Mindess EDP Staff Bios

MELISSA MERCON SMITH 
Director

Ms. Melissa Mercon Smith began the Ashland Extended Day Program in 1989 and has enjoyed watching it grow and change over the past thirty-one years. Prior to coming to Ashland, she was a kindergarten teacher in Shrewsbury, and before that she taught preschool. Melissa is a current member of N.E.D.D.S. (Network of Extended Day Directors) and has been a presenter at various conferences throughout Massachusetts on such topics as Social-Emotional Learning, Unique Gym Games for After School, Teamwork, and Field Trips - Fun or Fiasco for other professionals working in after school programs. 

Melissa graduated in 1983 from Worcester State College with a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education and minors in Communication Disorders and Psychology. She received her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a Concentration in the Creative Arts in 1995 from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Since that time, she has continued her graduate studies in the summers through Project Adventure exploring such topics as Adventure Programming and the Museum Institute for Teaching Science concentrating on various S.T.E.M. investigations.


JENNIFER CONCETTI
Head Teacher

Ms. Jennifer Concetti joined the Mindess EDP family three years ago, and has excelled beyond our expectations in a very short time. Originally hired as an afternoon teacher, she has served many roles, including Acting Head Teacher in the absence of the Director, Breakfast Bunch Teacher and Breakfast Bunch Head Teacher. We are pleased to announce that Jen will assume the role of Head Teacher in Training at Mindess EDP this year in anticipation of stepping into that role full time next year. A graduate of Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, Ms. Concetti earned a Bachelor's Degree in May, 2017, and she is currently enrolled in the Master's Program at Leslie University, studying Special Education.

Ms. Jennifer has served in a variety of capacities from working with upper elementary students in Nicaragua to volunteering for Habitat for Humanity to working in a nursery school and interning in the Framingham Public Schools. For the past three summers she worked with many Ashland students at the Ashland REC Program. An avid athlete and CrossFit enthusiast, we appreciate the excitement and enthusiasm Jen brings to EDP each day!


JULIE O'COIN
Teacher 

Sometimes the stars just align perfectly, and the right person comes through the door at the right time. This is what happened with Ms. Julie O'Coin two years ago. With a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood from Salem State University, and experience working with students in preschool through age 16, Ms. Julie brings the whole package. If you have younger children, you may recognize her from the three summers that she spent working as a teacher's aide in the Ashland Preschool. Other jobs have found her working as a Middle School basketball and softball volunteer and serving as the Assistant Volleyball Coach for the Puma Volleyball Club where she emphasized confidence and working towards developing players emotionally.

Most recently, Ms. Julie worked at the Ashland Middle School Summer Porgram as an Educational Support Personnel, working with students ages 11 - 15. In addition, Ms. Julie has been the Arts and Crafts Program Specialist for Camp Laurel Wood for the Girl Scouts of America, working with girls ages 5 through 16. In addition to planning and implementing the arts and crafts program, she was involved in the Imagineers STEM program, Wednesday Interest Groups, and All Camp Theme Weeks. Prior to coming to EDP each afternoon, Julie works as an ESP at the Ashland Middle School.

RACHEL NEILSEN
Teacher

With a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a minor in Education from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Ms. Rachel Neilsen brings a varied background and skill set to EDP. Ms. Rachel's most relevant experience has been as a Co-Director at the Ashland Recreation Center summer program, working with students ages 5 through 12. She has been responsible for designing and implementing programs and themed activities, as well as supervising other staff.

In addition to her time at the Ashland REC Center, Ms. Rachel has worked as a substitute teacher in the Ashland Public Schools for almost two years, mainly at the high school. She is also a preschool teacher at Little Folk Farm. With her organization skills, group management, and kind and gentle nature, Rachel was a welcome addition to our team last year, and we couldn't be happier that she will be here for year two.

SARAH BURKE
Teacher

Sarah was the newest member of the Mindess EDP family last year and came highly recommended by Ms. Hannah. Currently a student at Framingham State University, she is majoring in Early Childhood Education with a minor in English and also is on the field hockey team.

Ms. Burke's teaching journey began way back in high school when she participated in the Preschool Lab for 2 years. Since that time she has worked as an Aide and Camp Counselor for Magic Years in Braintree as well as a nanny for the past 4 years, working with children in grades 1 through 5. These experiences served her well last year, and we're excited to see what this year brings!



JANET PEGORARO 
Administrative Assistant 

Ms. Janet Pegoraro has been the right arm of the Extended Day Program since March of 1993, and has been an invaluable resource for us. Before coming to Ashland, she worked for the Framingham Public School System for several years. Ms. Pegoraro's duties run the gamut from bookkeeping to assisting with the children at our special events to tracking down unique materials we request.

