About us

Diverse, dedicated professionals building a new way for teens to live and learn


Jessica Downes

Assistant Director

Jessica Downes holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Saint Joseph.  She has over fifteen years experience working with teens and families through public school systems and community-based organizations, developing individualized education plans and facilitating student activities that encourage both academic growth and social / emotional well-being.


Mary Gelezunas

Executive Director

Mary Gelezunas holds a BA in English from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Theater Costume Design from SUNY/Purchase.  She brings over fifteen years of experience teaching public high school English to Samara, including strong writing and editing skills, a background in visual art, and a passion for mentoring teens.


Justin Berak

Board Of Directors, President

Justin Berak is pursuing a double major in English literature and psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University.  A former student of Mary Gelezunas, he also serves as treasurer and an editor at ECSU's literary magazine, Eastern Exposure.


Christina Gilligan

Board Of Directors, Treasurer

Business owner.  Archivist for Monson Free Library.


Antonia Palfrey

Board of Directors, Clerk

Business owner.  Landscaper.  Homesteader.  Clerk for the Unitarian Universalist Parish of Monson.


Carol Clark

Board Of Directors

Business owner.  Jewelry artist.  Former Girl Scout troop leader.  She has volunteered to work with homeschoolers before and believes in seeking alternative ways of living life whenever the more typical more mainstream avenues aren't working.


Holly Battige

Board of Directors

Business owner.  Licensed massage therapist.  Skincare esthetician.  Retired lawyer.


Kai Price

Board of Directors

A lifetime computer enthusiast, Kai Price has provided technical support for EMC (now Dell EMC) since 2001, and they have sent him on travels around the world.  In his spare time he enjoys boardgaming and Call Of Cthulhu tabletop RPG.

Samara uses space in the 1888 eclectic, Victorian-era building of the Unitarian Universalist Parish of Monson, at the corner of of Main Street and Lincoln Street, across from the gazebo.  There is ample free parking available in the area.