TEAM & BOARD
Join Our Team!
While our team is currently fully hired, we are always interested to meet passionate, mission-aligned professionals. Feel free to send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Founding Team
Director of Student Life
Community Educator, artist, and mother Charmisha Baker has served New Orleans children and families for more than a decade. Charm studied Critical Theory Social Justice, and Sociology at Occidental College in Los Angeles and Secondary Social Studies Education at the University of New Orleans. A native of St. Louis, Mo. Charm relocated to New Orleans 2007 and after a decade of service driven teaching, Charm founded Rising Sun Mindbody Wellness, a former youth internship and outreach coordinator for the Backyard Gardener’s Network, and founding lead teacher of Travis Hill School, located inside of the Youth Study Detention Center. Charm believes in the transformative power of art and cultural activism. Her professional praxis is at the intersection of creativity, love, healing, community, and social change. Most recently, she has dedicated her energy to youth development and restorative justice, as an English Language Arts instructional leader and a former Summer Arts for Change Coordinator at Travis Hill School- OJC. She is pursuing a Masters Degree of Public Health with a graduate degree focus in Restorative Sciences and Community Health.
Vanessa Batiste-Leal, PLPC
Vanessa is a PLPC, as well as a Licensed and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, who has over five years of experience in counseling. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree
in Marketing & Management from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and her Master of Health Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Louisiana State
University Health Sciences Center.
Vanessa has experience providing therapy to children, adolescents, and adults with behavioral, mental health, and physical disabilities. Vanessa has worked in private rehabilitation where she gained experience in case management, vocational rehabilitation assessment, testing, labor market research, wage
and earning capacity analysis, and life care planning. She is passionate about being of service to those in need and works within person-centered and cognitive behavioral therapy, play therapy, and career counseling. She believes in determining alternative life choices through assessment of goal setting, teaching life skills, and placing individuals with and without
disabilities into a self-advocating, goal setting path.
Mama Caren is a renowned vocal artist, counselor, and youth advocate born and raised in New Orleans East. The daughter of two career educators, she brings a wealth of both education and community experience to her role serving the young people and families at Living School. She has a passion for justice through self-esteem and self-love that she builds in our community every day.
CTE Lead Instructor
Ross is a master carpenter with decades of experience across the building trades working both residential and commercial construction, specializing in artistic projects of material reclamation. Some of his favorite projects include the Parisite Skate Park, the set of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and the Music Box Village. He lives with his partner, two children, and three dogs in a house he rebuilt by hand using salvaged materials.
Ms. Roz is a veteran educator with experience in New Orleans schools Pre-K through 12 over the past eleven years. A graduate of New Orleans public schools and the Orleans Parish Education Network's Parent Leadership Training Initiative and grandmother to 6 amazing grandchildren all in New Orleans public schools, she loves the city and its schools and families. She brings a passion for holistic wellness, community connection, the creative arts including spoken word poetry and jewelry making, and Afro-cultural crafts and spirituality. She is also proudly in the middle of 5 living generations of New Orleanians. A member of Living School's founding Design Team back in 2012, her spirit is integral to how our community works.
Dr. Joe Daschbach, Ed.L.D.
Director of Finance
Joe completed his Doctorate in Education Leadership from Columbia University’s Teachers College where he is part of the faculty of their Summer Principals Academy in New Orleans. A former civil engineer with 16 years of experience in education in New Orleans and New York including being a classroom teacher, the founding Director of Finance and Operations for a New Orleans elementary school, and a board member of a current New Orleans charter high school, he brings a wealth of experience to our team. He’s also an avid soccer & ultimate frisbee coach & player and father to 2 remarkable kids.
Keith Hart, NCLB
Director of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy & Instruction
Keith is a National Board Certified, award-winning music teacher and band director. A Grammy nominee for best music educator in the country and professional trombonist, he has led the KIPP Believe Band to dozens of championships in national competitions while building a robust community to involve families in his music program. A native New Orleanian from the Treme and graduate from Kennedy High School, Keith is also a talented carpenter and devoted father along with his partner (and our Community Organizer) Netanya Hart.
