MARISSA RITZ, LCSWCo-Founder & Clinical Director
Marissa has been in the field of Social Work for over a decade and has spent much of her career working with individuals, couples, parents and children in an effort to strength family relationships. Marissa holds an Independent Clinical Social Work License and has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Vermont. In addition to her work with Seedlings to Sunflowers, Marissa acts as an Adjunct Professor at the University of New England and provides statewide training for the Sweetser Training Institute.
MEGHANN CARRASCOCo-Founder & Director of Operations
Meghann grew up in South Portland for most of her childhood and eventually moved to Raymond where her Mother bought an old farm house. While her Mother raised her with an incredible understanding of nutrition and health, this is where her love of gardening and food truly began. She grew up with a Sister diagnosed at the time with autism and a cognitive delay. Her sister’s unique needs and food sensitivities challenged her throughout her life to create food that was clean, allergen-free, but still delicious. She has lived a life in non-profits as her…

Marissa’s dream of building a childcare center grew out of her own experience with having children in daycare. Her observation of daycare centers was that there was unending possibility to strengthen families, build connections and encourage children at the youngest possible ages to become stewards of their communities. Marissa visualized an early education center as being a hub where children and families can join together with educators to encourage social, emotional and developmental growth of children. Marissa holds a commitment to bringing parents and caregivers on board to play an integral part of the learning process.

Marissa currently resides in Gorham Maine with her husband who is a Middle School Science Teacher and their two boys. She spends most of her free time exploring, singing, creating and laughing as much as possible.

…her Mother ran a non-profit for much of her teen years for adults with disabilities. She also worked in college for the Bangor YMCA working in the before/after care with children.

Meghann graduated in 2005 from the University of Maine with a degree in Sociology. She was a member of the Green Campus Coalition and has always strived towards a more sustainable life. A couple years later, Meghann acquired her culinary degree from the New England Culinary Institute. She then moved to Colorado and became the Director of Admissions at Cook Street School of Culinary Arts. In Colorado, she was involved with Slow Foods Denver and was heavily involved in their School Garden Project. She spent a lot of her free time building vegetable gardens at various schools in the greater Denver area.

Most recently, Meghann worked for six years here in Maine for a chiropractor where she really took her passion for nutrition to the next level. She is currently pursuing a Certificate in Nutrition from the International Foundation of Nutrition & Health. The chiropractor, she worked for eventually deferred to Meghann for patient supplement needs and nutrition evaluations.

When her first son was born and they started introducing food, Meghann started a blog called “Feeding Bebe” where she explored supporting his development through food with all of you! She has always involved him in food preparation. She has challenged herselt to create food that is both delicious and nutritious. She is now using what she’s learned while just introducing her 5-month-old to food for the first time. Meghann look forward to taking this passion of hers and working on food fears or aversions with your kiddos! She is also very excited to use their incredible green house to teach Seedlings to Sunflower’s children about the life cycle and teach them how to get in the dirt with all of the plants.

Meghan shares a home in Westbrook with her husband Donny, who is a Chef and their two boys. They love to be outdoors as much as possible with their kiddos.

CHARLOTTE JACOBSAssistant Director
Charlotte grew up in Scarborough, ME. She is currently attending Southern Maine Community College, majoring in Early Childhood Education. Charlotte has worked with a child care center for the past seven years, working with ages 6 weeks to 2 years. During this time, she was promoted to Assistant Director and did that as well…
CAITLIN DIGGLESAssistant Director
Caitlin has a background in volunteer programing, online marketing and design. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Vermont where she expressed her passion for volunteer programming and service learning as the Director of Programs for Volunteers in Action,
TERESA JAYNESBookkeeper & Administrative Assistant
Teresa comes from a background in business with a degree in small business management, most recently having managed a financial practice.
Of Italian heritage, Teresa comes from a long line of people who love to feed people…

…as running her classroom for the past two years there. Charlotte is CPR/First-Aid Certified and a Level 4 on Maine Roads to Quality. Her and her husband have two wonderful kiddos, an 8-year-old girl, a one-year-old boy and a dog!
I’m excited to be coming to Seedlings to Sunflowers because I love to watch children grow and learn using hands on experiences! I also love to give children, even during infancy the chance to learn through exciting sensory activities.
During my free time with my family we enjoy all the natural wonders of Maine! Hiking, swimming at Sebago, camping, gardening at home, and just relaxing with each other!”

overseeing 22 various volunteer programs and their leaders.