When Ms. Pegoraro is not engaged with the Mindess Extended Day Program, she is kept busy with the Warren program. She manages to juggle her time between the two programs quite successfully, and we are grateful for her initiative, integrity, and experience. 


NATALIE MONTGOMERY
Teacher 

Natalie first came to our attention a couple of years ago when she came to do several days of observations for a field study class she was taking at Mass Bay. Watching the ease with which Natalie talked to the students and how quickly she connected with the staff, I couldn't help but be impressed. This prompted me to reach out to reach out two years ago to invite her to come back for an interview. Our meeting only served to prove that my instincts were correct, and we were thrilled when Natalie accepted a position with EDP. We're even happier to report that she will be returning for her third year. Ms. Montgomery graduated with honors in 2018 with an Associate Degree in Elementary Education and Liberal Arts. She has been continuing her studies at Framingham State University with the ultimate goal of pursuing degree in Special Education.

Prior to EDP, Ms. Natalie worked with at risk youth, particularly girls aged 12 - 14, offering them support in a group home setting. She is certified in Crisis Prevention Intervention, CPR, and First Aid.

HANNAH MURRIN
Teacher

Ms. Hannah Murrin joined EDP two years ago, and quickly became one of the family, adapting to the program like a duck takes to water. Hannah is currently a student at Framingham State University, studying Elementary Education and Sociology. With a strong childcare background, Ms. Hannah adds a lot of excitement to our program. She has worked at Harrison Summer Recreation Camp in Harrison, Maine for four years as well as the Goldfish Swim School in Braintree, MA. Most recently she worked at the Ashland Public School's summer program this past summer.

In addition to her schooling and work experiences, Ms. Hannah has been involved in the Make A Wish Foundation by having a golf tournament each year. She's also been a volunteer at her church, working to create Thanksgiving food baskets. With her generous nature, Ms. Hannah fits right in with our EDP family.

SAM HOULE
Teacher 

Sam Houle is a former EDP student (7 years) who stepped up to volunteer at EDP four years ago, and it's always a pleasure to welcome back someone of Sam's caliber. Three years ago Sam was hired as an Aide at Mindess and partway through last year he stepped into the role of teacher, which he will continue with this year. He is second to none when it comes to being a role model for the EDP students, and he can always be depended upon to step in wherever he is needed. We are especially excited that Sam has developed a 3D Printing Club for the Mindess EDP which he will launch this fall.

When he isn't at the Mindess EDP, Sam is a sophomore at Framingham State University majoring in History with a Teacher Preparation Concentration. He also has been involved with the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program for seven years and has earned the rank of Cadet Captain.


SANDRA HARTNETT
Nurse

We are very fortunate this year to have Ms. Sandra Hartnett with us at Mindess Extended Day. Nurse Sandra joined the EDP family last year at the Warren EDP, and "graduated" to be here with the 3rd - 6th graders. However, she also will be available, if necessary, for the K - 2 students as well. With a nursing background that  spans everything from Metrowest Medical Center to Sudbury Pines Extended Care, we know we are in good hands with Nurse Sandra. In addition to her nursing experience, she has been an active volunteer for the Relay for Life as well as at Connecting Point Church in Marlborough. As if all of this was not enough, we are happy to say that Nurse Sandra is also fluent in Portuguese, which will come in handy with our bi-lingual families. Welcome to Mindess, Nurse Sandra – we’re sure you’ll find a happy home here!..


LINDSAY SHOREY
Breakfast Bunch Head Teacher 

Look who's back!! Ms. Lindsay Shorey was a beloved EDP teacher for many years and left five years ago to become a 5th grade classroom teacher here at the Mindess School. However, because you never really get EDP out of your system once you're part of the family, she rejoined us four years ago as part of the Breakfast Bunch staff.

A graduate of Salve Regina University, Ms. Shorey was Captain of the basketball team as well as the Commonwealth Coast Conference Rookie of the Year. In addition to her time at EDP, Lindsay was an ESP at the Mindess School for several years, a long term substitute, and coach of Dave Cowen's Basketball Camp. We are thrilled to have her back on the EDP Team. Welcome home, Ms. Lindsay!


SHELLY NEERMAN
Teacher's aide

Ms. Shelly Neerman came to our attention last January when she approached us about offering a Dance Club at no cost to the students' families. This kind of generosity is rare, especially in a high school student, and it seemed too good to be true. Ms. Shelly was true to her word and exceeded our expectations on every level. With many years of dance experience under her belt, Shelly created a dance program for the Mindess EDP students from the ground up, managing every aspect of its creation and execution.

The most amazing piece of this whole experience was that once we went to remote learning, Shelly never missed a beat and continued to offer zoom classes on a weekly basis, exploring jazz, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, and improv with the students. It was this level of initiative and integrity that led us to offer Shelly and aide position for this year, and we are excited to see what else she has in store for us!
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