Lead Teacher, Maggie Bundy
Maggie is originally from Minnesota but made the move to New Orleans a few years ago. She has been a part of the Abeona community since 2012, having a role in the infant room the entire duration. Teaching has always been an important part of her life and something she has been interested in for as long as she can remember. Growing up, her mom ran a daycare out of their home, so caring for children was something she picked up on early in life. She continued working with children all through high school and into college as a gymnastics coach, which she loved and still misses every day! She completed 2 years of an elementary education degree in college before changing majors and graduating with an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences degree. She plans to begin working towards receiving her Child Development Associate certification this fall or next spring. “Having a hand in shaping the lives of children is the biggest reward, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything different!”
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Adriana Klassen
Adriana (Audrey to most) lives on the Bayou St. John with her husband Justin and their pup Lilah. Audrey is from…well, all over really! She was born in Indianapolis, but moved to Southwestern Ontario, Canada, when she was very young. She attended King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario, and after changing her programs multiple times, finally settled on a double major in Social Justice and Peace Studies and Religious Studies. Post university, Audrey moved around quite a bit, living in Minnesota, Missouri, and North Carolina.
Audrey has always loved learning from and working with children. She first joined the Abeona family in early 2012 as the full time assistant in the Beehive. She was so attached to her class that she moved up with them to the Rabbit Burrow. In April of 2013 she left Abeona to live and work at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Northeastern Missouri. While there she co-ran the weekly preschool, nannied for several different families, grew a lot of vegetables, and learned a lot about natural and green building. She returned to New Orleans and Abeona House in October of 2014 as the full time assistant in the Garden. Audrey is so excited to be joining the Bird’s Nest team for the 2015-2016 school year!
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Nandi Mosley
Nandi is a native New Orleanian, who has enjoyed living “Da Parish” life for the last 3 years. She graduated from Warren Easton and attended the University of New Orleans for 2 years. After completing her sophomore year, she was still undecided as to what to declare for her major. She experienced a life changing moment when her now husband, John, was in an accident and needed personal assistance. She decided to take some time off to aid in his recovery. She would use this time to get life experience and discover her passion. Since then, Nandi has earned her certification in Medical Assistance as well as becoming a mother to John, who’s best known as LJ, 4 and Nalani who was welcomed into the world this past March. She has always enjoyed caring for children and has been doing so since her youth, volunteering with her church’s child care class at New Home Ministries. She is excited to work in the Bird’s Nest as the newest team member! She has personally seen how much critical growth happens in the first year and is grateful to stimulate all the new minds entering Abeona House for the first time! She also plans to obtain her CDA by Fall of 2017. She decided that a major in college isn’t as important as she first anticipated. She is passionate at whatever she does so she is looking forward to returning to university for her Bachelor’s degree as her 5 year goal.
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, 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.
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 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 furry babies Mimi, Ali, and Lil Boy.
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Phichamon “June” Youmphai
Hello, my name is Phichamon or June. I love being a teacher but the most important thing for me is to be the best teacher possible for the young children I teach.
I was born in Thailand; my mother has been an elementary school teacher for over thirty years. My older sister has a PhD in Early Childhood education is a Professor of Early Childhood education on the University level. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood education and Master’s degree in the Psychology of Human Development from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.
All the employment I have had and volunteer work I have performed centered on working with children on the early childhood level or working with children with special educational needs. I have worked as a kindergarten teacher and a nanny for a special needs child. I also volunteered as an intervention volunteer for special needs children in a hospital.
After completing my Bachelor’s degree and while pursing my graduated degree, I worked as an assistant teacher in an international kindergarten in Thailand. As a part of the Master’s program, I had the opportunity to complete several internships involving work with Autistic children, children with Dow’s Syndrome, and those having problems with speech development. While working and pursuing my Master’s degree, I began to realize that in Thailand, there were limited educational opportunities and also a limited number of expert teachers in early childhood education and the need of special education children which are the two areas I wish to pursue.
