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Kindergarten

  • Jamie Nelson
    Bio
    Jamie Nelson
    Kindergarten Teacher
    Jamie Nelson
    Kindergarten Teacher

    Jamie Nelson loves working with the amazing kids at ELA.  She was born and raised in Chicagoland but moved west to finish high school.  She graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a degree in Elementary Education.  Jamie spent 13 years teaching the kids in the community of Kearns and the past 3 years at ELA  She enjoyed teaching fourth grade for 10 years and has been in kindergarten for five years now. 

    As the mother of four kids, Jamie is often found playing legos, reading books, coloring, losing at the occasional video game or playing at the park.  When she has a minute to herself she enjoys reading, watching baseball with her husband (go Cubs!), participating in theater and singing.  She is excited for a great year!

  • Naomie Williams
    Bio
    Naomie Williams
    Kindergarten Teacher
    Naomie Williams
    Kindergarten Teacher

    Naomie Williams is a proud graduate from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. She has loved being a part of the ELA community and is thrilled to be teaching Kindergarten again! Her love for learning and building relationships is clear in her teaching style. She is passionate about making every child feel safe, confident, and empowered to succeed (while having lots of fun in the process)! 
    With her husband and super-cute dog, Naomie loves to hike, enjoy movies and TV shows, camp, craft, read, and dream about traveling.

  • Rebecca Groendyke
    Bio
    Rebecca Groendyke
    Kindergarten Teacher
    Rebecca Groendyke
    Kindergarten Teacher

    Becka Groendyke considers working at Early Light Academy an extraordinary adventure. Becka began this journey at the Junior High as a Special Education Teaching Assistant over twelve years ago. Grateful to be a part of this environment, she accepted a full time position as a 4th Grade Educator in 2014-2020. She is currently working as a Co-Teacher in the First Grade with Mrs. Naylor.  

    Becka was reared in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science in Education. Becka taught in the Granite School District for thirteen years. She also pursued other dreams and became a Flight Attendant for Delta Airlines, a Hostess for the Marriott Concierge, and a student at Westminster of Salt Lake City, where she earned a Master's Degree in Education.

    Becka is married to Rick Groendyke and together they have one son, Noah.  Becka finds pleasure in simplistic beauty...quiet moments, supermoons, billowing clouds, the sound of thunder. It is in the small minute details of daily life,  that she becomes keenly aware of the breathtaking “WOW” moments.  Becka’s passion is sharing those moments of awe with her students. Her strength is being able to see the worth of an individual and having the desire to be an instrument in assisting others in the discovery of their innate potential. 

  • Matthew Merkley
    Bio
    Matthew Merkley
    Kindergarten Teacher
    Matthew Merkley
    Kindergarten Teacher

    Matt has been a successful teacher for over 5 years. He has a Master’s degree in Education, and has taught K-12. He enjoys getting to know his students, their learning styles, and developing techniques to reach each child in his classroom. He is excited to join Early Light Academy and build new pathways of learning for his students and for himself. 

    Matt has a great love for his country, and the founding fathers. He enjoys reading, learning about history, teaching history, visiting Art museums, discovering new music, and hiking or biking with his wife.  He is an avid watercolor painter, and He loves baseball. He also has two daughters he enjoys spending time with.

  • Sarah Hare
    Bio
    Sarah Hare
    Kindergarten Teacher Assistant
    Sarah Hare
    Kindergarten Teacher Assistant

    Sarah lives in Herriman with her husband, 2 children, a great Pyrenees named Hank, and 2 cats named Carl & Winnie. She loves, Beauty and the Beast, musicals, iced tea, collecting mugs and traveling anywhere warm.

    She has been working at ELA since 2017  and absolutely loves working in kindergarten. Her 2 kids attend ELA and have since 2015.
  • Sydnee Harris
    Bio
    Sydnee Harris
    Kindergarten Teacher Assistant
    Sydnee Harris
    Kindergarten Teacher Assistant

    Sydnee Harris was born in Salt Lake City, she has been married for 23 years, and has 4 children, 1 of which is attending ELA this year.  She has worked in the professional field of property management for several years.  Sydnee has always volunteered in her children's classrooms and wanted to be more involved in the school system.  She is new to the Early Light staff, and is excited to get to know the students.  

    In her leisure time she  loves to read, bake, enjoys family time with good food, go for walks, play games with her family, and watch movies.  One of her favorite past times is to attend musicals with her daughters and soccer games with her son.

  • Devon Weddle
    Bio
    Devon Weddle
    Kindergarten Teacher Assistant
    Devon Weddle
    Kindergarten Teacher Assistant

    Devon Weddle currently lives in Utah county with her husband and two kids. She has been a substitute teacher and crossing guard the last few years. This will be her (and children’s) first year at Early Light Academy.

    In her down time she enjoys reading, attending plays and musicals, and playing video games with her kids.  She can also be found at the aquarium watching the penguins and sloths with her family, going to the movies or watching a baseball game. She excited to be a part of Early light Academy and can’t wait to meet all the new kindergarteners.

