Lifelong Rockaway resident, community activist and children’s advocate Marina Callaghan has been directly involved in caring for and educating youth for more than twenty years. A first generation American raised by Polish/Scottish parents, Marina began her career in childcare when she opened a day care center in 1986, shortly after the birth of her second child. In preparing her own and other local children to enter kindergarten and as a teaching assistant at the Pratt Institute’s “Mommy and Me” Program, she developed the caring, compassionate and creative approach for which she is widely known and loved.
In 1995, Marina collaborated with a local group of professional artists to form the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA), an organization whose mission is to encourage and nurture the involvement of Rockaway residents of Rockaway, particularly youth, in the arts and cultural activities. Affectionately referred to as “Mamarina” by many, she was instrumental in creating the kidsmART afterschool program, which offers an enriching arts-based program to local youth with an emphasis on being kind, imaginative, dependable, sensitive, motivated, accepting, respectful and tolerant.
Marina is the embodiment of the kidsmART principles, managing simultaneously to attend to the smallest needs of the children and to keep sight of the bigger picture, the need for professional development and community relations. A bright spot in the day and the life of so many children and parents, Marina teaches through positive reinforcement and exhibits a pure love for her work.
In addition to being a top educator, Marina is an organizer, a mobilizer who believes as fervently in causes as she does in children. She has helped run voter registration drives and bring attention to the over-development of her beloved Rockaway. She is an outspoken peace activist, political campaigner, and is dedicated to civil rights and environmental issues. As the years pass, Marina continues to reach for the stars, and her unflagging commitment to the youth and community of Far Rockaway only grows.