Each educator at CNS has outstanding experience, advanced training or degrees, and a commitment to ongoing professional development. Above all, every one of them loves to guide children through the process and joys of real discovery.
Co-Founder & Co-Director
Kelly Pellagrini brings more than 15 years experience in early childhood education. In addition to a B.A. from Bates College, Kelly holds Masters degrees from Smith College and Lesley University, in Curriculum and Teaching and Bilingual Early Childhood Education, respectively. Currently, she is part of the first cohort of early childhood leaders at the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at Harvard. She has worked as a teacher, administrator and curriculum coordinator at the Saint Francis School in Moravia, Costa Rica, public schools in Amherst and Boston, Massachusetts, and at the Smith College Lab School. She has served on the Mayor Advisory Committee for 0-5 School Readiness, and has been active in creating early childhood programs throughout the area. She recently received an Unsung Heroine Award for her extensive civic involvement. In addition to her work at CNS, she serves as an advisor to many schools as well as mentor, instructor and advocate in early childhood. She writes, speaks and consults on early childhood research. She was the lead organizer for the Wonder of Learning Boston. When not at CNS, she enjoys time with her family, especially playing with her two children who continue to inspire her work.
Cady has over 15 years of experience working as a teacher and administrator in independent schools. She has a B.S. from Boston University and a M. Ed. from Lesley University, with a focus on Creative Arts in Learning. Recently, she was part of the first cohort of early childhood leaders at the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at Harvard. She started as a Lead Teacher in an independent primary school, teaching grades 4, 5, and 6 with an emergent curriculum. Inspired by the Reggio Approach, Cady then went on to develop a fine art curriculum while teaching studio art and art history classes to preschool- 5th grade. She was the Director of a large summer day camp on Cape Cod for ten years. As a former Gallery Instructor at the MFA, she is trained in VTS and continues to practice and study the methodology. In addition to her work at CNS, she enjoys teaching and playing with her three young children.
Prior to joining the team at CNS, Tara worked for over 8 years in public accounting for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Boston, New York City and London. She has a B.S. in Accounting from Alfred University and is a former CPA. Tara joined CNS in 2012 first as a room parent when her oldest son started in the toddler program, then as part of the board in the Assistant Treasurer position and now as part of the administrative team, helping with the bookkeeping and finances for the school. She enjoys baking, excel spreadsheets, and spending time with her four children.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jessica Seney, Board President
Elizabeth Chiu, Vice President
Karen Kerr, Secretary
Josh Bresler, Treasurer
Jeanne Huang, Assistant Treasurer
Melanie Wachtell Stinnett
Karen Tompros, Emeritus
PEARL DELALI ABITI
Pearl Abiti is entering her second year at Charlestown Nursery School. Pearl joins us from a Reggio Emilia-inspired school at the University of Vermont, where she taught Pre-K for two years. Pearl is a licensed teacher and earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education at the University of Vermont, where she was also a student-athlete on the UVM Track Team. She was the team caption, heptathlete, gold medal pentathlete, and all-around indoor MVP winner. Her athleticism and joy for movement are both present in her work with children. Pearl strongly values relationships and creating authentic experiences in a dynamic learning environment. Whether it is inside the classroom or in the natural world, Pearl’s work reflects her value and respect for children as competent citizens. She is constantly finding inspiration and ideas from the educators in Reggio Emilia and through professional development and conferences nearer to home. Pearl is honored to have visited three Reggio-inspired schools in New York City in the last year. She believes that children are curious and learn best through exploration and play that is thoughtfully guided by their teachers. Recently, she has started Reggio-inspired Affinity PLAYgroups for early childhood educators and children ages 3-8. Outside of the classroom, Pearl enjoys staying active and spending time with friends and family.
Kate is a third-year teacher at Charlestown Nursery School. A graduate of the University of Vermont, one of the most well-respected lab schools, Kate has refined her practice at the Campus Children’s Center, Radcliffe Child Care, and Reggio Emilia, where she was fortunate to have visited for a study group. She is constantly finding joy and inspiration from the Reggio philosophy and is particularly captivated by all the possibilities that present themselves when the child is viewed as a capable and active participant in their learning journey. She enjoys forming relationships with the children, the families, and colleagues. When not at school, Kate loves being outside whether it’s running, hiking, or relaxing at the beach.
Marlene Calixto has been a caregiver and early childhood educator at Charlestown Nursery School since our beginning. After decades of work with young children in our community, she joined CNS over 5 years ago to complement her early childhood studies at Bunker Hill Community College and her teacher certification. She comes with years of training and experience in the “CNS approach”. She has studied with us and joined our professional development for almost a decade. She works closely with the Greenway, toddler team and she has offered some of our programmings in Spanish.
Coach & Consultant
Nancy has been teaching for over 25 years and is now serving as a consultant and coach at Charlestown Nursery School. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, she has worked at many early childhood centers, including the Harvard Radcliffe Center, and managing her own. She worked closely with the Child Development Department while at Harvard in both the practice and training of new educators. She has extensive training in the Reggio Emilia approach, including being chosen to travel to Reggio Emilia on a study tour. She also recently attended a study tour in New Zealand. She brings a particular interest in nature and environmental education to the classroom. She has been instrumental in designing our summer, afternoon, and @home programs. In addition to teaching and learning, she enjoys photography, dancing, crafts, bicycle tours, and time with her family.
Bridget enters her fifth year teaching at Charlestown Nursery School. Her daughter attended CNS in the first years and she is thrilled to be coming back to join the faculty team. She has over 15 years working with young children, the last 6 of those as an educator and administrator in her own home-based program. She holds a MEd from Suffolk University. She spent several years working as a school counselor with both elementary and middle school students. Bridget is excited to bring her love of nature and early literacy to the classroom. When she is away from school she spends a lot of time volunteering in local organizations, sharing her love of the city with her own 3 children, reading, and running.
