Meet the Teachers

Lataree J. Spann, AS Lataree Spann
Early Childhood Education
Lead Teacher
lspann@lsu.edu 

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 Ursula Pursley
Child Growth & Development
Assistant Teacher 
upursley@lsu.edu 

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.

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Young Infants

Demika Gilmore, BSDemika Gilmore
Family & Consumer Sciences
Lead Teacher
dgilmo3@lsu.edu

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.

Krystal Ferrier
Teaching Assistant
kferrier@lsu.edu

I received my Associate Degree in Child Development in 2012 from Baton Rouge Community College. I also had the privilege of going to Italy where I learned the Reggio Emilia approach—a way of teaching that emphasizes the importance of hands-on learning, open-ended projects, and collaborative projects between children and adults. It’s through this philosophy that I learned the possibilities of learning and art are endless.

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Older Infants

Photo of Diane CarmenDiane Carmen, BS
Elementary Education
Lead Teacher
dcarma1@lsu.edu

My name is Diane Carman and I have been working in the Early Childhood field since 1992.  I have my Associates Degree in Child Development and my Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education.  I am originally from Howell, Michigan and have recently moved to Baton Rouge.  I have two adult daughters, Amanda and Alyssa.  In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, shopping, and going to the movies.  I have worked with all age groups, but I love infants most.  Watching their eyes light up with excitement and seeing the developmental progress is what I enjoy most about working with infants.

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Older Infants

Casey Whitworth
Lead Teacher
cwhitw3@lsu.edu

I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My husband and I moved to Central Florida in 2010 where I spent eight years as a Kindergarten and First grade teacher before returning to Louisiana. We have a beautiful daughter who attends the Emerge School for Autism. I have more than 20 years in the field of Childhood Education. I have a Master of Arts in Christian Education from the New Orleans Baptist Seminary and a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning from Liberty University. Young children learn best through engaging relationships with teachers and their peers, where they feel safe and can explore through discovery. As a teacher and a parent, I believe that learning should be fun and fun should also be learning.

JaKortni Weber
Teaching Assistant
jweber10@lsu.edu

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Young Toddlers

Priya Ranganathan, BBAPriya Ranganathan
Business Administration

Lead Teacher
jranga2@lsu.edu

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Management from the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) Alaska and my Louisiana Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate in Teaching and Child Development Associate in 2021. I have been involved with young children’s formal education since 2016. I  lived in Kodiak, Alaska before moving to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I love Louisiana and LSU and Baton Rouge has become my Home Town.  My husband and I are blessed with triplets. My passion for working with children started when I began to teach my triplets.  I have a high level of patience, a good sense of humor, and am a positive individual. I believe in showing positive energy and providing a joyful environment that positively impacts early childhood development, especially in the development of manners and learning skills. I am excited to work with children. In my after-hour time, I enjoy doing yoga, meditation, healing, and spending time with her family.

Photo of Devlin Dukes-BynamDevlin Dukes-Bynum, CDA
Child Development Associate
Teaching Assistant
dbynum1@lsu.edu

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.

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Young Toddlers

Shannon Hardy, BS
Shannon HardyFamily & Consumer Sciences
Lead Teacher
shardy@lsu.edu

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.

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Young Toddlers

Vanessa B. Baltazar, BSVanessa Baltazar
Family & Consumer Sciences
Co-lead Teacher
vbalta1@lsu.edu

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. 

Lauren Petree
Co-lead Teacher
lpetree@lsu.edu

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Young Toddlers & Older ToddlersPetree

Photo of LaKisha BanksLakisha Banks, AAT
Early Childhood Education
Lead Teacher
lbanks@lsu.edu

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.

Beth SullivanBeth Sullivan, BS
Family & Child Studies
Teaching Assistant
dsulli10@lsu.edu

I received my Bachelor of Science in May of 2018 and have been working in the early childhood field since mid 2017. I am from Delhi, LA and just recently moved to Baton Rouge this year, 2021. I am married and have a dog and a cat, and in my free time I enjoy going to sporting events, antiquing, and relaxing at home with my husband. I love working with young children and seeing their faces light up when they learn new things. I also love seeing their imagination at work during play time.

