We at FirstLine Schools are proud to be a partner organization of LDSC, and have a number of their members working for us at our Network and in our schools. They are an instrumental part of our FirstLine Family, and we want to introduce you to them!
Shelby Akins- Volunteer Coordinator
Shelby is originally from Richmond, Virginia. She graduated from James Madison University in 2014 and moved to Baton Rouge at the end of that summer for City Year, hoping to fulfill a goal of living in New Orleans. She then applied to LDSC and after a long summer of couch-surfing & keeping her fingers crossed, she was offered the Volunteer Coordinator position! She got to NOLA by driving all 1,000 miles between her hometown and Louisiana! At FirstLine, her responsibilities include documenting and tracking the parents, college students, and community members serving as volunteers in our schools, working with school admin/staff to figure out what volunteer opportunities are available in each school and how to best meet their needs, and observing afterschool programs and events to collect feedback from volunteers, helping improve their experience. Shelby enjoys building relationships with and meeting people across New Orleans who all share an understanding of the importance mentorship and extracurricular activities play in a student’s development and education.
Fun Fact: Shelby's car, Huey, is named after the delightful 80s band Huey Lewis & the News, probably best known for their appearance on the soundtrack to Back to the Future, her personal favorite movie of all-time.
Charlotte Steele- Garden Program Development Coordinator at Phillis Wheatley Community School
Charlotte is originally from New Jersey, and went to school in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She moved to New Orleans when one of her best friends decided to move here to work on her writing. Charlotte wanted to go somewhere new, so she asked if she could come along, and now here she is! Before applying to the LDSC position, she was a Garden Education Intern for Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. Wheatley is our newest ESYNOLA site at FirstLine, so Charlotte's LDSC project includes helping to build out the garden area, assisting with classes, starting a composting program, and designing a harvest program for families to take home produce. Her favorite part of the job is working with the students. She says, "It feels so good to be hugged every day, high fived in the hallway, and called out to, 'Hi Ms. Charlotte!' Sometimes I feel like a movie star! The student's love feels unconditional. And the love I have for them is, too!"
Fun Fact: Charlotte used to ice skate competitively and did so in college for two years. It has been a huge part of her life, but moving to New Orleans pretty much stopped it entirely. However, Charlotte recently figured out how to get her skating fix in the south: by joining the "Big Easy Roller Girls" Roller Derby team! Every week she has a new bruise or injury, giving her a new saying: "People always say 'it never hurts to try something new'...but in Roller Derby it totally does."
Hannah J. Mills- Garden Program Development Coordinator at Arthur Ashe Charter SchoolHannah is originally from Central New Jersey, and graduated from Eastern University outside of Philadelphia. After school, she joined the Presbyterian service corps called the Young Adult Volunteer Program, which brought her to New Orleans. After serving two years in the program, she is excited to be spending her third year in the city with FirstLine and Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. Her responsibilities at Ashe include teaching garden classes and helping to tend the garden, but her LDSC project aims to build capacity for the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans program by producing an archive of visuals for special events, school beautification, and our garden and kitchen spaces. Hannah is most excited about FirstLine's commitment to teaching students about the importance and beauty of growing and cooking your own food. She says, "Knowing that the body, mind, and soul need to be nourished in order to be our best selves is an important lesson. I'm thrilled to have the privilege to bring joy and hope to our students by partaking in and teaching this lesson through FirstLine."
Fun Fact: Hannah is learning to play the djembe and aspires to do nonprofit work in India.
Mallory Naquin, RDN, LDN- Teaching Kitchen Program Development Coordinator at Samuel J. Green Charter SchoolMallory was born and raised here in Louisiana, right outside of New Orleans in Cajun Country. She graduated with her undergraduate degree in Dietetics from Nicholls State University, completed her Dietetic Internship at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in June 2015, and became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in July 2015. Her responsibilities include teaching nutrition and culinary education, and her LDSC project focuses on documentation of Edible Schoolyard New Orleans' garden and culinary education curriculum, which will result in a digital archive that can be shared with other garden education programs. She is most excited to be able to share her passion for food, health, and farming with future generations, enhancing the quality of life of our students, their families, and our community.
Fan Fact: Mallory spends her free time learning about nutrition and agriculture by exploring local farmer's markets, "pick-your-own" farms, and tending her own garden at home, collecting ingredients to create new recipes or improve old favorites!