Who We Are: Early Head Start Child Care Partnership

Maria Blanco, M.Ed.

Maria Blanco
Program Director, Early Childhood Intiatives
Maria Blanco has worked an Assistant Professor in the Human Development Center’s Early Childhood Initiatives since 2006. She is currently Director of the Inclusive Practices in Early Childhood program (IPEC) and Director of the Early Head Start-Childcare Partnership. Maria was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Early Childhood Education Commission. She also serves on the Louisiana Early Childhood Advisory Council and the New Orleans Early Education Network Steering Committee.

Gabrielle (Gabby) Izzo, CDA

Middle-aged blonde woman in grey flowered sweater
Early Education Specialist

Gabrielle (Gabby) has been providing coaching and teacher support for over 10 years. Born and raised in Boston MA, where she found her love of teaching over 20 years ago moved to New Orleans to continue in the efforts to improve quality childcare across the state. Gabby is driven by her work and finds the most joy working with teachers and children in classrooms ensuring supports are provided through coaching, training and professional Development.

 

Gabby joins LSU as a credentialed MTP (My Teaching Partner) coach who holds a CDA in Infants, toddlers and Preschool and has a Louisiana Teaching Ancillary Certificate. She is an early childhood advocate who has led projects statewide to help children gain access to quality childcare and help programs increase their ability to serve the state’s youngest learners.

 

Gabby has served on the board for LAEYC, is a member of NAEYC and CCAL. Her current certifications include Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level II, Certified Reliable CLASS Observer infants, toddler and preschool, CLASS Train the Trainer infants and preschool, and is Inter-Rater Reliable in GOLD by Teaching Strategies.

Ritu Dua, B.Ed., MA

Ritu Dua
Services Support Specialist
My name is Ritu Dua. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Arts majoring in English, Economics, and Political Science, a bachelor’s degree in Education, and Master’s degree in Literature. I chose to work in the field of early education because it’s very rewarding putting smiles on faces and I leave every day very satisfied. I believe that there is no school greater than childhood and no teacher greater than curiosity. I’m amazed every day to see that such little people can have such big personalities! I will be working as an Early Education Specialist for LSUHSC. I’m happily married for 24 years to my loving husband and we recently celebrated our anniversary by travelling to Europe to celebrate our 25 years of togetherness. We have a twenty-three year old handsome son who works at UMC and is crazy about Ultimate Frisbee.  I like to travel with my family and have seen some very beautiful cities of the world. I also like to read and love to cook.

Katie Rambeau, M.Ed.

Katie Rambeau
Mentor Coach
As the Disability Specialist for Early Head Start Child Care Partnership, Katie Rambeau, M.Ed. works to expand professional development and technical assistance to families, early learning centers and schools to support children with disabilities,

Courtney Bissonnette, BS, MSN

Courtney Bissonnette, young white blonde woman in black shirt
Health Specialist
Courtney Bissonnette is the health specialist for the Early Head Start Child Care Partnership at the Human Development Center. Courtney is an experienced pediatric registered nurse who recently graduated with her masters of nursing in nursing education. Driven by her compassion in pediatric nursing, she takes pride in providing the best quality pediatric healthcare and pediatric nursing education possible. As a health specialist, her goals include monitoring children’s health statuses and health requirements and providing health education to families and staff. When not on the clock, you can find Courtney spending time with her special needs daughter and significant other. They love spending their off weekends visiting Courtney’s hometown beach town, Bay St. Louis, MS, enjoying the perfect atmosphere and live music.

Aimée Antoine

Middle-aged brunette woman wearing flowered shirt
Education Specialist
Aimée Antoine is an experienced Early Childhood Specialist. Driven by the desire to provide access to high quality inclusive education to all children, she takes pride in advocating for families, children and Early Childhood educators. As an Education Specialist, her goals include developing Early Childhood educators into exports of their craft and providing them with the tools to advocate for children and themselves. In addition to her primary job functions, Aimée has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Early Childhood Education. She served on the LASOAR (Louisiana Association of Sports, Outdoor Adventure, and Recreation) board and is currently a member of NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children). Aimée’s current certifications include Louisiana Pathways Trainer, Certified Reliable CLASS Observer, infants, toddlers and preschool, and is Inter-Rater Reliable in GOLD by Teaching Strategies.   Aimée Antoine is an Education Specialist with the Human Development Center’s Early Head Start Child Care Partnership. Since 2023, Aimée has been aggressively working to provide professional development to Early Childhood Educators in Head Start Centers in Orleans Parish. This includes daily coaching in the field, implementation of professional development trainings and supporting educators through the process of planning and executing hands on child led experiences for all learners.