Dr. Paul Stein joined Schools for Children in July 2017. His career includes varied roles in teaching and educational administration. He served as the superintendent of Wayland (Mass.) Public Schools and as the deputy superintendent of Newton Public Schools. He is the past principal of Day Middle School in Newton and past house administrator of Pollard Middle School in Needham. He began his career as a math teacher in alternative, special education school settings and served for a number of years as the director of Full Circle High School in Somerville.
Dr. Stein earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a second master’s in special education from Lesley University, and a doctorate in educational administration from Boston University.
Head of School, Lesley Ellis School
Deanne Benson has led Lesley Ellis School’s transformation from a Preschool-Grade 3 program to a Preschool-Grade 8 school. She came to Lesley Ellis School in 2001 following 15 years at Nashoba Brooks School in Concord, Mass. where she was first a physical education teacher and then the director of admissions. A physical education teacher for more than 17 years, Deanne has worked at several different elementary schools throughout her career.
Deanne earned her B.A. from North Park College in Chicago and an M.Ed. in educational administration from Lesley University. She holds Massachusetts state certification as both a teacher and an administrator. Outside of Lesley Ellis, Deanne does her best to stay healthy by participating each summer in a triathlon. She also keeps a close eye on her daughter’s nationally competitive synchronized skating team.
Director, Seaport Academy
Alex Tsonas joined Seaport Academy as school counselor in 1998 and two years later became Seaport’s director. Alex’s experience includes working as an assistant director in a residential program, a therapist for a home-based individual and family treatment agency, and as a counselor running substance abuse and anger management groups serving youths in Lynn. Alex has overseen Seaport’s evolution from a small, 12-student program into a successful all-boys state-approved alternative high school serving 28+ students in Grades 8-12.
An avid hiker and runner, Alex earned his LICSW licensing in 2016. He has a B.A. from Colgate University and an M.A. from Salem State College.
Head of School, Dearborn Academy
After her first visit to Dearborn Academy in the mid-1990s, Rebecca Altepeter left and told her friends and family, “Someday I will work there. They are doing incredible work and it feels like family.” Rebecca finally realized her dream when she became the director in 2016 after building her leadership skills as the principal at a therapeutic residential and day school for adolescent girls and as a coordinator in the Office of Student Services for Cambridge Public Schools.
Rebecca earned her B.S. with a dual major in Slavic and environmental studies from Indiana University and her M.S. in Moderate Special Needs from Wheelock College. She holds certifications as a Special Education Administrator, Moderate Special Needs teacher, and General Educator.
Laura Rice, LICSW
Program Director, STEP Program
After a brief hiatus, Laura Rice returned to Schools for Children in 2013 to resume her role as program director of the Short-Term Educational Placement (STEP) Program. In this role, Laura provides administrative, clinical and crisis services to students in the 40-day STEP assessment period.
Over her 20-year career, Laura has employed her considerable social work credentials and experience in public, private and alternative educational communities, including the Newton (MA) Public Schools, the ACCEPT Collaborative, Germaine Lawrence School, Inc., Willow Hill School and the Waller School.
Laura earned both a bachelor of arts and a master’s of social work from Boston College.
Director, Extended Learning Programs
Maridel Perdomo is originally from Caracas, Venezuela. She moved to Boston over 20 years ago to follow her dream to work for nonprofit organizations. After pursuing a B.A. in human resources administration in Venezuela, she earned a B.A. in psychology from Salem State University in Salem, Mass. She also completed her master’s in public administration from Framingham State University. Maridel is deeply passionate about the importance of nonprofit organizations and their missions and is thrilled to be involved with Schools for Children.
As ExL director, Maridel is responsible for the day-to-day logistics and all administrative operations for the three locations of the Extended Learning Programs. Previously, she served as the YMCA director at Gardner Pilot Academy, running the after-school and summer programs. She has also worked as the director of Pine Village in Kendall Square, a Spanish-immersion preschool. Her strengths as an administrator, educator and collaborator are evident in her work with parents, colleagues, children and stakeholders.
Maridel has a broad range of experience in bilingual education, including work with children, adolescents and adults. Her primary goal as an education director is to optimize children’s learning experiences through exciting activities like dancing, music, writing, science, math and art. Her philosophy is that children learn through play and by using their imagination. She feels responsible for using every interaction with her students as a teaching opportunity to positively impact their lives. She has a special gift in her ability to connect with children, and she finds genuine joy and daily awe in her work with them.
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Financial Officer Bev Beno joined Schools for Children in 2018. She manages the accounting, finance, audit, financial reporting, human resources, investment and budgeting functions for the nonprofit. She is responsible also for fiscal analysis, financial services development, and the physical plant and facilities of our five Boston-area schools and programs as well as our headquarters in Winchester, Mass.
Bev brings a strong knowledge of special education programming and over 20 years of experience working in the business offices of educational nonprofits and collaboratives. She is a graduate of Duke University and is licensed in Massachusetts as a school business administrator.