Lorie and Cooper LewisOwners
Lorie and Cooper are not native Charlotteans, but they are not far from it. They have both lived here in the area since they were in Elementary and Jr High School. Lorie graduated from Myers Park High and Cooper from East Meck. They both attended and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill. Lorie with a BS in Business Administration and Cooper with both a BS in Industrial Relations and a BS in Psychology. Lorie also obtained her master’s degree from Pfieffer University in Christian Education.
Lorie is the face of Ballantyne Reading Academy. Her background in banking, and for the last 25 years, leading staff and volunteers teaching children, makes her a great fit. Cooper is involved on the business and operational side. His background spans building and selling a family business, international software training, and 20 years of coaching and developing financial professionals. They have 2 adult children, Courtney, a former first-grade teacher, and William, a financial advisor.
Adina CaseyEducator
Adina received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Tampa, and her masters degree in literacy from Mercy College in her home state of New York. She has over 15 years classroom experience teaching children from kindergarten through 5th grade. After relocating to Charlotte from NY with her husband, Adina began private tutoring, and originally joined BRA faculty in 2014, where her love of teaching preschoolers began.

Adina loves spending time with her husband, two boys, and her first-born baby (a mini golden doodle named Mickey Mantle). In her spare time, she loves to read, exercise, or just sit in the sun drinking Starbucks!

Angela EmeryEducator
Angela is a graduate of The University of Georgia and received her graduate teaching certificate in Elementary Education from UNCC. She is currently a Kindergarten teacher in CMS and enjoys instilling a love for literacy in her students. Angela is a National Board Certified Teacher and has completed Orton-Gillingham training. She enjoys using multi-sensory strategies to help young readers perfect their decoding abilities. She also seeks to provide readers with opportunities to build reading fluency and comprehension. In her free time, Angela enjoys reading, walking and spending time with family.
Cherie LaFolletteEducator
Cherie grew up in Bloomington, IN and is a graduate of DePauw University with a BA in Elementary Ed and a minor in Language Arts. She has two girls. Cate, who is a sophomore in college at Davidson, and Anna Wade, who is a senior at MP. In her free time, cherie enjoys reading, working in the yard and is an avid college basketball fan.

Cherie has taught ages 4 and 5 in preschool and grades K-2 in the public schools. She specializes in literacy skills and phonics to help readers become more fluent. Cherie is currently getting certified in Orton Gillingham. Cherie currently works as a kindergarten teacher with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools at Sharon Elementary.

Christina GandinoEducator
Christina graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with a Bachelors of Science degree in Childhood Education. Christina currently works in a 2nd grade classroom at Pinewood Elementary school in Charlotte. She has a passion for teaching students and helping them grow into the person they want to be. Christina strives to provide a fun, engaging, and an effective learning community for all students to learn and develop new ideas. Christina loves helping each child that walks into her classroom and develops great relationships with them! She is excited to be apart of the Ballantyne Reading Academy team!
Esther GoldsteinEducator
Having recently become an empty nester, Esther is doing more of what she loves – teaching children! She graduated with a BS in Elementary Education from Louisiana State University and later earned her Masters of Early Childhood Education from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. Esther has taught in Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina in both public and private school settings. During her 12+ years of classroom experience, Esther served as Grade Level Chair and as a supervisor of a student teacher. While her children were in school, Esther substituted at Charlotte Christian School on a regular basis and is an experienced tutor. She currently teaches Sunday School to children 4 – 7 years old. Esther enjoys her weekly volunteer work with two non-profit organizations and is currently a certified Augustine Literacy Tutor for the Augustine Literacy Project. In her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, knitting and sewing. Esther is looking forward to working with the children at Ballantyne Reading Academy!
Giulia DeCariaEducator
Giulia graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education (K-6). After finishing her education, she stayed in Charlotte and starting teaching 1st grade in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools at Sharon Elementary. She grew up in Waxhaw, North Carolina and attended Union County Public Schools. Her teachers throughout elementary school fostered her love of reading which she strives to do for her students. When not teaching, Giulia enjoys traveling, hanging out with her Great Danes, and reading books! She is excited to bring joy and the love of reading to Ballantyne Reading Academy for summer camp!
Jackie VaccaroEducator
Jackie graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York with a degree in Psychology and Elementary Education. She began teaching at Liberty Elementary School in Nyack, New York and taught there for four years. She re-located to Charlotte 27 years ago and has been employed by CMS as a Kindergarten teacher, a school tutor, and a substitute teacher. Jackie has also worked in several local preschools teaching Pre-K curriculum. The past several years, Jackie has been self-employed as a private tutor.

In her spare time, she loves doing floral arrangements for friends, playing her guitar, taking photos of nature, and walking her little dog Bentley! She also enjoys spending time with her adult daughter. She is very excited to be a member of the staff here at Ballantyne Reading Academy!

