Council Members

Middletown School Readiness Council Members

Dr. Alice Torres, ACES Early Childhood, Co-Chair, School Readiness Council
Learn more about the Early Head Start program, click here!

Betsy Morgan, Interim Co-Chair School Readiness Council
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Ed Bonilla, Senior Director for Community Resources, Middlesex United Way,

Ed has worked for Middlesex United Way for almost 9 years where he develops, manages, and implements strategies to achieve United Way's community impact goals. Prior to joining United Way he worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 22 years managing and providing services to multiple populations, including but not limited to abused and neglected youth in residential care, youth and adults in community-based corrections programs, children in after school/summer school programs, children in early care programs, and low-income families seeking to meet their basic needs. Ed earned an MBA and MS in Management from Albertus Magnus College and a BA in Sociology from UCONN. Ed also served in the United States Army Reserve for eight years as a communications and medical administrative specialist. He is the proud father of 3; all in college at this time.

Learn more about the United Way of Middlesex County, click here!

Patricia Charles, Superintendent of Middletown Public Schools

Pat has been a Connecticut educator for 34 years. She taught elementary and gifted and talented classes in West Hartford before joining the Middletown Public Schools in 1989. She served as principal of Farm Hill School and later as principal of Keigwin Middle School in Middletown. She was assistant superintendent of Plainville Community Schools in 2002 and superintendent of Westbrook Public Schools in 2006.

In 2008 she was awarded the American Association of School Superintendents' Paul Salmon award for scholarship as a result of her research in educational leadership. She also received the CTAMFT Service to Families award in 2010. She was honored in 2012 with the Women in Leadership Award for leadership in education in Connecticut. She serves on the Board and Advisory Councils of many local agencies including: United Way of Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council, Middlesex Early Childhood Council, Middlesex Community College, Middletown School Readiness Council and MARC Community Resources.

Pat was born in Connecticut, and currently resides in Middletown. She has four sons who attended Middletown Public Schools. She earned her BS degree at Central Connecticut State University, and then went on to complete her MS at the University of Hartford and her sixth year at the University of Connecticut in Educational Leadership. Her doctoral studies were completed at Central Connecticut State University.

Learn more about Middletown Public Schools, click here!

Daniel Drew, Mayor of Middletown

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Sheila C Daniels, School Readiness Grant Assistant, Board of Education Vice Chair

Sheila is the Board of Education Representative to the School Readiness Council. She has been a member of the S.R.C. since its inception, initially as a family day care provider representative and then as a B.O.E. representative. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and worked for the Cromwell and Middletown School Districts. She managed preschool/kindergarten field trips to the Daniels farm's pumpkin patch and weekend haunted hayrides for ten years. Family, education, and community service were a priority for her parents, so it was just part of a natural progression of growing up which is how she got involved in the S.R.C. and the B.O.E. She has enjoyed getting to know other Council members with similar interests and supporting early care and education in the Middletown community.

Learn more about the Middletown Board of Education, click here!

Donna Marino, District Partnership Coordinator

Donna has been the District Partnership Coordinator for Middletown Public Schools since 1995. She has been the Project Coordinator for Middlesex County Parent Leadership Programs, as well as the Parent Leadership Training Institute, since 2002 and the Parents Supporting Educational Excellence since 2008 as well as the People Empowering People Manager over the Family School Connection Home Visiting program for Bielefield and Snow Schools. She is also a Board member for the Middlesex Coalition for Children, School Readiness Council member, Middletown Substance Abuse Action Prevention Council member, United Way - Healthy Youth member, Opportunity Knocks Health Initiative member, and One Book One Middletown member. Donna is a Member of National Network of Partnership Schools, the Russell Library Foundation, the Middletown School District's Data/Leadership Team, Administrative Council and Central Office Cabinet & PTA, and Wife and Mother of three children.

Learn more about Parent Resources, click here!

Izzi Greenberg, Executive Director of the Middlesex Coalition for Children

The mission of the Middlesex Coalition is to improve the lives of children growing up in Middletown and Middlesex County, CT. The Coalition advocates on behalf of low-income children and children of color around issues of Juvenile Justice, Income Disparity, Racial Disparity, Early Childhood, and Education. It convenes task forces to mobilize and coordinate community efforts to address specific children's issues, and advocates for children at the local, state and national levels.

