FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
COACH, CONSULTANT, EDUCATOR
Learning Through Play Founder and Executive Director Nikki Mingledorff has lived in New Orleans for over 20 years with a background as a Mental Health Professional in Mental Health Rehabilitation. In her professional work, Nikki has employed techniques stemming predominantly from cognitive behavioral therapy and systemic therapy, particularly Minuchin’s structural family therapy, Sue Johnson’s emotion-focused therapy, Bowenian family systems theory, and Virginia Satir’s human validation process model.
She is also EMDR certified and has had extensive training in Child Parent Relationship Therapy, Play Therapy and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In addition to her work at Learning Through Play, Nikki is also Family Mediation & Divorce Center’s Program Director, Co-Parent Coach, Support Group Leader, and Trainer.
Nikki is married to Jason Mingledorff, a well-respected and versatile musician and Loyola music professor. Upon becoming a mom to the first of three boys, her whole world shifted. Because of the rigorous nature of both of both of their work, Nikki decided to take a hiatus from her professional career to focus on her family.
Nikki and Jason filled their home with activities and games aimed at purposeful play. Their personalized approach to parenting combines multiple modalities and aims to honor each of their boys as individuals. Nikki credits her background in working with parents, families and children in helping her be a confident mom and hopes to do the same for parents across the Greater New Orleans area!
Nikki holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Tulane University and a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego.
Born and raised in Texas, Cassie Becerra grew up with 5 siblings and a very large extended family. From early on, Cassie realized she had an innate comfort being around and working with children. This ease was partly because of her large family, but also because her mom was the director of a preschool and ran an in-home childcare business. Having the opportunity to closely observe her mother lovingly work with young children inspired Cassie to pursue a similar path.
In 2001, Cassie moved to New Orleans and started working as a substitute teacher at a Montessori Preschool. Here, she began learning about the Montessori method and saw how impactful it was in the lives of the young children she helped teach. During this time, she found a mentor who took Cassie under (his/her) wing, and in no time, Cassie realized that she was truly a Montessorian at heart all along. She admired all the care and detail that was put into this unique philosophy, and found that Maria Montessori’s holistic approach so thoroughly made the best use of a child’s natural inclination to be curious, independent and learn.
Throughout the years, Cassie enthusiastically accepted any opportunity for professional development in Early Childhood and Montessori Education. She attended conferences hosted by The American Montessori Society (AMS), The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA), The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and was awarded a scholarship to work towards an Infant & Toddler Montessori Diploma. From here, she became the Director of a Montessori Preschool, where Cassie took the lead in both Teacher and Parent Education.
Today, with nearly 20 combined years of classroom and administrative experience in addition to in-home teaching and caregiving, Cassie is now applying her knowledge to help other early childhood educators and parents learn more about the magic of Montessori. Her passion is born from her desire to help individuals form healthy life scripts. Life scripts are how a person finds meaning. “These “life stories” are deeply rooted in childhood and become the basis for which adults make all of their life choices. A negative narrative can be destructive, while a healthy and confident inner voice can be liberating.” Cassie is committed to helping parents and children construct creative, ongoing, positive life scripts deeply rooted in connections and respectful communication so that they can continue to evolve their stories and grow into possibility.
Jane Cradic Petrie is a life-long New Orleanian with 15 years experience as a Montessori-focused educator. She holds a Bachelor’s in Music from Loyola University New Orleans and a Masters of Arts in Teaching with a focus on Early Childhood Education from the University of New Orleans. Jane is a state-certified teacher who has received training from Houston Montessori Center.
Jane has dedicated her professional career to helping all children discover the joys of learning. She has worked as a teacher, assistant teacher, caregiver, and music instructor. The majority of that time was spent in Early Childhood classrooms, most with a Montessori focus. Jane has taken a little time away from the classroom to focus on her family, having welcomed her son, Owen in 2018. Along with her background in education, music, and theater, Jane is a painter, a gardener, fiber artist, and skilled crafter.
With so many years in the classroom, and a life-time of crafting skills and creative arts to call upon, Jane has a knack for creating inviting, welcoming environments and lessons for children, using everyday items on hand. She understands a child’s need for order and independence and is happy to be a guide on their journey to successful completion of the goals that they set for themselves.
Jane and her husband, who is also an educator, have brought the Montessori philosophy, techniques, and ideals into her son’s life since his birth in 2018. He is already showing his love of order, his want for independence, and a creative nature. Jane is thrilled to guide other parents as they incorporate Montessori ideals to establish peaceful environments in their homes where they work with their children to set and achieve age-appropriate goals and learn to appreciate the incredible world around them.