She has an extensive background in online marketing from account management, brand and media, consulting, website and graphic design, social media marketing, as well as photo shoot design and styling.

She is thrilled to be able to bring her marketing, media, design and volunteer programming expertise to the board of Seedlings to Sunflowers. Being a part of a non-profit dedicated to cultivating a lifelong commitment to positive educational experiences for children is an amazing honor. She is thrilled to serve alongside caring, creative, intelligent and passionate individuals whose mission is to help carry out the vision of this wonderful, innovative school.

Caitlin is overjoyed to have her children attending Seedlings to Sunflowers – a place where they thrive and where her family feels supported by their loving community.

Her family runs and cooks for the Italian Bazaar in Portland each year. Teresa loves being a part of the Seedlings to Sunflowers Community! She resides in Windham with her husband, Joe and her 2 sons, Sam & Rowan.

KAT BINFORDLead Teacher in Sunflowers Room (Pre-K) & Assistant Director in Training
My name is Kat I am an Assistant Director in training, and Lead Teacher in the Sunflowers Room (4-5 year olds) I am currently studying Social Behavioral Science with a minor in Early Childhood Development at the USM, and will be graduating May 2021. I have worked in child care since 2015 and have absolutely loved every part of it! I am CPR and…
AMANDA LAROCHELLELead Teacher in Sunflowers Room (Pre-K)
I am a mom of 2 children, Violet & Fiona, who both attend Seedlings to Sunflowers. I’ve lived in Gorham for the past 9 years. My partner and I bought our first house 4 years ago and have since renovated and are working hard on homesteading. We have 20 chickens, a dog named Oscar and a cat named Glenda. I have my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and am…
LAEL DAIGLETeacher in Sunflower Room (Pre-K)
Hello Families! My name is Lael Daigle and I am thrilled to be a member of the Seedlings to Sunflowers community. I recently moved to Portland from Vermont and am excited to continue growing my roots in this lovely community. I have a degree in outdoor education/leadership and more than 5 years of experience teaching, leading and mentoring…

 …water safety certified as well! I have a very bubbly and expressive personality and love to talk to anyone and everyone, so make sure to say hi! I am so excited to be apart of this amazing opportunity that has really truly turned into a family and I am so grateful for it!

…finishing my last semester before getting my Bachelor’s Degree. I plan to enroll in a Masters Program in either Early Childhood Education or Social Work next year. I’ve worked as a substitute and lead teacher in an outreach program in Portland for 6 years, and as a CNA on a long-term dementia unit for 12 years. I have been at S2S since Spring of 2020, and I just love the nature-based family atmosphere!

…kiddos – both outside and in a classroom. When I’m not at work, I can be found in nature, spending time with my family, reading, playing music and/or doing an art project (sometimes all at the same time!). I am here to grow and learn alongside the kids, and I couldn’t be happier.

NANCI EGGLESTONLead Teacher in Little Runners (3-4 yrs)
Nanci graduated from UMaine Orono in 2016 with degrees in Physical Education, Health, and Psychology. She has an extensive aquatic background as a lifeguard, swim instructor, and aquatics director. She is currently CPR, AED, First Aid, and Wilderness First Responder certified, with plans to add more safety based certifications soon! She is also a CPR, AED, and First Aid Trainer.
AMANDA ROBINSONTeacher in Little Runners (3-4 yrs)
Amanda is very excited to become part of the S2S family. She started her journey in the childcare field in 2011. Amanda received her CDA for preschool in 2013. She devotes her time to teaching every day life skills in a loving, kind and safe environment. Her goal is always to have everyone feel accepted and loved in her care.

Her favorite part of being a teacher is watching the excitement on a child’s face when they can do something on their own for the first time.

