A required practicum in the Early Childhood Education program brought Maria Paulino to Busy Bees Preschool Center in Fitchburg in 1998. Soon, she was hired as a teacher’s assistant. After earning her associate degree, she advanced from teacher to lead teacher to director.
“Maria was just a natural,” says Cecile Tousignant, the founder and former owner of Busy Bees. “She has this special skill in working with children and parents. She knows how to listen and she knows how to respond.”
Born in the Dominican Republic, Paulino moved with her family to New York City when she was 14. She originally wanted to become a fashion designer and graduated from The High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan. But she discovered her special talent was working with other students, helping them improve.
“Everyone was so supportive at the Mount, from my first day filling out an application and financial aid forms. And the professors were always there for me. I felt so at home,” she says.
In 2006, Paulino purchased Busy Bees, which offers nurturing day care for children ages six weeks to five years. “My dream from my first days at Busy Bees was to own the place someday, and somehow I made it happen. But it takes a village, and I had a lot of help from my family and so many other caring people. I feel as if I was born to do what I’m doing.”
“Here at Busy Bees, I want children to feel as if it’s their home. I believe that children are the caretakers of our future. Instilling them now with skills, confidence, and compassion can equip them to influence the world as they grow.”
Looking back on her life, Paulino said she would never want to trade jobs with anyone, not even with her famous Dominican countryman, Oscar De La Renta, “When you become educated, doors open,” she says. “Instead of designing clothes I am designing young lives.”