Previous to this role, Izzi was the Executive Director of the North End Action Team in Middletown, CT, where she worked for 12 years. Through grassroots community organizing, leadership development, youth and family programs and issue-by-issue campaigns, NEAT worked to raise the quality of life for the underserved residents of Middletown's North End. Izzi is active in the Middletown community where she serves as a trustee of the Russell Library, a cooperator of Middlesex Community College, and a commissioner on the Middletown Housing Authority. She lives in the North End neighborhood with her husband and two children.

Learn more about the Middlesex Coalition for Children, click here!

Sue Sienkiewicz, Department of Children & Families, Social Work Supervisor

Susan has been employed by DCF for the last twenty years in the Middletown office, and holds a BA in Psychology and Criminal Justice. She began as a Social Worker in 1995 and was promoted to a Social Work Supervisor in 2005. She has experience in Investigations, Treatment and Permanency Services, and Probate cases. The cases in her unit are generally court involved and high risk in nature, as the families remain intact, but there are identified issues of Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse and Mental Health that remain and could potentially pose safety concerns to the children. Many of the families who she serves in her unit have children ages 0-5 and reside in Middletown, so being a School Readiness Council member is vital for her to keep up to date with the abundance of services that Middletown has to offer for that population.

Kitty Robinson, Head of Children's Services, Middletown Russell Library

Currently Kitty is the head of children's services at Russell Library in Middletown. Before Middletown, she worked for the Hartford Public Library thru their Children's Department, 10 years at the Main Library & 2 years at the SAND School/ROPKINS Branch (North End). Beyond the shared classroom environment, the school media librarian & Kitty shared the students as they explored reading and developing their language skills in English. As a branch librarian, she was immersed with the child care centers, family sites, school environment & neighborhood.

As her four children were rapidly growing, she accelerated taking her MLS coursework. After graduation, she became a Children's Librarian at Russell Library in 2000 and Head of Children's Services in 2003 through today.

Along with the many other staff in children's services, Kitty has a terrific time presenting information about library services to adults and children, literacy based story times for Pre-K and helping adults and children explore reading and gaining information in the many dimensions it may appear. Librarians are finders, helpers, seekers and supporters for the public and most importantly - you. How can I help?

Learn more about the programming offered in the Children's Department at Russel Library, click here!

Amy Waterman, FRC Program Coordinator at Macdonough and Farm Hill Elementary Schools.

The Family Resource Centers provides or collaborates with local agencies to offer the following services: Quality Full-Day Child Care and School Readiness Programs; School-Age Child Care; Resource and Referral Services; Families in Training (Parenting Education and Child Development support); Adult Education; Support and Training for Family Day-Care Providers; and Positive Youth Development. Before Amy's work in the FRC, she taught 3rd grade at Macdonough and Moody schools for over 5 years. Amy has a BS in Early Childhood Education from Virginia Tech and MS in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has taught in the elementary classroom in Fairfax, Virginia; Oakland, California; and Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She lives in the Middletown with her husband and two children.

Learn more about the Family Resource Center, click here!

Jennifer Cannata, Principal of Snow Elementary School

Jennifer has been an educator in CT for 20 years. She began her work at Middletown Adult Education as an Even Start instructor, ABE teacher and the evening intake assessor. Jennifer taught both fourth grade and kindergarten at Farm Hill School followed by 3 years as a Reading Recovery teacher at Spencer School. 11 years of Jennifer's career was spent as an Elementary Instructional Support teacher at Macdonough and Moody Schools. In 2012, Jennifer pursued her administrator's degree and became an Assistant Principal in Meriden, CT. Most recently, in 2015, she returned to Middletown as Snow School Principal. Prior to working in education, Jennifer spent time as an Assistant City Planner in Lakeland, FL. Her work there focused on Community Development Block Grants and Planning and Zoning.

In addition to serving on the School Readiness Council, she is a member of the district's Pre K - K committee. Jennifer knows and understands the importance of making connections with families and children at an early age.

Learn more about Snow School, click here!

