Lead Teacher, Amelia Singleton
Amelia Singleton grew up in Destrehan, Louisiana. She is currently working on obtaining her Child Development Associate Credential (CDA). In January, she plans to continue her studies at UNO, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She has worked at Abeona House as an assistant teacher since May 2012. The eldest of four children, she is also a fifth-generation teacher in her family. “I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I am very passionate about making a difference in children’s lives. I believe that every moment is a teachable moment. Children learn so much through imaginary play, and I am so lucky to be a part of that every day.” One of Amelia’s favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Amelia has an amazing knack for giving the best presents, and she really knows how to bring an event together and make it special.
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Anastasia Wallace
Anastasia “Ana” joined the Abeona House teaching staff in 2017. She was born and raised in southeast Louisiana. Her passion for teaching began at an early age, always eager to lend a helping hand with her younger siblings. Ana has 6 years of experience in an early childhood education setting and has plans to obtain her CDA. Her favorite thing about teaching is witnessing each child develop, grow, and blossom into their own unique personalities. When she is not at Abeona House, she is delighting in being a mother to her young son.
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Krystal Henderson
Krystal’s afternoons of caring for the toddlers in her foster mom’s daycare mixed her love of play, reading, and service, and inspired her quest for understanding the process of learning. She continued to work in toddler care and youth development: as an Au Pair, tutor, camp counselor, and middle school academic interventionist and librarian. After moving to New Orleans in 2014, Krystal spent some time living the start-up life, but, like the undertow of the tide, she was being pulled back to learning development. She’s currently completing a post-baccalaureate in pursuit of a graduate degree in Applied Educational Psychology. Her goal is to to develop into an expert philosopher of learning, and language and motivation development. Her superpower is identifying alliterative aliases. Hers is “Curly Karaoke Kook.”
Lead Teacher, Jamilah Pelrean
Jamilah was born and raised in the boot! Children are her passion and she has been working in the education field since 2002. She vividly recalls telling her cousins what to do and what not to do as a child and loved the feeling of them responding to her. She joined the Abeona team back in 2011, but left at the end of 2013 to pursue the opportunity as director at another local facility. She reunited with her Abeona family in July 2016.
Prior to joining Abeona, Jamilah was the owner/operator of her in-home child care center for three years where she cared for 6 beautiful babies until the birth of her own daughter. She and her husband were very excited to welcome this new addition to their family and vowed to be the best parents they could to Denim. “I really love the relationships I develop with my babies. It gives my heart great pleasure to know that I am an influence to so many early lives. I firmly believe in establishing routines, which fosters the expectancy of what to look for in the classroom.”
Jamilah is very anxious to graduate in December with her Associate’s degree from Delgado Community College and is anticipating enrollment at SUNO to obtain her Bachelor’s in Child Development and Family Services. In the meantime, she is equipped with 14 years of experience, a Child Development Associate, a National Administrator’s Certificate and a whole lot of love to give to all of the children she encounters.
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Anna Fesmire
Anna comes from a family of educators. Raised in McComb, MS, she began babysitting at the age of 11, after completing a SafeSitters course at the hospital. She attended Mississippi State University receiving a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies, Educational Psychology, as well a certificate in Gerontology to complete the life span. “I never thought I would be a teacher, but when I first joined Abeona House in June 2011, I was met with a whole new approach to teaching and learning and I couldn’t get enough of it.” Anna was the lead Fish Cove teacher from it’s inception and looped up each year with the kids, within the same classroom. In August 2014, she left Abeona House to travel and explore the world a bit. After some time in North Carolina and Colorado, she returned to Algiers Point in 2016 to welcome a baby boy, and has now happily returned to the Abeona classroom! “I love to see the wheels turn and lightbulbs light up when a child figures something new out on their own. It spurs me to help find more that is interesting to them!”
“The environment should act as an aquarium which reflects the ideas, ethics, attitudes and culture of the people who live in it. This is what we are working towards.”
