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, 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.
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!
Beehive, One Year Olds
Lead 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.
Full-Time Assistant Teacher, Anastasia Wallace
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).
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, 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, Brittany Thierry
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.
Part-Time Assistant Teacher, Emma Klobnak
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.
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, Kaila Barattini
The eldest sister of six, Kaila began seeing the magic and curiosity in children when she began to care for her own siblings. She started her journey in working with children in 2014 when she became a nanny for a special needs family. Through caring for this family, she became acquainted with behavioral therapy and went on do community outreach therapy with children and families with disabilities. A New Orleans native, Kaila loves to paint, play music, and dance in her spare time. She cares strongly about individualism, creative expression, and being in community with others. Her goal as an assistant teacher is to provide a loving and curious environment for children to explore!
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!