At Youth & Family Outreach we seek out kind, experienced, and skilled teachers to lead our classrooms and serve the children and families in our community. Learn more about our teachers and program staff below.
Michelle Belanger, M.Ed. Program Coordinator
Hello, I was born and raised in Portland, Maine. I love that I get to work with such a smart, dedicated group of professionals. I have been in the Early Childhood field since 1998 and have worked my way through an Associate's degree at SMTC (yes, it was still SMTC then), a bachelor's degree from UMF and graduated with my Master's degree in Special Education with a concentration in Early Intervention, Birth through 5 from the University of Maine. I have been at YFO since January 2009. I live in Old Orchard Beach with my husband, and our son Oliver, two dogs and 6 chickens. I volunteer in dog rescue and enjoy reading, kayaking and camping in my free time.
PUBLIC PRE-K (Portland 4 year olds)
Anoff Cobblah Pre-K Teacher
My name is Anoff Cobblah and I am the lead teacher in the Pre-k Program here at YFO. I live in Westbrook with my wife, Jaime, and our two sons Weston and Roman. My boys keep me on my toes as well as provide a refreshing new outlook to life, love and the pursuit of dreams. I grew up in the small town of Maynard, Massachusetts with my younger brother and two adoring parents who still live in the same house I grew up in. My father is from Ghana and my mother was born in Oxford, England. I feel very proud of both my African and American heritage and embolden my students to feel the same.
Within the eight years I have lived in Maine I received my Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education from The University of Maine Farmington while working within the educational field in several different facilities. I have worked in a variety of different classroom spaces and enjoy greatly the challenge and responsibility of meeting each and every child that walks through the door where they are on the developmental spectrum.
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family. Together we enjoy walking, playing in the park, fishing, camping, hiking or just sitting around our fire pit in the backyard and looking for bats flying in the sky.
I am Very exited and honored to be on the YFO team.
Annzarh Valantino, Educational Technician Pre-K
My name is Annzarh Valantino and I am the assistant teacher in the Pre-k room. I live with my two daughters, son, and my wonderful husband. I love people so I love to help in the community by volunteering wherever I get the opportunity. My favorite thing to do is spend time with my children. We all love to sing but that does not mean we have beautiful voices, just to warn you. We also sing at church and sometimes I sing in African community events just for fun. I graduated with an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2011 and have been at YFO for a little over 8 years and I love every minute of it. I am blessed to work for such a wonderful place and awesome people.
PRESCHOOL (3.5 to 5 year olds)
Connor McSweeny, Preschool Teacher
Hello, my name is Connor McSweeney! I am one of the co-lead teachers for the preschool room. I am originally from Montana, where I attended college at the University of Montana and pursued studies in the field of Social Work, Psychology, and Human and Family Development. While I greatly enjoyed growing up in the “big sky state,” I was desperately seeking a change of scenery. So, when the opportunity to move to the east coast with my roommates arose, I opted to move with them. I am overflowing with joy at the idea of calling Portland my home for the foreseeable future. I have spent nearly the last half decade working with children in a variety of different settings. I believe that children are strong, smart, capable individuals. I love the opportunity to meet with young minds daily and participating in the amazing, shocking, exciting, and down-right magical moments that take place in the early years of child development.
Irthel Tshinyama, Preschool Teacher
I come from a big Congolese family, which is one of the reasons that lead me down the path of early childhood education. As the oldest of four kids, I was the one taking care of my youngest siblings when our parents were away working. This developed such a passion in spending time with little ones, not talking about working or making it my routine. But I did not realize it until 2013 when I moved to Maine from Florida and started volunteering in the community,my volunteer work was geared toward early education and that’s when I realized that children were really my world. I decided to start working on getting my associates degree in Early Childhood Education in 2017, when I also got the opportunity to join YFO. Since being here, my journey has been more joyful than I could ever have imagined. I started as a floater downstairs, where I’ve learned a lot about working with amazing people and different ages of children, and today I am a Co-lead preschool teacher, about to graduate in the same field. I am just so grateful to be part of this wonderful community. In my spare time I practice singing, I walk and also enjoy trying new recipes, but still working on my baking skills.
TYKES (2.5 - 3.5 year olds)
Evelyne Kanku, Lead Tykes Teacher
I'm Evelyne. I live in Gray with my wonderful husband, Thierry Kitoko. Together we have three beautiful girls; Trevy, Ashley and Benny. I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo. In my country, I did five years of college in Administration and Commercial Sciences in option Pedagogy. Currently, I’m working on getting my Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at The Southern Maine Community College.
I have been in the United States since 2010. I began working at YFO in March of 2012. I started as a floater before moving into a primary teaching position in the Tykes room. I like to cook, to sing, to dance, to visit different places and to be with my family.
Christelle Iyanya, Pre-k, Preschool, Tykes Floater
More about Christelle coming soon!
TODDLERS (12mos. to 2.5 year olds)
Fred Dobson, Lead Toddler Teacher
I am a third generation Portlander and the son of the LadyBug Lady. My first experience teaching was helping my mom with an environmental science program designed to teach the benefits of gardening without chemicals and using live ladybugs for pest control. I am stoked to be giving back to the world's future by providing quality care for youth sprinkled with a deep love of literacy. After graduating from Portland High in 2001, I ventured to Rhode Island to study literature, writing, culture and theatre through a Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Roger Williams University. Some of my varied and fluid interests include penguins, cats, dogs, World Mythology and the Hero's Journey, witches, wizards, vegan food, bicycle life, merfolk, deep ecology, biophotons & DNA, and stories which feature characters working together for the common good. I am always looking to explore the fine yet fuzzy line between science and the arts. Throughout my life, many teachers had a great effect on me and I am beyond thrilled to thank them by offering my skills back to the next generation of youth in their time of growth and development.
