about us

our story

Brighthouse got its start in 2017 when educator, Michele Tinker, started teaching small groups of 5th-12th grade twice exceptional (2e) students at the kitchen table in her home. The next year she opened a learning center in a larger rented space to accommodate more of these incredible students. She has been serving Northshore families and students from St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana ever since. Michele’s background in neuroscience and its application in teaching has fostered a unique and highly successful educational alternative for students in this area.

Brighthouse’s continued growth has propelled us towards adding more teachers and a full-time Licensed Professional Counselor, as well as expanding into a larger permanent space with acres and nature soon. Michele is a seasoned teacher of over 35 years and has received numerous national teaching awards and grants. She is married, has four grown children and lives in Covington, LA.

Brighthouse is a Great place for your child!

Our Staff


Spanish Language and Culture Instructor

Ashley Mentel is the Spanish Language and Culture instructor who became a part of the Brighthouse Learning Center staff in the fall of 2022. She graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University in December of 2021 with two bachelor’s degrees in World Languages and Cultures with a concentration in Spanish, as well as TESOL (degree/certification- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and a minor in Psychology. Ashley also operates her own business, La Tribu 985 Translation/ ESL Services (teaching English as a Second Language program.)

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Her mission as an instructor is to unify the linguistic divide in our community. By introducing linguistic and cultural topics to the students, we can break the language barrier that divides our society. Aside from her academic/professional life, Ashley enjoys traveling, outdoor activities, spending time with her family, painting/drawing, working with nonprofit organization Peace Makers based in El Salvador, and the organization CCNIS (Consejo Coordinador Nacional Indígena De El Salvador- organization that assists and promotes the conservation of indigenous heritage in El Salvador).

Bethanie Simon

Licensed Professional Counselor

Bethanie Simon is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with clinical and professional experience in both academic and community settings. Bethanie earned both her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and her Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Louisiana State University.

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She is a member of the American Counseling Association, as well as the Louisiana Counseling Association (LCA), and she presented at the LCA conference in 2016. Bethanie has worked with clients ranging from ages 5 to 65 and has been working with Brighthouse Learning Center for two years, assisting students with a range of social and emotional needs. She has over five years’ experience working with students to help them identify their academic and personal strengths, explore different majors and career paths, and support students with academic, social, emotional, and adjustment-related challenges. Bethanie enjoys working with students individually and in groups using strengths-based and solution-focused techniques. Bethanie’s goal as a Counselor is to work collaboratively with her students to educate, listen, and build the skills and confidence her students need to feel successful in their academic and personal lives.

Debra Turlich

5th – 8th grade Math & Drafting Teacher

Debra Turlich has worked as a drafter for 13 years in several disciplines: Architectural, Mechanical, Ship Building & Piping. She has also been a certified teacher for 16.5 years for the Louisiana Technical College system & St. Tammany Parish School Board. Debra has taught as many as 7 classes a day, both on the board and in AutoCAD ( computer Drafting). Debra has earned a degree in Occupational Education and holds certifications in American Design and Drafting Mechanical Drafter, American Design and Drafting Master Instructor, and Autodesk – AutoCAD.

Jenn Antzoulis

Administrative Assistant

Jenn is our Administrative Assistant at Brighthouse. She is our organizer extraordinaire and we’re so glad to have her! She keeps everything running smoothly by answering phone calls, ordering products, booking field trips, arranging special events, picking up everything from copier paper to hula hoops, applying band aids, assisting with parent communications, and much more. She even knows where to get THE BEST electric pencil sharpener (thank you Mrs. Jenn)! Originally from New York, Jenn has that creative “can-do” way about her and great sense of humor that makes us all love and adore her.


Art Teacher

Jess Blanchard graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor degree in Fine Art and a concentration in painting and drawing. She has 3+ years’ experience exploring art with children and teens of all ages.

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Before Jess started working with Brighthouse at the start of the 2022 – 2023 school year, she worked as an art education coordinator for a children’s museum and then as an art teacher at an elementary school. Everywhere she goes she strives to bring an environment where creativity, problem solving, and communication thrive. Jess stays inspired by her students’ courage to create, and she continues to create art herself. She paints, draws, makes collages, and loves to jump into new things like sewing. It is her goal to spread the love of art and to help build confidence in young artists while they explore the many ways of expressing themselves.

Jonnie Tinker

Teaching Assistant

Jonnie Tinker has two years’ experience working as a teaching assistant for Brighthouse Learning Center. He has a knack for learning his students’ stories and personalities, making them comfortable and at ease, facilitating a positive learning environment, and he even takes students out for bike rides that they earn with positive behaviors!

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Jonnie has a vast array of interests that include health and fitness, geography, chess, computers and technology, and much more. He also has four years of experience lifeguarding at neighborhood pools, Franco’s, and the LSU Recreation Center. Jonnie loves working with kids while having a positive, patient, and reinforcing attitude. He is dedicated to set our students up for a lifetime of success and happiness!


