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

Preschool Staff

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.

Preschool Administration

Chloe Ralston

Closing Manager
Kirkwood


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

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.

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. 

Preschool 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.

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
Kirkwood


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
Kirkwood


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.

Tobie Hogan

Floor Manager
Kirkwood


Ms. Tobie is from Atlanta and has been working with children since 2005. She holds a BS in Child Studies from Post University. She is the proud mother of four boys.

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. 

Turtles Classroom ~ 17 to 23 months

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.

Paula Providence

Turtles Teacher
Kirkwood


Paula Providence was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, then moved to Atlanta in 2002 to join other family members. She holds a degree in education from St. Francis College and loves putting it to use at SoulShine. When she's not working, you'll find her enjoying weekend road trips with her husband and daughter, quite possibly enjoying Thai food.

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.

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.

Honey Bees Classroom ~ 24 to 29 months

Kyra Smith

Honey Bees Teacher
Kirkwood


Kyra Smith was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in the British Virgin Islands. After spending some time in Florida, she now calls Atlanta home.

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 Classroom ~ 30 to 36 months

Temeka Elder

Katydids Teacher
Kirkwood


Temeka Elder is an Atlanta native who spent her childhood playing "school" and filling the role of teacher. She combined her passion for teaching with her love of kids and is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. Outside of SoulShine, she enjoys reading, writing and helping others.

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.

Chasity Robinson

Katydids Teacher
Decatur


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

Chipmunks Classroom ~ 3 to 3.5 years

Tammesha Hogan

Chipmunks Teacher
Kirkwood


Tammesha Hogan was born and raised in Atlanta. Her favorite color is purple. She has worked with children her entire career, beginning with babysitting while still in middle school. Tammesha enjoys working with kids and watching them grow.

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.

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."

Wanda Williams

Chipmunks Teacher
Kirkwood


Ms. Wanda has been in childcare since 2009. She attended DeKalb Technical College for Early Childhood Education. She has lived in the Atlanta area for more than 25 years. She enjoys cooking, crafting, and singing.

Wrens Classroom ~ 3.5 years +

Jacquelyn Evans

Wrens Teacher
Kirkwood


Jacque' Evans is a proud Atlanta native and started teaching - her dolls - at the age of nine. At 17, she was working with children, and has been in education over 30 years now. In her free time she enjoys traveling, creating baskets & centerpieces and spending time with her family.

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.

Jazmine Williams

Wrens Teacher
Kirkwood


Jazmine Williams is an Atlanta native who is studying at Georgia State University. She discovered her love for working with children as a teen, when older relatives allowed her to babysit. Her favorite food is hot wings.

Floating Teachers

Makilah Wells

Classroom Teacher - Floating
Kirkwood


Makilah Wells was born and raised right here in Atlanta. As a teenager she was the cousin every family member called to babysit, and her love for children started there. She is currently enrolled at Georgia State and loves spending her spare time with family and friends.

Destiny Farley

Classroom Teacher - Floating
Kirkwood


Destiny Farley plans to further her education at Georgia State University,  majoring in nursing. In her spare time, she likes to babysit and go shopping. The only girl in a family of seven children, she still helps her parents look after her younger siblings.

Ny-Asia El

Classroom Teacher - Floating
Kirkwood & Decatur


Ms. Ny-Asia was born in New York and raised in Virginia.  She studied social work and psychology at Ferrum College. She has always loved tiny humans, and has helped her mother with foster care all her life.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Melinda Thomas

Co-Director Toddler Building
Kirkwood


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.

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.

Oriana Padron

Co-Director Infant Building
Kirkwood


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.

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.

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.

Tobie Hogan

Floor Manager
Kirkwood


Ms. Tobie is from Atlanta and has been working with children since 2005. She holds a BS in Child Studies from Post University. She is the proud mother of four boys.