Stephanie has been teaching for over 15 years and has been at CNS since our early years. A graduate of Emerson College, she has a master's degree in communication disorders. As a speech and language pathologist, she has experience working with children and adults in rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and early intervention programs. She brings a particular interest and expertise in language and literacy development. She recently attended a study tour to Reggio Emilia served as a guide The Wonder of Learning and worked at the Boston Children's Museum. Besides teaching and learning, she enjoys reading, traveling, and sailing with her family.
Carly has been working with young children for over 15 years. Since 2007, she has been inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and embraces this approach both in the classroom as well as in her life outside of school. With a master’s degree in children’s literature and bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Reading, writing, and storytelling with children are especially close to her heart. She also loves traveling the world and learning from new experiences outside of her comfort zone. Recently, she joined a study tour with Bank Street to see the schools in Morocco. Apart from learning alongside and being inspired by children, Carly enjoys creating art, writing, and volunteering with and for her neighbors in our diverse community.
Lauren is entering her fifth year teaching preschool and pre-kindergarten. She moved to Boston after completing her master's degree in early childhood education from The University of Hartford with a concentration in Early Literacy. In Boston, she taught at Harvard Affiliate school where she received extensive professional development on social-emotional development and anti-bias education. She has enjoyed expanding her experience around the Reggio Emilia approach at CNS, creating a safe and inspiring community for students to learn and grow! Outside of the classroom, she enjoys cooking, baking, and traveling as well as spending time with her family and dog, Teddy.
Riverway, Greenway Support
Jennipher Ray is one of the original founders of Charlestown Nursery School. In addition to sending her daughter, she served as both president and co-director at the school. She brings extensive experience in the “CNS approach”. Her background is as an HR manager at PWC and has been a leader and volunteer in various non-profit organizations. Most recently, she tutored recent immigrants as Write Boston at Boston International Academy. Last year, she joined the Riverway cohort and now, will join Olmsted.
VALERIE FONTANA SHULMAN
Valerie enters her fourth year at Charlestown Nursery School. She joined our community from an apprentice program at Shady Hill School. In addition to her teaching experience, she has a degree in architecture from the College of Environmental Design at the University of California. She enthusiastically embraces the Reggio Approach principle of the Environment as the Third Teacher. Valerie brings over a decade of experience as a designer into the classroom, which shares the teaching practices of careful observation, deep listening, and connection-building. She is inspired by the children-- their ideas and their resilience-- and looks forward, each year, to building relationships together while working on collaborative, artful projects. Valerie was grateful to attend the 2019 Boulder Journey School conference, "Contemporary Conversations Surrounding Early Childhood Education", which provided an opportunity to exchange ideas with educators from around the country and the world and gain new insights of the Reggio Approach. Recently, Valerie collaborated with Julia Soyer on a breakout session at the 2019 BARIN conference, "What ALL children Deserve: Dialogue on the Rights of Children", sharing the story of Esplanade’s year-long food truck inquiry as a lens to view the rights of children to be active agents in learning. Valerie lives in Cambridge and enjoys an active lifestyle within her neighborhood. Outside of school, she loves art and making things, dancing and playing volleyball, nature walks, and volunteering for various initiatives. Environmentally conscious, she is a committed bicycle commuter.
Julia has been working with children for over 16 years, most of those years as an early childhood teacher. She holds a MEd in elementary education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, a MA in theater history from Tufts University, and a BA in theater studies from Wellesley College. Julia has explored and been inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach for a number of years. She is especially drawn to Reggio’s focus on relationship, discovery, and the classroom as a collaborative and joyous learning community. The chance to attend the 2019 Boulder Journey School conference, Contemporary Conversations Surrounding Early Childhood Education, offered an opportunity to meet with educators from around the country and the world and to gain new inspiration from the Reggio Approach and the work of David and Frances Hawkins. Most recently, Julia was excited to collaborate with Valerie Fontana Shulman on a breakout session at the 2019 BARIN conference, What ALL children Deserve: Dialogue on the Rights of Children. Their session focused on the right of children to be agents in their learning and drew on a year-long food truck inquiry. Outside of school, Julia enjoys sewing, learning Mandarin and Spanish, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
Jessica has worked in early childhood education for over a decade in a variety of formal and informal settings, public, charter, and private schools, as well as in museums. This is her third year teaching preschool at CNS. She studied Arts in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, English at Boston College, art at the New York Studio School, and participated in a study tour of the municipal preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. In addition to teaching at CNS, Jessica works as a consultant specializing in arts-based learning, classroom environments, and documentation, and has presented about place-based education to educators from all over the world.
Lise has been teaching at schools in the Boston area for 15 years. She has a MS in child development from Wheelock College and a BA in English from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Lise has been studying the Reggio Emilia approach since 2000 through coursework, trainings, study groups, and conferences. She spent 8 years as a teacher-researcher at Harvard’s Peabody Terrace Children’s Center, working with her colleagues to transform the center into a Reggio-inspired school. Lise is particularly interested in how children develop relationships with materials and how children’s questions inspire learning. With Stephanie, she went on a study tour to Reggio Emilia and has served as a guide for visiting educators at CNS. She also teaches educators at the university level as part of the Lesley-Bunker Hill collaborative, coaches at the Epiphany Early Learning Center, and facilitates workshops for educators. Recently, Lise has been studying nature-based early childhood education and focusing on how to foster a relationship with nature among young children in an urban environment. Away from the classroom, Lise enjoys producing theater with children, reading, and spending time outside with her family.