As any festival planner would say, festivals of all shapes and sizes would not be possible without the many individuals contributing on stage, behind the scenes, and of course, to every individual who steps through the festival gates. DiscoveryFEST is no different. Here, we'd like to spotlight some of the amazing individuals who help make play, learning, and discovery truly possible for themselves and for many others around them!


DiscoveryFEST Grand Marshals

For many Mardi Gras parades, krewes often choose a celebrity to lead the krewe's parade in celebration of the individuals' contributions and/or achievements. DiscoveryFEST Enrichment Program is extremely proud to announce and honor our 2016 Grand Marshals, Cherelyn Poe and Katharine Schweighardt from KIPP New Orleans Schools and Elsa Sackett, from Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans! Our 2016 Grand Marshals are individuals who have not only helped to further our organization's mission and scope throughout their daily work, DiscoveryFEST Grand Marshals have also helped further the cause of play, learning, and discovery for all New Orleans youth!

Krewe Members of the Month!

Rachel Jacobowski

Afterschool Enrichment instructor

april 2017

Rachel grew up in suburban Chicago. She moved to New Orleans in 2007 to attend Loyola University, where she received her bachelors degree in Business Administration - Finance. After working for a few years in a variety of business settings, Rachel decided to pursue a career in nutrition. She will be starting a MS Nutrition program this fall. 

Rachel joined the DiscoveryFEST team in January 2017 as an After-school Enrichment Instructor at Good Shepherd School. She teaches the Lego curriculum, as well as the Star Wars inspired curriculum, STEAM Galaxy. Her favorite part is getting to know kids of all different ages and seeing them light up when they learn or try something new.

Jess Wilkes

Afterschool Enrichment instructor

March 2017

Jess Wilkes joined DiscoveryFEST in October 2016 as a Yoga instructor for The Good Shepherd School as a member of Project Peaceful Warriors. Since October, Miss Jess continues to foster a exploratory yoga curriculum at GSS to help her students find tools to regulate their emotions, body, and mind; inside and outside of school. Jess also works with Electric Girls at Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans, teaching young girls how to build electrical circuits, as well as teaching music and movement at Bricolage Academy.

Jess graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2012 with a Bachelor's in Flute and Vocal performance. Shortly afterwards, she missed school so much so that she went back to school to become a certified yoga instructor, a practice so interconnected with music, patience, and concentration. Her passion to teach music continued to flourish in the NYC metro area; in Montessori schools and multiple preschools, 400 little yogis practicing yoga every week, as well as 30 weekly private music students; students ranged from age 1.5-55! "I learned a lot about how to reach all different learning styles in group and private settings. I believe humor and storytelling, and making mistakes is one of the greatest teachers to engage in constructive learning. When I teach, I feel as if I am transmuting all of my major lessons from my amazing mentors and music teachers that had such a positive impact on my life. I wouldn't be in this position without them! It's a 'full circle' kind of thing, I couldn't imagine not working with kids and I'm so excited to teach in New Orleans on behalf of DiscoveryFEST."

Mensa Pounds

Afterschool Enrichment instructor

February 2017

Mensa Pounds, affectionately known as Coach Mensa with his DiscoveryFEST youth, has been a member of the DiscoveryFEST family since our founding in the Fall 2010! Beginning as an Afterschool Mentor, Mensa currently joins DiscoveryFEST as a PlayFEST instructor for Lawrence Crocker College Prep.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Coach Mensa has spent his time in New Orleans working with youth from several different neighborhoods, schools, backgrounds, and more. Whether during his post as a DiscoveryFEST camp counselor or his afterschool roles, Coach Mensa can always be found bringing joy to the youth he works through his trademark motivational, structured, and disciplined manner to create the ultimate atmosphere of physical activity and fun! 

Karl Robinson

Afterschool Enrichment instructor

january 2017

Karl Robinson joined DiscoveryFEST in August 2016 as a Music instructor for The Good Shepherd School. Since August, Karl continues music enrichment at The Good Shepherd School while also teaching Rhythm & Drumming at Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans. In his short time with DiscoveryFEST, Karl brings both an incredible positivity, work ethic, and of course, a rich musical background to each youth he works with.

Karl's versatility can also be seen as he works with both DiscoveryFEST middle school students, Kindergarten students, and everyone in between!

Joining DiscoveryFEST from nearby Lafayette, Louisiana, Karl finds his motivation in working with youth in sharing his own musical passion as he receives the opportunity to witness youth learn, grow, and develop their musical skills throughout their musical enrichment.

Thank you Karl for all that you do to inspire and foster the next generation of New Orleans musicians!