Rebecca MorrisRebecca Morris
Psychology
Lead Teacher
rmorr65@lsu.edu

I received my Bachelor of Science in psychology from LSU in 2020 and my Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate in 2022 and have been working in the early childhood field since 2021. I am from Zachary, LA and currently live in Baton Rouge, LA. I don’t have any children, but I have a dog. In my free time I enjoy taking him for long walks, reading, and watching movies. What I enjoy most about working with young preschool is watching each child grow in every way. They are constantly changing and developing new skills and it is amazing to see that growth happening. 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Older Toddlers

Martha A. Pierre, BSMartha Pierre
Family Consumer Sciences
Lead Teacher
trinnym@lsu.edu

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 DeToria DoganDeToria Dugan
Teaching Assistant
ddogan1@lsu.edu

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Preschool & Kindergarten

Photo of Cynthia JonesCynthia Jones, AS 
Early Childhood
Lead Teacher
cjones7@lsu.edu

I have worked in early childhood for 30 years in different components. It has always been my goal to provide children with an educational journey that is challenging, creative and most of all fun. My husband and I together have seven children, which includes two sets of twins. I love spending time with my family as well as sewing, reading, cooking and listening to music. The heart of my family are my grandchildren, all nineteen. I understand the importance of caring for children in a positive environment that builds their character and promote learning opportunities. “Children are powered by their imagination, not by batteries”- H. Jackson Brown Jones. I have extremely high expectations for all children. I recognize and respect parents as their child’s first teacher. My goal is to foster and enhance the knowledge of each child daily, as well as create a partnership with their families. 

Corinthian HenleyCorinthian Henley, CDA
Early Childhood Education
Teaching Assistant
chenley1@lsu.edu

I have had the pleasure of teaching, guiding, and nurturing children for more than 35 years in the field of Early Childhood Education. I am married and a mom to 3 wonderfully unique daughters and grandmother to 3 brilliant and precious grandchildren that keep me young at heart. I wake every day inspired to learn something new. I look forward to being a valuable part of your child’s learning experience. I believe children learn best when they feel comfortable and safe in their environment. This allows them to explore and initiate their very own unique learning path and in return, they flourish. In my experience, learning is progressive and every child learns and expresses themselves individually. My hope for each student begins with learning to trust and respect each other and grow from that foundational block.

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Preschool & Kindergarten

Karen A. Wallace, BSKaren Wallace
Family & Consumer Science
Lead Teacher
karenwallace@lsu.edu

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.

Daily Schedule

Materials for Preschool & Kindergarten

Angele Sakovich
Lead Teacher
asakovich@lsu.edu

 

Photo of Sabrina WestfallSabrina Westfall, BA
Child & Family Development
Assistant Teacher
swestf2@lsu.edu

I am from a small college town called Nacogdoches, TX. I moved to Texarkana, TX and then moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to pursue a job at LSU. I enjoy children of all ages. Children grow and learn from there mentors throughout their education. I'm married to a wonderful man who is an excellent cook. I have three small dogs. I graduated from Angelina College in Lufkin, TX in Child and Family Development and I have a certificate in Child and Family Development Administration. I also, got my bachelor's degree in Human Services from LeTourneau University from Longview, TX. My hobbies include LSU football, soccer, tennis, swimming, hiking, play with my dogs, and spend time with family and friends. I love doing Zumba.

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Preschool & Kindergarten

Autumn E. Smith, MEdAutumn Smith
Early Childhood Education
PK-3 Teacher Certification
Lead Teacher
asmi435@lsu.edu 

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.

Jan York
Teaching Assistant
jyork8@lsu.edu

I received my Ancillary Teaching Certificate in 2021 and am a level 2 teacher. My goal is to acquire my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and one day rise to the Director position. My Mom was an educator for more than 20 years and instilled in me a passion for education My experience encompasses children from 6 weeks to 5 years old. I began as a floater and advanced to an assistant then lead teacher. I believe every child is a genius and we can learn from them. Watching them learn through their persistence has shown me eventually you will succeed in your life, even if things don’t go the way you wanted the first time. In my free time I enjoy sudoku puzzles, card games, music, singing, reading, spending time with loved ones, attending church, being a praise team leader and writing poetry and songs. My motto is I am greater than I see; I am created for greatness.

 

Daily Schedule

Materials for Preschool & Kindergarten

 

Contact

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

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