Humanities Lead Instructor
Jesse is a creative; an educator; an entrepreneur; a mentor; and a writer. With years of experience in education here in New Orleans, he brings understanding, empathy, patience, excitement and commitment to the classroom. He's taught Special Education, Technology, and Second Grade. Throughout his years in the classroom, he's taught/mentored kids ranging, in age, from five to 18. He takes pride in being a teacher that teaches kids how to think instead of what to think.
Antoinnette Majors, CCE
STEM Lead Instructor
Antoinnette's background is in biomedical engineering where she worked for the Department of Veteran's Affairs for a decade managing multi-million dollar projects and teams across the Southeast. Most recently she's taught in New Orleans Pre-K - 8 and is excited to bring her passion for math, science, engineering, health, and wellness to our founding class. Also a trained doula, she lives in Central City with her husband and their son Kingstyn.
Jacobe hails from Ithaca, New York but moved to New Orleans East as a boy where he spent most of his childhood and all of his most formative school years. A serial entrepreneur, he's passionate about working with young people living lives like the one he grew up in, helping to build skills, self-esteem, and chart a new path toward a more equitable future.
ESL Guest Educator
Tiane and her family have been New Orleans East residents and community organizers for decades, particularly amongst the growing immigrant communities fighting for just lives in their new home. She has a passion for supporting families and young people, as well as for fighting for social justice and equity. She serves our Limited English Proficient students and is helping us build a school that includes everyone.
Stefin Pasternak, M.Ed.
Stefin has been teaching in the New Orleans area for nine years including reading, writing, and the culinary arts to students K-12. A New School Creation Fellow at High Tech High, he specializes in creating unique, project-based experiences for students like a student-run restaurant and multi-genre autoethnographies. He loves permaculture, growing, foraging, and preparing food, building structures, writing, music, games, and spending time with young people--especially his two sons, Aeli and Owen.
Director of Student Support
Kristen moved to New Orleans from Connecticut in 2008 and is here to stay. She started her teaching career in high school special education, first at Rabouin and then at O. Perry Walker, then teaching English to 5th-8th grade students at KIPP Believe for 6 years. Outside of school, she loves being outside, hiking, traveling, and reading. She lives in Central City with her husband and daughters Hope and Grace.
School Nutrition Manager
Barbara is a retired bus driver from the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority with a passion for young people and serving her community. She helps run our school nutrition program, serving breakfast, lunch, and snacks to young people and caring for our school. Her Christian faith and her family are blessings in her life that keep her positive.
Our Advisory Board
A team of talented colleagues from across disciplines have been working together on a volunteer basis since 2012 to bring to life a totally new type of school for New Orleans students.
Mentor of Social & Emotional Learning and Social Work
Carrie has been working in New Orleans public schools for nearly a decade as a teacher, counselor, and social worker. She loves working with her hands, art, creative problem-solving, and helping kids find their voices. Her professional experiences range from implementing school-wide trauma interventions, to creating peer conflict resolution programs, to being an artist in residency mentoring up-and-coming high school artists.
Dr. Lisa Delpit
Mentor of Culturally Responsive & Equity-Focused Pedagogy
Dr. Delpit is a MacArthur Genius Fellow, world-renowned educator, speaker, and writer, and Felton G. Clark Distinguished Professor at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her work, including Other People's Children and Multiplication is for White People, has helped promote culturally responsive education for marginalized students around the world.
Dr. Joe Kanter, MD
Mentor of Community Wellbeing
As Administrator and Medical Director for Region One of the Louisiana Office of Public Health, Dr. Joe Kanter serves as the lead public health official for the Greater New Orleans area. Formerly, he served as Director of Health for New Orleans managing comprehensive public health strategy & initiatives for Mayor Mitch Landrieu. A practicing Emergency Physician at University Medical Center, primary care physician at the Health Care for the Homeless clinic, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at both LSU Health Sciences Center and Tulane School of Medicine, Dr. Kanter cares for a broad and diverse spectrum of patients in the New Orleans area, including some of the most vulnerable in our community. He is a committed academic working closely with residents, students, and community to expand access to patient-centered care and promoting health equity.
