The Net Charter High School

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Our Faculty

Elizabeth Ostberg, Co-Founder & Executive Director
"I know every student is brilliant so I expect everyone to be their best selves and work hard for their dreams.”
Ms. Elizabeth developed Educators for Quality Alternatives and The NET in response to the high drop out rate in her beloved adopted city. After teaching students who had dropped out of high school in Philadelphia, Ms. Ostberg moved to New Orleans to help re-build The New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High School after Katrina. She then served as Director of Talent Management/HR for FirstLine Schools as it expanded from one school to a CMO of 5 schools. She holds a MEd from Harvard University with a focus on education in crisis zones. Ms. Ostberg says that if she can travel she would visit all her nieces and nephews. She also enjoys baking cakes but isn't good at decorating them yet. Hopefully, she will soon.
Biography by NET student JaNaria

Kristina Baiamonte, Principal, The NET: Gentilly

Ms. Kristina has worked for almost twenty years in various aspects of education in Louisiana.  She has taught Pre-K through high school, written curriculum, and worked with new teachers through TNTP.  She brings a wealth of experience from her time as a Director of Assessment and Accountability with the Louisiana Department of Education, where she took on a variety of roles including supporting schools with over-age populations and working with school districts on data analysis and instructional support.

Neil Poynter, Principal, The NET: Central City

"I want every student to attempt things at school that are outside of their comfort zone and help them to imagine new possibilities for their future."
Mr. Neil, who is originally from Baton Rouge, lives in New Orleans with his two amazing daughters and his anxious dog, Buckley. As a high school student, Neil was very social and wasn't too interested in his academics. However, Mr. Neil realized he wanted to be an educator the first time I taught kids as a volunteer, which he considers the hardest and most rewarding thing he'd ever done. He began his career as a New York City Teaching Fellow in 2008.  He earned his Masters in Education with a specialty in Learning Disabilities from Hunter College and taught at The James Baldwin School in Manhattan, whose mission and advisory structures are similar to The NET.  Mr. Neil returned to Louisiana in the summer of 2011. Mr. Neil was an Advisor and the Academic Dean at The NET before becoming principal. Neil is proud to be a part of this mission, and honored to work alongside this staff and is responsible for coining the iconic phrase, "Swing the NET!". In his downtime, you can find Mr. Neil practicing French, playing guitar, and reading.
Myra Bercy, Special Education Compliance Manager
Ms. Myra attended Southern University and Xavier University, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in social work and a Master's degree in Education.  Ms. Myra spent eight years as a social worker before transitioning to a career in special education.  She is a New Orleans native and has three children.  Ms. Myra loves working with the students at The NET.
Valerie Bodet, Co-Founder & Real World Learning Advisor
“Being with young people energizes me. I enjoy watching others learn and grow.”
Valerie Bodet

Ms. Valerie is a New Orleans native and co-founder of The NET, with over 20 years of experience in education. She has a Masters in Forestry and loves to teach outside. She first taught science as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Gabon, Central Africa. She has worked with New Orleans’ youth in public schools as a classroom science teacher and in the outdoors as Director of the Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program. Ms. Valerie says her expectations for all young students is that they learn how smart they are and learn to take positive risks while gaining confidence through those experiences. You can find her teaching outside all year or enjoying Jazz Fest in the springtime!

Biography by NET student Alexius

Trisha Botello, Bridge Therapist
"Some problems feel too big to handle, and we are here to support you through those challenges!"
Ms. Trish comes to us straight from the bayou, as she was raised in Cajun country. She has been working in counseling and creative arts therapy for over fifteen years and is a certified LPC, MT-BC. She joined the NET through a partnership with Communities In Schools. Ms. Trish has worked many jobs before the NET, including being a music therapist at a hospital for teens, and a counselor for people struggling with addiction. She works hard to teach the students of the NET to be real and honest with themselves. If a student is going through problems that feel too big to handle, Ms. Trish is dedicated to supporting them through those challenges. She loves to bake and make healthy food and loves the sunshine. She also plays the piano and sings, and prides herself on her Norah Jones impersonation. Ms. Trish especially loves to dabble in different crafts with her daughter, whom she considers to be her world.
Biography by NET alum Renni
 Adam Bourne, CTE Program Director
 Mr. Adam has been working in different facets of construction for most of his life, most recently renovating and selling residential properties.  He has worked with students in different capacities since moving to New Orleans five years ago.  He's excited about helping solve the problems facing students at The NET and getting them on a path that leads to success! 
 Bianca Briggs, Seminar Teacher

“My teachers helped me accept who I am, so if I can help a young person do the same, great!”

