Berna Artis, Head of School
Berna became the new Head of School for Friends in July 2017. She has been dedicated to the field of education for more than 17 years, having held various roles and taught middle and high school students prior to her work in early childhood education. Berna has been involved in various volunteer work, to name a few, serving on the DCAEYC Board, providing professional development training’s at conferences and being part of a workgroup for NAEYC initiative “Power to the Profession”. She believes in lifelong learning and in cherishing each other’s experiences.
Brian Palazzolo, Operations Specialist
Brian is originally from the Boston area. He has spent the past 4 years in DC getting his undergraduate degree at the George Washington University. In the last two years of his time in DC, he has worked in various capacities related to the Early Childhood Education field including his work with the Council for Professional Recognition. Brian is passionate about social justice and education issues. He enjoys hiking and reading.
RED PANDA CLASSROOM, 18 month olds
Magy Youssef, Lead Teacher
Magy was born in Egypt and is half Ethiopian. Her family came to America when she was six years old. She grew up in California and decided to move here, to Virginia, to expand her education on Early Childhood development with school-age child specialization. She feels working as a Lead Teacher at School For Friends is a blessing! She loves seeing children get inventive and so excited about the smallest things that adults can forget to practice and pay attention to. She loves the outdoors, going to museums, cooking, and swimming.
LEATHERBACK TURTLE CLASSROOM, Two Year Olds
Jemmael Joseph, Lead Teacher
Jemmael was born and raised on the island of Dominica. She moved to the United States in 2009. Initially residing in New York, Jemmael moved to Washington, DC and earned an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Montgomery College. She is currently a student at Trinity Washington University completing her BA in Early Childhood Education. She joined the School for Friends community in 2013 where she worked with the young twos (formerly known as Blue Room) for two years. Then, she worked in the Butterflies classroom with the 2 1/2-year-olds as the Assistant Teacher. She is married and has an amazing daughter who is currently attending the school. In her spare time, she enjoys spending quality time with her family, collecting collectible toys and watching TED Talks.She has developed an interest in photography and videography.
Wiwit Grandison Co-Teacher
Wiwit, has a Child Development Associate certificate in addition to a college degree in Personal Relations. She is a native of Indonesia. She has been working with infants and toddlers for more than 13 years.
Wiwit shares our core values and approach to teaching young children. She loves outdoors and is fond of hiking and running.
MONARCH BUTTERFLY CLASSROOM, Older Two Year Olds
Jacqueline Whiting, Lead Teacher
Jackie was an assistant teacher in the Blue Room from 1984 to 1991. Between 1991 and 1993 she worked at Just Us Kids as a floater and as a teacher coordinator. She also was a certified childcare provider in her home for 11 months. She completed her Child Development Associate credential in 1991. She worked at First Baptist Church Child Care Center during the 1983-1984 school year. She holds a certification in childcare from the Logan Community School. She earned her AA Degree in early childhood education on May 13, 2006.
Brittany McDowney, Co-Teacher
Brittany was born and raised in Silver Spring, MD. She graduated from Frostburg State University in 2013 with a BS in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. She is certified in the state of Maryland to teach Pre-K through 6th grade. Since graduating, she has worked with young children teaching Preschool, Early Preschool and mixed age Pre-K. In her spare time, she enjoys music and reading.
EAGLES CLASSROOM, Three Year Olds
Ali Hodge, Lead Teacher
Ali Hodge is a passionate and committed educator with years of experience working in education in both public schools and the nonprofit sector. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska, a master’s degree in Education from University College London and is pursuing her second master’s in Urban Education Policy from Johns Hopkins University. In her spare time she enjoys reading, spending time with her friends, and volunteering with her church: All Souls. Her professional career and personal commitments reflect a commitment to human justice, equity, and accessibility to quality education for all. She lives with her family – her girlfriend, Darlene, her best friend, Jared, and her cat, Chicken – in Anacostia, D.C. Working with young children brings her great joy and she is excited to be welcomed into the School for Friends family.”
