Welcome to Yekibood Children’s family!
We are privileged to have a family of professional educators, artists and musicians as our faculty. Together we aim to provide full immersion cultural and language experiences for children, all within the context of creative artistic activities. Aside from our professional experiences, we all share an innate love for children and working with children! It is our common goal to provide a unique learning environment for each child, and to develop more effective educational resources for our community.
Yekibood Children was founded with the generous support of many individuals who believed in providing artistic and cultural learning opportunities for children, as well as the institutional support of the Leadership in Action Fellowship from Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB).
Born in London, Dr. Aitak Ajangzad grew up in Tehran and now resides in New York City. Aitak is an educator musician, visual artist, and researcher who has devoted her career to early childhood and multicultural education. Throughout the past decade, Aitak has been privileged to work with culturally diverse children and families, holding workshops, training teachers, and consulting art/music based educational organizations at the national and international level. Among the very distinguished organizations and projects Aitak has had the opportunity to collaborate with are, the National Association for Music Education, Educating the Creative Mind, NY Philharmonic’s Very Young People’s Concerts, Teachers College instrument program, Columbia University’s Head Start program, Rita Gold Center, Asia Society and Iranian Alliance Across Borders. Growing up speaking Farsi, Azeri, and English and later gaining greater cultural experiences upon moving to New York, Aitak is a firm believer in the importance of cultural and artistic education that nurtures children’s cross cultural understanding and language development.
After finishing art school majoring in painting and graphic design, Aitak attended Tehran University’s Academy of Fine Arts, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in music with specialization in Piano and Setar. While living in Iran, Aitak taught piano, music theory, and solfege to children and adults. Upon moving to New York, she continued her studies in music education at Columbia University, where she focused on working with young children. After completing two Masters’ degrees in music and music education, Aitak pursued a doctorate in music and art education at Teachers College, Columbia University. For her dissertation which focused on Iranian American children, Aitak designed and developed a special program that proposed an innovative pedagogical approach in the education of young bilingual children through music and artistic activities. Her curriculum, which has been presented in several national and international conferences as well as in the media, initiated the first early childhood program developed for Iranian American children in New York City. It has since been presented in multiple educational settings and schools across the Northeast. Also as an advocate of early childhood education, Aitak is active in designing and developing educational material such as music, illustrated flash cards, felt material and alphabet games for bilingual children.
After completing her studies, Aitak founded Yekibood Children in the hopes of creating and developing more innovative approaches in the education of multilingual children, incorporating music and the arts as the main language in their learning process. Multiculturalism, creativity, and critical thinking are among Aitak’s core philosophical approaches in her teaching practice. By gathering a circle of professional educators, artists and musicians, she hopes to develop a strong program to inspire more creativity and improvement in the education of young Iranian children of the Diaspora population. Also by providing an interactive cultural and artistic environment, she hopes to create more opportunities for cross-cultural conversations and build a community of young learners who grow up to enjoy learning about their parental culture, feel part of a musical and artistic family, and identify as part of a global community!
Golbarg Zafari is our Director and Lead teacher in our Virginia Branch. She born in Tehran and she was raised in a family of educators where her both parents were teachers. In 2010, she obtained her Bachelor degree in French translation from Azad University in Tehran. While in college, following her passion of working with kids, she started teaching foreign languages to children. Then, she moved to US in 2013 to following her dream and become a professional in this field.
On May 2015, she completed her graduate studies at George Mason University with Master of Early Childhood Education for Diverse Learners, Concentration in Instruction and Curriculum. She is currently working full time with BASIS Independent Mclean as a lead teacher for their early childhood program. Before joining BASIS Independent McLean, she taught for two years in Head Start program in Alexandria. She has educational background and experience working with children from various languages, cultures, and multicultural families and adults. Although she has had experience with various populations because her passion is working with children.
Martin, an experienced musician and actor, has worked as a music composer for theater shows, animations and movies in Iran for more than a decade. He has also performed as a music composer and performer for Circus Charivari in Berlin and Erfahrung Circus in Vienna. Born and raised in Tehran, Martin studied graphic design at science and culture University of Tehran and graduated in 2007. He has published three solo music records and has collaborated with various artist on their publications. He has a strong tendency towards generating sound with unusual instruments as well as industrial tools which is easily evident in his work. Martin has many years of teaching experience and working with children in Iran. He has been teaching young children music and visual arts since 2005.