Ms. Bianca joined the NET after teaching in several New York City public schools. She holds an MSEd from Long Island University and was an NYC Teaching Fellow and NYC Writing Project Fellow. Growing up in Miami, Ms. Bianca was exposed to many different lifestyles and cultures, which had a profound impact on how she views the world. She encourages all her students to get out their comfort zones as often as possible and become global citizens. In addition to teaching, Ms. Bianca is a floral designer and brings her love of nature, quiet, and beauty to the classroom. She has become very fond of New Orleans culture and loves the social rides and second lines.

Biography by NET student JaNaria

Shane Colman, Operations Director 

“I believe that education is a fundamental human right.”

Shane Colamn
A graduate of Northeastern University, Mr. Shane started his education career teaching 8th grade English in Tuscaloosa, AL before relocating to New Orleans and joining The NET in 2012. Mr. Shane has taken on a variety of roles at The NET, including designing and leading the online credit-recovery lab, teaching film production classes, and managing student enrollment. He currently serves as Operations Director for both campuses. Mr. Shane enjoys working with a team of dedicated educators who are intensely passionate about improving the lives of our students.
Biography by NET student JaNaria 

Rachel Dawson, Speech & Language Therapist

“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ms. Dawson, the Speech Language Pathologist at both the Gentilly and Central City campus is a proud two time degree recipient from Howard University, receiving a B.S in 2014 and M.S in 2017 in Communication Sciences and Disorders.  She believes that the ability to effectively communicate wants and needs, and participate in every day activities is an important aspect of everyone's lives! Her goal is to combine her academic and clinical experience to create relatable and functional therapy sessions that will nurture essential communication skills. In her free time she enjoys volunteering and discovering new restaurants around the city.

 Kara Dorsey, Academic Dean

"I expect that students will take onus of their education, rise above the distractions of life, and work toward their goals."

Ms. Kara joined The NET at the start of the 2012-2013 school year as an advisor.  Prior to joining The NET, she taught middle school English in St. Helena Parish. A graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University and of Concordia University-Portland with an MA in Ed. Leadership, her primary objective as an educator is to empower underserved youth to reach their maximum potential.  As a Louisiana native and a mother of four beautiful daughters, she is passionate about teaching and learning to continually seek innovative, research-based methods to meet all her students' needs. Ms.Kara became an educator because she herself was blessed to have an excellent public education, and it wasn’t until high school that she realized everyone didn’t have that same opportunity. Since then, it has been her goal to play a role in allowing students to have a positive and meaningful educational experience.

Biography by NET student Troyneisha

 Joelle Gentner, Seminar Teacher
"Be honest. Be kind. Work as hard as you can and try. That is all. But, that is really everything." 
Ms. Joelle, aka Ms. G, hails from The Chi and now calls Central City her "home sweet home." She has two amazing children, Lily and Sam, who she loves more than the stars in the sky. Because they all live far apart, she misses them very much.  Her New Orleans family is her crazy dog, Pi. Ms. G had a miserable high school experience. She wasn't a good test taker and often felt misunderstood. She decided to become a teacher when she saw that her own son was struggling in school. She knew there has to be a better way to work with students who weren't traditional learners. She has now been working in education for over fifteen years. As a teacher, she hopes to guide students to see their tremendous self-worth.

Temple Gowan, Seminar Teacher

"I want our students to be curious about the world so that they'll want to learn more about themselves and the people around them."

Ms. Temple grew up on a small farm in Kosciusko, Mississippi, the birthplace of Oprah. She has been working as an educator for about eight years. She didn´t care much about academics in while high school. Instead, she put her energy into theater, choir, and band. But when she got to college, it all changed. She fell in love with learning and found all of her professors' lectures fascinating. It opened up a whole new world for her. She became an educator because she wanted to give other people the opportunity to have that experience as well. She feels as if it is the most challenging thing she has ever done and loves it. Before working at The NET, she taught English and journalism at a high school in Mississippi, where she also directed the annual school musical. She also taught writing and literature to college students at her alma mater, the University of Mississippi. During her free time, she likes to enjoy walking around the city when the weather is nice. She also likes reading, listening to podcasts, watching TV,  trying out new restaurants, cooking at home, hanging out with her friends, and if she gets a chance, she´ll travel to new places. She lives in New Orleans with her cat, Mina, and her dog, Jezebel. 