In her free time, Amanda likes to spend time with her husband, best friend and pets. She has 2 cats, a bunny, a parakeet and an African Grey Parrot. She enjoys going to the movies, the ocean, roller skating and going to concerts.

MADISON (MADI) HOULETTELead Teacher in Sprouts Room (2-3 yrs)
Madi was born and raised in South Portland to a family of teachers. She has been in childcare for about a year and a half and has had lots of experience working in public schools. Madi is currently going into her 3rd year of college at USM for elementary education. She hopes to teach first or second grade and…
MICHELLE GREENLAWTeacher in Sprouts Room (2-3 yrs)
Michelle has over 20 years of experience in Early Childhood Development. She has her CDA (Child Development Associates) from SMCC and is currently undergoing schooling at Penn Foster University in Early Childhood Education. With her background primarily teaching 3-5 year olds, she is thrilled to be a…
VICTORIA DORAZIOTeacher in Sprouts Room (2-3 yrs)
My name is Victoria, I work in the sprouts classroom (2-3 year olds), I’ve been in sprouts for a little over a year now! I love spending everyday with the kids and watching their growth. I’m a dog mom to a beautiful mixed breed named Bailey, on weekends we normally go for hikes or just take a walk around the neighborhood.

…maybe one day travel to a developing country and spend some time teaching there!

Co-Teacher in the Sprouts Room. Her goal is to provide a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment for children and families to feel welcome. Michelle lives in Gorham with her 3 boys, 1 nephew and her 3 fur babies.

ALICIA ROSSLead Teacher in Seedlings Room (1-2yrs)
Alicia was born and raised in Portland, Maine and graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a BA in English. During her time at USM she took several education classes and volunteered in a Head Start program and also in a couple local elementary schools.
Alicia has 2 sons, Noah (9) and Ezra (1) and loves being a mother and spending time with her family!…
AMY CARIGNANTeacher in Seedlings Room (1-2yrs)
Hello my name is Amy and I’ve been enjoying my time as a teacher in the Seedlings Room – I love it! I have worked in childcare for 5 years and earned my associates degree in Early childhood education. I also have lots of experience as a baker and cook. I live in Gorham and I have a daughter that’s 18 who will be attending Columbia College in the Fall. I also love my pets – I have 2 cats and 2 Guinea pigs.
Hi! I’m Jess and I am a Mother to my 12 year old son, Preston. I homeschooled Preston for 6 years before moving to Gorham. We have 2 cats, Snowball and Brady, along with a bearded dragon.
I am a certified herbalist and will be a advanced herbalist Fall 2021 where I will be able to take on patients. I love foraging for wild herbs and mushrooms. I make my medicinal teas, creams, salves, tinctures…

Working with children has always been Alicia’s passion and she’s honored to be surrounded by such an amazing group every day!

…and I also infuse my own oils. Aside from herbalism, I am an outdoor enthusiast! I like to study weather and I am also a local weather watcher for channel 13 and NOAA. I love storm chasing!

I enjoy many outdoor activities! love camping, kayaking, biking, and photography just to name a few. Camping is one of my favorite things to do! My son and I also like to camp out in the backyard a lot just for fun! My favorite place to camp is Lily Bay State Park on Moosehead Lake, where I was a campground host/volunteer for 5 years. My son and I go up as much as we can in Spring, Summer and Fall. We enjoy bombing around the dirt roads looking for moose and other wildlife.

I also enjoy hunting and fishing. I like to hunt deer, grouse, and moose! I harvested my first moose back in 201 weighing almost 800 lbs. Even though I am a hunter, I do love and appreciate wildlife. I have many deer that visit my yard daily; I live on the reserve, so I can’t hunt them, but I am able to watch and learn from them. My family and friends call me Snow White because I always seem to make friends with many animals. I have one deer friend at Lily Bay that I have bonded with over the past 5 years where I am able to pet and feed her out of my hand. She’s even given me a kiss.

This is my first time in the childcare field and I’ve been enjoying it so much! The kids make me laugh and smile. Even on an off-day, the always seem to make it better!

