Administration

Carlette Carty

DIRECTOR
Baby World

Carlette Carty has been the director of Baby World and Ocean Avenue Child Development Preschool Center for 15years; educated in the United Kingdom she is dedicated to early childhood education.She believes that in order to provide the best possible educational and social experiences to the children in her care we must first foster community involvement. Teaching and allowing parents to play a major role in their child’s education.

Carlette lead her staff through 3 successful (NAEYC) the National Academy of Educating Young Children Accreditation process 2005, 2010, and 2015 and was awarded with high commendations for each of her 7 classes.

Kristin O’Blenis

DIRECTOR
Jersey Day Care 100

Kristin O’Blenis has been Director of Jersey City Day Care 100 since January of 2016. She joined the Gilliard Group in September of 2008 as a teacher of three-year-olds at Parkside Preschool in Jersey City. She graduated from Kean University in Union, N.J. in 2005 with BA in Elementary Education, minoring in Psychology and has both P-3 and Elementary School teaching certifications from the New Jersey Department of Education. As an undergraduate she interned in classrooms in Belleville and Elizabeth, N.J. and following graduation taught preschool in Newark, N.J. for three years. Throughout her career she has also participated in numerous professional development courses and seminars focused mainly on early childhood education and is a trilingual speaker of English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Karen Lopez

DIRECTOR
Parkside Preschool I

Ms. Karen joined The Gilliard Group in May 2017. Prior to that she worked as Assistant Director at a preschool and a youth center. In May of 2015, Ms. Karen received her Bachelor’s Degree from Montclair State University with Magna Cum Lade in Sociology. As the director of Parkside Preschool #1 she oversees the Preschool Program. She focuses on the wellbeing of the students, family members, and staff by providing a collaborative, creative, and empirically driven program. The program’s curriculum is designed to encourage the use of high level cognitive abilities to develop areas of strengths in accordance with the child’s interests.

Akiri Collins

DIRECTOR
Parkside Preschool II

Akiri Collins joined Parkside Preschool II in August of 2017. She oversees 6 NAEYC accredited preschool classrooms which collaborate with the Newark Public School District. This program provides a high quality early childhood learning experience for 90 students in Newark, NJ. Akiri has ten years of preschool experience in roles as Teacher’s Assistant, Lead Teacher and Family Advocate. While she has enjoyed each of her roles in preschool, Akiri truly loves the challenges and responsibilities of her Director role. She is a graduate of Montclair State University with a Bachelor’s in Family and Child Studies concentrating in Family Service.

Leslie Lugo

DIRECTOR
Parkside Preschool III

Leslie Lugo joined the Gilliard Group as the Director of Parkside Preschool III in Newark, New Jersey. She has been leading the childcare center since July 2015. The Gilliard Group has been providing children and families in North Jersey with the best quality of care, education and experiences for over 20 years. To continue this legacy Leslie is implementing Creative Curriculum within the center and continuously improving the center with assistance from, NJ Grow Kids. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education and is certified as a P-3 teacher. She has previously worked as a teacher for over 12 years in Puerto Rico and in the United States. She is very passionate and dedicated to improving the lives of children.

Bree’lyn McDowell

HR Manager
The Gilliard Group

Bree’lyn McDowell joined the Gilliard Group as a summer teacher’s aide and transitioned over the years into the HR Manager of the Gilliard Group. During her time with the Gilliard Group she has worked in various roles which have given her the experience to understand the early childhood environment in various ways. She is currently the manager of all preschool sites and maintains daily communication with all the directors and staff.  She is continuously striving to help children, parents, and staff have the best early education experience. She received her Bachelors degree from Seton Hall University with a concentration in Political Science and Business and received her MBA from New Jersey City University.