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About Us

Sparking growth through volunteerism

Our belief is that children can make sense of their world and grow in knowledge and skills by taking part in enrichment opportunities such as Spark Growth! where children along with their parents and families can participate in a variety of literacy and creative activities so that literacy and art becomes a way for them to ‘read the world’, have a sense of community and contribute to the world as well.
It is our belief that children's knowledge and growth of literacy and art  as well as parent-family involvement can be a positively enhance through the use of these 5 practices we incorporate into our enrichment program: Print, Presence, intention, time and words
Our hope is to inspire children to become passionate readers, writers and artists. We strive to provide support in children’s learning by ‘sparking growth’ through our enrichment program providing a service that grows lifelong learners

The Puzzle Project

How We Help

The Spark Growth! Literacy and Art Enrichment Program is designed to be:

  • A community outreach service providing a literacy and art enrichment   program for young children and their families in the Morongo Basin. Spark Growth! program staff are volunteers who are supportive and knowledgeable, have achieved career and educational accomplishments, and  have real-world collegiate and primary school work experience in the fields of child / human development, communication, creative arts, literacy and illustration, music,  technology, and web design.

  • A literacy and creative enrichment program providing opportunities for families to partner with Spark Growth! program staff  in supporting children’s literacy and art learning and growth. Families are invited to participate in the  enrichment program and are provided with literacy and art -related activities, family-oriented projects and instructions for use at home with their children.

  • A free mobile literacy and art enrichment program that travels to elementary schools, family day care homes, child care centers and preschool sites and homeschool sites in the Morongo  Basin to provide research-based developmentally appropriate activities that have been planned using the whole child learning approach with activities and lessons that are engaging and fun.  

  • A literacy enrichment program with activities and lessons which align with curricular standards and goals of the school district, teaching and instructional staff, childcare and preschool directors / staff,  home school staff, and/or family day care owners/ staff. Literacy and art enrichment activities/ lessons are conducted in the classroom, center or site with the teacher, instructional staff or caregivers present and have been planned to last approximately 30 minutes.

  • A literacy and art  enrichment   program where Spark Growth! directors and staff are committed to establishing and maintaining high quality interactions, positive relationships, and ongoing communication with each individual participating in the literacy enrichment program.  Spark Growth! Staff maintains strict confidentiality, demonstrates a strong code of ethics, and works in collaborative, inclusive, respectful, and supportive way with school district administrators, teaching and instructional staff, childcare and preschool directors / staff, family day care owners/ staff , homeschool staff, and the individual children and families participating in the program.

  • A literacy and art enrichment  program that sparks children’s motivation and interest in reading and creativity.

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Meet The Leadership Team

Executive Director

Maureen Stine, Executive Director, is fervent about her work in education, particularly her passion for working in the field of early care and education of young children. Her goals are to support young children’s development and learning through the consistent use of positive, meaningful, and respectful interactions. Maureen feels these quality interactions are essential in building and maintaining trusting and collaborative relationships with children, families, and adults. She believes that these relationships connections -- have the potential to positively impact children’s development and learning. Over the last two decades of her career, Maureen has also experienced the ways that quality interactions and positive relationships provide children with a sense of belonging and safety. It is her belief that this sense of belonging and safety supports children’s development and growth in literacy and creative, as well as other domains of development including social-emotional skills such as self awareness, self confidence, self efficacy, empathy and cooperation. Further, Maureen realizes how important it is for children’s ‘first teachers’ parents and family - to be involved in the learning process Maureen’s passion for connecting and engaging with children and families began early in life where she was born fourth child in a family of twelve children. Maureen’s mother, a creative, artistic elementary school teacher and tutor for over 40 years and her father, the family chef and witty, impeccably dressed sales manager for over 30 years, modeled and instilled a deep respect for life, abiding love of family, a robust work ethic, creative expressions through art and writing, and a passion for learning. This legacy influenced Maureen’s choice to become an educator soon after high school when she began college studies to become a teacher and artist. During college she met the love of her life, became a wife, and mother and along the way continued her educational pursuits earning an AA in Liberal Studies, BA in Psychology and Human Development, and an MA in Psychology/Child Development. Maureen’s career in education and child development spans over 24 years beginning as an elementary school instructional assistant, followed by employment as a preschool teacher, summer program director, substitute elementary and junior high school teacher, child development center Director, Site Supervisor/Teacher for state funded early education programs, mentor teacher for early education students, director mentor for local child development program directors, and Adjunct Child Development Professor at Copper Mountain Community College (retired). As part of her Master’s Program, Maureen researched, designed and implemented a successful literacy program for parents and children which included books, literacy-related activities, creative art, music and singing activities, resources, and family projects for use at home. Maureen authored a textbook of her MA thesis and project titled Supporting Early Literacy Through Attachment-Based Parenting. Participation as a member of elementary and college advisory committees, parent volunteer programs, and as practicum instructor traveling to local schools & child care centers, Maureen has found that in the vast, remote desert region of Morongo Basin there are limited opportunities for all children to have opportunities for enrichment literacy and art activities. Because of this, she questioned: How can all children be provided with more opportunities to participate in literacy and enrichment activities? Could supplemental & supportive literacy enrichment activities help support local schools/programs, family day cares and homeschooling families in their ongoing efforts to help children in their development and growth of literacy and art? A conversation with her daughter Melanie (who has been actively involved in education) about the need for literacy enrichment activities for children evolved into a brainstorming session. Then it became an a-ha moment! Utilize the components of Maureen’s MA literacy program, her expertise and training (along with her collection of children’s well-known books, literacy supplies, art materials, music, etc.) and her daughter Melanie’s experiences and accomplishments as artist, author, illustrator, professor, technology/computer instructor, and volunteer to design and plan elements & activities for a free community outreach program in the Morongo Basin. The answer -- Spark Growth! Literacy and Art Enrichment Program for children and families!