  • Elliott Bird
    Bio
    Elliott Bird
    Kindergarten Teacher Assistant
    Elliott Bird
    Kindergarten Teacher Assistant

    Elliott Bird was born here in Utah, but spent her early years in Texas. She attended ELA 5th - 9th grades becoming an alumni from ELA and recently graduated from Bingham High School. She's so excited to work with her teachers and learn more about education. Elliott is also planning on attending Utah State University where she will study education and fine arts.

    In her downtime Elliott loves to read as many books as she can get her hands on, loves playing with kids, and watching true crime shows. She also loves playing with her two goldendoodle dogs, Quinn and Felix. 

  • Carolyn Walker
    Bio
    Carolyn Walker
    Kindergarten Literacy Aide
    Carolyn Walker
    Kindergarten Literacy Aide

    Carolyn Walker is excited to join the literacy team and read with students at Early Light Academy! She grew up and then raised her six sons by the beaches of sunny Southern California. In 1996 the family moved to Utah where she discovered snow, taught children’s literature and college success courses at UVU, and became a reading specialist/coach for grades K-6.

    She is passionate about literacy and believes helping children read effectively is the key to them becoming independent, enthusiastic, life-long learners!

First Grade

  • Terri Avery
    Bio
    Terri Avery
    1st Grade Teacher
    Terri Avery
    1st Grade Teacher

    Ms. Avery loves teaching first grade students. She comes to Early Light after teaching for 20 years in the Canyons School District where she taught kindergarten, first, and second grades. She learned that first grade is her happy place where she can share her enthusiasm for learning. After receiving a degree in Elementary Education from BYU, she completed a Masters Degree in Education from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, specializing in reading. 

    Ms. Avery has 3 children and 7 grandchildren, 3 of whom attended Early Light themselves. On sunny days, you can find her walking the lake in Daybreak with her dog, Enzo. She enjoys reading and traveling.

    She has a passion for helping all children reach their full potential and loves to challenge students to be curious and take chances when learning. She is really excited to join the team at Early Light, and cannot wait to kick off a new year in 1st grade with you and your children. 

  • Kristi Maples
    Bio
    Kristi Maples
    1st Grade Teacher
    Kristi Maples
    1st Grade Teacher

    Kristi Maples worked in the medical field for 22 years before earning her teaching degree and joining Early light academy in 2020. Kristi attended Western Governors University where she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in education.

    Kristi was born and raised in Pocatello, Idaho where her and her 5 siblings would spend countless hours outdoors camping, hiking, and fishing. Kristi moved to Utah in 1996 to raise her family and enjoy the many outdoor adventures that Utah had to offer. Kristi loves to travel and has been to 28 of the US states, and 5 different countries. Kristi also enjoys working in her garden, watching movies, and playing with her granddaughter.

    Kristi is passionate about reading and loves to share her passion with all of her students.

  • Marisol Pizarro
    Bio
    Marisol Pizarro
    1st Grade Teacher
    Marisol Pizarro
    1st Grade Teacher

    Marisol Pizarro was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. She moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her family in 1999 to continue her studies. She graduated from Florida International University (FIU) in 2005 as an Early Childhood Educator with ESOL Endorsements. She has been a teacher for more than 16 years. She worked in a private Montessori school for ten years and then she decided to take a different path working in a charter school for the past 4 years.

    She has one son that is 16 and will be starting his junior year. He is planning to attend NYU to achieve his engineering career. 

    She has two adorable cats, Tiger and Bonita, she loves playing and cuddling with them. 

    Her hobbies are listening to music, shopping, dining out, attending to concerts, and watching movies/series.

    Marisol Pizarro’s passion and dedication for educating students have been evident since she was a young girl. She enjoyed playing with her cousins “The Little School” and guess who was the teacher… she was!

  • Shannon Zimmerman
    Bio
    Shannon Zimmerman
    1st Grade Teacher
    Shannon Zimmerman
    1st Grade Teacher

    Shannon Zimmerman is originally from Torrance, California and loved getting to grow up near the ocean. She graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a bachelors degree in elementary education. 

    Shannon always knew that she wanted to be a teacher and is forever grateful for the teachers in her life who cared and believed in her. They also taught her the importance of working hard and never giving up. Inspired by their example, she wanted to make that difference in her students’ lives. She is excited to join the Early Light team and continue to help enrich students’ educations. 

    When she’s not teaching, Shannon enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, watching plays and spending time with her family and friends. 

  • Desee Ragsdale
    Bio
    Desee Ragsdale
    1st Grade Teacher Assistant
    Desee Ragsdale
    1st Grade Teacher Assistant

    Desee Ragsdale is a BYU-Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Child Development.  After volunteering in the classroom, she realized how rewarding it would be to have a permanent role as an aide.  Desee loves exploring Utah and going anywhere with her family.  You will usually find her watching a movie, chatting with friends, taking walks, riding bikes, organizing her house, and trying to not kill her flowers.

  • Madison Hill
    Bio
    Madison Hill
    1st Grade Teacher Assistant
    Madison Hill
    1st Grade Teacher Assistant

    Madison Hill currently has a degree in Criminal Justice and is now pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. She realized she loved working with children as a swim instructor and felt how rewarding working with children was. She loves watching a movie with her family and playing with her dogs.