Kimberly LeClair, Assistant Toddler Teacher
I have lived in Maine my whole life and raised my three daughters Nina, Natasha and Katie here. Now I'm lucky to help raise my six grandchildren. I have always enjoyed hearing children's laughter through their play. This has led me to work in the childcare field. As a child grows you see many different parts of their growing. Being at Youth and Family Outreach since 1999, I am happy to say I have had the pleasure of taking care of so many children! What a magical feeling to be a part of.
I am a lifelong learner and go to trainings to help keep up on the new ways to help teach the children. But I also believe they children teach us every day. On my time off I enjoy summer days at the beach, spending time with my wonderful friends and family and the love I get from my tea-cup Yorkie, Gracie!
Waddlers (10 months - 20 Months)
Olivia Fleury, Lead Waddler Teacher
I grew up in Sanford and graduated from Sanford High with a certification in Early Childhood Education from Sanford Regional Technical Center in 2011. I knew from a young age that I was destined to work with children! In college I changed my focused a bit and majored in social work at the University of Southern Maine. It was my senior year when I was lucky to become the Social Work Intern for YFO in 2014-2015. I fell in love with the staff, the work they did and the families that were involved.
After graduating, my fiance and I made a move out to Colorado. After a few short years, we found ourselves missing Maine and made our way back home. I was extremely honored when I was able to come back to YFO now as a teaching staff member! I could not be happier to be back working with such incredible people who work hard everyday and love what they do.
I love spending time with my family and friends, skiing, dancing, going up to my camp and anything that involves being able to be on & in the water!
Infants (6 weeks - 12 Months old)
Morgan Harper Infant Teacher
I grew up on Long Island and have steadily moved myself up the Eastern seaboard and settled in Maine. I went to college in Rhode Island where I earned my BS in Marketing. I worked corporately for a market research firm while also babysitting on the side for my neighbor's son. I learned from him how fulfilling and fun it is to explore the world with a child. After two years I decided to make the leap and change careers. I got my first job in early education in 2012 and I've never looked back! I moved to Portland in 2015 with my partner Nathan and shortly after we had our daughter, Penelope. Watching her grow has quickly taken over all my other hobbies; but when I have time I enjoy reading, crafting (I'll try almost any DIY), cooking, baking and exploring new places.
Danielle Perry, Infant Teacher
More about Danielle coming soon!
Estella Nyapir, Infant, Toddler and Waddler Floater
I came to YFO as an early childhood intern at Portland Arts and Technology High School in the fall of 2016. I love being with the children, laughing with them and playing.
Ayan Majok, Toddler, Waddler and Infant Room Floater
I was born in Sudan. I came to the United States in 1997. I am a mother to six children. I have been working with infants at YFO since November of 2008. I love being with infants because there is so much growth in that first year and I love to be a part of that.
Zena Mulele, Infant room, Preschool and Pre-K Floater
My name is Zena Mulele and I am from Angola. I came to the US almost 7 years ago. I have one daughter and a son. I have been working at YFO for almost a year. I am a floater in the infant and pre-k room. I love my experience at YFO and I love the people I work with. I love spending time with my children and love to cook when I am not at YFO. I am looking forward to learning new talents to prepare my teaching skills to be a lead teacher one day. I feel like I am learning to be a better mother to my children because of the experiences and what I am learning from all the teachers at YFO.
Dylan Roberts, School Chef
I was born in Portland, although I've never actually lived here until recently. I've lived in Vermont, Connecticut, Seattle, and Hawaii, but "… the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T.S. Elliot. I'm Happy To Be Home
I have a degree in Philosophy from the University of Vermont, but like any good liberal arts student, I’ve been working in the restaurant/food industry for a decade. I enjoy making bread and asking the big questions. I love cooking, gardening, reading and sarcasm. I have been with YFO since October 2014, and now my daughter is here too, in the infant room. I am delighted to have the opportunity to get out of restaurants and do my part to improve our local food culture, one lunch at a time.
Camelia Babson-Haley, Director
That is my grown son, Jeremiah in the picture with me. He is the reason I am in the field of Early Childhood and have been since 1989. I was a young 20 year-old single mom of a 5-month old when I enrolled at the Community College of Southern Nevada. I earned my Associate's degree and worked in the lab school where Jeremiah was able to attend with me. In fact, he went everywhere with me! He went to the East Wilton Head Start, the Clifton Child Care Center in Atlanta and he spent most of his afternoons with me here at YFO when he was in elementary school. I finished my Bachelor's degree at UMF and I have been at YFO since March of 2000.
YFO is my home, my passion and I love every minute of my work here. I was drawn to YFO because I felt the desire to work with families that might have come from a similar background as myself. I was a young, single mom and I understood the difficulty of being poor in this world. I am now married to a wonderful teacher/musician and we live together in Portland. My favorite pass time is spending time with my family and watching my son grow as a singer and actor.