5th – 8th Grade Science Teacher

Katie Antzoulis started with Brighthouse for the 2022 – 2023 school year teaching science to 5th-8th grade students. She is attending Southeastern Louisiana University as a Physics major in her third year of college. 

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Katie is planning to become a high school physics teacher after obtaining her degree, and she wishes to inspire her students to become excited and curious about science and the world around them.



Kearies Mays is a teacher who came to Brighthouse for the start of the 2022 – 2023 school year. Kearies received her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from Mississippi State University.

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Kearies has taught 5th, 6th, and 8th grade, and she has tutored 2nd grade through college level students. She loves to share her passion for literature and world events with her students. She also enjoys traveling, yoga, playing trumpet, and reading.

Kearies hopes to inspire students to be more involved with what is happening in the world and how history can impact our present and future.

Sarah McNeil

Physical Education & Nutrition Coach

Sarah McNeil came to Brighthouse at the end of the 2020-2021 school year to teach our students Physical Education (PE) and Nutrition. Sarah received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Louisiana State University and her Master of Science Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Akron.

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Sarah has worked as a Fitness Director, Fitness Studio Manager, Personal Trainer and owns her own company helping people from all ages and walks of life reach their fitness and health goals. Her approach is to make fitness and nutrition fun and to help students create sustainable, active, and healthy lifestyles. She enjoys traveling the world, paddleboarding, swimming, hiking and running for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Her hope is to inspire the kids to find their passion and use it to find ways to incorporate activity into their lifestyle.

our students

What is 2e?

We are dedicated to educating the broader community that surrounds and supports 2e students in St. Tammany Parish. By using best practices, research, 2e compatible curriculum and methods, teacher training, and community outreach we can foster support well beyond the classroom.

We love that neuroscience has implications for the classroom (Dr. Pat Wolfe).

Neuroscience impacts the 2000 decisions, on average, that a teacher makes in the classroom every day. For example, too much academic stress causes shutdown while not enough leads to boredom. Creating the right amount of energy in the student inspires learning. Knowing how “differently wired” (author, Debbie Reber) students learn best, having the freedom to synchronize curriculum plan and pace, selecting most advantageous assessment methods (Dr. Melanie Hayes), combining desirable activities with less desirable activities (Seth Perler), supporting executive function and much more are our skills with which we practice the art of teaching. These esteemed colleagues and many more have pioneered this field of research, opened 2e schools after starting from their kitchen tables, developed a new strength-based vocabulary to open minds and lines of communication, confirmed what we already knew in our hearts, and established a new standard for education.

Our Space

We provide a warm, home-like environment with soft comfortable furniture, quiet spaces, sensory safe spaces, and the freedom to move about at-will. Students enjoy healthy snacks, water, and bathroom access throughout the day, as needed. When students tour Brighthouse they say, “I’ve found my place.”

people ♥ us

Parents share what they love about Brighthouse in the following testimonials.

I am so blessed to have found Brighthouse Learning Center. After Covid-19 hit our schools, I knew that two of my three children would never make it in this type of uncertain learning environment. Two of my children have special needs and must have a teacher present to excel in their education. Mrs. Tinker and her staff direct their lesson plans to each student; this allows the student to excel at a pace he/she feels comfortable with while also allowing each student to gain confidence, self-esteem, and self-control.

We love the individual attention my children get at Brighthouse Learning Center. Children are excelling in all subjects at an exceptional pace and loving Mrs. Tinker and her staff. We would not think of going anywhere else for the next six years when they all three graduate High School and prepare for college. Thank you, Mrs. Tinker, for all you do for us, we love you and consider you family!

Debra Turlich 2021

“Michele Tinker is a wonderful teacher in every way! She knows each student on a personal level and meets them where they are when it comes to learning. She recognizes that not every child learns in the same way and caters the learning environment to optimize the success of each of her students.

When we first enrolled our son in Brighthouse Learning, he had already been in two schools. Neither of them was able to meet his unique educational needs as a person with Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum Disorder. Now, as an 8th grader he is getting the challenge that he needs in a warm, nurturing environment. He is so happy to go to school each day which is a huge celebration for our family! He is thriving in school and his love of learning is stronger than it has ever been!

He has enjoyed getting to know his fellow students and has practiced interacting in a positive way, socializing and manners. This is an important life skill for a person with Asperger’s Syndrome.

We are so grateful for Mrs. Tinker and look forward to many more years of success at Brighthouse Learning!”

Dan and Jennifer Spiak 2019

“Michele Tinker is a beautiful lady inside and out! She is kind, soft spoken, and very patient, yet means what she says. She makes learning fun using creative “hands on” projects to promote understanding the lesson better. She integrates the subjects to teach “real life” concepts.

The children love her and blossom under her hand. While teaching 4th grade in California, she received the PTA “Teacher of the Year” award. Quite an honor! My granddaughter has been with Mrs. Tinker for two grade levels and we have seen such tremendous growth in academics and maturity. We are so blessed to have found Mrs. Tinker and Brighthouse Learning Center!”

