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LadyBug Academy

Kids Playing with Lego

Who We Are :

LadyBug Academy is a preschool that specializes in providing early childhood education to young children. We utilize the Reggio Emilia approach, which emphasizes children's innate curiosity, creativity and ability to generate powerful ideas. Our teachers are dedicated to fostering a collaborative and hands-on learning environment, where children can actively participate in the learning process, and develop their own understanding of the world around them.

Our Method


The Reggio Emilia teaching and learning method is rooted in the philosophy that children are full of the curiosity, creativity, and powerful ideas needed to inspire meaningful and deep learning. In contrast to traditional teaching methods that view the teacher as the source of knowledge and children as empty vessels waiting to be filled, the Reggio Emilia curriculum believes that children are active participants in the learning process and capable of constructing / defining their own learning experiences as they explore their curiosity and creativity. For this reason, the Reggio Emilia philosophy encourages expressive learning - a method proven to result in more profound and enduring outcomes for children.

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1. Children are active participants in learning

 Topics for exploration and planned activities are determined collaboratively by children and their teachers. These child – initiated explorations provide opportunities to encourage hands on learning in various subjects; such as math, language arts, science, and social science. Additionally, children communicate their interest and needs using multiple different languages –  gestures, words, dance, etc. Child-centered learning encourages this self-expression and increases student engagement and enthusiasm for learning.

2. A Nurturing Classroom Environment Matters

The classroom is a place that consists of shared relationships among the children, teachers, and parents. It creates a sense of belonging for each child and allows them to thrive in the world around them. The classroom setting is also designed to cultivate each child’s social-emotional well-being. 

3. Collaboration between the Teacher and the Parents

This is a crucial part of the learning process. Parents are the primary influencers of their children and are an essential resource in the child’s learning.

4. Brightwheel as a form of Documentation

Documenting each child’s daily report is a crucial part of monitoring the child’s development. Our Brighwheel app acts as a liaison between Educators and Parents. It records health check, activities, meals, potty habits, incidents/accidents, and general notes for the child. This app is also used for constructive communication to make each child’s daily routine as comfortable as possible. 

ladybug owner

Meet the Owner

Aleksandra Razavi

Hello! I’m the owner and Executive Director of LadyBug Academy. I grew up in Poland, where I earned a Masters in Sociology from the University of Warsaw. I also have a certificate degree in Survey Design and Data Analysis from George Washington University. I live in Arlington, VA with my three children. I’m a passionate advocate for children’s well-being, which I combine with a deep interest in business. My journey in this business began when I was searching for a daycare for my son in 2013. I discovered a stunning lack of quality care options in Arlington and the surrounding areas – and realized I had to do something about it. So I created Ladybug Academy. Working with children and running my own business has been a life-changing experience for me. It brings me unbelievable joy and fulfillment every single day. I don't believe there is anything better than watching children develop, learn, and grow. Attention to detail and warm touch is our brand's essence. It is what we do!


LadyBug Academy

LadyBug Academy 1 - Merrifield

Kim Barnwell

Lead Teacher: Infant Class

My name is Kimberly Barnwell. I am the Lead Teacher in the Infant room. I started working in child care in 1987 when I was in high school, I began my teaching career as a part-time Teacher after school and loved it so much that I ended up working with children for 14 years. I left child care in 2001 and worked at various office positions for 15 years. That is when I realized I missed working with children and came back to the field in 2016. I especially love bonding with the babies and watching them grow and develop. I have worked as a Lead and Assistant Teacher with infants, 2-year-olds, and 4-year-olds. I have kept in contact with some of the children that I took care of when they were babies. I love working at LadyBug, everyone is so great! It has been a great experience since I started working here in November of 2019 and I am looking forward to working with your child.


Nyasha McFadden

Lead Teacher: Toddler Class

My name is Ms. Nini, delighted to serve as a Lead Teacher at Ladybug Academy. With a wealth of experience spanning 9 years, my journey in childcare has been nothing short of fulfilling. Originating from my days babysitting my younger cousins and siblings, my passion for nurturing young minds was ignited. Witnessing the growth of children has been rewarding, especially observing them absorb and retain the knowledge imparted. I truly feel like I’m making a difference, Ladybug Academy holds a special place in my heart as it allows me to perpetuate my passion and make a meaningful impact continuously. An interesting fact about me, I have a quirky penchant for collecting shoes, adding a touch of uniqueness to my character.


