Samantha Jennings

Samantha Jennings is a PreK teacher at Dr. Reginald Mayo school in New Haven. While in the classroom, she works hard to engage her students in learning through developmentally appropriate practices. She is an advocate for play based learning and strives to show this through the variety of experiential learning activities she provides students with in her classroom. She is known for implementing meaningful lessons and experiences for her students. She works tirelessly to incorporate social/emotional learning as well as academics into everyday practices for her students. She also communicates with families about current events and practices to help promote continuity between school and home life.

Samantha earned her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in STEM and Psychology, from Southern Connecticut State University. She is currently continuing her love for learning at Albertus Magnus College to earn her Master’s in Education in STEM. Samantha stays current with her teaching by reading about best practices and joining many cohorts. She was recently a part of New Haven ChILD’s PLC cohort with Bank Street, which focused on implementing play-based learning in early childhood.

Samantha understands the importance of high-quality early learning experiences on a personal level. She is a mother of two, a 12-year-old and 2-year-old. She enjoys learning from them as well as the students in her classroom.

Yari Ijeh

Yari Ijeh is the mother of two children ages 6 months and 4 years old. By day, she is the Director of Development and Implementation at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) with the State of CT. Growing up with many foster siblings in her childhood home, Ijeh turned her personal experience into a professional career. Ijeh taught preschool and has been a social worker with DCF for over two decades. In her roles at DCF, she has advocated for children and their families, giving voice to their needs, and oversees policy changes to improve outcomes while reducing disparities. By night, she’s teaching her children through play.

Ijeh has an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor of Social Work from Southern CT State University and a Master of Social Work from Fordham University. Additionally, Ijeh is co-chair of the Progreso Latino Fund and has volunteered with True Colors, which develops programming and services for the LGBTQ+ youth; the New Haven and Hamden Juvenile Review Boards, which gives youth who are first time offenders an alternative to the criminal justice system; and the Shubert Theatre.