Elizabeth Gentile

Afterschool Enrichment instructor

December 2016

Afterschool Instructor Elizabeth (Lizzie) Gentile is currently in her first year as a DiscoveryFEST instructor and a member of DiscoveryFEST's Krewe of Discovery. Lizzie currently teaches Superhero League at The Good Shepherd School and STEAM Galaxy at Audubon Charter School.

Originally from Nashville, TN Lizzie studied social work with the hopes of a career centered on working with youth at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. She worked with various after school programs and completed a practicum site at MicroFinancing Partners in Africa. Lizzie developed an interest in international social work and development which led to her applying to the Peace Corps. Soon after graduation, she moved to Mongolia to work as a Community Youth Development Volunteer. working in Dornod, Mongolia the farthest eastern province, known for its endless grassy steppe. Lizzie spent much of my time there working with the Anna Home Orphanage, the local Child's Development Center for children with disabilities, the Provincial Children and Family Development Center and various schools within the community where her work focused on life skill development with children and capacity building with Mongolian Social Workers. 

Since returning from the Peace Corps, Lizzie relocated to New Orleans and fell in love with the city. Herpassion for working with youth lead her to apply with DiscoveryFEST as an Enrichment Instructor. Truly believing that all children learn best when they are in a supportive environment that encourages curiosity, Lizzie believes that DiscoveryFEST does this and so much more; it challenges the children through creative programs that they find engaging and allows them a place of self-expression to instill a strong sense of positive self-esteem.


Dominique Nantambu

Afterschool art instructor

november 2016

Afterschool Instructor Dominique Natambu is currently in her first year as a DiscoveryFEST instructor. Teaching art at The Good Shepherd School, Dominique goes above and beyond to make her classes more than art, but a community where youth can get to know her and each other in supportive and encouraging ways! Born and raised in New Orleans, Dominique brings her passion for the arts and her belief that everyone is an artist to her work with DiscoveryFEST and to her four children!

Thank you Dominique for all of the amazing work you do!

Jeff Zschiedric

americorps recess coach

november 2016

Recess coach Jeff Zschiedric is in his first year as a Recess Coach with DiscoveryFEST Enrichment Program. Not only that, Jeff is only in his first month with the organization! In just a short time, Jeff has truly leaped into his role as a coach making sure that every student he works with feels respect and an enjoyable recess when he is out on the yard. And Coach Jeff is not afraid to get his hands dirty either! He can always be found in the middle of a game or even saving a game by hopping over a fence to retrieve a lost ball!

Thank you Jeff for all of the amazing work you do!

Marie Becnel

Krewe of discovery afterschool instructor

October 2016

Afterschool Instructor and Krewe of Discovery member, Marie Becnel, is currently in her first year working with DiscoveryFEST. A Florida native, Marie just celebrated her two year anniversary with New Orleans! Marie teaches Discovery Arcade at Audubon Charter Lower throughout the week,  teaches STEAM activities at Bricolage Academy's mini-camps, and subs periodically at other DiscoveryFEST programs.  Regardless of which activity Marie is facilitating, Marie brings a true sense of hands-on, creative, and dynamic energy to her instruction that truly inspires DiscoveryFEST youth and all those around her. Learn more about how Marie plays, learns, and discovers below!

Thank you Marie for all of the amazing work you do!

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Kiara Thomas

Americorps Recess Coach - KIPP Central City Primary

September 2016

Recess coach, Kiara Thomas, originally hails from San Francisco California and has been living in New Orleans for about 8 months. The oldest of four children, Coach Kiara started working with youth five years ago during her time at San Francisco State University when a teacher needed tutors for a high school class. Afterwards, Kiara continued her work in youth development serving as a recreation leader and realized that she had found what she was meant to do! Kiara has been working with kids ever since and loves every minute of it! When she's not on the recess yard at KCCP, Kiara can be found listening to music, playing video games, throwing the frisbee around or just spending time outdoors in general. Learn more about how Kiara plays, learns, and discovers below!

Thank you Coach Kiara for all of the amazing work you do!

Celebrity Monarchs

DiscoveryFEST is proud to honor each month two of our youth participants who truly embody play, learning, and discovery. Nominated by their coaches and instructors, each month's royalty gets a chance to reign with a feature here on our website and their very own DiscoveryFEST cape!

April 2017

King CL

1st Grader- the good shepherd school

CL is a gr eat team player in his LEGO afterschool program at The Good Shepherd School! He works well when other students ask for help, and always owns his actions. This makes him an awesome 1st grade superhero! CL also shows a never ending search for discovery through inquiry and curiosity in whatever activities the class participates in! Yay CL!

