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, Emily Karlik
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Ashley Gremillion
Ashley is a native of Metairie. She has always known working with children was her passion and started babysitting at the age of 13. Throughout high school and college, she was deciding between neonatology and labor and delivery, but eventually discovered her passion for midwifery. She plans to attend nursing school right here in New Orleans and work to expand the resources available to families interested in natural pre and postpartum care. While completing the pre nursing track at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, she also completed a degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies. She is an advocate for Spanish language learning and hopes to provide high quality pre and postnatal care to women that might not have the access due to language barriers. In her free time, Ashley loves cooking up new vegan recipes in the kitchen, taking long walks on the levee, and discovering new music.
Duck Pond, Older Infants
Lead Teacher, Brittany Thiery
Brittany was born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana and moved to New Orleans to attend the University of New Orleans in 2011. She graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology with an applied interest in Child Development and Educational Psychology. Ever since Brittany was little, she knew she wanted to work in the childcare profession and has been a nanny for the past three years. During this time, Brittany felt the calling to make a greater impact with more children by teaching. She understands how important the early stages of a child’s life is to their development and believes that children have just as much to teach us as we can teach them. She looks forward to starting at Abeona House for the 2019 school year and can’t wait to help foster and cultivate the young minds in the fish cove classroom.
Full-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!
Beehive, One Year Olds
Lead 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 school 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.
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Aisosa Ogunvor
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Emma Klobnack
Emma was born and raised in St. Louis, MO, and has lived in New Orleans for the past six years. She received her bachelors of science in psychology from Tulane University in 2017, and minored in English and music as well. During her time in undergrad, she worked as a research assistant in the Infant and Toddler Development Project where she helped code data that focused on studying motor development in children, and spent a summer at Duke University working as a summer research assistant in the Wilbourn Infant Lab at Duke focusing on children’s language development. After college, she spent some time making pizza, but knew deep down that she wanted to continue working, growing, and learning with children, and is so honored and excited to join the Abeona House team! In her free time, she enjoys making music with her friends, playing classical guitar, cooking new recipes, hanging out with her cat Spoons, and printmaking.
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, Divinna
Hi, my name is Divinna Cavazos! I was born and raised in Las Vegas , Nevada, where I graduated high school. I attended Pima Medical Institute for about a year, until I moved here to Louisiana! I moved here with my now 4 year old daughter, Mia. I pursued my career as an assistant teacher to be closer to her, and since then I’ve fallen in love working with children! I’ve worked in child care for about 4 years now. I’ve worked with kids of all ages, starting in the infant room and rotating all the way up to Pre-k. I’m very excited, and am looking forward to getting to know you and your children.
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Kayla Moore
Hello my name is Kayla Moore I am 20 years old I live in New Orleans, Louisiana born and raised. I’m the oldest out of my 3 little sisters. I graduated from Abramson Sci academy high school, and I’m currently a student at Delgado community college. I’ve always had a interest in kids since I was 15 years old I use to volunteer at a preschool when I was 15, I’ve done baby sitting and when I was younger I use to help my mom in her classroom because she is teacher as well. I’m looking forward to meeting you all.
Fish Cove, Three Year Olds
Lead Teacher, Jonté Wilson
Jonté is a New Orleans native and graduated from Nunez Community College with an Associate of Applied Science in Care and Development of Young Children and has attended professional development training to help further her knowledge and understanding of young children. She believes that all children deserve the highest quality of education and that they should have a quality teacher who sincerely cares about each child’s developmental needs.
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Nikka Hunter
Nikka Hunter is native to New Orleans, Louisiana, and a graduate from the University of New Orleans, with major field studies in Film, Theatre, and Communication. A seasoned educator, she’s worked as a public school enrichment instructor, and has built curriculums such as Makerspace, which geared towards motor skills. Taking from Pieget’s Theory of Intellectual Development, she believes in providing a space where young ones are free to learn by doing.
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Aryanah
This is Miss Yanah’s first year at Abeona House! She grew up in the northeast, but has family here in Louisiana and has been visiting since she was a kid. Aryanah got her BA in English with a focus in Creative Writing. She recently finished a teacher training with teachNOLA, but is happy to have found her place at Abeona House. She is passionate about art, music, and social justice. Aryanah works with the mutual aid group Southern Solidarity to provide food and resources for the unhoused. In her free time, she writes, paints, and practices the trumpet. Aryanah hopes to inspire creativity and healthy learning practices for our community’s youth!
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!!
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Jennifer Spadaccia
Jennifer is very excited to begin her first year as an assistant teacher at Abeona house. Originally from New York, she found Nola as her forever home and is happy to return to her love of teaching. An avid writer and theater lover, she’s looking forward to bringing her passions for literature and the stage into the garden room.
Part Time Assistant Teacher, Quartz
Quartz is so excited to be a first year teacher at Abeona House! Before working as a preschool teacher, Quartz was doing care work supporting adults with developmental disabilities in living their best lives. When we lift up those who are most marginalized in society, we lift up everyone! Quartz is committed to working to create an empowering environment for every child.