The Shooting Star Program

152 US Route One #8
Scarborough, Maine 04074

Phone:  207-883-5882  |  Fax:   510-1831

E-mail DirectorRuth C. Hughes M.Ed

The Shooting Star Program

152 US Route One #8
Scarborough, Maine 04074

Phone:  207-883-5882
Fax:   510-1831

E-mail DirectorRuth C. Hughes M.Ed.

Meet the Teachers

Ruth Hughes, Director/Owner  
Special Education Teacher, Green/Orange Star Classrooms

Ruth began teaching in 1990 and has a B.A. degree in Elementary Education.  She later obtained a Graduate Certificate in Moderate and Severe Special Needs, and a Masters Degree in Education. She began teaching in Boston at a child development center for toddler and preschool aged children. Here she worked closely with an early intervention team, which sparked her passion for the field of special education. She then worked at The May Center in Arlington Ma. with children 3-5 years old who had been diagnosed with autism and related behavioral disabilities. From Boston, she and her husband John moved to Colorado. Ruth was employed at an elementary school and worked with children in grades k-3. During the next 3 years she created and taught a pilot program; a k-1-2 full inclusive classroom setting, where children with severe needs could remain in a regular classroom setting full time. This program was a success but it was time to move back to New England to raise their 3 children: Jack, Ben and Tansey. In Maine Ruth worked as a Developmental Therapist for CDS and quickly realized the need for a specialized preschool program in our area. She wanted to create a classroom that could service children with special needs but also offer inclusive programming with children without special needs. Here the dream for The Shooting Stars Program became a reality.

Susie DeGrinney
Orange Star Assistant Teacher


Upon her graduation from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, Susie worked at a brain injury rehabilitation center in Brighton, Massachusetts. While a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine, Susie worked at King Middle School in Portland and volunteered with the high school religious education program at St. Maximilian Kolbe in Scarborough. In 1998, Susie earned her Masters of Science in School Counseling degree from the University of Southern Maine. She spent many years in a variety of volunteer endeavors for community groups, school groups, and church groups while raising her three boys. She began as a substitute teacher at the Shooting Stars program in 2017 and quickly realized that she wanted to spend more time with the Shooting Stars students and staff. Susie’s summers in Maine are spent sailing, golfing, and playing tennis with her husband and three sons.

Nicole Fitzgerald
Orange Star Assistant Teacher


Nicole grew up in South Portland, where she lives now! Nicole worked previously at Children’s Time Child Development Center as an assistant preschool teacher, and Children’s Odyssey in their Special Purpose classroom! In 2018, Nicole was awarded the title of the very first Miss South Portland Maine for America. She used this title to promote her platform of Advocacy for Deaf and Special Purpose children. Outside of work, Nicole is the head coach for the Deering High School Varsity Cheerleaders and the University of New England Cheerleaders!

Cameron Johnson
Orange Star Assistant Teacher


Cameron grew up in Denver, Colorado where she worked in sales for 7 years prior to starting a family. She moved to Scarborough in the Winter of 2009 with her husband and children. Cameron has enjoyed being a stay at home mom to her awesome son Tanner, and 2 hilarious daughters, Emerson and Dylan for the past 14 years. During those years she has filled her time with volunteering at the schools, as well as being a very active volunteer for her kids’ swim team. In her free time, Cameron enjoys being active, running, reading, and having fun with her family. She is very excited about joining the Shooting Stars family and can’t wait to work with the teachers, kids, and families in the orange star classroom.

Neallie Budway
Lead Special Education Teacher, Orange Star Classroom

Neallie became interested in working with children with special needs as a child when her cousin was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. She worked during high school and college at Camp Capella through the Cerebral Palsy Center in Bangor, as a counselor and Assistant Director. Neallie began her teaching career at Easter Seals Early Intervention Center in Orlando Florida in 1990 after earning a BS in Rehabilitation from Springfield College. She taught at the Morrison Center, formerly the Cerebral Palsy Center as the classroom Developmental Therapist for 11 years, while earning her Masters Degree in Special Education from the University of Southern Maine and her Teaching Certificate in Special Education in 1997. She started working as an individual Developmental Therapist in 2003 so she could balance her love of working with children with a variety of different needs with raising her own children. She lives in Scarborough with her husband, John and her children, Emma and Cameron.