Biography by NET student Shante

Bailey Griswold, Math Teacher
“I really like working with young people and wanted to make sure all students have the opportunity to get a good education.”
Ms. Bailey is from Platteville, Wisconsin. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and previously served as a City Year Corps Member in Jacksonville, FL.  She loves the way The NET views and values the young people of New Orleans and enjoys the small and supportive environment that fosters positive relationships, personal growth, and accountability. Ms. Bailey enjoys eating great food, reading, Netflix, and being with friends.
Biography by NET student Gerrick

Diriki Guillory, Learning Lab Teacher & IT Manager 

“Be the best you can be and when that doesn’t work, become better than your expectations.”
Mr. Diriki grew up in New Orleans and graduated from O. Perry Walker High School.  He attended Sacramento State on a basketball scholarship and has lived in Israel, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, New York, and Washington D.C.  He is proud to call New Orleans home and loves working at The NET. He enjoys collecting albino sea turtles and listening to soft rock.
biography by NET student Gerrick
Charmaine Harris, College and Career Counselor
Charmaine Harris
Charmaine Harris was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has committed her career to education equity, building inclusive spaces, and combating systemic oppression. She completed her Bachelor's Degree as a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Lakeland University in 2010. After college, she committed to a year of service with Public Allies Milwaukee, which is a national 10-month AmeriCorps program that place young professionals into nonprofit organizations full-time and provide professional development and social justice training. Charmaine was placed at Urban Underground through Public Allies and later hired on as a full-time staff. Urban Underground focus on social justice community organizing with young people, where youth create campaigns and projects on issues that directly effect young people in Milwaukee. After working for Urban Underground for three years, Charmaine became a staff member of the very same organization that helped her to jump-start her career, Public Allies Milwaukee, as the Senior Program Manager where she continued to mentor young professionals in Milwaukee in nonprofit organizations. Charmaine earned her Master's of Science in School Counseling in May 2017 from Mount Mary University in Milwaukee and is now a licensed school counselor. Charmaine is the mother to beautiful yorkie/cairn dog, Totoe. Charmaine enjoys the small school environment of The NET. It feels like home away from her Milwaukee home.
Sandra S. Johnson, Special Education Coordinator
“I have a great love for learning, a need to help others, and a passion for children, so I wanted to pass on
my knowledge and love for learning on to others.”
Sandra Johnson
Sandra is from New Orleans. She is a mother of one son and a dog. She consults in several schools regarding Special Education and Section 504 procedures. She is never too tired to provide current information to others who provide services to children with disabilities. Sandra loved high school. She says high school was wonderful and it helped her mature and decide what it was she wanted to do in life.  She enjoys reading, spending time with family/friends and catching up on TV shows.
Biography by NET student Jenea
Christie Kieschnick, Pupil Progression Coordinator 

“I used to play school all the time when I was little, and that just kind of stuck.¨

Ms. Christie is a native New Orleanian and has worked in education for over twenty years. She received a B.A. in Theatre Arts from St. Edward´s University and an M.C.D. in Speech-Language Pathology from LSU. In 2009, she started BeReal, an organization supporting youth aging out of foster care. Christie began only part-time at the NET to run a tiny “Next Steps” project for seniors. She has since grown the department into her full-time job that supports each NET senior and alum in living a successful life after high school. Christie loves to learn and teach and appreciates the dynamic energy of education. She works hard to encourage her students to treat school like it is a full-time job, and to always be working towards a goal. In her free time, Ms. Christie loves to watch movies, go see theatre performances, and read. She has been married to her husband, Kevin, for over twenty-five years, and has two daughters, one of whom is a NET alum!

biography by NET alum Renni

John Lacarbiere, Assistant Dean
"I want my students to be themselves and love themselves enough to do what's best for them and their families."
Mr. John is a New Orleans native and a graduate of John McDonough Senior High School. Mr. John enjoys connecting with people and helping others. He’s a full-time spoken word artist. In high school, he studied independently, made straight A’s, and he hung with the “cool” kids. He was popular. In retrospect, Mr. John realized his attitude towards school and his behavior wasn’t the best in a group setting because while he was making A’s, his behavior was distracting others. He had a lot of fun. He graduated as his class valedictorian. Since 2010, he's been working in education. He wants to be the change he wanted to see in education. Before coming to The NET, Mr. John was working at Whole Foods and substitute teaching part-time, while also traveling around the country performing. 
Biography by NET student Azzan
Kina Lee, Dean of Students

Ms. Kina has spent the past twelve years working in education and holds a BA in Science and an MA in Education.  She enjoys the close relationships between the staff and students at The NET.

