Meet the Teachers

Photo of Lataree SpannLataree Spann, AS
Associate of Science - Early Childhood Education
Lead Teacher – Infant 1 (Room 1019)

I received my Associate Degree in Early Childhood Development from Post University and have worked in the early childhood field for nineteen years. I am from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I have one son who is eleven years old and in my free time I enjoy spending time with my family. There is nothing more gratifying than witnessing a young child learn something new and knowing you have been a part of that growth.

Ursula Pursley, AA
Associates DegreePhoto of Ursula Pursley
Teaching Associate Infant 1 (Room 1019) 

I received my Early Childhood diploma from Baton Rouge Community College and continually take courses in child development. I have been working in the early childhood field since 1990. I am single and have no children of my own but feel as if the children I take care of are like my own. I have lived all my life here in Baton Rouge. In my free time I enjoy working in my flowerbeds at home and spending time with friends and family. I also help to maintain ECELP’s Vegetable and Flower Gardens that are located within the playgrounds. During the years I have had the pleasure of watching children grow and discover the world around them. I like knowing that I played a small part in that and that this is only the beginning of a wonderful journey.

Photo of Demika GilmoreDemika Gilmore, BS
Bachelor of Science - Family and Consumer Sciences
Lead Teacher – Infant II (Room 1015)

I am a graduate of Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in Child Development. I have been working with young children since 2010. I am from Baton Rouge, LA. I have a 10-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I have always loved working with young children and I believe as a teacher it is my job to provide your children with a warm, positive, safe and loving environment that offers a wide variety of activities and hands-on experiences that promote learning.

Devlin Dukes-Bynum, CDA
Child Development Associate
Teaching Assistant – Infant II (Room 1015) 

I have a Child Development Associate (CDA) degree and have worked in the early childhood field since 2016. I’m originally from St. Francisville but now live in Brusly. I have two girls (14 & 17) and a son (18). In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I also love working with children. As an Early Childhood Educator my goal is to provide your child with a positive, safe, loving environment through play.

Photo of Shannon HardyShannon Hardy, BS
Family and Consumer Sciences
Teaching Associate – Infant III (Room 1011)

I received my bachelor’s degree in Family Consumer Sciences/ Child Development from Southern University and have worked in the field since 2005. I was also a Family Service Coordinator working with disabled children for 6 years. I am originally from St. Francisville, LA, but relocated to Baton Rouge in 2010. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and I love working with children.

Laura Gemmill, CDA
Child Development Associate
Teaching Assistant - Infant III (Room 1011)

I received my Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ from the Council for Professional Recognition in 2017 and have worked in the early childhood field since 2012. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I have a daughter who is 4 years old and in my free time I enjoy spending time outside with my family. Working with young children has always been a passion of mine. There are so many things I love about my job, but one thing in particular is being able to provide a warm, comforting, and loving environment where young children can thrive.

Photo of Mikyeung GimMikyeung (Kimmy) Gim, BA
Child Development
Lead Teacher – Young Toddler I (Room 1008) 

I studied Early Childhood Education and Child Development in Korea, where I am from. Also, I joined a short-term TESOL course in Australia, where I lived for four years! I am so pleased to meet kind families, and to be a part of the LSU Early Childhood Laboratory Preschool team. I believe that learning for children is like building blocks: For the building to not fall down easily, I must help them build from the bottom. To make a strong base for the building, children need many blocks, which fit together in harmony. I hope to help them grow with a strong foundation and live life harmoniously.

Photo of Jerusha ScichowskiJerusha Scichowski, BS
Child & Family Studies
Lead Teacher – Young Toddler II (Room 1012) 

I obtained my undergraduate degree in the summer of 2017 in Child & Family Studies from LSU. In my senior year of undergraduate school, I interned here at the Early Childhood Education Lab Preschool. I am the middle child of five kids and have interacted with children since a very young age. I am also a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge and love calling the city my home. In my spare time I enjoy playing volleyball and tennis. I have a passion to shape and mold young minds, all within a safe learning environment, and I am grateful to be a part of LSU’s ECE Laboratory Preschool. I am excited to see all of the things children are capable of accomplishing.

