Bird’s Nest, Infants
Lead Teacher, Liza Drennon
Liza is originally from San Antonio, TX but has been living in different parts of New Orleans for the last 6 years. Liza came to New Orleans right after graduating high school and joining City Year New Orleans. Her year of service was spent in a first grade classroom where she helped with classroom studies and management, but more importantly, created lasting relationships with her students and lead teacher. Her passion for education and social equality led her to receive a degree in Sociology from Loyola University New Orleans. Since graduating, Liza has been working at the Louisiana SPCA as an adoption counselor. Though she loves working with the animals, Liza has decided to get back to her passion of teaching and working with youth in New Orleans. Her hobbies outside of her work include hanging out with her three animals, reading, and cooking!
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Anastasia Wallace
Ana is on maternity leave and will return in August 2019.
Anastasia “Ana” Ana has 6 years of experience in an early childhood education setting. She 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. 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 son Greyson (Rabbit Burrow).
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, JaNae’ Chambers
JaNae’ N. Chambers is a mother of three, a community birth doula, and a breast feeding advocate. She first developed a passion for early childhood learning in 2007 when she began working at her family-owned-and-operated child care center. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to develop a holistic approach to early childhood development and is passionate about creating and implementing strategies that incorporate a total care approach. She continues to work to ensure that families have better birth outcomes and access to whatever resources necessary, to make their children successful.
Beehive, One Year Olds
Lead Teacher, Kyrstal 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 in pursuit of a graduate degree in Applied Educational Psychology. Her goal is to to develop into an expert philosopher of learning, language, and motivation-development. Her superpower is alliterative aliases. Hers is “Curly Karaoke Kook”.
Morning Assistant Teacher, Paris Schofield
Paris is a wife and mother. She has 3 boys, Malachi 10, Pernell 7 and Christian 5. Paris grew up in Kansas and her husband is from New Orleans. She is passionate when it comes to working with others and has been a caregiver for the past 10 years. She loves helping others and seeing them smile and progress in life. Paris is excited to be a part of the Abeona team and to watch the the young ones grow. In her free time, Paris enjoys spending time with her kids outdoors.
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Lori Martineau
Lori was born and raised in Port au Prince, Haiti. She has spent most of her life working with children in diverse ways – tutoring, babysitting, summer camp, basketball and soccer coaching, and has 8 years teaching experience. She holds a BA in Education, an ESL Certification, a Montessori Education Certificate, and a Masters Degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Expressive Arts Therapy. She has recently moved to New Orleans from Jacmel, Haiti and runs an organization called Haitianola, which works to amplify the connections between Haiti and New Orleans. She loves creating art, spending the day at the beach and red popsicles.
Rabbit Burrow, Two Year Olds
Lead 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 six years, she decided it was time for a change and came to Abeona House in 2014.
“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.
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Cherell Simmons
Cherell was born in Marrero, Louisiana and has lived on the West Bank for the last 15 years. After Hurricane Katrina, Cherell and her family relocated to Midddletown, Rhode Island where she finished high school and began working as a Safety Net Advocate, as an Americorps member. After fullfilling her Americorps contract, she began working in childcare as a substitute teacher. In 2012, she relocated back to Louisiana and is now the assistant teacher in the Rabbit Burrow. After 9 years of working in childcare, it still brings a big smile to her face to watch each child grow and develop.
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Barbie Deveau
Barbie was born and raised in Massachussetts and relocated to New Orleans after graduating from LSU in Baton Rouge. She has always known that working with children was her calling. She began working at her local elementary schol at the age of 15. She realized then that she loved helping children find the tools and methods they need to communicate. This led to major in communication sciences and disorders with hopes of someday becoming a speech pathologist. She spends her off time riding her bike around the city, taking care of her fish and trying to think of new, creative activities to share with her friends at Abeona House. She sees herself spending the rest of her life looking for new and meaningful ways to help the children around her blossom into compassionate, confident and joy-filled individuals.
Fish Cove, Three Year Olds
Lead 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
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Cypress Fisette
Cypress was born and raised in Connecticut. They went to college at Central Connecticut State University where they earned a BFA in Theater. They got their start in working with youth right after college when they moved to Olympia, WA and worked with the Olympia Family Theater. After that they worked at a summer camp in California before moving to New York City. In New York, Cypress joined an experimental theater company and also began creating original performance work. They moved to New Orleans to be closer to their mom (who lives here) and to join the exciting artistic community that this city holds. They still creates performance work and is excited to be working with youth again.
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 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!
Garden Room, Three and Four Year Olds
Lead Teacher, Shannon Yancone
Shannon grew up in upstate New York. Being the oldest child and oldest cousin she naturally became the babysitter for her 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 year working with Abeona House, as the Lead 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!!
Lead Teacher, Emily Karlik
Born in San Francisco, California, Emily moved with her family to the East Coast and grew up in Connecticut. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in English and Television/Film Studies, but has been working in the education field for the past 7 years. She has worked extensively in Early Education classrooms, and absolutely loves working with children. She has always had a passion for teaching and believes in the importance of creativity, empathy, and kindness within a classroom. She believes that the first five years of a child’s life are some of the most important, and is constantly amazed by the incredible and imaginative ways that children see the world. She is thinking of eventually going back to school to obtain her degree in Elementary Education or Early Childhood Education. Emily has just recently moved to the New Orleans area and is excited to make the city her new home.
Part Time Assistant Teacher, Amy Hutchinson
Amy is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but has called New Orleans home for three years. She has been an avid babysitter since high school, and spent several summers in high school and college in New York with family to help babysit for younger cousins. Amy has a degree in Early Childhood/Special Education from Georgia State University in Atlanta. After graduating, she traveled for a year and then got her first teaching job as a Special Education teacher in a public Montessori school, coincidentally where her mom had already been teaching for 12 years. After moving to New Orleans, Amy worked as a 1:1 ABA therapist, and then as a Special Education teacher in Orleans Parish for two years. She is currently seeking a Master’s degree in School Counseling. Amy has learned so much from her mom and former co-workers and students about the many benefits of a developmentally appropriate approach to education, such as Montessori and Reggio Emilia. Amy feels that setting a solid foundation of working together and engaging in kinesthetic, choice-based learning is the best practice for early education. Amy is so excited to meet and engage with the young learners at Abeona! She strongly feels that early learning experiences carry so much importance, and is thrilled to help cultivate positive learning for the children at Abeona!