OUR TEAM

Comprised of dedicated professionals who model strong ethics and a collaborative attitude.

Each team member brings his or her individual style and experience to create a positive learning environment. The FCS team members receive specialized training in the Education With Insight philosophy and all hold credentials in areas of their specialties. 

ADMINISTRATION

Jeanine Fitzgerald

Founder, Fitzgerald Community School

Jeanine draws on more than 35 years of professional experience to empower teachers and parents to achieve more with children “at risk.” With experience as a certified teacher, mental health professional and mother of three grown children, she understands the promise of every child, as well as the diversity of their needs.

Certified Human Behavior Specialist
As a certified Human Behavior Consultant and Specialist, and Owner of The Fitzgerald Institute of Lifelong Learning, Jeanine specializes in research-based strategies in educational leadership, relationship-building, motivation, preventing the factors that compromise the fulfillment of a child’s maximum potential and implementing positive interventions in “real life” settings. She understands the daily struggles and frustrations of educators and parents, and honors the “hero within” each individual she has the privilege to work along side.

Speaker, Consultant and Trainer
As a speaker, consultant and master trainer, Jeanine has worked with thousands of children, professionals and parents across the country. The settings have been varied and included keynote presentations for The Child Welfare League of America, The New England Association for the Education of Young Children, The New England Head Start Association, The Vermont Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, The Children’s Trust Fund, and The Family Child Care Association of New York State. In addition, Jeanine has taught at the college level and presented on the campuses of The University of Rhode Island, Bryant University, Lyndon State College, and Harvard University. She is recognized on the federal level as an approved trainer in the fields of education, disabilities and mental health.

Author
As an author, Jeanine has published The Dance of Interaction and a national training program entitled Education with Insight. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her second and third books, Educating the Heart and Through the Eyes of A Child. Jeanine has appeared on public television in four states, and currently has air time in her home state of Massachusetts.

Erin Fournier

Head of School

With a degree from Westfield State University, Erin began her career in education in the public schools. After just a few short years in the system, it became clear to her that she wanted to create an environment where every child felt visible, valued and supported. Where every child had the freedom to learn at their own pace and in the ways that worked best for them. A place where children could be comfortable and feel love and caring from the adults whom they interacted with each day. Shortly after this realization, Erin took Jeanine Fitzgerald’s, Education with Insight training series and completed a year long internship to become a Certified Human Behavior Consultant and Specialist. This was Erin’s path for seven years.

In 2014, Jeanine and Erin were finally able to live out their dream of opening the Fitzgerald Community School. Their independent learning community is the fulfillment of a lifelong vision. They are thrilled to offer families the opportunity to be a part of truly caring, engaging and exciting learning experience! Erin resides in Shrewsbury with her family.

Josh Backstrom

Executive Assistant

Born and raised in Worcester, MA, Josh was a student of the Worcester Public School systems, as well as private high school before entering into Worcester State College. There he studied Communications, as well as Elementary Education. For the past 10 years, Josh has been a part of the ABA field, providing services as a Behavioral Technician to those on the Autism Spectrum. As the Executive Assistant at Fitzgerald Community School, Josh supports both the administration and the learning coaches in their roles. Josh resides in Worcester and enjoys comic books, being outdoors, exercise, and building strong relationships.

Meet Our Learning Coaches

Briana Postale

Elementary Learning Coach

Briana has been in the childcare and elementary education fields for the past 6 years. Briana received her bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and Mathematics for Education from Worcester State University. She began her teaching career in the public school system experiencing both small town and city schools. Before this, Briana worked as a nanny, building lifelong relationships with the families she worked with. Her love for math led her to tutor a wide range of individuals from elementary and high school-aged children to prospective teachers. Briana’s goal is to foster a love of learning in her students by allowing their curiosity and creativity to guide lessons.

While not at school, Briana enjoys calligraphy and DIY home projects, as well as road-trips with her fiancé.

Jillian Kelley

Elementary Learning Coach

Jillian has earned her bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Fitchburg State University. During her time there she pursued a minor in History and was a founding member of a campus organization called “Feminist Conversation.” In addition to her undergraduate experience, she has spent the last seven years progressing from camp counselor to co-director of summer programming at Turn Back Time, a nature based education program. Jillian is excited to be joining The Fitzgerald Institute. She hopes to apply aspects of her personal teaching philosophy, which is inspired by Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences.

In her free time, Jillian enjoys spending time in nature, reading and remaining involved in local activism.