Treasure Blakeney, Co-Teacher
Treasure Blakeney grew up in Washington D.C. She has worked as a camp counselor and at a pediatric dental office. She started as a substitute with School for Friends over the summer and then gladly accepted a position as an assistant teacher. Treasure is currently working to obtain her CDA credential. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.
SEA LION CLASSROOM, Three Year Olds
Makai Kellogg, Lead Teacher and Equity and Diversity Coordinator
Makai Kellogg attended D.C. Public Schools until she began high school at Sidwell Friends School. Makai graduated from Trinity Washington University with a Masters of Art in Early Childhood Education in December 2010 after completing Trinity University’s undergraduate program with a B.A. in History. She completed her student teaching requirements in the Quaker House classroom. She is the Head of Nursery at Friends Meeting of Washington where she has been providing childcare for over a decade. Makai has a strong interest in international affairs, social justice, and anti-racism work. She also created and leads the Parents of Multiracial Children group at School for Friends and the school Equity and Diversity Coordinator.
LaJuan Celey, Co-Teacher
LaJuan was born and raised in Washington, DC and attended DC public schools. After High School, she completed nearly two years of education at the University of the District of Columbia with a concentration in the nursing department. She worked at First Baptist Child Care Center for two years. LaJuan accepted the position at School for Friends in 1986. She would like to pursue further education in the teaching field. She has also participated in multiple workshops over the years and she received her CDA credential. LaJuan is married and is the proud mother of three children, Jamar, Daevon and Jacqueline.
Aliyah Muhammad, Milti- Age Co-Teacher
Aliyah is a native North Carolinian. She is a mother of six wonderful children who are all grown adults now. She is also a grandmother of 12 grand kids. Both sides of her family are educators. She says that Washington, DC always feels like her home. She has been in the education field for 20 years. She worked with children of all ages; infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and teenagers. Aliyah is also experienced in special education. She has taken college courses in psychology and is certified as a Medical Administrative Assistant. Aliyah is passionate about children. She believes in lifelong learning and is committed to continues personal and professional growth as well as diversity and social justice.
TIGER CLASSROOM, Four Year Olds
Sabina is from the coastal town of Bremen, Germany, where she lived most of her life. She was born in Calcutta, India, where she spent her early childhood. She studied in Germany and received a degree in occupational therapy. She has worked with children with special needs, ages three to ten years old in private practice and in preschools. Sabina joined the School for Friends staff in Spring of 2003. She has earned her CDA credential. In her spare time, she loves to spend lots of time with her son Laurence and enjoys literature and yoga as well as art and painting.
Julie Baron, Co-Teacher
Julie was born and raised on the island of St Thomas, Virgin Islands and came to the US in 2003. She graduated from Trinity University with a degree in psychology and a minor in fine arts. Julie has been at SfF for three years and has earned her CDA credential. She loves working with children and couldn’t see herself doing anything else. In her spare time, Julie enjoys creating art, swimming and trying new foods.
Elsy Blanco, Multi-Age Co-Teacher
Elsy was born in El Salvador. She came to the US at age fifteen, and finished high school here. After that, she took English and Computer courses to polish her skills. In 2002, she took the 90-hour course in early childhood education. Two years later, she received her child development associate (CDA) bilingual credential. She started working with RCIS (Rock Creek International School) in 2001 as a bus driver, assistant teacher, and summer school Spanish teacher until 2007. She is married and has two beautiful daughters, Emily and Valeria. She loves to spend time with her family. Her hobbies include fishing and reading a good book.
Tajeh Frazier, Co-Teacher
My name is Tajeh Frazier, and I am ecstatic to be joining the wonderful staff at School for Friends! I am 22 years old, just graduated with my degree in Early Childhood Education from Salisbury University in December of 2018. I am looking forward to diving into the world of teaching! I was born and raised in Washington D.C. I grew up attending DC public schools and had a kindergarten teacher for a mom. Working with young children has been a passion of mine since I was in 7th grade, but other passions of mine include being outdoors, dance, and working with animals.