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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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    Shannon Henrichsen
    K-4 Special Education Teacher
    Shannon Henrichsen
    K-4 Special Education Teacher

    Shannon was born and raised in Rhode Island and is the oldest of 5 girls. She grew up reading, drawing, fishing, jumping on trampolines, and playing Just Dance with her parents and sisters. 

    While studying Special Education at BYU, Shannon met and married her husband Brandon. They love adventuring, spending time with friends and family, and eating yummy food together. 

    Shannon loves poetry, reading, and learning new things. She also loves singing and playing the guitar, piano, ukulele, and clarinet.  

    Shannon had the opportunity to work in multiple classrooms while studying at BYU, and is excited to have her own classroom at ELA! 

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    Bridget Edwards
    Grades 5-6 Special Education Teacher
    Bridget Edwards
    Grades 5-6 Special Education Teacher

    Miss Bridget graduated from Western Governors University with a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education. She has worked in 6th-8th grade special education and 2nd grade classrooms. She has worked many jobs along the journey through obtaining her teaching degree, including: tutoring 4th graders in math, helping struggling students as a behavior technician, in-home care for stroke victims, and in-home care in group homes for adults with disabilities and autism. 

    She has a passion for education because she believes that in it we find our power and true freedom. She strongly believes with the right tools every student can be successful, often way beyond what they initially believed they could accomplish! What really drives her as a teacher is finding what works for each student, and making sure no one is left behind or feels unseen. 

    Miss Bridget is a proud mom of two fantastic boys. She also has a sweet chiweenie named Sky. In her free time she loves to be with her two sons, boyfriend, and chiweenie. She also enjoys listening to audiobooks while playing video games, reading horror novels/comics, and enjoying nature with her family- especially Bear Lake! 

    She is new at Early Light Academy, but already loves it here. She feels that ELA is a school full of people that genuinely care about students, and it creates a wonderful atmosphere for learning and growth. 

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    Melody Andreasen
    Special Education Teacher
    Melody Andreasen
    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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    Raeann Hansen
    Special Education Teacher
    Raeann Hansen
    Special Education Teacher

    Raeann Hansen started teaching when she was 15 as a teacher’s aide. Over forty years later, she still loves it. She has literally taught every grade and every subject from preschool to college. Her latest students were all teenage high school boys going through therapy at a boarding school in Orem. Most of them came from a wilderness program straight to her Math class. There were a lot of challenges, but a lot more successes! She is thrilled to start a new adventure with special education at Early Light Academy!

    Raeann grew up in Iowa, and moved to Bountiful right after graduating from Iowa State, the whole time thinking she will never live in Utah. Soon after, she met her husband Phil. They will have their 30th wedding anniversary in November. She calls it the best decision she ever made! While raising four daughters and a son, she got her masters in special education from WGU. Between Feb and March this year THREE of her daughters got married! Raeann is grateful that they each chose such wonderful men. Her youngest, the son, is the only one not married, but at 20 she is glad he is spending most of his time building his wood carving business instead. She has one grandson, and he makes life better. In October and January two more grandchildren will join the family. The guess is anyone within yelling distance will hear her excitement.

    Raeann loves to travel with her husband, especially cruises. They have been to over 15 countries and have done everything from standing on top of a Mayan temple looking over the jungle canopy to riding on the back of a dolphin. She loves animals, so they often are included in her adventures. Raeann has held a tiger cub, leopard cub, stingray, sea turtle, and many more. She is going sky diving in August too. She is so excited to join this team, but even more excited for the life long friends she will be making!

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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. 

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    Anne Trout
    Special Education and 504 Coordinator
    Anne Trout
    Special Education and 504 Coordinator

    Anne was born and raised in Arizona. She attended Utah State University where she received her bachelor's in Communicative Disorders. After leaving USU, she taught for two years at an elementary school in Mississippi before returning to Utah. This is her fourth year at Early Light Academy. Anne loves working with the students at ELA.

    When Anne is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves photography, reading, playing flute and piano, and spending time outdoors. She also loves to play board games and is always up for learning a new one! 

    Anne is excited for another year at ELA and can't wait to see her students learn, grow, and become great leaders!

Special Education Paraprofessionals

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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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    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.

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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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    Erika Latimer
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    Erika Latimer
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Erika grew up in South Jordan, attended Bingham High School and now resides in Riverton.  She spent 3 years living in Pennsylvania and loved exploring the East Coast. She has been married for 23 years and she met her husband in EMT schooling. Together they have four children, two of which attend Early Light Academy.  This is her 1st year at ELA and she is very excited to get to know the students and staff. 

    In her free time she enjoys playing the piano, reading, being outdoors, camping, hiking, kayaking, four wheeling, and enjoying the mountains. Above all, she loves spending time with family and friends. 

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    JD Durrant
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    JD Durrant
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    JD (Coach) Durrant has many passions, but her greatest passion is her 4 children. She is also very passionate about working with children and youth. She has worked in the Special Education field for schools for over 11 years. She wants the students she works with to know that they can do anything they set their mind, and she will be there to support, encourage, and cheer them on. 

    JD is a non-denominational pastor where she works with the youth and supports them in various areas of life. She is also a softball coach with many wins both on and off the field. JD loves the San Francisco 49ers, which is how her dog got his name "Niner." 

    JD truly loves supporting, helping, and encouraging children and youth and is so excited to continue to work with the students at Early Light Academy.

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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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    Cameron Price
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    Cameron Price
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Cameron is a ELA alumni who went to Early Light from 2nd grade to 9th grade. He has 2 brothers who also went to ELA. 

    After graduating ELA Cameron went to Herriman High School and graduated with the class of 2020. Cameron also works for the JL Sorensen Recreation Center as a Basketball official/ supervisor and is on year 4 on doing that. 

    Cameron enjoys playing and watching Basketball, listening to music. 

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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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    Geoff Beckstrand
    Special Education Paraprofessional
    Geoff Beckstrand
    Special Education Paraprofessional

    Geoff was born and raised in South Jordan, Utah. As an ELA alumni he is so excited to have come full circle to help these kids achieve their academic goals. In his free time, Geoff loves to act and sing. All the world’s a stage. Act well your part.

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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.

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    Julie LaRue
    Junior High Special Education Paraprofessional
    Julie LaRue
    Junior High Special Education Paraprofessional

    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!

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 Norton
    Speech Language Technician
    Mackenzie Skousen Norton
    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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    Caryl Velas
    Speech Language Technician
    Caryl Velas
    Speech Language Technician

    Ms. Velas is excited to provide services to children in the 3rd through the 6th grade for speech and language therapy. She has always felt called to work with children and has previous experience as a babysitter, student mentor, tutor, preschool teacher, and teacher's aide. She has provided speech therapy for children between the ages of 2-16 years of age in school and clinic settings. She fell in love with the field of Speech Pathology after taking her first linguistics course during her undergrad years. In 2019, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Communicative Disorders at California State University, Fullerton. It was through her course work that she realized that the range of human communication and language skills are imperative for a child's quality of life and feels as though this is her way to make a difference in the world. Ms. Velas finds it so special to be able to witness each individual child’s milestones in language acquisition and is always happy to provide support in any capacity. She is originally from sunny San Diego, CA and loves to spend her free time outdoors with her fiance and their 2 dogs, taking a HighFit class at the local rec center, listening to podcasts, and cooking or baking from scratch! She can't wait to see what her first school year with ELA has in store.

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.