About Us

Philosophy

New Bedford Children believes that the true purpose of early childhood education is to support the child’s whole development toward becoming active and engaged members of our society. Our primary objective is to instill a life-long love of learning in New Bedford children.

We believe that schools for young children should be more than the simple “daycares,” as they are often perceived to be, and can offer more than just preparing them for primary school. We believe children’s experiences at school should be rich with complexity so as to promote deep thinking and learning.

Our work is deeply grounded in research, especially in the fields of child development and neuroscience. At New Bedford Children, we view every child as capable, respect the importance of this critical time of development and work to promote the field of early childhood as a whole. And, we aspire to foster those same sensibilities in others.

 

We believe that children’s’ school experiences are important to our community as a whole. To invest in early childhood is to invest in our city, in our families, our people, and in both our future and our present. We believe it is the responsibility of our community, not just parents, to generate and facilitate these rich learning opportunities for our youngest citizens.

It is inherent in our philosophy that we grow with the New Bedford community and adapt to serve this beautiful community. Consequently our strategies and goals will change over time to meet the needs of the people in our city. However, no matter what, New Bedford Children is here to partner with the New Bedford community to promote and ensure every child’s right to a high-quality early childhood education.

Our Vision

To be a beacon for children and families in New Bedford by establishing a network of schools committed to nurturing the optimal growth and development of children from birth to age six.

 

Who We Are

Marissa Fay-Martin

Executive Director/Board President

Marissa Fay-Martin is the founder of New Bedford Children. She began her journey toward founding the organization in 2011 when she took a summer job working at a child care center that served children from Dartmouth and New Bedford. She fell in love with the children and desired more for them. She devoted the next 9 years to learning all she could about child development and early childhood education.  During this time she was introduced to the work of the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy and again fell in love. In 2017 she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Art Education from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and in 2019 received her Masters degree in Education and Human Learning at the University of Colorado Denver through the Boulder Journey Schools’ Teacher Education Program. In 2018 she traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy  as part of her studies for the Teachers and Professors Study tour. For four years Marissa worked as a teacher, and studio art teacher at various high quality early childhood centers. Marissa is driven by her belief that high quality childcare is a birthright of ALL children, not only for wealthy and privileged communities. She feels called to share what she has learned with the New Bedford community, the city that she calls home.

  

marissa.fm@newbedfordchildren.org

 

Allegra Taylor

Vice President

Allegra Taylor is an early childhood consultant in Cambridge. She has had a diverse career in early childhood education and child development, having taught in several states and in the United Kingdom. Allegra has been working in the field of early childhood for 15+ years as a teacher, mentor, director, parent educator, and consultant. Allegra strives to support children, families, and teachers to feel successful during the often challenging times of early childhood. Allegra holds a Masters degree in Child Development from Tufts University and a Bachelors degree in Child Studies and Psychology from Bennington College. Allegra lives in Cambridge with her husband and her cat, Ike.

 

Yasmin Flefleh-Vincent

Board Member

Yasmin has worked as an educator in the region in many capacities and has long been a community advocate.  After receiving her B.A. and Early Childhood Education Certificate from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and then a Masters of Arts in Teaching from UMASS Dartmouth, Yasmin continues to imbue the love of learning, nature and art by working with children and families in the community.

 

Yasmin has taught Kindergarten for the Fairhaven Public Schools, was the Director of the New Bedford Jewish Community Early Childhood Center, a Literacy Facilitator for Smiles and a member of the Education Committee for the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. Yasmin participates in the monthly Art, History, Architecture {AHA} adventures in downtown New Bedford and is a member of the YWCA Greater New Bedford Womxn’s Alliance. Currently she works as the Religious Education Director at the First Unitarian Church in New Bedford and as a related teacher for the Early Childhood Education and Teaching Program at the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School. At GNB Voc-Tech she teaches courses like introduction to early childhood, curriculum development and behavior management in addition to hands-on classroom opportunities. Her role includes working with the high school students as they become teacher assistants, and  guiding workforce development while the seniors are in the community on coop at various early childhood centers.

