Dr. Jackeline Orsini is the Director of the Department of Early Childhood Learning and a proponent of high-quality customer service, data-driven strategic plans, school-community involvement and the principle that all students should have equal opportunities to achieve excellence. Dr. Orsini earned her doctorate in education with an emphasis in educational leadership from Dallas Baptist University. She previously served as the first principal of Arlington ISD’s McNutt Elementary. As the director of early childhood learning, she has implemented the district’s first full-day pre-K program for four-year-olds, adopted a new pre-K curriculum, implemented new TEA Pre-K High-Quality Standards, built new early-childhood community partnership models, and led planning for districtwide pre-K renovations as part of the 2019 Bond. She is passionate about education and committed to ensuring students have fun while learning, creating and exploring.
Dr. Hildelisa Diaz is honored to serve as the Coordinator of the Department of Early Childhood Learning. Having earned her doctorate at Texas Wesleyan University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington, Dr. Diaz has devoted more than 22 years to working in Arlington ISD education with young children and their families. She has taught several elementary grade levels and has served as lead teacher, instructional coach and curriculum and instruction specialist. She is committed to creating a strong, educational early childhood program where our students, families and teachers excel.
Lilly Hamner is ecstatic to join the Department of Early Childhood Learning as the coordinator of operations after serving as the assistant principal at Pope Elementary for six years. She began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher assistant in Lilburn, Georgia and made her move to Texas where she served as a bilingual teacher, dyslexia interventionist, and ELL specialist in Irving ISD. Lilly earned her B.A. in music from Agnes Scott College and M.Ed. in administration from Lamar University. She looks forward to supporting Arlington ISD campuses, Head Start, and community based centers in ensuring that every child has the opportunity to engage and benefit from an exceptional early childhood program.
Nadia Azari joined the Department of Early Childhood Learning as an instructional specialist in the summer of 2020 after teaching bilingual pre-K at Morton Elementary for 17 years. She grew up in Arlington and attended Starrett Elementary, Hutcheson Junior High and Bowie High School. Nadia holds both a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and a master's degree of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking new recipes, playing board games, watching action-packed movies and traveling.
Ken Foster began his career with Arlington ISD in 2010 serving in an immersive internship as an ECA (Early Childhood Assistant) at West Elementary. In 2011, after completing his bachelor's of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education at UT Arlington, he answered the call to serve as a pre-K 4 teacher at Kooken Education Center. Following his passion for learning, he completed his master's in education in Mind, Brain and Education in 2015. When not song-writing on his guitar, exercising and riding his mountain bike, he enjoys playing Uno and Scrabble with his wife and two sons.
Kathy Sowell is an instructional specialist supporting early childhood special education teachers. She began her career in Arlington ISD as a speech pathologist at Atherton Elementary. Following her passion for working with our youngest students, Kathy moved to Kooken Education Center to teach preschool students with disabilities. After 14 years, she moved into the instructional specialist role with the special education department. Kathy received her B.A. in Education with emphasis in speech, language and hearing therapy from the University of Louisiana-Monroe. She has a M.S. degree in Communication Disorders from the University of Texas-Dallas. Kathy is a big sports fan and loves, mysteries, cooking and listening to music.
Dulce Carrillo is the secretary of the Department of Early Childhood Learning. Carrillo joined the department of Early Childhood Learning in its early stages and began her collaboration with Dr. Orsini in June of 2019. Carrillo has a passion for service and has served our community at different levels during her time with the district. Carrillo started her career with Arlington ISD as the clerk for Crow Elementary for two years and then became the family liaison for McNutt Elementary working with parents. In this role she was able to help parents by providing classes on topics that would help parents help their children succeed in school. Carrillo’s current job is to work directly with the director of the program, Dr. Jackeline Orsini, and her team.
Melindaaprell Johnson is originally from Washington DC, she is a "mommy" to three beautiful and active teenagers two girls ages 16, and 18 and a son that is 17. She has been with Arlington ISD for four years and now going into the fifth year with the district. She was a classroom assistant in a community based center. She also served as a community based clerk for two years before transitioning to the Kooken. Recently, she served as the campus clerk for the Kooken Learning Center. She is very excited to be part of the district. She loves to visit historical museums and the stories they tell. She has a passion for children, being an instrumental part of their development. She loves to support our families and amazing teachers throughout the school year!
Early Childhood Clerk