Nicole Belanger

Elementary Learning Coach

Nicole has worked with children for 15 years. As an educator at Turn Back Time, a nature-based education program, Nicole inspired learners’ confidence and curiosity through hands-on projects and farm and forest time. Nicole has also worked as a school librarian, partnering with teachers, children, and their families to foster a love of learning. For her, listening to a child’s interests and helping provide experiences to support their growth is a unique privilege.

Nicole’s passion for inquiry based learning and play is rooted in early experiences exploring the woods near her childhood home. She is motivated by honoring children and fostering a culture that respects their needs and voices. Nicole is a community builder who loves sharing joyful experiences. At home, she enjoys reading, friendship, exploring nature, and gardening with her family at their urban homestead in Worcester.

Maria Ravelli

Learning Coach

Maria has been in the education field for almost 10 years, working with individuals across the spectrum of life, from infancy into young adulthood. She acquired her degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently continuing her education at Worcester State University, with a focus in Early Childhood Development and Psychology. Maria is a Registered Behavioral Therapist, and has experience working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, teaching functional behavioral alternatives and emotional regulation. During her experience in both classroom and clinical settings, she has developed her teaching philosophy, which is rooted in social emotional learning and mindful teaching.

Maria enjoys camping with her family, spending time with her pets and practicing habits in sustainable living!

Carissa Seminoff

Learning Coach

Carissa has been in the early education field for over 10 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Fitchburg State College and has worked with military children as a preschool teacher in Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and then as a library Storytime volunteer in Camp Humphrey’s, South Korea. She worked as a preschool teacher at Applewild Preschool Devens, a Reggio inspired nature school in Massachusetts, for the past 4 years, and discovered a passion for child led, nature-based learning and the benefits of emergent curriculum. She is children’s yoga certified and helped to develop and implement a yoga and mindfulness curriculum during her time there.

In her off time, Carissa spends her days with her two children and husband and enjoys yoga, bike riding, hiking, crafting and reading.

Ali Needham

Preschool Learning Coach Ali has been working directly with children in different capacities for over 10 years. She started off as a nanny, building strong relationships with the families she worked for. After graduating from Bridgewater State University in 2017, she worked in the New Bedford public school system as a preschool teacher. During winter of that year, Ali took Jeanine’s Education With Insight training program and realized what her views of education looked like. In the Fall of 2018, she started working at Fitzgerald Community School as a floating assistant, later on becoming a learning coach. In her spare time, Ali likes to go on walks, read, spend time with her friends and family, and snuggle her dog, Cooper.

Heather Byczkowski

Preschool Learning Coach

Heather began studying early childhood education in her junior year through a two-year “Child Study” course offered at her high school. Through this program she had the opportunity to study toward and earn her EEC preschool teacher licensing, and she began working in a small childcare center soon after graduating in 2007. During her time at this center, Heather attended early childhood courses at local colleges, furthering her EEC credentials. After a few years, Heather took some time off to start her family and raise her babies. While at home, she babysat and nannied for several different families with whom she still has wonderful relationships. As her children grew older she knew she wanted to get back into the classroom, and with some life experience under her belt she now had a clear vision of the type of environment she wanted to contribute to. The Fitzgerald Community School aligns closely with Heather’s own personal teaching philosophy, with honoring children at the core of all she aspires to do.

In her free time Heather enjoys being in nature with her family, caring or her many houseplants, reading, and painting then hiding kindness rocks for others to find!

Meet Our Specialists

Amy Crossin

Art Specialist

Amy holds a B.F.A from Anna Maria College where she majored in Fine Arts and minored in Education and Psychology and received a Master’s in Expressive Therapies from Lesley University. She left a career in the non-profit sector to raise her family, but continued to work as an artist and hold volunteer positions focused on education and teaching. When her two daughters were school age, she became a pre-school teacher.

Amy is the founder of a home-based art program called The Parading Palette, where she introduces children to the great art masters through play, stories, and art projects. She lives in North Grafton with her daughters and husband, Dan.

Krista Gordon

Yoga Specialist

Krista Gordon, founder & educator for Tranquil Little One, is a certified Yoga teacher for children from 6 weeks old up to teenagers, a Reiki Practitioner & strategy partner for families looking to add movement and mindfulness into their everyday practice. As a mother of two children with Anxiety and Sensory Processing issues, she understands the need for having additional tools in your toolbox! She has made it her mission to empower children and their families to learn a variety of easy strategies to use at any time. By teaching specific yoga poses & flows, breathing techniques, mindfulness exercises, brain organization skills, and body/emotion check in’s, families learn valuable strategies while having fun! Krista currently brings yoga to children in wellness studios and schools either in group classes or one on one sessions. Students and families regularly mention the positive impact that Krista’s work has on their lives and she is grateful to have the opportunity to work with each and every one of them.