March 2017

Queen Layla

1st Grader- the good shepherd school

Queen Layla, a 1st Grader, hails from the Good Shepherd School and participates in Dance during her afterschool time. Layla has a fantastic, positive energy that she brings with her to dance every day! Layla understands that listening and understanding are a large part of learning a new dance, and she demonstrates this through her actions daily. Layla brings so much fun and enjoyment to her dance class and helps other students in the class learn when they ask for help.

Congratulations Queen Layla!

King Gavin

1st Grader- lycee francais de la nouvelle-orleans

King Gavin, a 1st Grader from Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans, participates in DiscoveryFEST's Superhero League afterschool enrichment block. King Gavin arrives to each week's Superhero League session with an enthusiasm that could rival Superman's strength. In addition this Herculean enthusiasm, King Gavin also exhibits week in and week out super characteristics of helping and listening to his fellow Superhero League participants so that everyone enjoys the experience as much as he does!

Congratulations King Gavin!

February 2017

Queen Noelle

1st Grader- lawrence crocker college prep

Queen Noelle, a 1st Grader at Lawrence Crocker College Prep, participates in DiscoveryFEST's afterschool PlayFEST group (with February's Krewe Member of the Month, Coach Mensa!).

Coach Mensa admits that he and Queen Noelle got off to a rocky start during the first two weeks exhibiting some major attitude and sass. After a heart to heart, Queen Noelle has truly lived up to royal stature being a leader in the class and an amazing example of great behavior!

Congratulations Queen Noelle!


King Jeremiah

1st Grader- The Good Shepherd School

King Jeremiah, a 1st Grader at The Good Shepherd, reigns from the NOLA Code Afterschool program. Within his fun-filled, coding group, Jeremiah consistently expresses amazing behavior and excitement over the day's activities; using this great behavior and excitement to inspire his fellow classmates!

Congratulations King Jeremiah!

January 2017

Queen Sahara

5th Grader- lycee francais de la nouvelle-orleans

Queen Sahara, a 5th Grader at Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans, participates in DiscoveryFEST's afterschool Theater group. Queen Sahara was nominated by her Theater instructor, Nia Benn, who reports that:

"Sahara embodies play, learning, and discovery in so many ways! She is always ready to work anytime we have class! She is always open to trying any task given to the class and is such a magnificent class leader! She goes above and beyond by helping and encouraging others who may feel like they are to scared to be on stage and helps to make them feel comfortable!!"

Congratulations Queen Sahara!

Queen Trejur

3rd Grader- The Good Shepherd School

Queen Trejur, a 3rd Grader at The Good Shepherd School, is one of DiscoveryFEST's expert dancers! Trejur was nominated by DiscoveryFEST dance instructor, Chae Pound, who states about Queen Trejur:

"Trejur is an exemplary student. She's very eager to learn whats going on, help others, and participate. She will make a great Celebrity Monarch. She upholds the Good Shepard standard as well as embodies the essence of DiscoveryFEST!"

Congratulations Queen Trejur!

December 2016

Queen Tyjae

3rd Grader- kipp mcdonogh 15 primary

Queen Tyjae, a 3rd Grader at KIPP McDonogh 15 Primary, absolutely loves recess! As her coaches report, she always comes to recess with a huge smile on her face ready to play, learn new games, and most importantly, spend some time with her friends and make new ones! Congratulations Queen Tyjae!

november 2016

King Anthony

3rd Grader- kipp mcdonogh 15 primary

King Anthony, a 3rd grader at KIPP McDonogh 15 Primary, is a soccer superstar. Not only does he excel at soccer, Anthony organizes a daily soccer game at recess with his classmates so that everyone can play and learn the rules of the game. In addition to setting up these games, King Anthony also helps new players with encouragement and coaching when his classmates struggle or make a mistake.

King Genesis

7th Grader- The good shepherd school

King Genesis, from The Good Shepherd School, is a natural leader according to his coaches. Each day at recess, he exhibits a constructive attitude that is an asset on the recess yard for himself, his coaches, and his classmates!

Congratulations King anthony and king genesis!

October 2016

King Donnie

4th Grader- The Good Shepherd School

King Donnie, a 4th Grader at The Good Shepherd School, is simply put, a recess rockstar. Donnie always comes out to the play area enthusiastic and ready to play. His love of recess leads him to help his fellow classmates learn new sports and its nearly impossible not to also exhibit Donnie's trademark A+ attitude!

Queen Josheana

4th Grader- KIPP Mcdonogh 15 Primary

Queen Josheana hails from KIPP McDonogh 15 Primary. When she is not playing on her favorite monkey bars, she can be found running lap after lap creating a legendary time with her PACER challenge and takes time out of her own play time to help her classmates and younger students play and enjoy recess

Congratulations King Donnie and queen Josheana!