Shirin(Zahra) was born and grew up in Tehran, Iran, and now resides in Rockville, Maryland. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Theater; and her passion has always been on communicating and working with the children through puppets which actually lead her way into Iran’s national TV. Through her more than a decade long career working as an actress in various children’s TV Shows in Iran, she has worked with very distinguished and talented artists and directors. “Donyaye Shirin” (The Sweet World) is among her famous children’s TV shows, for which many still remember her role as a leading female actress in the Series. She was involved in directing and developing several TV Shows for children in Iran between 1996-2007. Before leaving the country, her last work for children was a puppeteer’s TV show called: “Khone Golparina”; including 52 episodes which aired every week during 2006-2007. Over the past six years, Shirin has started working on modern theater and literacy. Recently, she has published her very first book in Farsi, which was the translation of one of the most respected plays in the world “The Pillowman” by Martin MacDonagh.
Born and raised in Tehran, Yalda had her first teaching experience at the age of 15 at Vahdat House of Charity in Tehran, teaching singing and giving piano lessons to blind and disabled children as a volunteer. She also taught sketching and drawing to children ages 3-10 at Arshia Art Gallery in Tehran. Exhibitions from her students’ work were covered and aired on the Art Program channel 4 of Iranian Press TV. When she was 18 years old, she moved to the U.S and got her Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in Marketing. Later, she moved to Barcelona and finished her masters’ degree in Cognitive Science and Language. Her research was on language acquisition in Persian Speaking children with Autism, and her paper is being published at the Catalan Journal of Linguistics this year. Currently Yalda is pursuing her education in children’s speech and language pathology.
Shabnam Shamloo is a visual artist practicing a variety of art fields including painting, sculpting, ceramics, illustration and video art. Born and raised in Tehran, Shabnam obtained her Bachelor degree in Sculpture from Art University of Tehran in 2011. She moved to the Washington D.C. area in 2012 and is currently a MFA candidate at the George Washington University. Along with participating in solo and group exhibitions in Tehran, Amherst MA and Washington D.C., Shabnam has always been interested in mentoring children through art. In Washington D.C. area, she has held weekly art classes during weekends since 2012. Moreover, Shabnam ran several private summer camps for children aged from 4 to 16 in summer 2013. She finds the arts as effective means of expressing creativity, confidence and the spirit of collaboration for children.
Setare Salehi Arashloo is a visual artist who works primarily with painting and drawing. Born and raised in Tehran, Setare earned her BA degree in Painting from University of Tehran in 2011. She moved to Baltimore in 2012 to study post baccalaureate of Fine Art at Maryland Institute College of Art. Setare has participated in a collaborative project between artists in Afghanistan and the United States, which was presented as two group shows at VisArt Gallery, Rockville, MD and in Kabul on 2013. En Messe at Sheila and Richard Rigges Gallery, MICA, Baltimore MD is another group show that she participated in 2013. Furthermore, during her bachelor studies in Iran, she had few group shows in Tehran and Shiraz and a solo show at Tehran University Gallery. She published a few essays on Tandis Weekly Art Magazin in Iran. Setare has worked with Madaran-e-Emrooz NGO and has participated in their classes on “Story Telling and Story Reading for Children” and “Educational Games for Children”. Through these classes and other experiences in teaching art to children, she finds herself very excited about the process of learning in children and she is determined to expand her research in the childhood education field. She is currently a MFA candidate in Studio Arts at Queens College.
Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, Ph.D
Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet was born in Tehran, Iran and attended school there for many years. She then moved to Paris, France and eventually arrived in NYC. Firoozeh speaks Persian, French, Spanish, and Gilaki fluently and has also studied Arabic, Turkish, and Ottoman Turkish. She writes both fiction and non-fiction and is currently working on a range of research projects.
FKS teaches history and directs the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She has consulted with K-12 schools seeking to incorporate and expand the content of Middle East education in their curricula. She has also worked to introduce and support the acquisition of Middle Eastern languages in K-12 schools and at the university level. As a mother of a child with special needs, Dr. Kashani-Sabet has also collaborated with various educators and therapists to improve the quality of instruction for children on the autistic spectrum. She currently homeschools her daughter and has written appropriate curricula that have been approved by the NYS Department of Education. She has twenty years of experience as an educator and seeks to instill in her students — whatever their strengths may be — a passion for learning and a desire for sharing knowledge.
Firoozeh enjoys Persian cooking and music. She has played the piano for many years and possesses a foundation in music theory and practice. She is also an advocate for families and children with special needs. In her view, the best pedagogical philosophies approach learning as a joyous process full of endless possibilities.