  • Jennifer DuCharme
    Bio
    Jennifer DuCharme
    1st Grade Literacy Aide
    Jennifer DuCharme
    1st Grade Literacy Aide

    Jennifer DuCharme was raised in Riverton, Utah. Both of her parents were school teachers and she spent countless hours helping in the classroom. She graduated from Bingham High School, Ricks College with an associates degree in Elementary Education, and Utah State University with a degree in Elementary Education and an emphasis in Language Arts. She taught school in Cache Valley and Bluffdale. She is married and has 3 children. Education has always been a very important part of her life. She quit teaching to raise her kids but was very involved in their schools. She loves sewing and reading. She hopes to pass her knowledge and enthusiasm for reading along to the wonderful first graders at ELA.

Second Grade

  • Mary Cannon
    Bio
    Mary Cannon
    2nd Grade Teacher
    Mary Cannon
    2nd Grade Teacher

    Mary graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor degree in Humanities and minor in Art History. Though Art History remains one of her passions, she has developed an enthusiasm for education through her involvement with the creation of Early Light Academy. During the first year of ELA, Mary had the opportunity to work on the Fine Arts Committee, allowing her to help establish a strong tradition of art integration at ELA including Tanner Dance, Art Inspirations Program, Art in a Box, and the University of Utah ArtsBridge Film Project. In May of 2015 she finished a 5 year term serving on the Board of ELA. 

    As the mother of six, children—Mary is actively involved in her children’s education and has loved the occasion to help in the classroom. Her favorite was teaching the Great Artist Program in her kids’ classes. She enjoys teaching children in a variety of capacities and has a great admiration for teachers, their many talents and the many hours they spend on behalf of their students. Mary finished out the 2017 school year teaching 4th grade, spent a few years as a substitute teacher, taught 5th grade full-time, then landed in 2nd grade full-time in 2020. She loves 2nd grade and ELA! 

    Mary’s other passions include reading, swimming, water polo, soccer, basketball and choir (basically, whatever her kids are involved in). 

  • Rebecca Woodard
    Bio
    Rebecca Woodard
    2nd Grade Teacher
    Rebecca Woodard
    2nd Grade Teacher

    Rebecca Woodard is looking forward to another great year at ELA! She has been teaching the second grade at ELA since our opening in 2009. She thinks it's so much fun seeing her former students in the hallways and watching everyone grow up!

    Mrs. Woodard was born and raised in West Virginia. She graduated from Fairmont State University in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Before coming to ELA, Mrs. Woodard had experience working as a classroom aide, teaching preschool, substituting, and working with the Boys and Girls Club of America. She moved to Utah in 2008 with her husband, Chris, after living the Army life in Colorado Springs.

  • Jennifer Perry
    Bio
    Jennifer Perry
    2nd Grade Teacher
    Jennifer Perry
    2nd Grade Teacher

    Jen first fell in love with teaching as an assertive oldest child. Her siblings adored it when she would have them sit around a chalk board to teach them all the things she was learning in school. (Insert sarcasm here.) Since those days of a little more forced participation, she has had many opportunities work with children, and she loves the light and charisma they bring to this world. 

    She attended Utah State University (Go Aggies!), graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in Family and Human Development and her Master’s degree in Deaf Education. After volunteering in her children’s classrooms for several years and then working at her children’s school, she decided to go through the alternate route program to get her license in Elementary Education. She has had the opportunity to be a substitute teacher, math tutor, classroom assistant, and literacy aide.  She believes every child has greatness within them and is excited to help her students reach their full potential. She is thrilled to be teaching 2nd grade at ELA!

    Jen loves spending time with her adorable family, including her math-teacher husband and four spunky children. She enjoys riding roller coasters, playing board games, jumping on the tramp, watching sunsets, hiking, traveling, reading good books, telling hilarious jokes, and eating chocolate. 

  • Emily Tanner
    Bio
    Emily Tanner
    2nd Grade Teacher
    Emily Tanner
    2nd Grade Teacher

    Emily was born and raised in Utah as the oldest of four. She attended Utah State University, where she received bachelor’s degrees in both elementary and special education. After graduating from USU, she moved to Mexico to take a head teacher position over a group of english teachers for four months! She loves traveling and having new experiences, whether that’s going to new places or meeting new people!  

    When Emily is not working, she loves trying new restaurants, cooking, going to concerts, and planning trips. She has attended 46 concerts so far, and has lived in Texas, Thailand, Pennsylvania, and Mexico!

    Being an ELA alumni herself, she is so excited to be joining the team as a first year teacher!

  • Noelle Hennick
    Bio
    Noelle Hennick
    2nd Grade Teacher Assistant
    Noelle Hennick
    2nd Grade Teacher Assistant

    Noelle Hennick attended Southern Methodist University and Boise State University and graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral and Developmental Disorders of Childhood. Since then she has worked primarily with children and teens in a variety of settings. Noelle’s first love was dance and she ran and taught the Lower Academy of Dance at Ballet Idaho for several years. Noelle also worked with at risk teens in shelter settings and later transitioned to working with families and young children with developmental delays and intense behavioral issues. 

    A mother to three boys, Noelle is constantly on the run or rather her bike. Noelle loves to road bike but is often found out on the trails mountain biking with her husband and kids. When she does get a moment to relax it’s with a good book and a Swig drink!