Michele Cecere
Lead Special Education Teacher, Green Star Classroom

Michele Cecere is originally from Bridgeport, CT but moved to Maine in 1996. She has two beautiful sons, Anthony and Nino.  Michelle graduated in 1995 from the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT with a Master’s Degree in Education. She holds a Maine State Teacher Certification in Special Needs. Michele was introduced to the Special Education world in 1997 as an Educational Technician and never looked back. She has been a teacher for over 14 years and finds every day a challenge and a gift. The students she has been blessed to know while watching them overcome many obstacles humble her. Her passion is working with children who have their own unique style of learning and helping to make it work to their advantage and success.  Michele looks forward to working with the students, their families and the teaching team at Shooting Stars.

Lorraine Harvey
Orange Star Assistant Teacher

Lorraine Harvie is a graduate  of  Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont. She earned her BA in Psychology in 1990 and worked at the Saint Michael’s College Child Care Center as a teacher  in both the infant and toddler classrooms. She and her family moved to Maine in 1997. She worked as a nanny and a jewelry designer while she and her husband Michael raised their two children. She has been an assistant teacher in the Orange Star classroom for three years.

Kathleen Dobecki
Assistant Teacher, Orange Star Classroom

Kathleen lives in Scarborough with her husband Dennis and 4 children. She graduated with a degree in business administration from St. Michaels college in Burlington Vermont. Kathleen has balanced raising her children while working for their family business; as well as volunteering at her church teaching Sunday school classes. Outside of work, Kathleen enjoys spending time with her family, walking on the beaches , hiking and biking.

Kelledy Farino
Speech Therapist, Northeast Hearing and Speech Center

Kelledy Farino is employed through Northeast Hearing and Speech Center.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Nazareth College of Rochester NY and a Master of Science degree in Communication Science and Disorders from the University of Vermont.  Prior to joining Northeast Kelledy worked in Burlington Vermont with both preschool and school aged children.  She has a special interest in language development and language disorders.  Kelledy is a certified member of The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Amanda Farrar
Orange Star Assistant Teacher


Amanda grew up in NH, where she graduated from Keene State College with degrees in Chemical Dependency and Occupational Safety and Health.  She moved to Maine in 2000 and worked in various offices until the birth of her son in 2005, after which she became a stay at home mom.  When her daughter was born at the end of 2008, Amanda began doing childcare professionally, first as a nanny and then as the operator of her in-home daycare.  When her youngest started kindergarten in 2014, Amanda decided it was time to close the daycare and go back to work outside of her home.
She began substitute teaching at Shooting Stars in January of 2015, in all three classrooms, and is thrilled to join the Orange Starts classroom as an Associate Teacher.

Jared Swartz
Green Star Assistant Teacher

Jared grew up in Bangor, and worked as a graphic designer for five years before moving to the Portland area. After his daughter Emery was born, he was a stay at home dad for several years before starting at Panera Bread. He was a trainer and zone leader at Panera for two years, and eventually became an overnight baker. In January of 2018, he left Panera and began working as a Behavioral Health Professional for children with special needs. He joined Shooting Stars Program in September of 2019, and he loves working with so many helpful teachers and enthusiastic learners! In his spare time, Jared enjoys cooking, photography, and spending time with his daughter Emery. 

Lauren Segalla
Green Star Assistant Teacher


Lauren Segalla graduated from the University of Maine with a bachelors in Elementary Education, minor in Human & Child Development & Disability studies. She is epileptic and has Mr. F. who is her seizure alert dog. She has worked in multiple preschools and has loved every minute of it, especially the moments that you don't expect and how they keep you on your toes. The kids are wonderful with Mr. F and he loves them as well.

