LEAP Staff

Shazondra Alford

Nuestra Escuelita Teacher, 3 yr old class

 

I became the lead teacher in LEAP's new 3 yr old class in the fall of 2019. After moving to Durham in 2015, I had taught at the EDCI/LEAP Academy from the time it opened in February 2015 through June 2018. Before I moved to NC, I attended Stayer University and worked for five years as a Certified Nursing Assistant in Connecticut. I have three children, Derreck (14 yrs old), D’mai (7 years old), and Tre (almost 2 yrs old). In my precious free time, I enjoy reading, dancing and eating all different kinds of food. The thing I most love about working at LEAP is learning about the culture of my students and sharing mine with them.

Leigh Bordley
Executive Director

 



Becoming the director of LEAP has been a great adventure for me!  This position has given me the opportunity to work on so many issues I'm interested in - education, childhood development and immigration to name a few.  Since I received my Masters in Social Work in 1986, I have worked with a variety of social justice organizations. Immediately before I joined LEAP in 2012, I had founded and led Partners for Youth, a mentoring program dedicated to supporting young people striving to complete high school and prepare for college and careers. I served as a member of the Board of Education for Durham Public Schools, 2008-16.

I have three children who think they are grown (ages 19-25). I love spending time with the kids who attend LEAP and learning to speak Spanish!! 

 

Montserrat Caballero,
Nuestra Escuelita Assistant Teacher, 4 year old class

Being a Spanish native, I attended university and earned my PhD, in Molecular Virology,  in Spain. I have conducted scientific research work on gene therapy at Duke University, as well as stem cell and tissue engineering at both UNC-Chapel Hill and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

My love for science is what propelled me to further my research in the United States. My passion for children, education, and social equality led me to my involvement with the latino community since the very moment of my arrival in Durham, back in 1998. Since my first time being a volunteer at 16 years old, with a group home for abused children; I sought to always find a way to work with children and families in a variety of environments, and situations. As the leader of the first Latinx girl scout troop in the county, I came into contact with the community of “El Buen Pastor” church where I started programs for children and families. While being the director of both child and youth programs at the church, I was involved in a project led by a volunteer from St. Philip's Episcopal Church. The project was to teach English to the Latinx adult community at El Buen Pastor. This project soon became the LEAP we all know and love. I served as a member of the board for LEAP from 2012 to 2015, and I became a volunteer teacher’s assistant last year. I have seen LEAP sprout from its roots and flourish. I am honored to be a teacher at “Nuestra Escuelita”, where I can share my unique background, expertise and a passion for childhood and education. I love seeing children learn and grow up as they prepare for the world that awaits them.

Odalis Chicas
Nuestra Escuelita Assistant Teacher, 3 year old class

I've known for years I wanted to work with children. I had studied Early Childhood Education in “Universidad de Oriente” in Salvador and did two years of teaching practice and volunteered in the adults alphabetization program in my country.

I moved in the US in 2017 and have proudly worked as the Spanish speaking Teaching Assistant in the 3 years old classroom at LEAP since 2018.

My greatest satisfaction is to provide a safe, trusty and bilingual environment, toys, teaching approaches and for each kid.

I like knowing that I can share my knowledge with the children contributing in the development of good habits and I am delighted when they take my hand to take me to the books area and want me to read the books together. In my free time, I like to walk outside and enjoy nature. m a story.

 

In my free time, I love taking walks in the fresh air to enjoy Nature.

Dalia Gheiler,
Nuestra Escuelita Teacher Mentor and Preschool Curriculum Coordinator

I have been involved in early childhood for more than 25 years. My passion for young children lead me to pursue a masters degree in early childhood education. I have been fortunate to have been able to work with young children and their families in a variety of settings and with diverse populations. During my last 10 years in Minnesota, I specialized in teaching in a laboratory-model school in a multiage classroom, where I also trained teachers pursuing their early childhood teaching licenses. I continue to keep updated with the latest research and trends in the field while I keenly observe, reflect, and integrate these understandings in ways that are appropriate for our school, our families, and children. After more than 25 years working in the preschool classroom, I am delighted to be part of the “Nuestra Escuelita” community and bring my expertise in the fields of early childhood, dual-language learning, teacher training, and curriculum development. These days, you can find me observing in the classrooms and luckily quite actively involved in both of our classrooms on a daily basis.

“I believe in the importance of connections and the power of relationships. I trust  the children's endless abilities and infinite potential. As teachers, we must identify each one’s uniqueness and be able to allow and support its development. I believe in children's right to develop to their fullest potential and believe that it is my responsibility to make sure that this takes place."

Melizza Perez,
Nuestra Escuelita Assistant Teacher, 4 year old class
and Bus Driver
I became a part of LEAP in the fall of 2019. I was already working with the after-school program at the Salvation Army, but I decided I could take a second job driving the bus for LEAP in the mornings. I occassionally served as a substitute and realized I also enjoyed being in the classroom, and was excited to also become an assistant teacher in the fall of 2020.  I have loved learning about being a teacher from Dalia and the other teachers. It's a little hectic jumping off the bus and jumping into the classroom, but the kids share their energy with me. 
My favorite thing to do is to spend time with my family - especially my daughter. 

Cécilia Sidibe
Nuestra Escuelita Teacher, 4 yr old class

I have been the English lead-teacher for the 4 year old classroom at LEAP since August 2018.  I got my master’s in education in France, where I was born, grew up and lived until I moved in Durham, NC in 2012. After a professional break, caring for my two little boys at home, I decided to go back to teaching, because this simply is who I am.

LEAP has been a perfect fit for me and I am living here the best of my 10 years teaching career.Co-teaching with my Spanish lead-teacher colleague has been a great personal and professional enrichment for me. We teach together, we prepare together, we complete each other, it has been wonderful.

 

But most of all, LEAP community is amazing. LEAP’s mission gives all the best possible sense to teaching, our Reggio inspired approach has been showing tremendous improvement in our students, our leading team, solely focused on our families’ best interests, is an inspiration. I am very grateful for our families who trust us with their precious little ones.I cherish each moment spent with my students, and make sure each one of them feels special to me, because they each are special to me. Making sure each child feels the love I have for them is my priority. Seeing their strengths and guiding them to be motivated by their challenges, this is the beauty of teaching.

I know in my heart that LEAP students arrive in Kindergarten more ready, confident, mature than they would have been if they didn’t go to LEAP.

Kristen Wagner,
Tutoring Coordinator

I joined LEAP in the fall of 2019. I have been a classroom teacher for twenty-six years, the last twenty second at EK Powe Elementary School in Durham. I have always wanted to be a teacher, even as a little kid, and my passion is teaching reading. I love that LEAP allows me to meet so many new students, families and fellow tutors, while doing something that is such a passion for me - teaching reading.

 

I LOVE to spend time with my family, including my dogs. I like to camp, hike and build furniture. 

LEAP, c/o St. Luke's Episcopal Church

1737 Hillandale Road

Durham, NC 27705

p: 919-286-2273

f:  919-416-9529