Elizabeth Farm, BS
Communication Disorders
Teaching Assistant – Young Toddler II (Room 1012)

I received a bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Child Development at the University of Memphis. I have worked with children for about 7 years now. I am from Memphis, Tennessee. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends when I am not studying for my master's degree in School Counseling. I have always enjoyed working with and being around children and look forward to continuing that in my career. There is just something so meaningful when you can make a difference or an impact in a child’s life and to help them grow and be a part of their life journey.

Shaunta Bessye, BS
Family & Consumer Science
Lead Teacher – Young Toddler (Room 1016) 

I graduated from Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in Child Development. I have been working with children since 2010 and I absolutely love what I do! I am from Waterproof, LA. My hobbies are singing, dancing, writing and most of all spending time with my three beautiful children. I believe that fun learning experiences create the most memorable moments. I love to see children play, explore, sing, make friends, and enjoy learning!

Photo of Vanessa BaltazarVanessa Baltazar, BS
Family & Consumer Sciences
Lead Teacher – Toddler I (Room 1020) 

I received my bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration of Children Development from Southern University A&M College.  I have been working with children for since 2000. I am from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am married and have two daughters along with seven grandchildren.  In my free time I enjoy listening to instrumental music and audio books.  My experience working in early childhood has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Working with young children has created a passion to serve, to care, to help, and to love that goes to the core of my being. 

Myia Benjamin, BS
Child & Family Studies
Assistant Teacher – Toddler I (Room 1020) 

I am a graduate of LSU’s Child & Family Studies program. As a student, I interned at LSU Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool and I am excited to return as an employee! I have experience working as a summer camp counselor for four summers and experience working as a behavior tech at a center for children with autism. I am from Hammond, Louisiana. I believe that each child has a unique sparkle about them and as educators we should work to help each child feel secure so they can shine and reach their potential.

Photo of Cynthia JonesCynthia Jones, AS
Early Childhood
Lead Teacher – Toddler II (Room 1115)

I have worked in the early childhood field for 30 years. I am currently working on my bachelor’s degree in early childhood from Grand Canyon University, where I am taking online classes as a senior. I am originally from Plaquemine, Louisiana and later married my husband and moved to Maringouin, Louisiana. My husband and I together have seven children, which includes two sets of twins. Spending time with family, sewing, reading, cooking and listening to music are my hobbies. Please know that I understand the importance of preparing children for a positive educational journey. My goal is to foster and enhance the knowledge of each child daily, as well as creating a partnership with their families. 

Corinthian Henley, CDA
Early Childhood Education
Assistant Teacher – Toddler II (Room 1115) 

I have had the pleasure of teaching, guiding and nurturing children since 1990. I believe children learn best when they are in a safe, nurturing environment that allows them to be self-motivated in initiating what they learn. I believe learning is progressive and every child learns and expresses themselves differently. My goals for each child include building and developing trust within teacher and peer relationships, building self-confidence, and enhancing intellectual development. I am a wife and mother of 3 wonderful daughters and grandmother to 3 precocious grandchildren that continue to keep me young at heart. I wake everyday inspired with a heart to learn something new from the children.

Photo of Lakisha BanksLakisha Banks, AAT
Early Childhood Education
Lead Teacher – Toddler III (Room 1125) 

I received my Degree in Early Childhood Education from Louisiana Technical College. I have worked in the early childhood field since 2004. I am from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I have two daughters and one son. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family, traveling, entertaining, and cooking I have always loved working with children and believe that as a teacher, it is my responsibility to promote the social, emotional, and academic growth of young children. 

Photo of Martha PierreMartha Pierre, BS
Family Consumer Sciences
Lead Teacher - Young Preschool I (Room 1116)

I received my bachelor’s degree from Southern University A&M College and have worked in the field of education since 2006. I am from and still reside in Zachary, Louisiana. I have a baby boy and enjoy spending time with him as he grows and develops. As a teacher my goal is to help children achieve their highest potential so they can and will become productive citizens. I enjoy watching them grow and explore the world around them. I want to ensure parents that your child will be my priority and I will strive to make this a successful year. 