Other

Krystal Perry

After Care Coach

Krystal is a proud mom of two young boys and has worked with children for over 8 years. As an educator at the GECO Homeschool Co-op, she planned and taught hands-on classes for pre-school and elementary-aged children, exploring topics such as nature and environmental stewardship, as well as providing educational experiences in cultural awareness and diversity. Krystal studied Human Services at Quinsigamond Community College. She has worked in elder care services and loves caring for people of all ages. Her approach to life is that everyone deserves to be heard, loved, and accepted exactly as they are.Krystal loves the outdoors. She finds great joy in adventuring with her boys, exploring new places and making memories. She enjoys camping, hiking, and caring for her ever-growing population of houseplants.

Board of Adivsors

Judi Zalles

Director of Kesher Nevatim. Passion, experience, perspective, partnership, and purpose are at the core of her work to support and empower students, educators, program directors and Boards. Above all else she is an advocate for our children: honoring their uniqueness and the special time of childhood. She has a diverse experience and range of perspectives gained through varying roles in the private sector, Head Start, college instruction, Montessori Teacher Training, ECE advisory councils, Board memberships, workshop and conference presentations, and private consulting and coaching.

Jackie Downing

Early Childhood Educator, Center Founder/Director with 27 years of experience. Assessed preschools in accreditation process with the NAEYC for eight years, helped build a few playgrounds, chaired various early childhood organizations and taught pediatric first aid. Still enjoying the profession!

Brooke Giroux

Marketing Director for Giroux Electrical Contractors, Inc. with over 15 years experience in marketing, from startups to corporate. Her passion for entrepreneurship developed at an early age as she watched her parents run a business importing gourmet Italian food. She built on that foundation by attending Babson College and working at two startups before moving into the corporate sector. Throughout her career she has developed anything from branding strategies to lead generation campaigns. Her passion now lies in growing the electrical business her husband has built over many years. Outside of work Brooke enjoys activities related to health and wellness including bike riding and cooking with her husband and their two young children.

Dr. Casey Gauthier D.C.

Dr. Casey began practicing chiropractic care in 2012. His involvement in the industry began in 2002 as a patient. Through receiving regular chiropractic care he recognized his true calling in life and was inspired to pursue his Doctorate in Chiropractic degree. He brings an amazing dynamic to his work that provides an increased capacity to serve the community through the most modern advances in chiropractic care.

Johanna Booth-Miner

Johanna is the owner and director of Live & Learn Early Learning Center in Lee, NH. For 45 years through Live & Learn she has worked to meet the needs of and develop an educational partnership among family, Live and Learn Early Learning and the community that works together to maximize the potential of each child. This NAEYC accredited program is a nature based place based early care and education program.

Johanna has always been active in the professional organizations for Early Childhood professionals, serving 13 years as President of The Alliance for Better ChildCare and now is the Past-President of the New Hampshire Association for the Education of Young Children, (NHAEYC). Johanna is NH Credentialed Master Professional Workshop Trainer, Mentor Consultant and holds a BS in ECE. Her areas of professional interest and expertise include teacher education, STEAM and nature based training, early care social and emotional development and curriculum.

Suzan Cullen

Sue has been a passionate public educator in Massachusetts for 36 years. She began her career teaching reading to young children. Sue evolved into teaching graduate courses that promoted educators to enhance their skills. She loved this work knowing she was reaching even more kids through her adult students.

Sue progressed into administration and became the curriculum director in both Northbridge then Blackstone Millville before moving to Assistant superintendent and then Superintendent of schools in North Attleboro, MA, a title she held for seven years. Sue was the first woman superintendent for the town. She served on many local and national boards, always focusing on enhancing the educational experiences for both adults and children.

Sue is the proud mom of two grown children and has eight wonderful grandchildren. Three of whom have attended the Fitzgerald Institute and made amazing progress. Her exposure to the way the “Fitzin” community educates their children impressed her and she is thrilled to serve on the Board of Advisors.

Sue and her husband recently retired and live happily on Baboosic lake in New Hampshire.

Karim El- Gamal

Bio Coming Soon!