Kirkwood: 404-377-3560
Decatur: 404-963-6071
After School (both locations): 678-221-4792

After School Staff

Paloma Sanchez

After School Teacher - Floating

Sadly Ms. Paloma was born a muggle, so she was not accepted into the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Therefore, she studies bio-medical engineering at Georgia Tech. She enjoys the color blue, playing violin, Indian food, and sleeping past 1 pm. Outside of school, she has tutored children from K-12 grade in every subject and college freshmen in Chemistry and Excel.
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BC Cranford

After School Teacher

Mr. BC graduated from Emory University and has been with SoulShine since 2007. Afterschooler Kai says of BC, "Mr. BC takes care of us and plays with us. He makes sure we are following directions so that when we are older, we can be disciplined. Most importantly he makes sure we are having fun and doing what we are supposed to do.”

EZ Reed

After School Teacher

EZ is from Atlanta but lived in DC and NYC for a few years. He has been working with kids since the age of 10 and enjoys making them smile, and seeing them become the people they want to be.

Isaiah Partridge

After School Teacher

Isaiah Partridge was born and raised in Detroit and moved to Atlanta in 2008. In his first year of living here, Isaiah found SoulShine and has been with us ever since.  He loves working at a place where children are free to play, learn and become more confident and independent.

Paola Villafane

After School Teacher

Paola Villafañe is a local nutritionist, chef, and farmer. She obtained her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at Georgia State University. Paola enjoys being outside in nature, baking sweets for family and friends, and spending time with her pets.

Rebekah Dorsey

Floating Teacher
Kirkwood & Decatur

Ms. Bekah graduated from the University of Oregon. She enjoys riding her bicycle around Atlanta and hanging out with kiddos.  She loves their spunky honesty and off-the-wall creativity.


Chloe Ralston

Closing Manager

Ms. Chloe is a proud Atlanta native.  She studied at Georgia State University. She’s worked with kids of all ages at summer camps, and as a caregiver to infants. Her favorite hobbies are making art, reading, and exploring nature.

Courtney Shelton

Kirkwood & Decatur

Ms. Courtney is a New Jersey native. As a child, she begged her parents and grandparents to let her in the garden to help pick vegetables. Instead she found herself prepping ingredients for meals, and she never lost that love. Ms. Courtney's been a chef since 2007. She's a US Army veteran, and attended Atlantic Culinary and Kentucky University.

Gennerre Crockett

Kirkwood & Decatur

Ms. Gennerre is originally from Boston, but is happy to call Atlanta home. She has event planning and administrative experience, loves music and people. Gennerre is tenacious, resourceful and determined to maximize her own potential while helping others become their best selves.

Rondell Govan

Chef Assistant
Kirkwood & Decatur

Ms. Rondell is originally from New Jersey. She grew up in a big family and always assisted her mother and aunts with cooking. She worked with mentally and physically disabled adults, preparing meals  and assisting with everyday living. She moved to Atlanta in 2013.  Ms. Rondell loves cooking, reading, writing poetry, traveling and meeting new people. 

SoulShine Management

Christopher Jackson

Floor Manager

Chris was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois where he spent most of my life. He is married and has eight children. Working with youth is his passion, and he has experience working with ages 0-17.

Cindy Young


Cindy has been working in Childcare for over 12 years and she can't imagine doing anything else. The responsibility of helping shape young minds is very important and it gives her such a sense of accomplishment knowing she has a part in doing that. Cindy has been married since 2008 and has three boys: Bryce,  Austin and Conner.

Destiny Smith

Human Resources Manager
Kirkwood & Decatur

Destiny Smith was born in Decatur, but grew up in Montezuma, GA. She returned to Decatur to attend Agnes Scott College and graduated with a BA in Psychology. Even though her role at SoulShine is in HR, she has a fondness for teaching and for dance. She combined them starting at 13, when she began teaching dance to girls ages 3 to 15. In her spare time, you'll find her taking dance classes, baking and enjoying shrimp scampi.

Dusten Sonnon

After School After School Director
Kirkwood & Decatur

Dusten grew up in the Chicago area and is ecstatic he finally got to see the Cubs win a World Series! After graduating college, Dusten discovered a love for teaching and has been involved with primary education since 2000. He relocated to Atlanta in 2013. In his free time, Dusten is a freelance artist.

Kate Karassik

Chief Administrative Officer
Kirkwood & Decatur

Kate Karassik and Shannon Smith have been close friends since middle school and grew up working in childcare together. Kate received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and went on to receive her Masters in Education. She was a public school teacher for five years before joining the SoulShine team in 2011.

Melinda Thomas

Co-Director Toddler Building

Melinda Thomas is a Florida native who has called Atlanta home since 2015 and been in childcare since 2007. As an auntie, a babysitter and a nanny, she is dedicated to helping children learn through playful and fun activities. She enjoys kickboxing, discovering new foods and places, and spending time with her wife.

Oriana Padron

Co-Director Infant Building

Ms. Oriana graduated from the University of Montevallo with a BFA.  She has a strong passion for children and has been caring for them since her early teens and began working professionally in childcare while still in college.

Shannon Smith

Founder & Visionary
Kirkwood & Decatur

Mrs. Shannon founded SoulShine in December 2006. SoulShine is rooted in her belief that every child should be given the space and encouragement to create themselves through all forms of expression. Shannon has worked with children since 2002 and is still in awe every day of how amazing they are. She believes in positive reinforcement instead of traditional behavioral discipline. She is always encouraging the children to use their words and open their hearts.

Somee Ko

After School Asst. Director
Kirkwood & Decatur

Ms. Somee is a native of Ohio and moved to Georgia in 2012. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in political science. She is passionate about politics and history and loves to learn. She loves kids and has been working with them from a very young age. In her spare time, she is usually relaxing at home with her pup Cory, watching a movie and eating pizza.

Stephanie DeSantis

Permaculture Coordinator
Kirkwood & Decatur

Stephanie DeSantis is an Atlanta native and a graduate of Georgia State University. She began working with children while in high school, teaching gymnastics at the local YMCA and working as a summer camp counselor.  Stephanie enjoys sharing her skills with art and textiles.  On her days off, you'll find her in a hammock with her dog.

Tranae Powell

Assistant Director

Tranae is from Chicago, Illinois. She began working with children as a teenager and is building a career in Early Childhood Development.