Photo of Warlana CapdevilleWarlana Capdeville, BS
Family, Child & Consumer Science – concentration in Child Development
Teaching Assistant - Young Preschool I (Room 1116) 

I graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a Bachelor of Science in Child Development. I have worked with children in the classroom since 2010. I am from Jennings, Louisiana. My family is my heart and I love spending time with them.  For leisure, I enjoy traveling with my husband and working with the youth groups at my church. Children are wonderful human beings each with different personalities. They thrive on love, patience, and direction.  As a teacher I strive to not only help your child achieve his/her goals but make a difference in their lives.

Photo of Lisa WeisharLisa Weishar, BS
Merchandising
Certified Pathways Trainer
TS Gold Interrater Reliability Certification Preschool/Pre-K
Lead Teacher – Young Preschool II (Room 1126) 

I have a Bachelor of Science Degree from LSU. I have worked with preschool children since 2000 and have owned my own early learning center.  I have been married for 30 years and have a 27-year-old son and a 23-year-old daughter. I enjoy reading, gardening, and being with family and friends.  I also enjoy being with children on a daily basis and working with them on their develop - mental milestones.  I strive to provide a classroom atmosphere that is builds a sense of community and supports children's physical, emotional, social, and academic well-being. 

Photo of Shannon MartrainShannon Martrain, BS
Communication Disorders

Teaching Associate – Young Preschool II (Room 1126) 

I attended college and graduated from Louisiana State University with a Major in Communication Disorders and a Minor in Psychology. I have worked in childcare since 2008 and earned my CDA (Child Development Associate) in 2010. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends in my spare time. I look forward to working with the children and families to help each child reach his/her developmental milestones.

Photo of Ellyn CulottaEllyn Culotta, BS
Early Childhood Education
PK-3 Teacher Certification
Co-Lead Teacher – Young Toddler III (Room 1109)

I graduated from LSU in Early Childhood Education in May 2019. I began working with young children as a teacher’s assistant in 2014, and since then I have continued to work in many different classrooms as an assistant or student teacher. I am from New Orleans, Louisiana. Although I am an only child, I have many aunts, uncles, and cousins. In my spare time I travel to see family and work to build stronger relationships with those I love. I also enjoy spending time learning new things, hiking outdoors, or painting. My goal is that every student grows in their independence and knowledge throughout the year based on the real world experiences we provide for them at the ECELP. 

Photo of Autumn SmithAutumn Smith, BS
Early Childhood Education
PK-3 Teacher Certification
Co-Lead Teacher – Young Toddler III (Room 1109) 

Throughout college, I have spent the summers working at camps. I have worked at Camp Dynamics, a specialized camp for children with learning, communication, and behavioral differences, and Tiger’s Den, a regular summer camp held at the LSU UREC. I have also interned in a pre-k and third grade classroom and was a student teacher in a kindergarten and second grade classroom. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, baking, taking my dog on bike rides, going to LSU football games, and spending time with my friends and family. I believe that the most significant role of the teacher is to provide each student with the tools and techniques needed in order to become critical thinkers and effective agents of change within their society. Every single student is capable of positively influencing the world and with the development of analysis and problem-solving skills, the expansion of their global awareness, and the acquisition of a cooperative, inquiring attitude, students can achieve this goal and thrive beyond the classroom. Society cannot progress without the presence of well-educated, self-motivated individuals equipped with the research skills and the desire to better humanity needed to facilitate change. 

