home for over 10 years and is excited about a new year and seeing so many new faces.

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    Cicilee Johnson
    Junior High Special Education Paraprofessional
    Cicilee Johnson
    Junior High Special Education Paraprofessional

    Cicilee Johnson, a Utah native, has lived up and down the Wasatch Front. She now calls South Jordan home with her husband and four kids. Cicilee studied at Snow College and worked in real estate investment before she became a mother. 

    For the past 14 years she has raised her four kids ages 14, 13, 10, 7, all of which attend Early Light Academy. When they aren’t in school, Cicilee loves to go camping and boating with her family. She also enjoys traveling, hiking and DIY remodeling projects.

Speech & Language

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    Janell Frost
    Speech Language Pathologist
    Janell Frost
    Speech Language Pathologist

    Janell Frost is looking forward to another great year with the students and parents at Early Light Academy. As an SLP, she has worked in many different settings: a hospital, rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities, home health agencies, early intervention programs, preschool programs, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Janell has also worked in public, private, and charter school settings. She graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Communicative Disorders/Speech Language Pathology. 

    She became a Speech Language Pathologist because she wanted to help students with difficulties improve their ability to communicate. She loves helping students realize their potential and watching them succeed. Janell and her husband are the parents of six children--the youngest being the only girl. She thoroughly enjoys spending most of her free time going to sporting events and activities for her children. Janell loves the outdoors and outdoor activities including golf, boating, and most sports. She also loves traveling and being with family and friends.

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    Mackenzie Skousen
    Speech Language Technician
    Mackenzie Skousen
    Speech Language Technician

    Mackenzie Skousen is excited for another great year at Early Light Academy. She received her Bachelors degree from Brigham Young University in communication Disorders in 2017. Mackenzie decided to become a Speech Language Technician because she loves interacting with kids and teenagers and helping them improve their ability to communicate.

    Mackenzie grew up in Mesa, Arizona and has lived in Utah for 5 years. She served a mission for her church in Guatemala from 2013-2014. This last summer she spent 4 weeks in Puerto Rico with youth building classrooms at a local elementary school. Mackenzie is fluent in Spanish and loves practicing. She enjoys being outside riding her bike, boating, or playing volleyball and tennis. She also enjoys floral arranging and doing anything creative. She loves traveling and learning about different people and cultures.

    Mackenzie is happy to be here and excited to work with you and your kids!

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    Taylor Sonntag
    Speech Department
    Taylor Sonntag
    Speech Department

    Taylor was born in and raised in Utah, and I currently live in Salt Lake City. She loves

    being so close to her family. She has a passion for visual arts. In college she had the opportunity to

    study design in the countries France, Spain, and Morocco. It is so fun to be able to incorporate

    creativeness and art in her role as a Speech Tech. Her other interests include snowboarding,

    reading, hiking, and camping, and road trips.

    Taylor received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Communication Disorders from Brigham Young

    University, and graduated in June of 2021. She loves the speech field, and is looking forward to

    eventually obtaining her master’s degree to become a certified speech pathologist.

    She is so excited to work with these wonderful students. Taylor thinks it is amazing how smart and

    adaptable children are. She loves giving kids hands-on experiences that enable them to grow.

    Providing a positive, fun learning environment is a huge priority for Taylor, and she hopes to adapt

    her teaching style to best fit each child’s unique personality. She believes that communication is

    one of the most important assets in building and maintaining meaningful relationships. She is

    honored to be able to help students communicate at their highest levels.

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    Ruth Reynolds
    Speech Department
    Ruth Reynolds
    Speech Department

    Coming soon...

Occupational Therapy

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    Jena Hall
    Occupational Therapist
    Jena Hall
    Occupational Therapist

    Originally from Montana, Jena earned her Masters degree from Colorado State University in 2006. She has experience in out patient pediatrics, rural hospital, travel OT, adaptive recreation, and most recently, Orthopedics in the Acute Care setting. Jena loves every minute of time spent outside with her family, and is looking forward to building relationships with the staff, families, and students at ELA.

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    Tina Schroeder
    Occupational Therapist
    Tina Schroeder
    Occupational Therapist

    Tina was born and raised in Utah and has been and Occupational Therapy Assistant for the past 7 years in a Transitional Rehab working with the Elderly. Tina is excited to start a new chapter with pediatrics in the school system! Tina’s oldest daughter has special needs so she is very familiar with therapy and having kids strive to be the best with OT! I can’t wait to have “fun” with the kids... sheeesh don’t tell them it’s therapy.  

School Psychologist

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    Jennifer Calcut
    School Psychologist
    Jennifer Calcut
    School Psychologist

    Jennifer Calcut  is a Licensed School Psychologist, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, TBRI Practitioner and a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional  She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, Masters of Science, in Special Education and Vocational Rehabilitation, Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology with a Clinical and School Psychology emphasis.  She also has her Level 2 Special Education Teaching License with a Mild Moderate Endorsement. 

     Jennifer is clinically trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Accelerated Resolution Therapy, (ART), Trust Based Relationship Intervention Practitioner (TBRI), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Social Skills Training, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness, and Theraplay.

     She is a member of Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) an association that works with court involved families in both the juvenile and district courts.  

     She is a member of International Association of Trauma Professionals, National Education Association, and Utah Education Association.

     She works in charter schools throughout Utah providing support to children, teachers, and families with a wide variety of educational and behavioral needs.

     She has a vast array of knowledge in working with children and adults with trauma, disabilities, and a wide variety of mental health needs.  She is very knowledgeable and fluent in psychological, neuropsychological and academic assessments.  She is able to determine classifications under IDEA for autism, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, other health impairment and emotional disturbance. 

     Jennifer has provided expert witness testimony in many court proceedings regarding trauma and its impact on children and families.

     Jennifer is forensically trained in interviewing children and spent her early years in her career as a social worker and providing case management services to families with a wide variety of needs.

     She is a founding board member and assisted in starting the non-profit Police Wives of Utah.  To provide support to law enforcement families across the state of Utah.

     Jennifer enjoys working in schools and the private sector.  She has provided training to allied agencies on trauma, attachment, sensory processing disorders, mindfulness, behavioral concerns in children, and parenting techniques.  She brings extensive skills to Early Light Academy and has a wonderful working relationship with a wide variety of community partners and other mental health agencies.