KIRA SWIMMLead Teacher in Nursery 1 (6 wks-9 months)
My name is Kira and I am the lead teacher in Nursery 1. I am a mom of two boys and have been part of the Seedlings family for a year and a half. I am CPR certified and am currently back in school for child psychology. Other than my own two kids and working here at Seedlings, I have also worked with special needs children and been a nanny in my previous jobs. In my free time I like to hike, read books and sleep as much as I possibly can!
NATALIE RUDDYNursery 1 Room (6 weeks - 9 months)
My name is Natalie (Nat) Ruddy. I have a background in swim instruction and theater, so I’m quick on my feet! Outside of work, I am in grad school for social work and care for my dog and lizard. I think we can all learn from kids, from their interesting observations to their ability to create their own fun. Babies may not “talk”, but they sure have a lot to say!
RADHIKA NATARAJANNursery Floating Teacher (6 wks-18 months)
Radhika currently holds a Bachelors Degree in Science from the University of Madras, India. She is very passionate about teaching, especially to young children and has been doing it successfully for the past two years as a pre-school teacher.
Radhika moved to the United States after she got married to her husband 8 years ago. She is blessed with a beautiful daughter…

…Radhika has always loved traveling, meeting people, engaging in conversations and learning. She loves to draw and paint in her free time. Road trips are her and her family’s favorite thing to do together.

She is really excited and looking forward to being a part of the Seedlings to Sunflowers family. Engaging the children with hands-on activities in the classroom is something that she is thrilled about as it helps them connect with real life things.

EMILY FIELDSLead Teacher in Nursery 2 (9 - 18 months)
I graduated from the physical education program at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine about a year ago. I hope to one day teach young minds how to be able to keep their bodies moving, have fun while doing it, and learn to enjoy the outdoors. I love seeing young minds be able to explore and learn through play. I love spending time with my family and going on trail walks with my dog. Coming on board as a infant teacher is something new and exciting. I am looking forward to this new chapter.
BRYANNA GRIFFINTeacher in Nursery 2 (9 - 18 months)
My name is Bryanna Griffin (Miss Bryanna) and I was hired summer 2020, in the Infant 2 Room. I am 24 years old and recently bought my first home in Limerick with my husband. Working with children is truly one of my greatest passions in life. I love being around kids, it’s not “work” to me. I believe it is important to provide children with a fun, fulfilling, creative, enriched environment. My dreams are to some day pursue a degree in Early Childhood Development. I am so…

 excited to watch the kids in my new classroom learn and grow. I look forward to letting them explore and creating different projects to help their development. I like to think of myself as a compassionate, patient, responsible, determined person. I’m an old soul in a young person’s body. I am an only child, so I hope to have lots of children. I love living in a state where we are fortunate enough to experience all four seasons. I was born here and I don’t think I will ever live somewhere else.