Chelse Parker

Lead Teacher: Two&Half Class

Hello, parents and students! My name is Ms. Chelse Parker. Holding the role of Lead Teacher at Ladybug Academy, I am dedicated to fostering an enriching environment for all of us to grow and learn together. Equipped with certifications in ADA and CPR, among others, I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our classroom. Over the past four years, my journey in childcare has evolved from an assistant role in 2020 to a passionate educator today. During my free time I like to complete puzzles, enjoy outings with friends, and relax. I eagerly anticipate embarking on this new journey with your little ones, nurturing their curiosity and igniting their love for learning.

LadyBug Academy 2 - Merrifield

Saima Jahan

Center Director

Hello LadyBug Families! My name is Saima and I’m from Toronto, Canada. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Political Science from the University of Toronto, along with a TESOL certificate to teach English as a second language. I have more than eight years of teaching and management experience which includes managing local and foreign Teachers abroad. I started my career in this field mentoring and teaching adults, but developed a passion for working with young minds more; their curiosity, innocence, and perspective encourage me to advance in this field. I have traveled around the world to participate in many educational projects and fulfill my passion for teaching. I strongly believe that every child has full potential, they just need the guidance to help them reach that potential. At the end of the day, nothing makes me happier than knowing I have made a difference today, and that the children are looking forward to another day with me tomorrow. My journey as a Teacher and Program Director here has been very rewarding. As a Center Director, I hope to continue managing all our operations and classrooms in the best ways possible, while ensuring our amazing Teachers receive the support they deserve. The goal is to implement our Program standards into each classroom, where our children thrive academically, emotionally, and physically. We want to make sure our wonderful families are always satisfied with what we offer here. It’s been an honor to be a part of LadyBug Academy, and I am certain that it will continue to be rewarding!

Cooper Yancey          

Lead Teacher 

Hello! My name is Cooper Yancey. I am a Lead Teacher at LadyBug Academy 2. I received my Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Old Dominion University. I am from a small town in Virginia named Louisa County. As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to work with young children. They bring a certain energy and purpose-driven mentality out of me. I’m just a man pursuing my dreams to create a positive impact on future generations. There are many reasons as to why I chose the position at Ladybug Academy 2. I simply love working with children. LadyBug has a great work atmosphere, and I’m looking to better myself through this wonderful opportunity. An interesting fact about me, I believe there is a way to create world peace through patience, active listening, and learning from each other's experiences.

Litzy Salazar

Lead Teacher

Hello LadyBug Families! My name is Litzy and I’m the Lead Teacher for the 2.5 Classroom at Ladybug Academy 2. I was the Assistant Teacher for the Toddler Classroom, which has allowed me to work closely with the kids who are now in the 2.5 classroom! I believe that there will be a lot to learn in the classroom, certainly a lot more to learn from the children themselves. I’m excited to see their minds begin to piece things together as they make new discoveries. LadyBug Academy 2 has been a fundamental support in my process of brand-new experiences and opportunities. My time with them feels very rewarding and so enjoyable since there is never a dull moment. I am excited to watch all the children grow and to create an environment that will allow them to feel cared for and respected in.

Matthew Young

Lead Teacher 

Hello LadyBug families! My name is Matthew Young, and I am a Lead Teacher at LadyBug Academy 2. I was born and raised in Southern California. My family moved to East Tennessee when I was 13 years old. I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. I’ve taught 3rd and 6th grade in Pennsylvania for four years. My passion for teaching increased over the years. Not only have I taught academically, but I have also coached soccer for a few years. I love watching children grow academically, socially, and emotionally. It’s been great at LadyBug Academy. I can’t wait to spend more time with the PreK students and prepare them for Kindergarten.

Monica Castellanos

Lead Teacher

Hi LadyBug Families! My name is Monica Castellanos and I’m the Lead Teacher for the Toddler Classroom at LadyBug Academy 2. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in Virginia. I started babysitting my younger relatives during my School years. Working with children has become a passion for me. My kindergarten Teacher, now my Mentor, inspired me to become a Teacher! I’m excited to see these children grow and reach their full potential. My time with them feels very rewarding and enjoyable since there is never a dull moment. Ladybug Academy 2 has opened many doors, filled with opportunities and growth for me! I’m excited to see what’s more to come, and I am grateful for the endless love and support from you all!