Tara Jacquet
Speech Therapist, Northeast Hearing and Speech Center

Tara Jacquet earned a Bachelor of Arts in French Language and Literature from McMaster University and a Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Vermont. Prior to joining Northeast Hearing & Speech, Tara worked at CommuniCare Therapy in Ottawa, Ontario. In addition to clinical practice, Tara is a speech and language consultant for the Early Reading First Grant through the Muskie Institute and the U.S. Department of Education. Areas of special interest include Early Intervention and Literacy. Tara is a certified member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Nikki Lappin
Regular Education Teacher, Blue Star Classroom

Nikki began her teaching career at Holy Cross School in South Portland as the first grade teacher. She held held this position for five years. Every day was a gift, full of learning and joy. After her fourth child was born, Nikki and her family decided it was time to lead her own class at home! Now that her children are in school Nikki is very excited to be part of the Shooting Stars Program. She knew immediately that the Shooting Stars children, staff and families would be a great fit. In her free time, Nikki enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and running.

Mardi Taft
Green Star Assistant Teacher

Originally from Georgia, Mardi moved to Maine with her husband and daughter in the fall of 2006. She started subbing at Shooting Stars in 2010 and officially joined the Green Star classroom in 2015. In her spare time, Mardi loves to travel and is an avid reader.  She is very excited to be working with such a wonderful group of teachers and the students who always put a smile on her face.

Deb Riley
Speech Therapist, Northeast Hearing and Speech

Deb Riley earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maine at Farmington and Master of Science from Purdue University. Deb has additional training in pediatric feeding disorders and working with children on the autism spectrum. Areas of special interest include working with toddlers. Deb is a certified member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Kelly Murphy
Orange Star Assistant Teacher


Kelly graduated with a BA in English in 1997 and a JD in 2000 from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.  After graduation, she worked in the legal department of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association before staying home with her children.  Once her children were in school full time, Kelly worked for Project GRACE and then as the director of faith formation for children Pre-K to 8th grade at St. Maximilian Kolbe in Scarborough.  Kelly is an active volunteer in Scarborough schools and youth sports and is thrilled to be working with such amazing colleagues and children at The Shooting Stars Program.  Kelly lives in Scarborough with her husband, Jack, and children, Fiona, Killian, and Cormac.

Mr F.
Green Star Service Dog


Mr. F is Lauren Segalla’s service dog. Lauren has epilepsy and Mr. F has been trained to sense warning signs and alert Lauren before the onset of a seizure. We feel this is an incredibly positive learning experience for all the children at Shooting Stars. They have been taught that Mr. F is working and are not allowed to touch him until he is off duty. There is always time for a quick snuggle before children leave for the day.

Stephanie Clyde
Green Star Classroom Assistant Teacher

Stephanie started working at Shooting Stars Program in October 2017 as a substitute teacher.  She immediately realized what a special place it was and accepted a full-time position teaching in the Green Star classroom in the Fall of 2018.

Stephanie earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Science with a Business Minor from Western Michigan University in December 1998.  She started her flight career as a flight instructor, teaching flight students from ages 15-68 years old the rewarding art of flying airplanes through extensive ground and flight training. She then worked as a corporate and charter pilot domestically and internationally flying Citation and Gulfstream turbojet aircraft.

Stephanie stopped working when she and her husband, Ryan, started their family. They moved from Michigan to Maine in 2007 before the birth of their second child.  They have loved raising their four kids, three girls and one boy, here and look forward to enjoying the beauty of Maine for many years to come.  Stephanie enjoys fitness, running, skiing, camping, hiking and quality time spent with her family.