 

Peter (Lonelle) Walker

Board Member

After overcoming his tough upbringing of being raised in the inner-city projects of Boston and genuinely needing a fresh start, Peter moved to New Bedford in 2011. He was quick to volunteer with 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment, where he spent the next decade of his life living by the organizational mission to engage, unite, and activate the community through hip hop culture and mentorship to become transformative leaders. Peter used his life experiences and unique perspective to produce programming that provided not only platforms to harness artistic talents, but also instilled education as the root of his efforts. 

 

Peter volunteered his way up to being the Music Director for the annual 3rd EyE Open Hip Hop festival and Program Manager for 3rd EyE. And, in 2019, Peter was nominated for the South Coast Leadership Award. 3rd EyE was chosen as the recipient of grant for the Art Is Everywhere initiative and the leadership team selected Peter as the 1st ever Project Manager of this entire series.

 

In 2020, when the nation was confronted with massive political and civil divides, Peter took on the role of helping facilitate and mentor young Black Lives Matters activists in New Bedford, while remaining active in leading the charge in peaceful protests in Boston. Deciding to take action beyond protests, Peter founded The Communal Space New Bedford.

 

Peter was also a recent honoree of The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus at the Black Excellence on the Hill award ceremony.

 

Lesley Guertin

Board Member

Lesley Guertin has been in the Early Childhood field for over 25 year.  She has worked in many diverse areas; private preschool programs, Head Start and public school. Her concentration is children at risk, special education and intervention. She has also been a state and national advocate for early childhood education for the last 15 years. Lesley has conducted many trainings for educators in the past on various topics of need.

  

Lesley currently resides in Fall River with my husband and four cats.  She has 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren.

 

Sean Carney, Esq.

Board Member

Sean Carney is a native of New Bedford and has lived in the City exclusively, excepting his college years. Sean attended high school at Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech before enrolling at Providence College where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Theatre. After graduating from Providence College in 2013, Sean was accepted to Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island. There, he focused his studies on admiralty and maritime, business associations, and environmental law; graduating cum laude. Sean is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and serves as In-House Counsel for the Boston-based commercial real estate brokerage firm, Payson Smith Holbrook, Inc. 

Prior to his professional development, Sean earned nearly ten years of childcare experience at the Mattapoisett YMCA. There, he worked his way through the summer camp and afterschool care curriculum from junior camp counselor to the camp’s program director and site coordinator. He now chairs the Mattapoisett YMCA Board of Advisors and sits on the Board of Directors for YMCA Southcoast. Sean is also the President of the Mark J. Fitzsimmons Memorial Scholarship Fund, an organization dedicated to producing and distributing funds to high school seniors for use in higher education or trade schools. 

 

Sean is very excited to serve on the Board of Directors for New Bedford Children, and focuses his efforts on nonprofit compliance, fundraising, and creating strategic partnerships with various members of the Greater New Bedford community.

 

Mary Geisser

Board Member

Mary is an Early Childhood Educator, an Art Educator and a visual artist. She served as a tenured professor at Bunker Hill Community College where she was the Chair of the Early Childhood Education Department. She worked as an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University, Endicott College, UMass Dartmouth and Fisher College. Mary has served on the boards of The RI Art Education Association and the Massachusetts Art Education Association as the first Early Childhood Education Representative in both states. As a board member for the Boston Area Reggio Inspired Group for 5 years, she expanded diversity and access of the programs. Mary has worked as a college professor, a classroom teacher, a teaching artist, and consultant in the field of Early Childhood Education. Currently Mary is currently a preschool teacher at Learning Brooke Early Childhood Center in RI and is writing for Davis Educational publications.

 

Michael Concillier

Board Member

Michael Concillier is the Executive Director of Massachusetts programs for Meeting Street. He holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Grove City College, MA in Community Counseling - Slippery Rock University and an MBA - University of Rhode Island. He is a licensed Mental Health Counselor. He is a member on the Board of Directors for Providence Community Health Center and the Executive Committee for Leadership Rhode Island.

 

Throughout his career he has worked to support children and families as they pursue their educational, clinical, and life goals and truly believes in every child and families' ability to thrive and choose their own path. He believes that every child has limitless potential.