Kim Legaux, Counselor
"Always keep trying. Stop making excuses."

Ms.Kim Legaux is a founding staff member of The NET: Central City and will be bringing her insight and experience to the Gentilly campus for the Fall 2018 semester. She worked for an adolescent drug rehab facility as a supervisor and at Bridge City as a therapeutic dorm leader. She has been working in education for over 20 years. She made the decision to become an educator while volunteering in her daughter's Pre-K class, after she was asked to sub for the teacher. Ms. Kim was also a Girl Scout troop leader and a cheerleading coach. She originally wanted to be a nurse but fell in love with working with kids and cites her daughter as her motivation to keep going. Ms. Kim runs the food pantry and the Period Poverty project for both campuses. Her door is always open to students, families, and staff who need a listening ear, a motherly lecture, a connection to a resource, or a funny story to cheer up their day.

Biography by NET student Troyneisha
Kelley Leggins, Special Education Teacher
"Keep a 'growth mindset,' be goal oriented, remain humble and hungry for knowledge."
Mr. K, a New Orleans native with a wife and two young sons, is a special education teacher at the Central City campus. He collaborates with teachers across content areas to provide additional academic support for our students. He's focused, artistic, the oldest of four boys, and has been cutting hair since he was eleven, so it's no surprise he also has a side job as a barber. By appointment only. 

Adam McElwee, School Nurse

“I expect my students to make a healthy living through healthy choices.”

 Mr. Adam is intrinsically motivated and embraces the responsibilities of his profession to facilitate normal development and positive client response to interventions; promote health and safety including a healthy environment; intervene in response to actual and potential health problems; provide case management services; and actively collaborate with others to build client and family capacity for adaptation, self- management, self advocacy, and learning. He is a proud nurse of students at both NET campuses.

Biography by NET student Troyneisha
Seth Paddock, Seminar Teacher
“Two of my high school teachers that had a tremendous impact on me and inspired me to be a teacher."
Seth Paddock

Mr. Seth comes to The NET: Gentilly all the way from Ithaca, New York. He attended Cornell University and immediately began working in education after graduation. Before joining the NET staff, Seth was the director of J. Austin White Cultural Center in Eudora, Arkansas, which offers after-school and summer programs for children. He has been working in education now for over seven years. In his free time, Seth enjoys reading, woodworking, traveling, and camping. Mr. Seth’s parents still reside in Ithaca, and he has an older brother who lives in Alabama.

Biography by NET alum Renni

Robin Perkins, Food Service Manager

“I wanted to work in the schools because I love people. I’m a people person.”

Ms. Robin is the Food Service Manager at The NET: Central City, making sure all our students are provided with nutritious and delicious meals every day. She’s been working with New Orleans Parish schools as a cook since 1992. Ms. Robin would like to visit Boston or Brooklyn on a getaway trip someday.

Biography by NET student Gerrick

Mary Phillips, Science Teacher

Ms. Mary earned a BS in Science from Xavier University and has spent the past seven years teaching science both abroad and in New Orleans.  She really  I really enjoys the smaller class sizes at The NET, which allow her to get to know the students and learn how they learn best.

Beverly Potashner, Student Support Coordinator

“I expect my students to try their best.”

Beverly Potashner

Before moving to New Orleans in 2016, Beverly Potashner taught in New Jersey for 15 years. She studied at Rider University in New Jersey for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Ms. Beverly loves working with the kids and staff at The NET, where everyone is very supportive and she always expects students to try their best. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her family, going on long walks, reading, and being with her two dong’s Jenna and Emerson. The person that made Ms.potashner want to become an educator was that she had an amazing guidance counselor that encouraged her to become an educator.

