Charaf Abourached was born and grew up in the beautiful city of Marrakech, in Morocco. When he was young he helped on his great uncle’s farm that had vegetables and olive, apple, and orange trees. This awakened Charaf’s love of food and spices and his drive to give back to his surroundings. A person of many interests, Charaf has run a restaurant, made public art and giant puppets and sculpture, built his own furniture, and used to teach P.E. at LHA before joining the garden team. He loves to learn, and is excited to combine his experiences with food and farming in Morocco with growing practices in the U.S.. He is confident that in his classes students will take care of each other and learn life skills that they will be able to use throughout their lives. In his homelife, he is often immersed in one of his many hobbies, like woodworking or drawing.
A native New Orleanian, Claudia Barker comes from an Italian family with a love of good cooking and enjoying food in community. A strong proponent of teaching children where food comes from and how to prepare it in healthy ways, she also believes that we can change the world by attending to children’s social and emotional needs and teaching them respect for life. When Claudia’s not leading the charge for development and communications at FirstLine and ESYNOLA, she can be found reading and writing, hanging out on her screened porch with family and friends, or walking in City Park with her dog, Red Bean.
Lead Chef Teacher, Green
Megan Brummer grew up in Colorado, has lived in Iowa and Washington D.C., but New Orleans is her heart and forever home. She earned her Masters in Social Work and Public Health at Tulane University. Megan worked in the HIV social work field before finding her calling in culinary education. As a chef educator, she is passionate about cooking and trying new foods, exploring other cultures and cuisines, eating for joy and nourishment, the trouble with sugar, and the necessity of salt. She believes our work promotes equity, and has the power to decrease violence, increase educational success, and foster happiness in students’ lives. When she’s not in the teaching kitchen, Megan might be lifting heavy things, running as fast as she can, listening to live music, or eating and laughing with her family.
Lead Garden Teacher, Green
Lou Duplantier was born and raised “down da road” in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Lou has a Master’s degree in Food Studies and comes from a family of teachers and community leaders. Lou is passionate about New Orleans, the right to food and land for community sovereignty, justice for Black people, and supporting the children of New Orleans as they grow. Lou believes that supporting the next generations of growers will help communities access the food and care they deserve. In their free time, Lou enjoys lying on the grass, eating good food, and sleeping!
Associate Kitchen Teacher, Green
Andy Gelter grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and attended Tulane University for his undergraduate degree. Andy went on to earn his Masters in Education from Southern Methodist University. Before becoming a teacher, Andy worked as a chef in restaurants around the country for ten years. He eventually found his way to Edible Schoolyard, which allowed him to combine his passion for food, cooking, and education. As a teacher at Edible Schoolyard, Andy enjoys encouraging students to collaborate and work towards common goals. He finds the kitchen environment allows students to build critical life skills in a unique way that is different from their classroom learning. Andy loves that he is able to make connections between the school and the broader community through field trips and special events that engage people outside the school. Andy aims to impart to his students a strong foundation in cooking basics, an understanding of the science and math involved in cooking, and the cultural aspects of food. Outside of teaching, Andy spends most of his time with his wife and two young children. He enjoys playing golf, pickleball, and basketball.
Lead Garden Teacher, Ashe
Abisoye Igenoza is an agricultural educator from Nigeria, West Africa. With many years of teaching experience and two degrees in agricultural education, Abisoye is passionate about imparting agricultural knowledge to students and developing their interest in growing healthy food. Abisoye joined Edible Schoolyard New Orleans in 2022 after finding our program goals aligned with her professional goals of empowering youth through agricultural education. Abisoye believes all students have the capacity to increase healthy food production and consumption at subsistence or commercial levels. When not teaching, she enjoys cooking, reading Christian literature, and spending quality time with family. Abisoye is dedicated to growing and distributing food to underserved communities and instilling in her students the knowledge and skills to do the same.