  • Erin Coates
    Bio
    Erin Coates
    2nd Grade Literacy Aide
    Erin Coates
    2nd Grade Literacy Aide

    Born and raised in Utah, Erin Coates has lived in Herriman for seventeen years with her husband; together they have three wonderful children. She has enjoyed being a stay at home mom for the past 13 years while giving her time and crafting skills to various school projects and assisted living facilities. Spending time with these children and older adults while volunteering has been an amazing opportunity that she has adored. Her hobbies include, but are not limited to, card making, sewing, baking and especially reading. Reading has always been a passion for Erin and she is excited to share this love of reading with the students here at Early Light Academy.

Third Grade

  • Naomi Foreman
    Bio
    Naomi Foreman
    3rd Grade Teacher
    Naomi Foreman
    3rd Grade Teacher

    Naomi has been at Early Light Academy since 2014. She graduated from NMSU in 1994 and taught nine years in NM. She moved to Utah in 2002 and in 2005 started substituting for the Jordan School District. She has taught first grade for eight years and now teaches third grade. In the eight years she substituted in the Jordan District, she has had a long term sub job in every grade from K-6. In 2014, she knew it was time for her to have her own classroom and ELA was the perfect place for that classroom. She has always been an advocate of Charter Schools and could not wait to start.  In all of the years that she has been at ELA, she has come to love the Charter School life and the family ELA is.

    Naomi is married to Les and has two children, Kelsie and Lucas. In her free time, she enjoys reading and camping. However, most of her free time is spent watching kids play soccer. She has volunteered with Copper Mountain Soccer Club for years and can often be found watching a team of eight year olds play soccer.  Her goal is to see all 50 states.

    Her sense of humor spills over into her classroom and she enjoys laughing and learning with her students. Nothing makes her happier than to see a student fall in love with reading. She looks forward to meeting each one of you and spending the next year making some really cool third grade memories.

  • Annie Taylor
    Bio
    Annie Taylor
    3rd Grade Teacher
    Annie Taylor
    3rd Grade Teacher

    After 15 years teaching kindergarten and first grade, Ms. Annie Taylor looks forward to new adventures teaching third grade! Ms. Taylor welcomes the opportunity to make up for lost time with some former students... courtesy of the pandemic.

    Ms. Taylor has met some amazing parents already and anticipates meeting many more in the upcoming years. Ms. Taylor appreciates the parent involvement that comes with charter schools and hopes to have regular and positive engagement with her students’ parents. 

    In her free time, Ms. Taylor enjoys biking, reading, spending time with family/ friends and travel. She has a good sense of humor and genuinely loves children, and loves helping them learn and grow. Ms. Taylor raised two children who are both working. Although neither of her children has children yet, Ms. Taylor dreams of having grandchildren at some point in the future.

    Ms. Taylor cannot wait to level up her love of reading and math; and introduce and explore abstract concepts with a more mature student body. She hopes to continue to foster a feeling of joy at school and a love for learning in general. 

  • Stacey Blank
    Bio
    Stacey Blank
    3rd Grade Teacher
    Stacey Blank
    3rd Grade Teacher

    Stacey received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Social Studies from Salisbury University located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Upon graduation she began her teaching career in Lawrence Township Public Schools, New Jersey where she taught 4th grade for 10 years. Fun fact- she taught in the same school she attended as a child! Stacey has also spent many years of her life at the pool, either in the pool as a swimmer or on the deck as a coach. 

    In her free time Stacey enjoys spending time with her children and her husband. She has 8 year old twin girls who will be in 3rd grade at ELA. Traveling is Stacey's top hobby and her favorite destinations thus far have been Italy, Turks & Caicos and Nashville. 

    Stacey is looking forward to another great year in 3rd grade at ELA!

  • Derek LeDoux
    Bio
    Derek LeDoux
    3rd Grade Teacher
    Derek LeDoux
    3rd Grade Teacher

    Mr. LeDoux is originally from Neenah, Wisconsin. He graduated from BYU-Idaho in 2011, with a degree in Elementary Education. He started off his career by teaching for four years in inner-city Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and then for a year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Currently, he is in his third year of teaching at ELA, helps coach the ELA boys’ basketball teams, and absolutely loves the ELA community and culture!

    In Mr. LeDoux’s free-time, he enjoys running, hiking, and biking in the beautiful Utah outdoors. Though he is known by his students to randomly sing pop-culture songs (sometimes poorly) to teach new concepts, Mr. LeDoux is actually quite the bass singer and has performed many solos in his community and church settings. Mr. LeDoux loves sports and cheering on his Wisconsin sports teams. Although he unfortunately is not related to country singer Chris LeDoux, a fun fact about Mr. LeDoux is that his grandpa's first cousin is Hall of Fame basketball coach, Lute Olson.

    Mr. LeDoux loves interacting with, and helping ELA students achieve their dreams and to be successful. He looks forward to a fun and outstanding school year! Go Phoenix!

  • Shauna Price
    Bio
    Shauna Price
    Third Grade Assistant
    Shauna Price
    Third Grade Assistant

    Shauna Price was born in California but as the daughter of a Colonel in the Army, she lived all over the world. Her father retired in Los Angeles, California and that is where Shauna graduated from high school. She also graduated from Ricks College with an Associates of Arts Degree and then attended the University of Utah, majoring in Political Science & History.

