Our Teachers




Headshot of Melissa.  Melissa is smiling and standing in front of some vegitation.  Pink flowers can be seen in the blurry background.

Melissa Hresko

Director and Teacher

Melissa joined Russell in the summer of 2021 after discovering the school through a friend who had previously taught there (Naomi Shea). Melissa has worked in Early Education for over 11 years. Before joining Russell, Melissa oversaw the creation and implementation of her school’s curriculum for infants through Pre-K at a childcare center in Natick.

Melissa has a true passion for creating unique and emergent curriculum with a focus on nature-based activities and hands on exploration for children of all ages. She has experience teaching in mixed age group classrooms and was Head Teacher of her Pre-K classroom for 5 years prior to becoming the Curriculum Coordinator. Melissa is Director II certified from EEC and holds a BS in Marketing/Advertising Communications from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI.

Melissa grew up on the New Jersey shore. After college, she worked at an advertising agency for almost 3 years before moving to Massachusetts in 2009. She found a position as an Organizational Marketing Assistant for a non-profit school for children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. She realized working with kids was where she belonged and changed her career path to continue her love of Early Education. Melissa lives in Watertown and loves traveling, going to the beach, and enjoying live music with friends in her spare time.


Headshot of Stephanie Avelino.  Stephanie is smiling and standing in front of an old and large tree.  The large bark ridges fill the background.

Stephanie Avelino

Lead Teacher

Stephanie first arrived at Russell Preschool on the parent side of the equation. During the time her younger child (her son Matheus) was at Russell, Stephanie was very actively involved in the school. She worked on the enrollment committee and served on the board as secretary and vice-president. Stephanie has been a teacher at Russell since 2016.

Her own educational background includes time spent growing and learning in both Progressive and Quaker schools. She earned a BA in English literature from Haverford College. She credits these school experiences with encouraging her natural curiosity, her love of learning (especially of reading and writing), and also fostering creative thinking and artistic self-expression.

Her work life has included a range of experiences. These include teaching in a special education setting, working as a server and manager in the restaurant world, and serving as a volunteer breastfeeding counselor and then as a Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

She now lives in West Newton with her husband of just about 25 years, their daughter Gabriella and their son Matheus. Stephanie is an avid reader, an amateur knitter and a novice ukulele player.