Professionally, I am a Real Estate Specialist in the telecommunications field, with a background of 13 years in administration, child care, and senior adult care. I am a mother of two who is extremely passionate about reading and books! When I was first introduced to the lovely work that Lisa Vergara does, I was taken aback. I knew the joy of reading and gracefulness of giving would intricately come together in the best way!
Children in schools and communities will benefit from the diverse reality of what Storytime Crafts has to offer. They will learn to love reading more as they are able to identify with the characters in the stories they read. "My ideal world would be for every child to have a room with books lining every wall, and a cozy chair to sit in while reading them all! Storytime Crafts is on it's way to making this a reality! It is a great honor to help support such a much needed and well deserved mission, such as Storytime Crafts."
7th Grade Teacher, Murphy School, Dorchester, MA
Growing up, we moved often with my father’s job. Some of my earliest memories are of Saturday morning trips to the library with my mom and four siblings. We dispersed once we walked through the entrance, losing ourselves in the search for the next great tales and bringing home armfuls of treasure that transported us to different times and places.
I went to undergrad at Smith College and then got my Master’s in Sports Management at UMass Amherst. My first “real” job brought me to Boston as an Account Executive at a cause-marketing firm, where we helped build and publicize partnerships between businesses and non-profit organizations. From there I took my marketing skills to the nonprofit side as I became Assistant to the President of the founder of YouthBuild. By entering YouthBuild, undereducated, low-income youth, many of whom had also had run-ins with the criminal justice system, took brave steps to to turn their lives in a new direction. They chose to complete their highschool education, learned job skills by building affordable housing and became leaders in their communities. I was lucky to work with YouthBuild alumni and current students, and gained an understanding of schools, teachers or society that failed them.
When I was 29, someone asked me, “What is your most cherished unfulfilled dream?” Without hesitation, the answer came out “to teach.” That moment marked the beginning of my career transition from marketing to teacher and educator.
When my students walk through the door to my classroom, they know that I care about them and that I value their personal growth as much as, if not more than, their academic growth. I am always looking for ways to support my students and to help them feel connected, understood and worthy. In this spirit, three years ago I responded to a Freecycle ad offering hundreds of free books for students. Thus began the partnership between Lisa and I. She has brought thousands of books and games, and immeasurable joy, to students and their families at the Murphy School.
Diane DerMarderosian, MD
Pediatric Director, Hasbro Partial Hospital Program, RI
Diane was born and raised in Needham. She graduated from Amherst College and then attended the Mount Sinai School of Medicine where she was selected to be part of the Humanities and Medicine Program. She completed her residency training in pediatrics at Brown University where she first became involved with Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. She went on to work as a primary care pediatrician in Roxbury, MA, where she incorporated ROR into the practice and expanded the program to serve a broader age group.
Since that time, Diane served as the Medical Director for Reach Out and Read RI for over 10 years and is presently on the Medical Advisory Board for the organization. Currently the Pediatric Director of the Hasbro Partial Hospital Program, an integrated, family-based day program for children with complex medical and psychological issues, she is also an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Teacher, After School Program, Wellesley Community Children’s Center, Wellesley, MA
Hardy My name is Neddra English. I am from Boston, Massachusetts and I currently reside in Waltham. I have been working with children for over 18 years. I love sports, dancing, Zumba Fitness, music and cooking. My energetic ability lights up a room, and my personality makes it easy to work with children. My main focus in life is try to help others as much as I can. Summer is my favorite season and I enjoy traveling the world. I look forward working at WCCC and making it a great year!
Rose Marie Flores
Special Ed Teaching Assistant, Schofield Elementary School, Wellesley, MA
Teacher, After School Program, Wellesley Community Children’s Center, Wellesley, MA
I have been working with children for about 7 years now, from infants to middle schoolers and my passion for teaching and watching kids grow has never lost its flame. I am from Newton, Massachusetts where I attended high school as well as college.
Growing up I suffered a lot with anxiety and working with kids helped me cope. At 16 years old, I started working at the YMCA as an after school/summer camp counselor for the preschool and school aged children that attended the program. After spending 4 years at the YMCA I decided to work at a daycare center in Watertown, MA, where I worked with infants and toddlers. I loved working at the daycare because I had the opportunity to care for and observe children at their youngest age. The years I spent working at the YMCA and daycare prepared me for the job I have today, as a Teacher's Assistant in an elementary school and continuing my work at the school’s after school program. It is definitely a dream come true. I can use everything I’ve learned over the years to help my students become successful and continue to watch them grow both academically in school and socially outside of school.