Ann Satterlee 2019

“Brighthouse Learning Center has been a true blessing for my daughter. She has only been there a few months and already has made significant academic progress. The small group atmosphere, 1:1 attention, and leveled learning has increased her confidence in her learning abilities and the feeling of being an equal to her peers. The staff are committed to guiding each individual student to reach their full potential and optimal growth. They are truly invested in my daughter as a student and a person. Brighthouse has made a positive difference in my daughter’s life.”

Rand and Michael Rutledge, 2021

“Brighthouse Learning has changed our son’s life for the better. This is his third year with Mrs. Tinker. She truly understands him, how he learns, his Autism/Asperger’s and how to bring out the best in him. She challenges him to work to his potential. She encourages him and accepts him just as he is, without trying to make him fit into a mold or trying to change him. 

 Mrs. Simon has gone out of her way to get to know our son and to help him to understand and express his feelings. She helps to provide him with valuable social skills that he definitely needs to be successful in the world. 

Mr. Jonnie has made school fun for our son by taking him for bike rides and assisting with projects. He is patient and kind. 

Brighthouse Learning has given our son a safe and supportive environment for learning and will be our choice for the rest of his high school career. We are beyond grateful to have found this wonderful place.”

Dan and Jennifer Spiak, 2021

“We have been very pleased with our choice of Michele Tinker at Brighthouse Learning Center for our daughter’s 9th grade educational program. Actually, it was our daughter’s choice to come to Brighthouse. We toured multiple home school tutors and she selected Mrs. Tinker to be her teacher. This “buy in” step has proved to be important as our daughter admires and respects Mrs. Tinker; and we have seen a direct impact on her level of effort and willingness to learn.

Our daughter has had issues with traditional classrooms in terms of her focus (she has ADD/ADHD) and her behavior (she has not always been cooperative or collaborative with other students). At Brighthouse, she has been motivated to learn and not get overwhelmed with the mechanics or process of a school. We have seen her grades improve, her rate of learning increase, better attention to academic detail and a renewed sense of pride in her schoolwork. We are grateful to Michele for her impact with our daughter.

Mrs. Tinker follows Louisiana State Standards and her selection of curriculum is parallel to other state accredited schools. She is extremely knowledgeable of different teaching approaches to meet the needs of individual children. Using these techniques, to engage students in literature, math, and biblical studies.

We also wish to celebrate the positive, encouraging atmosphere with regards to the other Brighthouse students. There is a friendship and comradery that has allowed our daughter to relax and begin enjoying her time “at school”. Homework is light where it had been overwhelming. Our daughter is now largely self-directed in terms of her study time and preparation for tests. Her confidence and self-concept have been restored. We are very grateful to Michele for her wisdom and guidance in this process.”

Jim & Theresa Currie 2019

“Our son has been attending Brighthouse Learning Center with Mrs. Tinker for a short period of time and we have already seen a huge difference both academically and behaviorally. Mrs. Tinker and Mrs. Simon are not only highly qualified, but have applied their knowledge and expertise in such a way that your child will not only benefit from an educational standpoint, but will also thrive socially and emotionally as they navigate through basic life skills that are equally important in today’s world. Both Mrs. Tinker and Mrs. Simon are extremely passionate about the work they’re doing and we are thrilled to have found Brighthouse!!”

Jason and Griselle Collins 2020

“My niece moved in with me in November of 2020 and has been attending Brighthouse school since January 2021 and the transformation I’ve seen in her has been truly remarkable! Prior to Brighthouse, my niece was in an alternative school, and was having lots of issues at home, and it was just not a healthy environment. For years, she was bullied and made fun for her stutter at school and developed a low self-esteem and seemed to be very immature for her age. In just a few months, she has grown in maturity, she is making straight A’s and is THRIVING, not just surviving!

Thanks to Mrs. Tinker, Mrs. Simon, and Mr. Johnny, Hannah has a new outlook on life and her self-esteem is better than ever before! She feels loved and not forgotten! I am so happy I found this school. It’s been truly life changing for my niece.”

Melissa Markiewicz, 2021

“My son was struggling with school due to the distant learning and constant quarantining at his public school. We decided to look for alternative options, such as home school, but my son needs to be in school to learn. We found Brighthouse Learning Center and took a tour to find out how it operated. My son liked it but still wanted to go visit another option before making a decision. We toured another center and my son told me in the car afterwards, “I want to go to Brighthouse”. Well, I can tell you that I am very satisfied and my son it doing very well at Brighthouse Learning Center. The relaxing/calming learning environment and personalized attention given to my son has made a world of difference in his learning. Brighthouse Learning Center has given my son great self-esteem and confidence with his learning. He calls me every time he gets a good grade on a test. I would highly recommend Brighthouse Learning Center to anyone looking for a great place for their children to learn.”
Troy Spencer, 2021

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21489 Koop Drive, Suite 3, Mandeville, LA 70471

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