    Shauna and her husband have three awesome boys, ages 23, 21 and 16. They have attended ELA since its opening year. They have lived in the South Jordan area for 21 years.

    Shauna enjoys reading, shopping, attending plays and concerts and watching her kids play sports.

  • Jennifer Ashby
    Bio
    Jennifer Ashby
    3rd Grade Literacy Aide
    Jennifer Ashby
    3rd Grade Literacy Aide

    Jennifer Ashby was born and raised in the Salt Lake Valley.  She graduated from Utah State University with degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a minor in English. Following graduation she taught kindergarten and fourth grade in Granite School District. After four years of teaching she moved with her husband to Texas and started a family. She volunteered often at her daughters’ schools and enjoyed helping the teachers and students. While her two daughters were in middle school and high school, her family moved to Bogota, Colombia and Muscat, Oman. She enjoyed experiencing different cultures and making friends from around the world. In 2014 her family moved back to Utah and she became a kindergarten aide in Jordan School District, followed by a first grade teacher the following year. She loves to read, cook, hike, and spend time with family and friends. Jennifer is excited to bring her love of learning and reading to Early Light and working with the teachers and students!

Fourth Grade

  • Allison Villastrigo
    Bio
    Allison Villastrigo
    4th Grade Teacher
    Allison Villastrigo
    4th Grade Teacher

    Allison Villastrigo (Vee-uh-stree-go) grew up in Boise, Idaho and attended college in her home state. She earned a BA in Psychology and MA in Teaching from The College of Idaho.  Allison enjoyed traveling to Europe and studying abroad in Australia as a part of her studies.  Attending a small college, Allison learned the value of a strong community, an open mind, and listening to a variety of perspectives in education.  She seeks to create that same kind of close-knit, caring community of smart, objective thinkers in the classroom each year. 

    Allison has had the privilege of working with unforgettable children from 2nd to 6th grade in Idaho, Washington, and Utah schools, since she began teaching in 2007. There is nothing that brings her more joy than synergizing with students each day, especially relishing a good book as a classroom community. She seeks to help students learn that they can persist through and even enjoy difficult concepts or tasks and is always trying to find a way to keep things engaging for kids.  

    Allison is grateful to be a long time member of the Early Light Academy team.  Though she has taught at some really phenomenal schools, ELA stands out as one of the best of the best.  She loves the history focus and the aim for a more well-rounded education at the school.  Her family enjoys living and playing in Daybreak and includes ray-of-sunshine daughter, Cora, quick-witted son, Miles, silly husband, Drew, and two very adored dogs, Ernie and Ellie. Allison is looking forward to another wonderful year in fourth grade!  

  • Michael Herren
    Bio
    Michael Herren
    4th Grade Teacher
    Michael Herren
    4th Grade Teacher

    Michael is an extraordinary elementary school teacher with a passion for education that spans across various grade levels. He brings a unique perspective to his classrooms. Known for his love of learning, Michael encourages his students to explore the wonders of literature and always fosters a curious spirit within them. As an animated teacher, he goes above and beyond to make learning engaging and fun, leaving a lasting impact on his students' lives.

    Beyond the classroom, Michael has an impressive array of hobbies and interests. His collections of records, books, coins, and Americana showcase his appreciation for history and culture. Outside of his teaching endeavors, Michael has been a beekeeper, gardener, and chicken keeper, connecting with nature and enjoying the serenity it offers. His love for philosophy is evident in the thought-provoking discussions he shares with his students and colleagues.

    One of Michael's unique passions is crafting traditional, earthy root beer, using actual roots, reflecting his love for history. He ensures every student feels welcome and valued by emphasizing the importance of empathy and understanding in the classroom.

    Above all, Michael cherishes his family and relishes the time spent with his wife and children. His love for hiking and mindfulness is reflected in the joy he finds in exploring the picturesque landscapes of Utah, Idaho, and Sydney, Australia, where he has lived and embraced their cultures. Michael's multifaceted background and dedication to his students make him an exceptional educator who leaves a lasting positive impact on the lives of those he teaches.

  • Kelly McQuilling
    Bio
    Kelly McQuilling
    4th Grade Teacher
    Kelly McQuilling
    4th Grade Teacher

    Kelly is from Los Angeles and attended a private boarding school in New Mexico for High School. She first decided to become a teacher after working there after graduation. While working there, she taught the teacher's children and gave horseback riding lessons.

    Kelly went to the University at Weber State, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. After working in Weber School District, she is excited to start her 2nd year here at Early Light Academy.

    In her free time she enjoys cooking and crafts of all types.

  • Matika Sumsion
    Bio
    Matika Sumsion
    4th Grade Teacher
    Matika Sumsion
    4th Grade Teacher

    Matika Sumsion grew up in Meridian, Idaho on a small “hobby farm” where she helped her family raise milk cows, sheep, pigs, llamas, chickens, emus, peacocks, cats, dogs, a skunk, and any other animals she could convince her parents to keep. 

    She loves being outside, whether it be working in a garden, climbing trees, playing sports or hiking mountains.