Navid Kandelousi is a highly accomplished musician. He is experienced both with western classical instruments as well as traditional Persian instruments. He has studied western classical music at the Verdi Conservatory in Milano, Italy and at the Moscow Violin Academy in Russia. Aside from his virtuosic skills on Violin, he has mastered Setar, Taar and Kamanche, and he is also experienced with Tombak, Santour and Gheychak. Throughout his professional career, he has collaborated with numerous prestigious Persian ensembles such as Iranian National Orchestra, and has performed internationally across Europe, Asia and America in venues such as Lincoln center, Julliard music school, Albert Hall, Sydney’s Symphony hall and Vahdat hall. His teaching background include work at the Yamaha School of Music, Suzuki Violin School, and Master Classes in Kamanche, Taar and Setar at the Julliard School. Navid has recently started a teaching position at the Queens Symphony.
Born in Tehran and raised in Hamburg, Anahita graduated with a Masters in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. In 2009 she moved to New York City to study modern and traditional Persian dance and Sufi whirling with Banafsheh Sayyad and African dance with Djoniba Mouflet.
Anahita has performed for an eclectic variety of audiences in spaces ranging from New York City galleries to rooftops in Kathmandu and Bodh Gaya. She appears in Planetary Collective’s upcoming feature documentary Continuum, dancing in the ruins of a Mughal fort in New Delhi. In 2012, Anahita travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal to volunteer at the 108 Lives Project and teach children in orphanages and tent settlements to dance. She worked on simple choreography and staged performances with the children at the end of the training period.
Nina started playing piano at the age of 8 and has been teaching music for 10 years. She has taught piano and music to children at different music studios and non-profit centers such as Hengam Music Institute in Tehran, Mahak center for Children with Cancer, Tehran School for Orphan Children, and many others. Nina was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. She has lived in Germany, Portugal, Canada, and now lives and works in Washington. She studied Mathematics in college in Tehran, and Computer Science in Graduate School in Europe. Nina is also a master of Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. She won numerous national competitions and attended international conferences, and has taught Origami to children for a few years. Nina is also an accomplished basketball player.
Born in Tehran, Sara received here BA in painting from Azad University of Art and Architecture. She began her study of illustration at Karim Nasr studio and continued her Eastern art education at the Iranian Painting Society. She practiced glazing techniques at Aria Gallery with Ariasb Dadbeh , and continued to paint in her studio in Tehran. Starting in the early days of Herfeh-Honarmand magazine she worked as a translator, writer, and all around collaborator. During this time she was also giving private painting and drawing lessons, exhibiting her work in group shows. In 2011, she moved to New York to pursue her Masters degree at the NYSS, which she received in 2013. Upon graduation, she received a fellowship for a summer residency at Chautauqua Art Institute where she studied printmaking and exhibited work. Recently her work has been shown at the Ware House Gallery in Brooklyn. She longs to follow her passion for teaching. Currently, she is a curator/intern at Salon Ciel Gallery, works as an illustrator, and paints in her Brooklyn studio.
Maryam Sarhangi was born in Mashhad, Iran. She moved to the United States, in the state of Kansas, at the age of 8. She grew up in Kansas, and now she resides in the city of Baltimore. Maryam obtained her undergrad degrees in the state of Kansas, mass communication and electrical engineering. She was an electrical engineering grad student and at the same time a math tutor, in University of Maryland in Baltimore County. She left the engineering field to pursue her true dream of working with children, and becoming a teacher. She is in the process of becoming an elementary school teacher, at the moment. She has worked alongside other teachers, as an intern, making lesson plans, grading and analyzing students work and progress as well as attending meetings. She has one year left in her master’s program from Towson University, masters of art in teaching. She has been a substitute teacher for Baltimore County Public Schools, grades K-12, for five years. She also volunteer’s at a day care center for a homeless shelter in Baltimore. She truly enjoys working with children.
Afsoon Talai was born and raised in Oklahoma. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design where she received her BFA in Graphic Design. After her studies Afsoon moved to New York City to be a Junior Designer at InStyle Magazine. In 2011 she went on to work as a Senior Designer at Fete, an even-planning company. In 2013 she left her job to open her own design firm, Golreezan, an Iranian-American design firm based in New York City. Aside from Golreezan, Afsoon is one of the co-founders of B|ta’arof Magazine where she serves as the Art director and the Visual Arts Editor. Afsoon grew up volunteering with the local Farsi School in Oklahoma and has worked closely in early childhood settings for Iranina-American children.