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The NET: Central City

 Justin Ross-Hillard, Principal 
"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
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

Lori Colgan, Special Education Coordinator
Ajo

Ms. Lori is originally from New Orleans and has been a special education teacher and adolescent counselor in New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, and Virginia.  She has a Bachelor's of Education from Old Dominion University and a Master's Degree from Xavier University.  She is passionate about advocating for students who have unique ways of learning and understands that positive relationships at school are a critical component of student success. She loves to travel and has backpacked across countries around the world.  She loves how the staff at The NET are willing to go above and beyond to support students in earning their high school diplomas.

Tracy Davis, Paraprofessional
“ Through every dark night, there’s a bright day so keep your head up and handle it “
Tracy
Ms. Tracy believes that the kids are our  future. We must lead the way and show them they can reach their greatest potential.
Ja'mecia Fall, Assistant Dean of Students
Ricardo
Ms. Ja'mecia is a New Orleans native who has always loved school and learning.  She holds an undergraduate degree from The University of New Orleans and a master's degree from Walden University.  She enjoys reading and hunting for unique items at thrift stores.  She loves how The NET meets each student where they are.
 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.
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
Chelsea Hayes, Front Office and Attendance Manager
"Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn."  -- Benjamin Franklin 
 
Ajo

Ms. Chelsea is a New Orleans native. Growing up in New Orleans East, Ms. Chelsea attended Marion Abramson Senior High School. Ms. Chelsea was involved in numerous activities including basketball, track and field, marching band playing clarinet and member of the majorette team. Ms. Chelsea then attended Butler Community College where she competed on a Track and Field scholarship and earned her AS in Nursing and then attending Louisiana Tech University graduating with her BA in Sociology. During her time at Louisiana Tech, Ms. Chelsea became one of the most decorated Track and Field athletes and the youngest to be inducted in La Tech's athletic Hall of Fame Class'19, and in 2012 she earned her spot on the 2012 USA Olympic team competing in the London Olympic Games. Being the first female Olympian to represent New Orleans, Louisiana. Ms. Chelsea traveled the world competing professionally in Track and Field for Nike. Ms. Chelsea loves working at the NET helping kids achieve many goals. Ms. Chelsea is currently pursuing her Masters in Business while being involved in the community and mentoring young girls.

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
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. 
Erin Lierl, ELL Teacher and Coordinator 
Ajo

Ms. Erin has taught English among Tibetan refugees in Thailand and Burmese refugees in India, as well as international university students, adult learners, and high school students in New Orleans. She holds a BA in political science and Latin American Studies from Loyola University New Orleans and an MA in Latin American Studies from Tulane University. She likes learning languages, reading, writing, and swimming in the ocean.

Elishia McAllister, English Teacher
"Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. It is a seeking that he who wishes may know the cosmic secrets of the world and they that dwell therein." - Zora Neale Hurston
 Elishia
Teacher-preneur 👩🏻‍🏫 | bontany enthusiast | mother of Quinnlan and Fallon | Jesus lover | jewelry artisan | epicurean
 
Nell Okula, Mental Health Counselor
Ajo

Ms. Nell is from New York, where she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from New York University before relocating to New Orleans for her Master's in Social Work at Tulane University.  Prior to joining The NET, she provided case management, education advocacy, and supportive services to court-involved youth and their families. In her free time she likes to read, sing, dance to Cajun music, and run.  She is excited by the positive energy at The NET.

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

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

Cheyenne Stone, History Teacher
“Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery.” — Horace Mann, 1848.
Stone
Mr. Stone earned a masters degree in education from the City University of New York Brooklyn College. He is passionate about education and believes it should be equal for all students. He is a energetic and creative facilitator of education.
Jennie Wimbish, Science Teacher
"I am an avid believer in a free and appropriate education so I switched careers and became a teacher."
Jennie
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