    In April of 2021, she graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho where she majored in Elementary Education with a minor in Mathematics.  She loves learning new languages and getting to know different cultures.  This was sparked by the time she spent living in Chile and learning the Spanish language.  She is excited to teach and learning with her students this year.

  • Hattie Deluca
    Bio
    Hattie Deluca
    4th Grade Aide
    Hattie Deluca
    4th Grade Aide

    Hattie was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah sandwiched in the middle of five kids.  She attended Granger High School where she developed a love of art and music.  She later went on to attend the University of Utah (go Utes!!!) where she majored in Sociology with a certificate in Criminology.

    Hattie has worked for two major flooring companies in their respective accounting departments, but really fell in love with the education system having volunteered many times at Early Light Academy for the classes of her two beautiful girls who attend Early Light Academy.  Hattie really enjoys working as a 4th grade aide and loves the students she works with.  

    During her spare time she enjoys spending time with her kids, the great outdoors, puzzles, legos, listening to podcasts, enjoying music (she plays the piano and loves to sing), games, reading, enjoying a good meal and spending time with family. She is also a sports fan who enjoys supporting the Utes and Utah Jazz.

  • Kathy Angus
    Bio
    Kathy Angus
    4th Grade Literacy Aide
    Kathy Angus
    4th Grade Literacy Aide

    Kathy was born and raised in Salt Lake. She has lived in Riverton the last 20 years with her husband and three kids all of whom attended ELA.  She loves being involved in all of their activities and her favorite job has been a stay at home Mom for the last 14 years and helping in classrooms.

    She loves being surrounded by the mountains and spending time hiking, camping, and riding ATVs with her family. She enjoys traveling, good food, going to movies, game nights with family and getting lost in a good book. She is excited to work with the students at ELA and hopes to help them in becoming better readers and share her passion for reading

Fifth Grade

  • Anna Leggett
    Bio
    Anna Leggett
    5th Grade Teacher
    Anna Leggett
    5th Grade Teacher

    Anna first learned of her love for teaching while volunteering in her daughter's classroom, and decided to pursue her license through the Alternate Routes to Licensure program. She hasn't looked back! Anna graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in French and a Minor in Business. Prior to teaching 5th grade at Early Light Academy, she taught 1st grade at Bastian Elementary and STEM Education at Daybreak Elementary.

    Anna loves Early Light Academy, and is passionate about making learning engaging and fun, and ensuring her classroom is a safe and inclusive environment where all students can thrive.

    Anna resides in South Jordan with her husband, two children, a rambunctious cocker spaniel, and two unfriendly parakeets. She enjoys movies, dogs, running, sarcasm, yoga, Diet Coke, music, Harry Potter, sea otters, manual shift vehicles, nature, art, bad jokes and Europe, in no particular order.

  • Katharine Reese
    Bio
    Katharine Reese
    5th Grade Teacher
    Katharine Reese
    5th Grade Teacher

    Katharine discovered her love of teaching and children while teaching piano lessons to elementary-aged kids in her neighborhood in California. While she started her college career at BYU-Idaho as a music major, she soon learned that her true passion lay in the teaching. Katharine graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a minor in History Education.

    When she is not teaching, Katharine enjoys reading (historical fiction is a favorite), playing the piano, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, chocolate, hotdogs, and playing all kinds of games. One day, Katharine plans to write children’s books and spend time traveling to as many countries as she can.

    Katharine believes that learning and laughter go hand in hand, and one of her biggest goals is to create a safe classroom environment that supports out-of-the-box thinking, peer collaboration, and patient perseverance. She is looking forward to a fantastic year at Early Light Academy!

  • Abigail Trent
    Bio
    Abigail Trent
    5th Grade Teacher
    Abigail Trent
    5th Grade Teacher

    Abigail has moved around her entire life, 12 times to be exact, including two foreign countries. This trial taught her how to make effective relationships and to be accommodating in a variety of situations. She is also the third oldest out of eight children in her family!

    She recently graduated from Brigham Young University- Idaho with a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education with a minor in Mathematics. Unlike most teachers, Abigail never intended to return to the school system. While attempting to find her calling in life, she took a math class in college and began tutoring fellow students. Seeing the light in her peers' eyes as they understood the material was incredibly fulfilling and hence the reason she fell in love with teaching.

    Outside the classroom, Abigail loves to be social, enjoy the outdoors, and spend time with loved ones. She loves to laugh at her own jokes while making others smile. Abigail is incredibly ecstatic to join the Early Light Academy team and to start teaching your wonderful students!
  • Heather Inama
    Bio
    Heather Inama
    5th Grade Teacher
    Heather Inama
    5th Grade Teacher

    Heather Inama (ee-nah-ma) grew up in Washington State where her love for seafood and fresh produce was ingrained. There will always be something special about the smell of salt water and eating a strawberry the size of your hand. 

    Heather’s love of learning and teaching started young. As an elementary student she would tell others that she was going to be a teacher when she grew up. Over the years since, she has taught in many different capacities to many different age groups. At one point she taught high school students, university level students, and most recently has been teaching Leader in Me and Keyboarding to the 5th grade students at Early Light Academy. 