I then decided that I needed additional opportunities to explore other philosophies and practices in the two fields I wished to pursue. I decided to explore the educational intervention practices and adaptations used in other countries. Now, I received my Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education in May 2015 and graduated with Honors. I am planning on attending UNO for Master in Special Education. My goal now is to have various teaching experiences and see in practice the various methodologies used in my field.
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Jonte’ Wilson
Jonte’ Wilson is a local resident from Marrero, Louisiana currently residing in New Orleans. She grew up in a loving and a 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 two beautiful children to take the pain away from losing her. Her son Tyren is 10, and her daughter Destiny is 3. 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 for the past year. 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 Cleveland
Caitlin Cleveland grew up in Kenner, attended Mt. Carmel Academy for high school, and then graduated from LSU with a degree in Family & Child Studies. Now back in New Orleans, she’s enjoying getting to know the city she proclaimed as home but rarely explored. As the youngest of six girls, Caitlin has been surrounded by nieces and nephews for as long as she can remember but is relatively new to teaching. Her time at Abeona House has opened her eyes to the richness of the child’s world, thanks to its unbelievably supportive community. Practicing what she preaches in the preschool classroom has made her a happier, more fulfilled, and kinder person. Favorite subject area: Science! She moonlights with the Big Easy Rollergirls as the infamous Rock Bottom!
Lead Teacher, Ashley Clinton
“The secret in education lies in respecting the student.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ashley is the lead teacher in the Bee Hive this year. She hails from Kenner (Brah!); despite living in various NOLA ‘hoods, she has settled in the quiet ‘burb of Lakeview. She is the youngest of three girls. Ashley annually visits her oldest sister in Brooklyn, NY, and enjoys translating her love of stoop-reading to fire escape-reading. She also values Sunday family brunches with her parents, middle sister, brother-in-law, and nieces.
If you’re wondering where she attended high school–it tends to be an important question in NOLA–she graduated from Mount Carmel Academy in 2004. She is currently working on her Masters in the Arts of Teaching, with a focus in Early Childhood Education, at the University of New Orleans. Although she has a degree in English, her appreciation for early childhood development was inspired by the birth of her twin nieces, Bowie and Rigby (shout out!). She has had the amazing opportunity to nanny the girls for two years. Watching them grow has truly been life-changing for Ashley.
In 2013, she entered graduate school. Ashley has enjoyed becoming familiar with the various ways adults can support the transformation of children into autonomous individuals. Being a student is great! However, she feels there are no words to describe the satisfaction and fulfillment that teaching brings. She believes that EVERY child is capable and worthy of a good education, from the earliest building blocks to the final sentence in their dissertation. She feels it is her duty to become familiar with each child in such a way that she can organize activities and lessons that will both encourage and support individual development. Most of all, she recognizes the value in allowing young children to learn through play. It may be school, but it should also a lot of fun!
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Rosie Krieger
Rosie is thrilled to be joining the Garden Room team and the Abeona community! She grew up in Los Angeles, California and spent the last 10 years living in Northern California (with a brief stint studying abroad in the stunning country of Ghana). She attended UC Santa Cruz for college where she studied African and U.S. History and Education, then moved to Oakland for her first teaching position with AmeriCorps. She has been teaching in a wide-range of learning environments for the last 6 years! From public to private schools, preschool to 4th grade, Rosie values her time spent in diverse school settings. For the last 2 years, Rosie was a 1st Grade teaching assistant while attending graduate school to gain her Masters in Education and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. While she plans to one day be an elementary school teacher, her heart truly lies in the magical world of preschool! Having worked in a Reggio Emilia inspired school in Oakland, Rosie jumped at the opportunity to teach at Abeona, a school that draws from the child-centered and dreamy Reggio approach.
Rosie and her boyfriend, Mike, and their little chiweenie dog Sunny, recently packed up everything and moved to this vibrant city. Having fallen in love with New Orleans during their first visit in 2012, Rosie and Mike decided to see what the world outside of California was like! She is currently enjoying getting to know her neighborhood of Bayou St. John and tasting all of the incredible food that New Orleans has to offer. Rosie is excited to continue to build bonds with the Abeona House community!
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