– Loris Malaguzzi
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Nery “July (pronounced Julie)” Cano
I was born in Honduras and have lived in Metairie Louisiana for three years. I grew up with a loving and caring family in my homeland and am the second of 4 children. I would love to obtain my CDA and later attend University for a career in child care. I enjoy spending time with children. I was a babysitter for some time here and it made me decide that I wanted to make a career out of it. I am now part of the family here at Abeona House and feel more motivated to complete my dreams and spend my time teaching and learning with the children and teachers.
I’m very passionate about art in every way. In my spare time I love to draw, paint, and practice piano. I love to share art with kids because art opens a world of creativity and imagination.
Lead Teacher, Erin Regan
Erin is a local hailing from Metairie. She has been a member of the Abeona family since June of 2013. She is an enthusiastic piece of the Rabbit Burrow team, and loves mess and music! Before she was hired aboard the Abeona crew, Erin worked at a traditional daycare center for 3 years. Since being at Abeona, she has reshaped her view of the child, and continues to grow and cherish the great joy of practicing the very rewarding Reggio Emilia approach. “The first thing I noticed about Abeona House, from the second I walked in that gate, was how happy the children were; and I never looked back. It’s so great to be a small part of the strong root of that impacting happiness.” Erin enjoys playing guitar and singing, and her little friends enjoy mini-concerts from her alter-ego, Mavis the Space Cat.
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Angie Nikolovski
All the way from Empire, Louisiana (A.K.A. down the road), Angie is the only one in her family that was born in the U.S. Her mother (Marija), father (Zoran), and sister (Lorita) came here from Croatia in the early eighties and moved to the small fishing community. Her dad worked as an oyster fisherman and her mom stayed home and took care of the family.
Angie attended and graduated from Buras High School. Afterwards she attended Nunez Community College where she received her Associates Degree in Care and Development of Young Children. After working at a traditional school for 6 years, she decided it was time for a change and came to Abeona House in 2014. She joined the Fish Cove as part time assistant and is now the full time assistant in the Rabbit Burrow.
“Children have always been my passion. Spending time with children makes me happy, but nothing makes me happier than being a part of their lives, and most importantly, their learning . I believe that children learn through play and have the power to brighten up your day.”
Angie enjoys spending her free time with her family, Elmer and Binta, and also her fur babies Mimi, Ali, and Lil Boy.
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Zoe Stone
Zoe was born in raised in Louisiana. Monroe to be exact (a yankee). She comes from a family of teachers and spent some time working on a Secondary Education degree with a concentration in English at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana before transferring to the University of New Orleans two years ago where she is now working on a BA in English. She has always loved little ones, and after her first interview at Abeona she realized her calling was in early childhood education. She loves playing guitar for the kids and putting on puppet shows for them during snack. She’s very happy to be a part of the Abeona family!
Lead Teacher, Jonte’ Wilson
Jonte’ Wilson is a local resident from Marrero, Louisiana, currently residing in New Orleans. She grew up in a loving and very family- oriented environment. Jonte’ is the youngest of 4 children, two older brothers and one older sister. She has two nephews and one niece, whom she loves and cares for deeply. Her mother is a woman she looks up to and still to this day strives to be like. Working at Abeona House has changed her view on child development. “Every day I am happy to walk in and see what the day holds for me; it is a learning experience, not just for the children but for me as well.
Full-Time Assistant, Patrice Battiste
Patrice was born in New Orleans and absolutely loves it here. She grew up with her father, two sisters, and a brother. Her mother died from cancer when Patrice was 13. She was blessed years later with three beautiful children to take the pain away from losing her. Her son Tyren is 13, her daughter Destiny is 6, and son Clarence is 2. She proudly attended L. E. Rabouin Career Magnet, majoring in Nursing for her high school, graduating in 2002. She has completed her Child Development Associate as well. Patrice has worked happily at Abeona House since 2013. Before working at Abeona, she worked for other centers gaining an impressive amount of experience. She loves her career path and sees herself doing nothing else but working with children. She chose to work with children because it is a fun way to learn about them and help them at the same time. “I absolutely love the feeling I get when I am the one who teaches them something new. Kids give me a sense of pride and accomplishment.” Patrice loves to laugh, and she is an excellent cook (as Abeona potluck attendees can attest to).