Associate Kitchen Educator, Ashe
Derrick Johnson is a passionate chef and football coach born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Derrick has over ten years of experience in the culinary arts, having honed his skills at NOCHI. Derrick loves sharing his enthusiasm for cooking by teaching students how to prepare safe, delicious meals. His goal is for all of his students is to gain confidence and proficiency in the kitchen after just one trimester of his cooking class. When he’s not in the classroom or on the football field, you can often find Johnson relaxing at the beach or hosting a seafood boil! Through teaching both cooking and football, Johnson aims to impact the lives of youth in his community positively.
Associate Garden Teacher, Ashe
Network Gardener, Greenhouse and Volunteer Associate
Zach O’Donnell, the son of science teachers in Chicago, has been an educator since 2006. He has a science teaching certificate from San Francisco State University, a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, and a B.S. in Biology from Saint Louis University. Before joining ESYNOLA, Zach lived in Mozambique where he worked as a field agronomist. Using gardens as educational spaces combines Zach’s passions for science, growing food, education, and playing in the dirt. When he’s not teaching garden classes or laying under trees and looking up, he is probably going for a very long run.
Lead Kitchen Teacher, Ashe
Jae Semien is an educator with a passion for guiding students to reach their full potential. Born and raised in New Orleans, Jae has spent the past decade teaching and inspiring youth. Outside of the classroom, Jae enjoys boxing, writing music, and spending time in her grandmother’s garden. Jae believes that with patience and dedication, even the most challenging students can thrive. Known for their creative teaching style, Jae strives to meet each student where they are and support their individual growth. Music, cooking, and time with family provide balance to Jae’s busy life as an educator devoted to making a difference.
Director of Edible Schoolyard New Orleans
Charlotte Steele brings over eight years of experience as a garden teacher at Phillis Wheatley to her new role as Director of Edible Schoolyard. A native of New Jersey who discovered her passion for local food and farmers markets while in Michigan, Charlotte is deeply committed to connecting students with fresh, seasonal produce. During the 2019-2020 school year, Charlotte served as a Peer Support Specialist with Safe Schools New Orleans, where she received training in trauma-informed and Trust-Based Relationship Intervention methods. She is currently working toward an Early Childhood Post-Baccalaureate certification and enjoys professional development with AfterClass New Orleans. An advocate for anti-racism, Charlotte is dedicated to continually learning, unlearning, and confronting whiteness in her work and personal life. Outside of her professional pursuits, she enjoys roller skating, making videos, traveling, crafting, and going out for bubble tea with her wife, Hannah, and sister, Lily.
Lead Garden Teacher, LHA
Regina Sullivan is from Lafayette, LA. She enjoys helping children discover that they are strong and capable in new situations. Regina believes that children can save the world! When she is not teaching, Regina enjoys baking, biking around town, and camping.
Liliana Marisol Tabora
Lead Garden Teacher, Wheatley
Liliana Marisol Tabora has lived in New Orleans her entire life, though she was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Coming from a family of flower enthusiasts, Liliana could often be found in the garden as a child, smelling roses, photographing flowers with her father’s camera, and drinking from the hose. After planting 300 seeds for a backyard project in 2021, she became an avid gardener, cultivating plants whenever and wherever possible. Liliana is passionate about teaching students to respect the natural world. She loves seeing the wonder and curiosity on their faces when out in the garden, and hearing their enthusiasm about nature gives her hope for the planet’s future. Gardening provides a therapeutic escape for Liliana and her students, soothing the mind, body, and spirit. In her free time, Liliana enjoys painting flowers, cooking vegan food, and petting dogs – including asking to pet other people’s dogs!
Associate Garden Teacher, Green
Braian (pronounced Brian) Tomé was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and grew up in Miami, FL. He first became interested in horticulture at Florida International University, where he studied environmental science. Braian has worked at farms, nurseries, and botanical gardens, and was an agriculture extension agent in the Peace Corps in Paraguay. Cultivating lush gardens and cooking and eating delicious food is Braian’s passion. He wants to live in a world where children have a deep appreciation for nature, and learn to grow their own food and cook it at home. When he’s not teaching and gardening at Green, he might be playing soccer, practicing yoga, gardening and cooking at home, or running out of oxygen in a steam room.