Melinda Alcosser and Maria Mortali


m&m birding

The Connecticut Experiential Learning Center (CELC) was founded to make the middle school years what they must be:  a time and a place where young people discover the thrill of learning, master academic subjects, make good friends, and understand themselves.  Connecticut Experiential Learning Center enables students to build confidence and competence, thrive and even be joyful during these years.

Led by educators who provide young people with experiences that allow them to stretch and explore their potential, CELC was founded in Spring 2009 by Melinda Alcosser and Maria Mortali.  Throughout their years of teaching in a small middle school setting, they continue to witness just how powerful this model of school can be.

CT Experiential Learning Center faculty

Melinda began teaching in 1987 for the Music and Art Center for the Humanity. From there she became certified in music, preK-12, from the Yale Teacher Preparation Program. She received an MS degree in Environmental Education and preK-6 certification in Elementary Education from Southern Connecticut State University. Melinda attended the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies where she received her certification as a level one trainer in Kingian Nonviolence. Melinda has taught in New Haven at Betsy Ross Arts Magnet, Co-op HS and at the Cold Spring School and was a middle school teacher at Wightwood/Pine Brook for 15 years. Melinda is also a percussionist and has an organization called Hands-On-Rhythm, where she teaches drumming and other music from around the world to people of all ages. She is the mother of two girls and has lived in the Guilford area since 1997.

MMMaria has had a variety of careers, including restaurant management, accounting, professional cook and caterer, and editor. She ran her own daycare for many years and continues to work as a private tutor, for students ranging from elementary age through college, in all subjects, including grammar, writing, reading, geometry, algebra and physics. Maria worked as a substitute teacher as well as a middle school teacher at Wightwood School where she taught Spanish, U. S. History, Language Arts, and Math. She studied at Purdue University as an undergraduate. Maria is a mother to two boys – both recent graduates – one from Branford High School, class of 2009 and the other just out of college.


Additional faculty and staff bios coming soon… stay tuned for updates!