Jessica MartinEducator
Jessica fell in love with Ballantyne Reading Academy after her daughters attended enrichment classes at our location! Born and raised in Chicago, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (K-6) from DePaul University, with a middle school endorsement in social science. She has a background in psychology and was a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Chicago, and a tutor at Lawrence Hall Youth Services of Chicago. Her love of reading and writing began at an early age, as she would make her own books as a child, and briefly wrote movie reviews for her school newspaper in college. Teaching K/1 in the past, she loves to make learning FUN and bring the subject matter to life! This installs a passion for learning, and she believes anything can be made into a teachable moment! She resides in Waxhaw with her husband, 2 daughters, and 2 imperial shih tzus. Jessica loves to stay active and is a regular at Barre3 and is also an avid snorkeler.
Jessica SwigerEducator
Jessica graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and received her Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Jessica currently works as an Executive Function Coach teaching executive functioning skills to both children and adults who have ADHD and other learning differences. She specializes in study skills, self-regulation and motivation, goal setting, planning, organization, and time management. Jessica is trained in the Orton-Gillingham literacy method. She is passionate about teaching literacy and empowering students to get excited about learning. Jessica has a strong drive to create meaningful connections with her students and provide a safe and open environment where they can accomplish their goals and become independent learners. Jessica is a Charlotte native and enjoys hiking, cooking/baking, traveling, gardening, photography, and spending time with her family.
Katie CollinsEducator
Katie earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Child Life from East Carolina University in 2018. After moving back to Charlotte and she worked through a specialized program to earn her full North Carolina teaching license. She is now a Kindergarten teacher with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools at Rea Farms STEAM Academy and has previously worked as both a teaching assistant and a preschool teacher. Katie has experience working with children ages 2 to 9 in the classroom and camp settings. She has a passion for instilling a lifelong love of reading in her students, as her teachers did for her. Katie’s desire to teach and help the next generation began at a young age, and she is excited to bring her love of teaching to Ballantyne Reading Academy for summer camp!
Lauren BuiEducator
Lauren graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in psychology and English. She became a two-time Tar Heel graduate after earning her Master’s of Teaching degree in elementary education (K-6) and special education. After finishing her education, she moved to Charlotte, a place that was not too unfamiliar to her as she grew up 30 minutes away in Huntersville. Lauren currently teaches in CMS as a 1st grade teacher at Sharon Elementary. Lauren was an avid reader growing up and has now made it her job to help students develop the same passion that she had. From phonemic awareness to comprehension and fluency, Lauren strives to make sure her students have the foundation to grow their love for reading and learning. When not teaching, Lauren spends her time chasing after her lab puppy Franklin, playing tennis, and cooking.
Shawnta MorrisonEducator
Shawnta (Nikki) graduated magna cum laude from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte with a degree in Elementary Education (K-6). In May of 2018, she earned a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Gardner-Webb University. Shawnta has been employed by Union County Public Schools for the past 10 years. She currently works at Rocky River Elementary. Shawnta has experience with ESL, special education, and AIG students. While teaching, she has served has a mentor, grade level chair, cooperating teacher for student teachers, and PBIS coordinator. Shawnta has a passion for working with children and believes that ALL children can learn regardless of socioeconomic status and/or learning ability.
Vandana BhallaEducator
Vandana graduated from The University of Findlay in Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology (1999) and a Master of Arts degree in Education (2002). She has taught elementary school, Kindergarten through 4th Grade, since 2004. Vandana’s family is originally from India, her parents migrated to the US in 1972. Vandana was born and raised in North America: Canada, Ohio and she moved to North Carolina in 2020 in the midst of the global pandemic. She understands and can speak limited Hindi. Vandana currently teaches in CMS as a 2nd grade teacher at Pinewood Elementary. She is also trained in the Orton-Gillingham teaching method. When not teaching, Vandana tutors privately, spends her time walking, cooking/ baking, travelling, watching movies/TV, listening to music, reading books, spending time with her friends and her family – primarily her 6 nieces and nephews.

Special Recognition goes to Lisa Palladino. Lisa founded Ballantyne Reading Academy in 2012. She personally taught many children over the years since. Lisa decided to retire at the end of 2021 to write a new chapter in her life-story. We wish her well!

Lisa PalladinoFounder/Educator
Lisa graduated magna cum laude from Stonehill College in North Easton, MA with a BA in Elementary Education and a concentration in Reading Instruction. In addition to teaching second grade in the Walpole, MA school system, Lisa chaired an after-school intramural program for over 700 students and served on the Superintendent’s Literacy Committee, at the personal request of the Superintendent. Lisa’s distinctive approach to combining phonics with language-oriented activities led her to co-author a teacher’s guide to Whole Language instruction and present at regional professional development workshops on the benefits of her integrative classroom reading strategies. Lisa also has experience in teaching kindergarten through fifth grade with the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School System. Prior to founding Ballantyne Reading Academy for the Very Young, Lisa served as Director of Early Childhood Education for a private performing arts school.

Do you have experience?


Degreed, experienced teachers and tutors with a passion for literacy and learning are always welcome to join our team!

Send your resume to info@BallantyneReading.com.

Teaching reading IS rocket science.

– Louisa Moats