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Carmen Lasagna
Carmen Lasagna was born in Providence, Rhode Island and grew up mostly in Southern Maine. She has been fascinated with caring for young children from an early age and started babysitting when she was twelve. Later, while in high school, this interest led to working in the children’s section of her town’s public library and holding numerous volunteer positions helping children from Maine’s Somali refugee community practice English. After attending a college at Bard in New York, where she pursued E.L.L. (English language learners) teaching, Carmen moved to her favorite city she’s ever been to, New Orleans, in 2012. She began nannying full-time immediately upon moving to the south. Through nannying, Carmen got connected to the magical and inspiring community that is Abeona House, where she is now the part-time assistant in the Fish Cove. “I am so moved by the level of respect and caring that is ever-present in every interaction here at Abeona. I have always been attracted to approaches in childcare that focus on patience, love and high regard for the importance of children’s feelings and perspectives. And this is exactly the type of environment I have been lucky enough to find myself in here!” Since living in New Orleans, Carmen has also dedicated much time to helping provide free childcare for the weekly meetings of social justice organizations in town through the Crescent City Childcare Collective, both as a volunteer and a core organizer of the collective. She is passionate about seeing that children without privilege receive the quality care that all kids deserve and that loving support is available for parents in need. Carmen loves her neighborhood in the 7th ward where she lives with her best friend and a very special cat named Witchy. She loves to ride her bike and find new nature spots to explore!
Lead Teacher, Caitlin Riddle
Caitlin Riddle is from Clemmons, North Carolina. She first came to New Orleans as a City Year Corps member in 2014. Through her City Year experiences, Caitlin became passionate about school discipline reform and racial equity. Caitlin served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda before returning to New Orleans in 2018. She is grateful to be back in her favorite city working with students once again. This is her first experience teaching preschool, but she loves seeing how creative the Abeona kiddos are. “I think the Reggio approach to learning is such a positive experience for both students and teachers. I love seeing all of the inspiration sparked from one story, art project, or one eye-catching object. Children are extremely curious and excited about life at this age. It brings me joy to see our students learn through exploration and thoughtful conversations with friends and teachers.”
Lead Teacher, Shannon Yancone
Shannon grew up in Upstate, New York. Being the oldest child and cousin she naturally become the babysitter for the whole family, and eventually the neighborhood. Nannying and babysitting has always been in her life even throughout her moving around. Residing for a few years in Tallahassee, she graduated from Florida State University with a BA in Recreation, Leisure and Service Administration. She developed a side passion for Events and Music Event Production. Living in New Orleans for now 7 years, she worked, and still works, at some festivals around the city; for example curating and running the Kids Stage at the Bayou Boogaloo. Although she still loves music and events, she decided that her passion was with assisting day to day with the social, physical and cognitive development of children. This made her the happiest and gave her a true sense of real worth in this crazy “thing” we call life. This is her first year working with Abeona House, as the Assistant Teacher in the Garden Room. She is thrilled and so excited to be a part of this loving team, and looking forward to helping spread love, light and positive growth to the little people of the big loving home, Abeona House!!
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Brandon Fisette
Brandon was born and raised in Connecticut. He went to college at Central Connecticut State University where he earned a BFA in Theater. He got his start in working with youth right after college when he moved to Olympia, WA and worked with the Olympia Family Theater. After that he worked at a summer camp in California before moving to New York City. In New York, Brandon joined an experimental theater company and also began creating original performance work. He moved to New Orleans to be closer to his mom (who lives here) and to join the exciting artistic community that this city holds. He still creates performance work and is excited to be working with youth again.
Our Substitute Teachers