The school itself is Title 1, and has a reputation Mary-Ellen is keen on altering through her successful travel program.
“These kids don’t have fortunate circumstances. They’re not going away with their parents on fancy trips. They don’t have that luxury, and many of them haven’t even left New England. Some barely get out of New Bedford. These travel experiences provide them with new challenges. They build confidence. And they experience something unfamiliar.” Her passion for travel is only exceeded by her passion for her students’ personal growth. Says Mary-Ellen, “Traveling allows the individual to grow. That growth means that they become a better person, more well-rounded, more knowledgeable of how the world operates, and more aware of different cultures.” She continues, “Travel affords them the ability to meet people of different cultures with diverse traditions and lifestyles.” That deeper understanding is exactly why Mary-Ellen is able to connect so genuinely with her students. She understands the community where they’ve grown up, because she’s a part of it. And she recognizes and honors the financial implications travel can have, opting not to shy away from this topic with her kids. Over the years, she’s helped students count tips from jobs at local pizza shops, she’s given guidance on how her high-schoolers can set up their own bank accounts, and most recently, she rescheduled a tour for a group of graduated seniors who would have missed out. Above all, Mary-Ellen makes sure that her students know they are never alone in making their travel experiences happen. At her core, she is the type of educator whose lessons reach far beyond her classroom, whose commitment is unwavering, and whose influence lasts a lifetime.