    Heather has always had a passion for music. She can be seen belting out a balled in the car by herself when it’s time to de-stress and get centered or singing a soulful spiritual in the classroom to demonstrate the type of music that was popular during that time. Not only does Heather enjoying singing and listening to music but she loves all concerts, musicals, theater performances, and the arts. 

    When Heather isn’t at school, she loves to take trips with her husband and daughter, host a BBQ or party, go to the movies, seek out a new restaurant, and experience new areas of Utah she hasn’t seen before. Heather loves organization and efficiency and can be found cleaning out and organizing a closet for fun.

    Heather is so excited for the opportunity to teach and see her students make progress and grow this year!

  • Ashlie Allison
    Bio
    Ashlie Allison
    5th Grade Teacher Assistant
    Ashlie Allison
    5th Grade Teacher Assistant

    Ashlie has lived on three continents and in three states, but has called South Jordan home for most of her life. She skipped first grade, started at BYU at 17 (two weeks after high school graduation!) and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Marriage, Family and Human Development with a minor in Public Health. 

    Ashlie loves to plan trips even if she doesn't take them, but taking them is always better! She believes there's not much better in life than good food and good company. One of her very favorite things to do is cheer others on as they work towards doing something hard! 

    Ashlie grew up in a very large family and has worked with children her whole life, including those with autism, ADHD and high anxiety. She has known her husband since Jr. High! They have 3 children- one girl and two boys- all who have attended ELA. After being a room parent for many years, volunteering in her kid's classrooms and teaching GAP art Ashlie is excited to join the staff at ELA! 

  • Shayna Swiss
    Bio
    Shayna Swiss
    5/6 Literacy Teacher Assistant
    Shayna Swiss
    5/6 Literacy Teacher Assistant

    Shayna is thrilled to be joining the ELA staff. She has been substitute teaching for the last two years and has loved working with the amazing students at Early Light (including her own four children who have all attended).She is always up for adventure and loves learning.

    Shayna enjoys yoga, playing tennis, traveling anywhere and everywhere, and reading. But most of all, she loves spending time with her family and friends.

Sixth Grade

  • Rebecca Brookhart
    Bio
    Rebecca Brookhart
    6th Grade Teacher
    Rebecca Brookhart
    6th Grade Teacher

    Rebecca grew up in American Fork, UT and graduated Magna Cum Laude from BYU with her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.  She loves teaching 6th grade at Early Light Academy!

    Rebecca enjoys learning about everything!  Science, history, programming, drama, art, music, math, engineering, language arts- you name it!  She is excited to nurture a love of learning in her students this year.

    In her free time, Rebecca loves reading, hiking, watching cartoons, playing board games, making people laugh, performing with her clarinet, playing basketball, and hanging out with friends and family.

  • Christopher Matson
    Bio
    Christopher Matson
    6th Grade Teacher
    Christopher Matson
    6th Grade Teacher

    Mr. Matson has over fifteen years of teaching experience as a sixth grade teacher. Mr. Matson loves being outdoors. One of his favorite activities is biking. In the evenings he enjoys going on walks with his wife, Becky. He also enjoys cooking, playing games, and reading.

  • Jodie Adams
    Bio
    Jodie Adams
    6th Grade Teacher
    Jodie Adams
    6th Grade Teacher

    Jodie Adams is originally from Sacramento, California, and loved growing up near the water and a few hours away from Disneyland. She graduated from Utah Valley University with a bachelor's degree in University Studies with a minor in Community Health Education. 

    Jodie realized that she wanted to be a teacher in college and is grateful for the teachers in her life who cared and believed in her. They also taught her the importance of working hard and never giving up. Inspired by their example, she wanted to make a difference in her students' lives. She is excited to join Early Light Academy and continue to help enrich students' education. 

    When Jodie is not teaching, she enjoys spending time running, cycling, hiking, taking pictures, playing sports, camping, and spending time with her family and friends. 

  • Camille Osborne
    Bio
    Camille Osborne
    6th Grade Teacher
    Camille Osborne
    6th Grade Teacher

    Camille grew up in Taylorsville, Utah; after getting married she moved frequently. She has lived in several exciting places like Cedar City, Utah, Alaska, Indiana, Idaho, and Wyoming before finally making her way back to Utah. She has spent the last 12 years raising three boys and finishing school. She met her husband while attending Southern Utah University and has a love for Cedar City. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and a master’s degree from Western Governors University.

    Camille fell in love with teaching while volunteering in her kids’ schools. She has been a substitute teacher, a math intervention teacher, and she is so excited to be a sixth-grade teacher at Early Light Academy! Camille believes that getting to know each student is the best part of teaching. She wants each student in her classroom to feel valued and cared about. She is excited to start a new school year!

    Camille loves spending time with her family. She loves to travel, play games, do puzzles, and hike with her family. Camille loves sunshine, orcas, and bumble bees! 

  • Kimberly Jelitto
    Bio
    Kimberly Jelitto
    6th Grade Assistant
    Kimberly Jelitto
    6th Grade Assistant

    Working in the Parks and Recreation department, Kimberly coordinated and taught the after school program for Elementary students, and discovered her love for teaching.  She was hired on with the Granite School District in 2008.  She worked for three years in the resource department, then was transferred to a Title I school in Kearns where she worked as an aide for 4th, 5th and 6th grade.  This is her first year at ELA and is very excited to be part of the team. 

