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

Decatur Staff

Teachers

Roly-Polies

Elsie Cooley

Roly-Polies Teacher
Decatur


Elsie has been working with children since 2015 and is known for being a good listener, a jokester, easy going and full of excitement.  In her free time she enjoys doing hair and make-up.

Jacqueline Wade

Roly-Polies Teacher
Decatur


Ms. Jacqueline grew up in Illinois, and is a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago. Jacqueline enjoys writing short stories and plays, which she fondly calls 'the art of my passion.' Her greatest desire is helping those in need.

Earthworms

Katie Williams

Earthworms Teacher
Decatur


Katie Williams is originally from Chicago but is happy to call Atlanta home now. She started babysitting for family members early on, and received a child care management certificate from Pennfoster College. Ms. Katie has a deep love for veggies, and when she's not working, she enjoys singing.

Mary Endirias

Earthworms Teacher
Decatur


Mary Endirias is a retired CNA who worked at Grady Memorial Hospital for 28 years, then started her new career working with children in 2016. Ms. Mary is a mother of six and has one grandchild. She enjoys singing, reading and spending time with her family.

Ladybugs

Hannah Jones

Ladybugs Teacher
Decatur


Raccoons

Vanessa Providence

Raccoons Teacher
Decatur


Vanessa Providence attended Bethune Cookman University where she majored in psychology. Vanessa worked as an assistant track and field coach for Midway Track Club, coaching children 5-14.    

Turtles

Chinatte Denard

Turtles Teacher
Decatur


Chinatte Denard is an Atlanta native who discovered a love for working with children as a young woman. She is currently pursuing her Child Development Associate credential and enjoys watching children learn. When not working, she enjoys community service and gathering with friends.

Cornesha Williams

Turtles Teacher
Decatur


Cornesha Williams is from our own neighborhood, Kirkwood.  She started working with kids at a young age, from babysitting to working at the church nursery.  She is building a career in early childhood education.

Tamara Drakeford

Turtles Teacher
Decatur


Tamara Drakeford, also knows as Ms. Tammy, is from Waldorf, Maryland.  Ms. Tammy has been teaching since 2000. Outside SoulShine, Ms. Tammy enjoys spending time with her daughter.

Honey Bees

Kadeisha Montique

Honey Bees Teacher
Decatur


Kadeisha Montique grew up in New Jersey but is now happy to call Atlanta home. She began working with children while in middle school herself. In her spare time, Ms. Kadeisha enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with family.

Nikole Jones

Honey Bees Teacher
Decatur


Nikole Jones was born and raised in Atlanta, and is the daughter of a retired APS teacher. She inherited her love of children and teaching from her mother. She is pursuing her bachelor's degree, and in her free time, loves photography.

Katydids

Chasity Robinson

Katydids Teacher
Decatur


Chasity has received training for her Child Development Associate credential and has worked with children since 2014.

Dominique Providence

Katydids Teacher
Decatur


Dominique was born in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Atlanta. Before joining SoulShine, she worked as an assistant coach and a volunteer USATF Official.  Her hobbies include reading, filming, and editing videos.

Chipmunks

Michelle Haynes

Chipmunks Teacher
Decatur


Laura Michelle Haynes was born and raised in Kirkwood. She has two daughters and four grandchildren. She's been in childcare since 2002, working with her aunt who had her own "nursery."

Tiawana Green

Chipmunks Teacher
Decatur


Mrs. Tiawana believes that her journey in providing excellent childcare began when she became a mother in 2000. She loves exploring new cultures and trying new things, and is married with two children.

Wrens

Takiyah Dickerson

Wrens Teacher
Decatur


Takiyah Dickerson grew up on a farm in South Georgia, but enjoys city life now. She discovered her love for working with children when she volunteered in the childcare facility at her church. She holds the CDA certification and plans to pursue a degree in psychology.

Falcons ~ Georgia Pre-K

Jamika Thornton

Pre-K Teacher
Decatur


Jamika Thornton was born in Rome, Georgia, then moved to the Metro after school. She started working with children when she was just 17, and received her CDA in 2016. When she's not working, Ms. Jamika enjoys going on family outings with her children.

Nelly Pierre

Pre-K Lead Teacher
Decatur


Nelly Pierre was born in Brooklyn, but her parents relocated to Georgia to enjoy a calmer environment for raising children. She is a veteran and is currently pursuing her doctorate in early childhood education. Beyond teaching, she enjoys playing musical instruments and traveling.

Multiple Classrooms

Stacey Okwo

Classroom Teacher - Floating
Decatur


Stacey Okwo was born and raised in Atlanta.  She has three beautiful children and a granddaughter. Stacey's began working in childcare in 2002.  Stacey loves working with children and she is looking forward to helping the children learn and watching them grow!

After School

EZ Reed

After School Teacher
Decatur


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.

Paola Villafane

After School Teacher
Decatur


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.

Decatur Management

Christopher Jackson

Floor Manager
Decatur


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

Director
Decatur


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.

Tranae Powell

Assistant Director
Decatur


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

School Administration

Courtney Shelton

Chef
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

Receptionist
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

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.

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.