Ms. Emma

Lead Teacher 

Hi, I‘m Emma Wright, a Lead Teacher at LadyBug Academy 2. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from George Mason University. I’ve worked with children as a Tutor before joining LadyBug Academy. Each child is different, which makes it interesting to think how to structure learning and the multiple ways to teach the same material. I work with children to have a better understanding of how to teach better and how to think differently. Somehow their stories are extravagant and out of this world. Thus, I enjoy teaching children, and would like to make a difference in how they perceive the world. LadyBug is inspiring because it gives early education to children and empowers teachers. Each day is something new despite having a schedule for the day. Beyond the world of teaching, I spend my time with a piano and a paintbrush.

Ms. Tiffa

Lead Teacher

Hello LadyBug Families! My name is Aouatef Benamar and everyone calls me “Tiffa”. I have been with LadyBug Academy 2 for almost one year as a Lead Teacher. Before that, I was a swimming instructor for children. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English Studies, as well as a Master’s Degree in Translation and Cross-Cultural Communication from my homeland, Morocco. I truly believe working with children is my calling. I love working here with all our precious little ones. Being able to see them grow and mature has been one of my favorite things about LadyBug. We are like a family here and that is what makes my job so wonderful. I always have a smile on my way to work and on my way back home! During my free time, I enjoy reading, watching movies, and spending time with my friends.

Megan Bird

Lead Teacher

Hi LadyBug Families! I am a 2022 graduate of George Mason University, with a Bachelor of Art in History and a minor in Dance. I am From the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I began teaching dance classes at the age of 13 and have loved it ever since. I am truly elated to work with your little LadyBugs and hope to incorporate my love of movement and spontaneity in our classroom. I hope to make this a safe environment for your children, in which I will foster exploration, growth, and experiential learning. I am incredibly excited to continue to know all my students and watch them blossom!

Alyssa Russell-Sadoff

Lead Teacher

Hello! My name is Alyssa Russell-Sadoff and I am a Lead Teacher! I grew up in Southern California and moved to the East Coast in 2021. I graduated from Sonoma State University with a B.A. in Liberal Studies (Elementary School Teacher Track) with a concentration in Spanish in 2021. I am passionate about ensuring that children learn in a positive, individualized, inclusive, and creative environment. I want to empower students to become life-long learners! LadyBug Academy’s focus on cultivating a safe space for children to flourish creatively and developmentally inspires me daily. In my free time, I love to hike, dance, and play! I try to embrace my inner child whenever I can, and with that, I am extremely grateful I get to work with kids who motivate me to always live, laugh, and love!

Hoi Tung Cheung

Assistant Teacher

Hello LadyBug families! My name is Hoi Tung Cheung. Everybody calls me “Ms. Hoi” and I am an Assistant Teacher in the Infant classroom. I moved to the US from Hong Kong in 2017 and currently live in Gainesville with my husband and 17 month old son. My son also attends LadyBug Academy! While Cantonese is my native language, I am also fluent in Mandarin. Some of my favorite things to do are swimming, playing tennis, hiking, and biking during my free time. I love traveling and experiencing different cultures and their food. I have travelled to many Asian countries including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. I am learning more about the American culture every day and I love this country too! I have been working at Ladybug Academy 2 for two years. I truly enjoy working with babies and watching them grow, helping them discover the world, and learning new skills. They bring me so much joy. My son and I are very happy to be a part of the LadyBug Academy family.

Tiffani Bivins

Operations Manager

Hello LadyBug Families! My name is Tiffani Bivins and I am from Southern Maryland. I have an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the College of Southern Maryland, and Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Arizona Global Campus. I have worked in childcare for over ten years. I started as an Aide then worked my way to Management. The reason I picked teaching was because of all the developmental milestones that I will be able to witness. The first five years of a child’s life is complex and ever changing. As a childcare provider I can mold and help them reach different goals. As part of the Management team, I will be able to help the students more by assisting the Teachers and creating strategies to ensure the success of the classrooms and academy. I believe there is no such thing as a bad or unteachable student. Also, I believe that it is the Teacher's responsibility to find a way to reach and teach each student individually. With that said, I cannot wait to see what the upcoming years bring us at LadyBug Academy 2.

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