Mentor of Overcoming Racism
Matthew is an award-winning educator, former assistant-principal, and CEO/Founder of Overcoming Racism. He and his partner were instrumental in the early community organizing that led to Living School. He uses education to inspire youth and adults to overcome systemic racism & oppression in order to lead meaningful, brilliant lives in pursuit of equity and justice for all. He leads trainings and speaks around the world to educators, community groups, and businesses about how structural racism manifests in our lives through socialization and helps individuals and groups move toward liberation. Father duckling to a gaggle of adoring former students (and colleagues), he is a masterful motivator and history wiz world renowned for his competitive spirit and joyful noise.
Mentor of Strategy & Development
Kelsey is founding school director of Collegiate Baton Rogue, an open-enrollment charter school and a talented special education advocate in New Orleans for many years. She has a track record of building out innovative programs to serve students with diverse needs and developing young teachers to effectively help them support those students.
Mentor of Design & Production
Avery is an acclaimed multimedia artist, builder, and educator and the designer of the Living School logo. His work pushes people to create beauty out of the mysteries of the mundane and to think deeply about the way we live our lives. He helps us build curriculum and programming that brings together engineering and the arts.
Mentor of the Journey
Jada is a veteran educator with over 20 years experience teaching English around the country in a diverse array of public schools including many in Greater New Orleans. She is both a product of and the parent of three amazing children who attend New Orleans public schools. Her breadth of experience help give her perspective on the journey for both students and staff.
Mentor of Exceptional People & Real-World Work
A long-time special educator, carpenter, poet, and musician, Michael brings a joie de vie and many unique skill sets to our team. Currently the Director of Special Programming for a network of local high schools, he helps us ensure our vision supports all students equitably to do real work that improves the world.
Our Community Board of Directors
We are governed by a Board of dedicated community members who bring diverse expertise and perspectives to help us build a school that improves New Orleans.
Dr. Frances Olajide, Ed.L.D.
Mentor of Liberatory Pedagogy
Part of Google's Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Integrity team, Dr. Olajide is n award-winning educator and recipient of her Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She brings a wealth of experience developing innovative education programs and human capital. She has worked with school teams around the country including Big Picture Learning and KIPP to create anti-racist rigorous learning to life.
Mentor of 21st Century Learning & Technology
Cort works as a professional coder and engineer in the local public health sector. His technological savvy and future-thinking ways help us prepare our students for life in the future. On the side, he volunteers in local public schools, does work with local immigrant communities, publishes both a zine and a podcast, loves strategic games, and plays at least 4 instruments. He helps us develop our Career & Technical track for computer sciences and high tech careers.
Ifátùmínínú Bamgbàlà Arẹ̀sà, MT
Ifátùmínínú is the Education Director for the Music Box Village working at the intersection of arts & education. She is a third generation educator and a third generation Xavierite from New Orleans. She graduated with a degree in Film and Video from Columbia College of Chicago and a
Masters in Education from Xavier University of Louisiana, working as an educator for over a decade. As a teacher, she regularly teamed up with visual artists to incorporate art into different subject areas. Kelsi has taught both in the United States
and in Tanzania and has led professional development to teachers in both countries and in Nigeria. She specializes in educational leadership and secondary math. She is also working on her own projects as an emerging photographer, performance artist and creative.
Dr. Richard Ashmore, PhD
Richard D. Ashmore is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University. His research over 40 years focused on intergroup conflict, addressing racism and sexism while teaching Research Methods to undergraduates and graduates. Now a resident of New Orleans, Dr. Ashmore is a long-time volunteer with the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans and the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic as well as a long-time member of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi.
Mark Davis, J.D., MLT
Professor Davis is the Director of Tulane University's Bywater Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy. He has taught and practiced law throughout the country and spent 15 years leading the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. His children attend public schools in New Orleans and he is passionate about improving the health of the city and it's surrounding ecosystems through civic engagement.