Karen Wallace, BS
Family and Consumer Sciences
Teaching Associate – Young Toddler III (Room 1109) 

I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Family and Consumer Science concentration in Early Childhood from Southern University. I have worked in the early childhood field for over twenty-five years. I have also worked in the East Baton Rouge School system as a paraprofessional for hearing impaired children where I learned sign language from the children and assisted with ELA testing for the children. I am from Addis, Louisiana. I have four girls and seven grandchildren and enjoy my free time with family and friends. I volunteer some of my free time giving back to the community, assisting with the elderly in nursing homes to help brighten up there day. I have enjoyed working with children and am glad be a part of the village that help shapes their future.

Photo of Marlena LeBlancMarlena LeBlanc, MS
Early Childhood Studies
Lead Teacher – Young Preschool IV (Room 1110) 

I received my Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Louisiana Technical College. I later went on to receive my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and my Masters’ Degree in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Administration, Management & Leadership in 2015. I originally resided in Port Allen for 38 years but relocated to Addis, Louisiana in 2015. I am a wife of 24 years and a mother of 2 beautiful daughters (24 & 22 years of age) and 2 handsome sons (19 and 3 years of age). I have worked in childcare since 2004 and I could not see myself in any other field. My hobbies include spending time with family and friends and shopping. As an educator, my responsibilities are to ensure the safety and well-being of all children while promoting their physical, cognitive and social/emotional development.

Photo o Falen JohnsonFalen Johnson, BS
Early Childhood Education
PK-3 Teacher Certification
Lead Teacher – Preschool I (Room 1129)

I graduated from LSU in Early Childhood Education. I enjoy crafting, traveling, cooking, spending time with my family and ministering at my church. I am from Platteville, Louisiana. My primary goal is to stimulate autotomy and guide learning based on the interests of my students. I view myself as a co-learner and collaborator with my students. Our classroom is a safe space in which students are free to express themselves, investigate, play, and engage in hands on activities that foster whole child development. I am looking forward to a great year of learning!

Photo of Kathryn Bruson AckermannKathryn Bryson Ackermann
Early Childhood Education
PK-3 Teacher Certification
Co-Lead Teacher – Preschool II 

I have a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Louisiana State University. I have had four semesters of hands on experience in a variety of classrooms and grades across East Baton Rouge and Central Louisiana. During this time, I have learned how best to manage a classroom and teach a variety of ages. Currently I am pursuing my master’s degree in early childhood education in the hopes to further my education and knowledge on the education of young children. I am originally from Lafayette, LA. In my spare time I love to cook and bake just about anything. I also enjoy spending time with my husband and our two dogs Sam and Pio. I believe it is important for students to learn by experiencing different environments, situations, and materials. This encourages growth and exploration while also allowing students to ask questions and express their opinions. 

Photo of Toni RomeroToni Romero, BS
Early Childhood Education
PK-3 Teacher Certification
Co-Lead Teacher  – Preschool II

I’m a graduate of McNeese State University (2019) and am currently pursuing a master’s degree at LSU. I am from Lake Charles, LA. From a young age, I knew I wanted to work with children. My mother is a teacher, and I grew up watching her absolutely love her job. Sometimes, we would be in public somewhere, and kids in her current class or kids she had taught previously would come up to her and be so excited to see her. I knew that I wanted to have that kind of impact, too. I have been working with young children since I started high school in 2011. I worked in a school daycare throughout high school and worked in another school daycare throughout college. In my free time, I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. My goal is to enrich the minds of young children and support and help their development and learning.

Courtney Stevenson, BS, BA
Psychology
Human Development, Child & Family Studies
Associate Teacher – Young Preschool IV (Room 1110) 

I am originally from Graham, Washington but moved to Prairieville, LA at the end of 2017 after getting engaged to my fiancé. I earned my BS in Psychology and BA in Human Development with a certification in Child & Family Studies from Washington State University (Go Cougs!). I have been working with children since 2013 and teaching since 2016. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my fiancé, friends, and family. I love camping and traveling, especially back to WA when I can. I also enjoy shopping, country concerts and the outdoors. I believe that children learn best in a positive and consistent environment, and as an educator is my job to help them grow, learn, and discover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact

LSU Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool
Telephone: 225-578-7882
4001 Gourrier Lane
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

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