KARLY ZAHLERCenter Floating Teacher & Garden Program Coordinator
Hello! I’m Miss Karly and I have been with Seedlings to Sunflowers since Fall of 2019, after receiving a degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Orono’s University of Maine. I started at the school as a Floating Teacher and have gradually transitioned into coordinating garden programs and spaces for our lovely community. I’m a Michigan transplant, I’ve loved my time with the S2S family and am so excited to continue growing natural education opportunities, outdoor spaces, and collective compassion in our every day lives.
DEBORAH STUARTCenter Floating Teacher
Hi Families! My name is Miss Deb. I am currently a floating teacher at Seedlings to Sunflowers and am absolutely in love with our culture, atmosphere, and level of professionalism and character our little establishment possesses! I have been working in Childcare for over seven years. It truly is not just a job, but a calling. My favorite part about working with children and their families, is forming that special bond and relationship. I believe it is so important to have trust and understanding in order to learn and grow. Some of my hobbies include reading, hiking, painting, gem collective, and rug hooking.
MOLLY CASECenter Floating Teacher
Hello Seedlings Families! My name is Molly Case and I’m excited to be joining S2S as a floating teacher. Most recently, I’ve been working in a professional office setting, but my passion is working with kids! My degree is in therapeutic recreation and I’ve worked in both community and hospital settings with children of all ages. My son, Milo, is in the Sprouts Room and we’re currently expecting our second child! As a family, we enjoy spending time outdoors and finding new trails to explore. I’m excited to be a part of the team and to meet all of your kiddos too!
SYDNEY ANDREOLIUNE Graduate Social Work Intern
My name is Sydney Andreoli and I am currently working towards a Masters in Social Work at the University of New England. I am from Lovell, Maine, but moved to the Portland area after graduation from the University of Vermont in 2019 with a BA in Psychology. Over the years, I have spent many summers, weekends, and nights babysitting or nannying, and have always enjoyed spending time with children, which is…
MARIAH CHASEUNE Undergraduate Social Work Intern
Hi! My name is Mariah and I am an intern & float at Seedlings to Sunflowers. I am currently studying Social Work with a minor in Education at the University of New England, and will be graduating May of 2021. Previously, I have been an aid to a special needs child and spent time in the public school system as a mentor to elementary aged children. Outside of work, you could catch me out on the rugby field, reading/writing at…
CONNOR MCSWEENEYUNE Graduate Social Work Intern
My name is Connor McSweeney and I am a MSW intern at Seedlings to Sunflowers. I am a first-year student at the University of New England working to obtain my master’s degree in Social Work. It fills me with great joy to be joining the Seedlings to Sunflowers community. After spending some time floating around the childcare center, I have come to see that Seedlings to Sunflowers not only focuses their attention on…

…why I feel very lucky yo be interning at Seedlings to Sunflowers. Whether I am spending the day in the Nursery or in Pre-K, I know it’s going to be a day full of learning and laughing, and I could not be more grateful to be apart of a community as supportive and inspiring as this one!

…the beach, or hiking mountains! I feel so fortunate to be part of such a loving, welcoming, inclusive community. I look forward to learning, growing and working with your kids!

…the external growth of a child but also the internal growth. By providing a safe space for children to play, learn, and grow while also attending to the children’s emotional and social development, I believe that Seedlings to Sunflowers empowers the children in their care to fully express themselves in creative, special, and unique ways.

ERICA KEAYBoard Member
Erica is a kindergarten teacher in Scarborough and mother to two young children, Fiona and Devan. She lives in an old farm house in Gorham along with her husband Sean, dog Josie, and two barn kitties. Erica grew up in a small coastal town in Maine and attended The Bay School, a Waldorf-inspired private school. This is where her inspiration and passion for teaching started. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Wheaton College and Master’s from Lesley University. Erica’s education and teaching experience has given her a solid foundation to build her career upon. She is honored and humbled to be working with such an incredible group of women that are so devoted to children and families.
Frayla Tarpinian is the Head of the Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse Unit for the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office. She is an aggressive advocate on behalf of victims of violence and passionate about criminal justice reform. After earning a B.A. from Brandeis University and her law degree from Boston University School of Law, she began her legal career clerking for the Maine Superior Court and went on to represent indigent clients, prior to becoming a prosecutor in 2013. Having participated in the system from all sides, Frayla has a unique perspective. She would like to see the criminal justice system become more equitable, reserving incarceration for perpetrators of violent criminal conduct and an increase in diversion and treatment for lower level offenders.
Natalie is a Site Coordinator for Special Education at Windham High School where she provides leadership and consultation to both regular and special education teachers to collaboratively
achieve the best research-based instructional strategies and programs to meet the needs of diverse learners. She has both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

She lives in Westbrook with her husband, Ethan, and 3 year old daughter, Lucille. Lu has been attending Seedlings to Sunflowers since she was 4 months old.

LEAH STURMBoard Member
Leah is an environmental scientist at VHB in South Portland where she works with a great team of colleagues analyzing environmental costs for environmental cleanup sites across the nation. She has dual bachelor’s degrees in Geology and Environmental Studies, with a focus on environmental policy. She has spent her professional career working for environmental engineering/consulting firms in the Portland area.

Leah and her husband have two children and have lived in Gorham for the past 10 years. Prior to living in Maine, they lived in the White Mountains of NH. Leah hails from the midwestern state of Indiana where she and her family travel annually to share time with family.