Biography by NET student JaNaria

 Kelley Pursell, School Psychologist
Ms. Kelley is a native of northern California who originally came to New Orleans to study psychology at Tulane University.  She received her MA in School Psychology from UC Berkeley and has worked as a school psychologist in California, North Carolina, and Louisiana.  
 Justin Ross-Hillard, Dean of Students
"I believe that people who know - do. I have always wanted to be one of the people who help others know so that they can decide what to do."
Originally born in Los Angeles, CA,  Mr. Justin's family moved to his father’s hometown of Detroit, MI. He grew up primarily in Flint, MI. He’s married to his best friend Amaris. Together they have three children, Justin, Payton, and Harper. Mr. Justin is very active in his church. He’s also a musician and vocalist. He loves music and sci-fi films. He really enjoys spending time with his family and traveling. He had a pretty amazing high school experience. He was pretty popular and well-known in his school. He was a member of the marching band and played the trumpet. He also sang in the school choir and earned Letters in Band and Quiz Bowl. In his senior year, he served as student body as Senior Class President.  He started out exclusively as a sacred educator in 2005, then moved to secular education in 2011 and has continued since then. One of Mr. Justin's expectations for students at The NET is that each student would come to know their worth and, upon discovering their value to themselves and the world, accept every opportunity given to raise that value so that see themselves and immeasurable in every aspect of their living and life.
Biography by NET student Azzan
Tim Spahn Sattler, Real World Learning Coordinator

“What happens here, stays here, but what’s learned is taken with us.¨

Mr. Tim was born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, California. He has been working in education for eight years, with a degree in Public Policy from USC. Tim chose to work in education after deciding that the best way to create systemic change was through supporting the transformative power of youth. Before joining the NET staff, Tim worked at YouthBuild Charter High School of California, and then RiseUp Community School in Denver. Mr. Tim connects students with the internships across the city, helping them ignite their passions, develop their dreams and learn valuable skills and experiences for the future. He works hard to teach the students of the NET to build their own destiny and to be willing to push themselves to achieve their goals. In his downtime, Mr. Tim loves to write. He enjoys sci-fi movies and TV shows and has a love for basketball. Mr. Tim is married to a “beautiful queen,” with whom he has two super-cute, but super-bad terriers. 
Biography by NET alum Renni
Shea Toups, Seminar Teacher

Ms. Shea graduated from Nicholls State University with degrees in both English and Education. She cherishes the power of words and hopes to inspire young people to use language to both explore and refine what they're experiencing. Ms. Shea appreciates that The NET cares about connecting with and nurturing the whole person; each individual gets the opportunity to reflect on themselves and to experience who they are capable of being.

Linda Tobias, Seminar Teacher
"I knew in my heart I was destined to serve young people and being an educator was the perfect fit."
Linda Tobias

Linda Tobias is a Secondary English Education graduate of Dillard University.  She works as an Advisor at The NET: Gentilly. She lives in New Orleans, where you can get the best crawfish. Sometimes she takes her husband and two sons to eat Cajun seafood. But when she has some time to herself, she likes writing poetry and going shopping at the thrift stores to create new things. She graduated from a well known local high-school that is still popular and strong. Her high-school years made her realize she loved working with students and teaching others. 

Biography by NET student Cierra

 Jennie Wimbish, Science Teacher
"I am an avid believer in a free and appropriate education so I switched careers and became a teacher."
Ms. Jennie is originally from Clinton, MS but moved to New Orleans in 2004 upon graduating with a BA in history from the University of MS. Ms. Jennie realized she wanted to be an educator after she had her first child and started to research the quality of public schools in New Orleans. She decided to get her teaching certification in Chemistry through teachNOLA in 2012 and currently teaches biology and chemistry at the Central City campus.  At present, she is working on completing her Master’s in Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Ms. Jennie expects her students to perform to the best of their ability, to attend regularly, and to continue to grow in their education from wherever they are starting. She has three daughters and enjoys SEC football, fishing, and listening to music.
Biography by NET student Dawn

Amber Zu-Johnson, Data & Enrollment Coordinator

“Both my parents were educators, it’s in my blood.”

Ms. Amber joined The NET after working in operations and administration at New Orleans College Prep, Cafe Reconcile and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.  She is proud to be a New Orleanian and a Howard University Bison! Ms. Amber welcomes families to The NET, helps them navigate the city-wide enrollment system, and get settled comfortably. During her free time she enjoys watching TV (1960s is her favorite), reading historical texts, visiting archives, going to concerts, and hanging out with her mom. She also keeps everyone at the school on track with her amazing organizational skills. Ms. Amber lives for the summer Olympics. Her favorite Olympic sports are gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. Ms. Amber will be joining the staff at the Gentilly campus for the Fall 2018 semester. 

Biography by NET student Gerrick

  • Believe in each and every student
  • Achieve meaningful results with each student
  • Take personal responsibility for professional, school and student growth
  • Continually grow through constant reflection and feedback
  • Are passionate about and skilled in their subject, their craft and the mission
  • Work collaboratively to design innovative and effective solutions