Working with Lisa has been a pleasure, and I am more than thankful for having such a great person in my life. I know how much Storytime Crafts means to her and I am ecstatic to be a part of it. It is so important for children and youth to get a taste of all types of literature from all parts of the world. Helping our generation of children getting acquainted with different cultures is very important, so I applaud Lisa for all of the time and effort that she puts into making this happen.”
School Librarian, Martin Luther King, Jr. K-8 School
Ty Allan Jackson
Award-winning children’s book author, literacy advocate, and captivating motivational speaker
In 2011 he founded Big Head Books, LLC, a literacy organization that aims to introduce children to the joys of reading. Ty travels around the country inspiring children and educating adults about the impacts of illiteracy.
A three-time TedX presenter, Ty believes that literacy is the foundation for a successful life and promotes it with humor and enthusiasm. Ty’s work as an author and literacy advocate earned him the Massachusetts inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Content of Character Award, as well as citations from the Massachusetts Governor, Senator, and the House of Representatives.
Ty’s books have been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, The Steve Harvey Show, PBS and countless other media outlets. In 2012, Ty’s books were gifted to former First Lady Michelle Obama by his hometown mayor. He is the co-founder of the Read or Else movement and Danny Dollar Academy.
LCSW, Community School Director, Martin Luther King, Jr. K-8 School, Dorchester, MA
Lisa and her organization, Storytime Crafts, has been an incredible asset to the King K-8 School since beginning her work with us in the Spring of 2018. Over the past year and a half, Lisa has provided thousands of books to our students and two incredible art chairs that we are proud to make use of in our library.
Lisa's passion for literacy is contagious and students often walk out of one of her events asking for extra books to take home and making special requests for her next visit. The Grove Hall Community has been historically underserved and under-resourced and Lisa's partnership has made it possible to bring books into the lives of all of our students in a way that we would not be able to without her help. Her reach has gone beyond the King as she continues to collaborate with other schools and community centers in our neighborhood. We're thrilled to be a part of Lisa's Kindness Project and we're grateful to Storytime Crafts and Lisa for their continued support of the King community!
After School Program - Floating Teacher, Wellesley Community Children's Center, Wellesley, MA
I have worked in the education field for ten years. After graduating from Providence college with a secondary education and social studies degree, I went on to work as an ELA teacher at a charter middle school. I then worked as a T.A. in Wellesley, before starting my position at Wellesley Community Children’s Center as an after school teacher. I worked with kindergarten students before becoming a site coordinator for four years and continue working as a floating teacher.
I am honored to be on the Advisory Team committee for Storytime Crafts. I am so appreciative of Lisa and her passion for celebrating diversity through literacy. As a proud Korean American, I grew up with few role models who looked like me. Whether it be on television, in movies, or books, I was rarely able to relate to the characters.
As we move into a more diverse and inclusive world, my goal is that we can expand to include authors of various backgrounds and a wide array of stories. I hope that my son and daughter, and all children are able to easily access books with characters that look just like them. This will grow our youth into confident, caring, and accepting people who no doubt will create a bright future.
Debra Steele, MD
"I am a retired MD and clinical researcher from South Africa. My interests include reading, playing tennis and pursuing many varied sports and activities with my three Vizslas and spending time with my family. I have been living in the USA for 25 years and have known Lisa for 23 of those.
Lisa is a wonderful person, continuously making valuable contributions to the community and has been a special friend to me during my time here. Being from a country where education is not readily available to everyone and not always of good quality, I appreciate Lisa’s literacy project immensely. I applaud her hard work and I am honored to be a part of Storytime Crafts."
Program Manager, ReadBoston, Mayor's Office of Workforce Development, Boston, MA
Social Media Editor, Brooklyn, NY
With an education in fine art, Natalie is passionate about supporting the next generation of creative thinkers, makers and doers alongside Storytime Crafts.
Long-time Needham Resident
Library Foundation of Needham, Board Member
Mother of two, grandmother of 6
It's been fun to watch Lisa as she got started with her idea - figuring out how to add illustrations from classic children's books to chairs and tables. Lisa thinks through which book would be best for each piece and how to feature the illustrations, title, and perhaps some text to maximum effect. I continue to be amazed by her artistic sense as the inspiration for each project takes hold. I'm so happy to watch her enthusiasm for books evolve into sharing her projects with her admirers.