Megan Honeycomb - MacDonald
Orange Stars Assistance Teacher
 
Megan has lived in Maine since 2007. In that time she acquired a degree in Early Childhood Education and worked as a lead preschool teacher Children’s Time Child Development Center many years. Megan spends time with her family most days; her 2 boys keep her busy and so happy. Megan started back at school again at SNHU working towards a degree in Child Psychology. In her free time Megan, her husband, boys and pets enjoy being outside, boating and gardening.

Jen Alward
Green Star Lead Teacher

Jen grew up in South Portland and now lives there with her husband Steve and son Dylan. Jen started at Shooting Stars in 2009 as a green stars teacher, after a couple years she went to Orange Stars and is back in Green Stars as a lead Teacher. Jen also works for Woodfords Family Services and is a Family Support Coordinator for the Foster Care Program. Jen went to SMCC and got her associate degree in Early Childhood Education and then went to UMA and got her bachelors degree in mental health and human services. 

Tracy Silverman
Physical Therapist

Tracy Silverman earned a Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University in Health and Exercise Science and a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from Simmons College in Boston.  Prior to moving to Maine in 2003, Tracy worked in Early Intervention in the Greater Boston area for 4 years.  Tracy has been in private practice since 2004 and treats children from birth through school age in the Greater Portland area.  She has a special interest in early motor development.

Janice St. John
Regular Education Teacher, Blue Star Classroom

Janice St.John is a graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington; she earned her BA in Elementary Education. She is also a busy mother of four children; Julia 15, Christopher 13, Joseph 10 and Sophia 6. She taught in a special education classroom in the South Portland School System for two years after graduation. It was then that she decided to start a family and stay at home and be a mom. In between children she also taught preschool at Lighthouse School in South Portland along with supervise a staff of 10 teachers and help to implement a new curriculum. It was here that she fell in love the preschool level of teaching. This fall her youngest daughter Sophia went off to kindergarten. For her it was time to enter back into the world of education. She started subbing in the fall of this year and quickly became a full time teacher in the orange star classroom.

Maryhelen Hopkins
Green Star Assistant Teacher

Maryhelen is currently studying Linguistics with a concentration in ASL/English interpretation at The University of Southern Maine. She moved to Maine in 2017 to start her studies, before then she live in New York where she was born and raised. Maryhelen has always loved working with children and found her love for working with children with special needs when she worked as a teacher assistant in a local summer program in New York. She looks forward to working with everyone at Shooting Stars.

Aubry Whittemore
Occupational Therapist

Aubrey is originally from New Hampshire. She graduated with her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of New England. Aubrey worked for two years in a pediatric outpatient setting in New Hampshire. Aubrey had the opportunity to learn from Stacy McGuire, OTR/L, at Shooting Stars during her pediatric rotation while at the University of New England. Aubrey has worked with children with many types of disabilities and is diligent and creative in optimizing outcomes for children and supporting families so that children can generalize new skills in their homes and communities.        
Aubrey has a passion for horses and has specialized in a therapy approach that uses the horse’s walking motion as a treatment tool for occupational therapy goals. After two years in New Hampshire, Aubrey has decided to open up her own private practice and is excited to work with the children and staff at the Shooting Stars Program.

Ann St. John Gray

Green Star Classroom Assistant Teacher

Ann lives in Cape Elizabeth with her husband Shawn, 3 children (Grace 14, Cole 12, and William 10), and rescue dog (love of her life) Levi (2). She is finishing her Master of Education Degree, Curriculum and Instruction Program in Autism and felt that the Shooting Stars Program would be a perfect fit! In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching her kids do what they love, anything outdoors and walking her dog.

Amanda Weber
Green Star Assistant Teacher

Amanda moved to New England from New York in 2013 and up to Maine with her fiance at the end of 2018. She became interested in occupational therapy early on when her youngest brother was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Amanda received an A.S. degree from North Shore Community College in OT and is a licensed occupational therapy assistant. She’s also a certified dementia practitioner and painting instructor and loves working and volunteering in memory care. She has recently transitioned into working with children and is loving every minute of it! In her free time, Amanda enjoys drawing, reading, hiking and yoga.

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