Marinel Russo: Supporting Educators

RI Latino News

Marinel Russo is the Manager of Early Childhood Initiatives with the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC). Russo serves as both a Program Assessment Specialist and as a BrightStars Navigator.

Russo oversees projects such as T.E.A.C.H Early Childhood RI, a scholarship and workforce development program that provides financial opportunities and counseling support to the early childhood workforce. 

RIAEYC partners with organizations like the URI Child Development Centers to expose high school students to potential human development and education careers. Last year, students in the Career and Technical Education programs at Woonsocket and Chariho Regional High School visited the Child Development Center in Kingston to see the NAEYC-accredited laboratory preschool program in action. They learned how faculty members and student teachers interact with preschoolers and provide them with hands-on activities that correspond with RIAEYC standards.

“High school students and CTE educators who have attended these field trips possess a deep knowledge and awareness of early childhood education and instruction that is further built upon by observations at high-quality centers like URI’s Child Development Centers in Kingston and Providence, said Russo.

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Russo grew up around family, immersed in her culture. That changed at 16 when her mom, siblings, and she immigrated to the United States to reunite with her father. This was a huge uprooting for a teenager, a new country, language, and surroundings. Her parents were determined to overcome those difficult moments to create a beautiful new life filled with opportunities for their family. 

After graduating from high school, Russo attended Baruch College in New York. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. Russo met her husband at Baruch, and they returned to Rhode Island, where he had grown up, to begin a family. She also has a Master’s in Elementary Education from Lesley University in Boston.

After having her two oldest daughters, Russo wanted to do more professionally than her marketing analyst position. Teaching young English learners was a full-circle passion for her as she understood their challenges and struggles.

According to a report by The Latino Family Literacy Project, more than 34,000 Hispanic children are enrolled in K-12 grade levels in Rhode Island. The state ranks 38th highest in the United States for Hispanic school-aged children.

During her student teaching, Russo was introduced to an opportunity at the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children to assess the quality of childcare programs in Rhode Island.

As a Latina woman, Russo points to her heritage as influencing how she approaches her work with the same conviction and passion as the food she feeds her family. She wants her daughters to grow up feeling just as proud. Latinos enrich our world by emphasizing family, culture, and history. To her, they are Americans who also don’t forget where they come from. 


The T.E.A.C.H. Program provides scholars:
  • The majority of the cost of tuition and books
  • For most scholars, a per-semester stipend for travel
  • A bonus for scholars who complete their contract
  • In most scholarship models, reimbursement to the childcare center or family childcare home for release time is given to scholars

Publisher’s Notes: Marinel Russo was featured by the Latino Policy Institute, a partner of Rhode Island Latino News in best serving the Hispanic, Latino community.