Wendy Berlind, Retired Preschool Educator, Grandparent

Wendy majored in English in college, and then spent a year at Harvard Grad School of Education getting a Master's in elementary education. She taught in elementary school for 4 years. Just after her two children finished attending the Middletown Co-op Preschool, she was offer a job to become teacher assistant there, and after two years became the head teacher. She continued in this position for close to 30 years; Wendy especially loved sharing books and stories with children using art projects and puppets. She has been enjoying the progress of three grandchildren through preschool and has been able to be a visiting reader in their classrooms. Wendy has been on the School Readiness Council since the program began 16 years ago and has enjoyed seeing how Middletown has been able to increase preschool opportunities for so many Middletown children.

Dr. Cliff O'Callahan, MD, PhD, FAAP, Middlesex Hospital Pediatrics

Cliff O'Callahan is the Director of Nurseries and the Pediatric Program Director at Middlesex Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, and is Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UCONN and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Quinnipiac University. He leads the residency's Global & Community Health Track. His academic interest is community health related and includes behavioral, oral, and nutrition wellness in young children through the community collaborative Opportunity Knocks, for which he is the Medical Advisor. His nursery and Baby Friendly work led to research in ankyloglossia.

He spent three years after residency working in refugee camps and then creating a community health system in the northern jungle area of Guatemala. This was followed by five years serving the Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Tacoma, Washington and concurrently acted as the Indian Health Service Maternal Child Health consultant for the NW states.

He created and leads the Middlesex-Sayaxche Partnership (linking Middlesex with a Guatemalan rural district hospital) and was involved in the inaugural group of US educators in the Rwandan Human Resources for Health project. He serves on the AAP's CT state chapter's Board and the national Section Forum Management Committee, and was Chair of the Section on International Child Health. Dr O'Callahan was invited to serve on the American Board of Pediatrics Global Health Task Force and to be an AAP Survive & Thrive advisor.

Learn more about Dr. O'Callahan and Middlesex Hospital Pediatrics, click here!

Christine O'Grady, Child First Clinician, Family Advocacy at Middlesex Hospital

Christine has been working with families since 1999 in such capacities as a Home Daycare provider, homebound tutor, Middlesex County Parent Leadership Coordinator and Facilitator, Home Visitor for Family School Connection and Early Head Start. She has been with Middlesex

Hospital since 2010 and is a Clinician in the Child First model which brings Parent-Child Psychotherapy to families of young children who face adversities such as poverty and homelessness, developmental delays, exposure to domestic violence or loss of a family member.

Christine holds a Bachelor's Degree from Villanova University and a Masters in Social Work Degree from Springfield College. She currently holds her Licensed Masters Level Social work designation from the Connecticut Department of Public Health. She has her Family Development Credential from the University of Connecticut and is a trained facilitator for such programs as; People Empowering People, including Youth PEP, Master Facilitator, Parent Leadership Training Institute, Parents Supporting Educational Excellence, Raising Readers, Universal Preschool, Circle of Security and Community Cafe, National Alliance of Children's Trust Funds.

Learn more about ChildFirst, click here!

Ann Perzan, Director of Pupil Services and Special Education for the Middletown Public Schools
Ann has worked in the Middletown School System since the fall of 2003. She began her career as the principal of Macdonough School. At that time she brought a preschool program to Macdonough School after identifying there weren't any close by for the children in the North End.

Prior to 2003, she had worked in Virginia, Cromwell and Southington as a special education teacher. In 1994 she was Cromwell's Teacher of the Year, and in 2005 she was the MARC teacher of the year. In 1995 she became a Danforth Scholar, and earned her 6th year diploma in Educational Leadership from the University of Connecticut.

Currently, she is the Director of Pupil Services and Special Education, the 504 Coordinator, provides leadership for the Snow Preschool Program, NAEYC accreditation, and oversees the schools' Nursing Department. As a student at the University of Connecticut, she is earning a certificate in early childhood which will be completed in May 2016.

Learn more about Pupil Services and Special Education, click here!

Dr. Jerome Long, Grandparent

Monica Belyea, Opportunity Knocks Coordinator

Learn more about Opportunity Knocks by emailing Monica at:

Tina Gomes, Mayor's Budget Analyst

Beverly Lawrence, Parent

Liz Fraser, CAHS

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Lina Kronenberger, Even Start
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Marla Hinz, CRT Head Start Director