    She has two sons, three daughters and five grandchildren that keep her very busy.  She was born and raised in Utah. She lives in Herriman and loves dancing, hiking, camping and spending time with her family.

Specialists

  • Kevin Robinson
    Bio
    Kevin Robinson
    Physical Education Specialist
    Kevin Robinson
    Physical Education Specialist

    Kevin Robinson is originally from the state of Oregon. He graduated from Southern Oregon University with a bachelor’s degree in Art. Kevin has been working in a school since 2004 and at Early Light Academy since 2013. He teaches Elementary PE, K through 6th grades, and is the Athletic Director for the junior high sports programs. Athletics and physical activities have always been his passion. Kevin is married and has three adult children and four grandchildren.

  • Amy Hickenlooper
    Bio
    Amy Hickenlooper
    K-6 Music Specialist
    Amy Hickenlooper
    K-6 Music Specialist

    Amy Hickenlooper grew up in Idaho Falls in a musical family.    She has been playing the violin since she was 4 years old, and began actively studying singing and piano in her early teen years. Performing has always been a part of her life. She attended Idaho State University on a full tuition music scholarship. She struggled choosing between her love of playing the violin and singing, so she decided to pursue both.  She fell in love with teaching others when she was in college while maintaining a large private studio. She graduated with 3 bachelor’s degrees in Vocal Performance, Violin Performance and Music Education in 2002. She completed a Master’s Degree in Instructional Design last year. (2019)

     Amy just completed her 12th year of teaching music. She loves the students and is passionate about sharing her love of music with them. Along with teaching a performing children’s choir, she also is passionate about music integration and recognizes the power to learn that music can bring into a child’s life through play. She has written many songs and developed lessons for elementary music integration that have been shared throughout the state of Utah. She has been a presenter at several professional development courses for other music educators in her District and Region. She was awarded an “Elementary Teacher Commendation” award from Eagle Elementary School of the Arts in Meridian Idaho. (2009) She is a two-time recipient of the PTA Outstanding Educator award at Hidden Hollow Elementary, (2012 and 2017) and was the CTL of the team that was awarded most outstanding team of the year (2020). She was also recently awarded the “Sorenson Legacy Award for Excellence in Arts Education” for the State of Utah this past Spring. Her former elementary school was chosen to host the principal’s discussion for being the “Arts Rich School of the Year” for Alpine School District. (2020) 

    Amy just celebrated her 20th Wedding Anniversary and has two wonderful children.  They love to spend time together as a family at home and love all things having to do with the outdoors.  She loves reading, crafting, organizing, cleaning, decorating and most of all making music! 

  • Teresa Thompson
    Bio
    Teresa Thompson
    Library Media Specialist
    Teresa Thompson
    Library Media Specialist

    Ms. Thompson was an original staff member at Early Light Academy, first working as the third-grade aide, and then in the library. She took a 4 year hiatus in the inner-city schools of South Bend, Indiana, but now she is so excited to be back home at ELA! Ms. T is a fervent advocate for literacy and the power it holds in the lives of our students. She believes that although literacy starts with reading, it evolves into so much more as students grow and mature. She looks forward to teaching your amazing kiddos a full range of educational literacy including literature, research, and critical thinking.

     

    Ms. T is the mother of two incredible adult kids – both of whom were at ELA the day the doors opened until they graduated – and one pampered puppy named after Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. She loves audio books, crafting, writing, rock hounding, traveling, and book fairs! Feel free to come see Ms. T and find out how you can volunteer in the library!

  • Mica Hawkins
    Bio
    Mica Hawkins
    Library Assistant/Digital Literacy Teacher
    Mica Hawkins
    Library Assistant/Digital Literacy Teacher

    While working as a personal care assistant for disabled children and tutor, Mica learned what it means to make a difference in someones life. She loved working with children and decided to pursue a career as a teacher. Mica graduated from Western Governors University with her Bachelors in Early Childhood Education. In 2014, she joined the ELA family as a third grade teacher and has loved being a part of this awesome community ever since! She loves to find creative and engaging ways to teach concepts including escape rooms, hands on projects, and art.

    Mica grew up in Minnesota, spending most of her time outdoors enjoying the lakes! She has fallen in love with Utah’s amazing mountains and national parks. She has two children, her 5 year old son Ryker and 2 year old daughter Arya, who are the joys of her life and teach her new things everyday.  In her free time Mica especially enjoys hiking, going on adventures with her children, playing games, and reading. 

  • Britteny Candelaria
    Bio
    Britteny Candelaria
    Simulator and Technology
    Britteny Candelaria
    Simulator and Technology

    Britteny Candelaria has been a part of the ELA family for 9 years now. She started off as a Library Aide and absolutely loved every minute of it. For the past 6 years, she has assisted and is now team coordinator in our tech department. For the last 3 years she has had the opportunity to run our Space Simulator. It is one of her favorite things to do for ELA!!! It has been so exciting to see the students discovering what it takes to not only be a great team player but  realizing that they can become wonderful leaders too. This is the program that a lot of the students look forward to completing throughout the year and she feels so lucky to see all of the ELA students! She is so excited to continue to facilitate this wonderful program for ELA!