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The Early Light Institute

Our mission is to help children & parents start right with Early Light!

At The Early Light Institute, we are passionate about early childhood education! Children are precious and are our future! We have an obligation to teach them well and nurture them as they grow so they will be happy and healthy now, as they grow, and into adulthood. The early years are crucial in teaching and forming children. That is why we believe that preschool education should be kept in the hands of qualified, passionate educators in private preschools instead of turning it over to the government to dictate our children’s preschool experience and education. Those early years between 3 and 5 are foundational and much research has been done that shows the importance of quality preschool education. There are many benefits of a quality preschool education including improved social and academic skills, emotional regulation, and future success in school and work. We believe EVERY child deserves to start right with Early Light!

The Early Light Institute is a nonprofit, charitable organization that provides academic scholarships to underprivileged children ages 3-5 giving them the opportunity to attend a high-quality preschool in their area. We certify each preschool provider to ensure they are safe, clean, loving, and have a strong social and academic balance in their teaching approach. Along with providing superior preschool education to those preschoolers in need, we also offer excellent parenting classes for the parents of our scholarship recipients. To truly help a preschooler have the best life possible, their parents and family need quality family education as well!





Board of Directors


Stephanie Cooper


Gregory Hunt Headshot

Gregory Hunt



Shannon Thackeray


Stephanie’s lifelong passion is teaching children and strengthening families! She is an experienced preschool teacher, mother of four amazing children (2 girls and 2 boys), and creator of Treasure Tree Academy Preschool and Early Childhood Educational Programs. She is still currently the school’s Director of Education. Stephanie’s Bachelor’s degree is in Family Life from BYU. She also completed an International Internship with BYU in 2009 studying child development at a Children’s Hospital and Orphanage in Romania. Stephanie has been a Title-1 Aide and a math & reading tutor for many years and knows first-hand how crucial it is to prepare our preschool children to be ready for their upcoming elementary experience.

Before founding Treasure Tree Academy in 2014, Stephanie taught preschool at the top-rated private school in Utah County. Now, she loves sharing her passion and skills in educating children with families in her very own community. Stephanie loves the outdoors, traveling, spending time with her family, and being a part of the miraculous growth and development of young children. Stephanie and her husband have been married since 2005.

Gregory Hunt is a native Utahn, having spent the majority of his life in small towns tucked into the beautiful surrounding mountains. He and his wife have 5 beautiful and rambunctious children. He is an educator, working in elementary and middle school settings. As both a father and educator, Gregory knows the power of a high quality education.

Outside of work, Gregory has held positions of leadership in his community, and has started different community outreach programs. He is very community minded, and works hard to make the area he lives in a better place to be.

In his free time, Gregory is an avid reader, teaches guitar lessons, paints, and tells stories to anyone who will listen.

Shannon Thackeray is a semi-native of Utah. She was born in Utah and bounced around the states to Florida and Oregon, before landing in Utah for the last two decades. She is a graduate of BYU in Family Studies and spends her time working for a local non-profit.

She is a part of Circles Utah Valley where they strive to help low-income families reach stability and thrive through relationships created across social classes. She is passionate about opportunities for growth and development in children and believes everyone deserves the best start in childhood.

Her passion is her family, especially her nieces, and nephews. She loves being the favorite aunt and the world's best babysitter. In her spare time, you can find her sewing, cooking, cleaning, gardening, reading, and telling long-winded stories bound to make you laugh. She is a real renaissance woman.


A Dream In Their Mind Is Our Mission

Collaborate with team members to rally support

Our young children have great dreams and hopes for the future! We want to safeguard those dreams and help them become a reality even amidst a troubled world. Remarkably, many of the hardships we face today and that plague the future could be buffeted by furthering the educational opportunities of young people, especially those who are underprivileged. Education is the solution to our societal ills. With education being the solution, it must be built on a solid foundation. That’s where preschool comes to play. Preschool is the key to unlocking the solutions of a troubled world. Preschool is often overlooked, but in reality, it is the most important thing. We want to ensure that young preschoolers continue to receive quality education in safe, loving environments laying the foundation of future success and well-being that they may go on to live healthy, happy lives and someday contribute to the good and help the world be a better place!