Mindess EDP Staff Bios

MELISSA MERCON SMITH

Director (through Dec. 2021)

 

Melissa Mercon Smith began the Ashland Extended Day Program in 1989 and has enjoyed watching it grow and change over the past thirty-two 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 afterschool programs.


Melissa graduated in 1983 from Worcester State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Education and minors in Communication Disorders and Psychology. She received her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a Concentration in Creative Arts in 1995 from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Since that time, she has continued her graduate studies 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 four 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, Administrative Assistant, Breakfast Bunch Teacher, and Head Teacher. We are pleased to announce that Jen has assumed the role of Head Teacher at Mindess EDP this 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.

 

Prior to coming to EDP Ms. Jen 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
Afternoon Teacher
Breakfast Bunch Head 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 three 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 Program as an Educational Support Personnel working with students ages 11 – 15. Ms. Julie also 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 Mindess School.


RACHEL NEILSEN
Teacher

With a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and 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 for many years.

 

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 three 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 two years ago, and we couldn’t be happier that she will be here for year three.



SARAH BURKE
Teacher

Sarah is a newer member of the Mindess EDP family and came highly recommended by Ms. Hannah, a recommendation we are thrilled to have taken! 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 5 years, working with children in grades 1 through 5. These experiences served her well her first year, and we’re excited to see what her second year brings!


KATERINA LACROIX
Teacher

We welcomed Ms. Kat to EPD this school year in  October! She is a current Sophomore at Framingham State University, majoring in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Music. 

 

Ms. Kat has been volunteering with students since she was a senior in high school. Her first internship was in a Music and Technology classroom. Here she assisted with lessons, taught new skills, and was so highly desired other teachers began requesting her assistance in their classrooms. Once she enrolled at Framingham State University she quickly found another internship in their Early Childhood Center.


Ms. Kat has a passion for the performing arts. She has been an active member of the Burt Wood School of Performing Arts for as long as she can remember. She started as a student and most recently was a teacher. She enjoys teaching choreographed dance routines, songs, recital performances as well as leadership and improvisation skills. We are more than excited to see what she can bring to our Variety Show!

TAYLER VAN BUSKIRK

Director (as of January 2022)

 

Tayler Van Buskirk is starting her journey with the Ashland Extended Day program this year! Prior to joining us in Ashland, she was the Program Manager in Milford for their Community School Use Program. She has vast experience managing community programs including Extended Day, adult and children’s recreational and educational programs, town sponsored sports teams, and much more! Her unique insight into Extended Day programming excites us. She started working as an aide in high school and continued through the ranks ultimately leading her to the Director position here. 

 

Tayler graduated from Framingham State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology. In past years she has continued her education through the Massachusetts Recreation and Park Association. She plans to expand her knowledge base by joining the Network of Extended Day Directors. 

 

On the weekends you can find her outside enjoying time with her dog Benny and her family. She also enjoys trying new restaurants, testing new recipes and taking fitness classes of all kinds.


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 her 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 fourth 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 a 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 three 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.

 

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 five years ago, and it's always a pleasure to welcome back someone of Sam's caliber. Four years ago Sam was hired as an Aide at Mindess and then quickly stepped into the role of teacher. 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 developed a 3D Printing Club for the Mindess EDP, which the students love!

 

When he isn't at the Mindess EDP, Sam is a junior 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 eight years and has earned the rank of Cadet Captain.


SANDRA HARTNETT
Nurse

We are very fortunate to have Ms. Sandra Hartnett with us at Mindess Extended Day. Nurse Sandra joined the EDP family two years ago 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 – 2ndgrade 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. 



KELSEY D'ALLESSANDRO
Teacher

Kelsey is the newest member of Mindess EDP and comes highly recommended by Ms. Jen. She is a recent graduate of the University of Tampa with a degree in Criminal Justice.

Ms. Kelsey has plenty of experience working with children as she has spent her summers nannying for multiple families. She enjoyed getting to know their families and taking their children on fun summer adventures. When she is not working she is working out at the gym, reading, or spending time with friends and family. We are confident that she will feel right at home here!


SOPHIE PORTER
Aide

 

Sophie is a long-time member of the EDP family coming up through the program in a variety of roles. She is a former EDP student from Kindergarten through Grade 6 and most recently she spent time volunteering at the program. This year, she will be joining us in a permanent position as an aide and we could not be more thrilled to have her back! 

 

Sophie is currently in her junior year of high school here in Ashland. After school, she is a member of the field hockey and softball teams and loves to hit the ski slopes. She enjoys giving back to the community through the Make A Wish club and volunteering during the summer at local field hockey and softball camps.

Comments