Mark Hash, M.Arch.
Mark Hash is a lead designer at the award-winning firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple. He joined the practice in 2014 and has been instrumental in elevating design excellence across all project typologies. The primary design ethos for Mr. Hash is the notion of “building community” or the creation of designing communal spaces that bring people together.
India King Robins
Education Director at KidSmart and a former assistant-principal and director of special education at a high-performing New Orleans charter school, India is a talented teaching & performing artist. Her student productions have been recognized by many students as life-changing and she works around the city to help students discover their inner-kings-and-queens.
Mandi Lehnherr is Director of Special Education at Lycée Francais and is a former instructional designer, program director and co-principal. Starting her career as a special education teacher in New Orleans, Mandi has also worked within educational environments in Hungary, Slovakia, Malaysia and Bangladesh. After “knowing what it means,” Mandi returned to New Orleans to continue the fight against educational inequity. A lifelong learner, Mandi is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership & Learning and is looking forward to bringing her passion and expertise to the Board.
Dr. William Lister, MD
Dr. Lister is Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Tulane University and the owner and chief medical officer of House Call Pediatrics, a pediatric medical practice in New Orleans that delivers care within patients' homes. His work has helped to develop resident curriculum for simulation training and culinary medicine. His research interests are in healthy lifestyle promotion and obesity prevention.
Tris is a Partner with Gulf Point Advisors, lending his financial expertise to help ensure that we meet our mission. Originally from New Hampshire, he graduated from the University of Vermont in 1999 with a BA in Political Science. Upon graduation, Tris started his career in the financial services industry in New York and has over 15 years of experience. Tris first moved to New Orleans with his family in 2009 to earn his MBA from Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business with a concentration in finance and energy.
Danneka Mitchell, JD
Danneka currently serves as Director of Finance and Operations at KIPP Frederick Douglass High School. She is a native New Orleanian and a proud product of our public schools. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated with two Bachelors from University of New Orleans and her JD from the Paul M. Hebert Law School at Louisiana State University where she was an Ernest N. Morial scholar. Since graduations, she has served as an administrator in public schools around the city including Harriet Tubman Charter School and Martin Behrman Elementary, where she was once a student. She is firm believer that a great education changes lives and she is committed to being a part of ensuring all kids have access to a great school.
Jo-Muriel Ojo, MSW
Ms. Ojo is an accomplished and respected manager of nonprofit business operations, with a proven background in nurturing partner relationships while pursuing excellence in deliverables and driving organizational loyalty, and sustainability in health, family services, and child advocacy. Ms. Ojo is also a parent of a current high school student, a product of New Orleans Public Schools, and education advocate.
Pepper Roussel, Esq., MSCIT
Pepper Bowen Roussel is the Founding Director of Culinaria Center for Food Law, Policy, and Culture, Chair of the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee, Trustee on the CrescentCare board, and Steering Committee member of Value Louisiana’s Regional Sustainability Committee. Prior to becoming an attorney, she worked in software development, most recently as a project manager for large patient care projects for a New Orleans healthcare system. Pepper holds a BS in Computer Information Systems from Tulane; an MS in Computer Information Technology with a concentration in eCommerce from Regis University; and a JD from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans with certificates in both Environmental and International Laws.
Dr. J.C. Wagner-Romero, Ed.D.
Dr. Jancarlos (J.C.) Wagner-Romero is middle school leader at Encore Academy in New Orleans. He has worked in education as a student support specialist, a youth engagement leader with Puentes New Orleans, and a teacher and school leader in the region. Dr. Romero served as the Deputy Head of School and Elementary Principal of a K-12 British international school in Bangkok, Thailand, until his return to New Orleans in June 2018. Dr. Romero believes deeply in working to develop youth’s capacity for them to be effective change agents within their own communities. He earned a Doctor of Education degree in Heritage Leadership for Sustainability, Social Justice, and Participatory Culture from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.