Meet The Staff
About the director:
Frances O. Scarantino has vast experience working with children. The President/Founder of a successful youth organization in this area, S.T.A.R.S., Scarantino runs various activities for many age groups in the youth center. Seeing the lack of programs in three areas, Scarantino decided to start a new after-school program, a family day care facility and a pre-school program for 3 & 4 year olds (1st Step Program) that focus on development and education.
Recently Scarantino has become a published author of children's books. Currently she has three books in her repertoire, two dealing with the transition into a day care setting and one about understanding and celebrating uniqueness and individuality.
She has been recognized for her accomplishments in local weekly newspapers as well as in New York Daily News and in New York Newsday. She has also received numerous awards for her work which include, but are not limited to: Courier Sun Rising Star Award (Feb. 2011), induction into the Howard Beach Civic Forum Hall of Fame (March 2007), The New Hamilton Beach Civic Association Shining Star Award (2005) YMCA Community Leader Award (October 2004), Brooke Russell Astor Award (October 2003), Newsday Everyday Hero (November 2002), 106 Pct. Night Out Against Crime Community Leadership Award (August 2001), Eckerd Salute To Woman Award (2000), Daily Point of Light Award (1999), NYC Council Proclamation (1997).
Scarantino is currently the President of The Rotary Club of South West Queens Communities, a member of the National Association of Day Care Providers, Executive Board member of the Sons of Italy, a member of the 106 Precinct Community Council and the Howard Beach Civic Association.
Prep Student & Alumni Honored by Queens Courrier (sic)
St. Francis Preparatory Alumni Community - February 8th, 2011
About the staff:
Margaret Arnold has three children of her own (almost all grown), so working at the day care comes naturally to her. She has many nieces and nephews that she has helped raise, as well. Being surrounded by children all of her life, Margie really enjoys working at RFTS and considers the children there like her extended family.
Maria Belovin is the mother of four and has nine grandchildren. She has 13 years experience in an office setting as the office manager. Her vast experience and knowledge is a great asset to the RFTS family and is a great help in the day to day operations of RFTS.
Devin Dimeglio has her degree in child development. She loves working with children and it shows. A mother herself, she has a great deal of patience and she is very compassionate. She loves helping others, but is a self proclaimed perfectionist when it comes to her own work, so she makes sure everything is just right, even if it takes more time to do so. She is a welcomed addition to the RFTS family.
Joanne Franzese is the mother of two and grandmother of three. She has 20+ years working as a bus matron with special needs children. RFTS is a natural fit for Joanne.
Sara Kaye has a long history of child care. She has been volunteering and taking care of children since she was 14 years old. When she was younger, Ms. Sara participated at S.T.A.R.S. Youth Center in several classes, such as Job Placement Program, Hip-Hop Class, Theatrical Dance Class, Drama Class and Cheerleading. As she got older, she took on more responsibility and began to give back to the Youth Center by volunteering her time. For six years Ms. Sara volunteered at S.T.A.R.S. Youth Center as an assistant cheerleading coach, hip-hop instructor, arts & crafts instructor and storybook & game hour supervisor, before taking some time off. Now Sara is back in familiar territory at Reach For The STARS! Ms. Sara studied child care training, principals of child development, program development, statutes and regulation pertaining to child care, child health, safety and nutrition.
Sara loves being around children with having five nieces and two nephews, whom she gets to see all the time. Over the years Ms. Sara has gotten numerous awards such as the Volunteer of the Year Award, as well as the Queens Borough President's Disabled Persons Award. Ms. Sara has gained more experience by worked in almost every aspect of Reach For The STARS! She can't wait to see what the future holds.
Josephine Friscia Prisco is new to the RFTS staff, but is no stranger to day care. She has numberous years of experience working in day care in Staten Island, where she lived before moving to Queens in addition to another day care in Queens, also. Josephine shared that working at Reach For The STARS has been her best day care experience yet! We are happy to have her here, as well.
Michele A. Schwartz grew up in Howard Beach. She spent a few years in Florida where she worked for a day care. She is back in Howard Beach (we hope for good) and has three children all attending local schools. Michele has the patience of a saint and always keeps calm, especially in a tough spot.
Samantha Simonian has lived in Howard Beach her whole life. She is aspiring to own her own day care one day, taking her experience and what she has learned at RFTS to benefit children in other areas. She loves working with children and being a part of their lives.
Mildred Szarek is the mother of two grown children and a grandmother of two. She has been a caregiver since 2007 and truly loves working with children. She likes looking at the world through their eyes and the children love her, as well.
The director and each member of staff have been fingerprinted, had a background check, have been trained and certified in health and safety by the New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, Family Day Care Bureau. They have also been CPR certified.