Melanie Shannon, Director, is passionate about helping children develop creativity and create positive connections in their learning environments. She has more than 20 years of experience teaching children and adults over the course of her career, including working in a citywide summer camps, local schools, church and childcare programs. Previously, Melanie was a college professor at the local community college, (Copper Mountain College) in Joshua Tree, California. Throughout her career she has discovered how to use her artistic talents to spend countless hours volunteering with dance studios, local elementary, middle schools and day cares. Involving herself with arts and crafts activities focused on enrichment and whole child connections. Her focus on art and literacy evolved after she began writing, illustrating and publishing children's books over the course of three years. Her attempt to donate books locally to child literacy programs revealed the fact that there is a deficit in the Morongo Basin for supplemental and supportive programs children need. This prompted a need for action. Which is where the proposal of her Mother's Master's work in a literacy program paired with art, music, and singing to create Spark Growth! outreach literacy and art program for the children of the Morongo Basin.

Volunteer Coordinator

Cyarah Stine, Volunteer Coordinator, is eager to provide opportunities to be apart of young children's growth. As a communications college graduate, Cyarah knows the importance of a strong and positive connections in the classroom. She has worked in the Morongo Unified school district as a Positive Behavior Instructional Assistant. She also has nine years of child care experience and three years of volunteer experience; mainly in the field of education and communication. Throughout her career, she has discovered the value of giving young children the proper tools to communicate and express their feelings. Cyarah's focus is on bridging the gap between community connection and service by selecting qualified volunteers for our program. Cyarah is enthusiastic about utilizing community members to guide children through creative enrichment activities. Her vision is to aid individual volunteers to invest in connecting with children while teaching language and art, which in turn builds a solid foundation for the future.

Program Assistant

Linda Mahany was born and raised in Yucca Valley. She graduated from Yucca Valley High School in 1991. Linda worked at San Bernardino County Probation at Central Valley Juvenile Detention Center (CVJDAC) for over 18 years. Working with high risk juveniles. Before working at probation center, Linda was an Emergency Medical Technician with Morongo Basin Ambulance for 5 years, working here in the Morongo Basin. Linda decided to volunteer with Spark Growth Program to work with children and help educate through the arts. Linda feels the program is a great way to get the youth involved in art and literature through fun activities and also helps get the parents involved with take home activities. With Linda’s past involvement with at risk juveniles, it is a great way for her to be involved and help by connecting with children. Linda hopes to try and help the students engage in positive activities to build and enrich their lives.

Board Members


Spark Growth is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants without regard to race, religion, color, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, military or veteran status, marital status, pregnancy, age, protected medical condition, genetic information, disability or any other protected status in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local laws. Spark growth is opposed to any form of less favorable treatment and aims to create a culture that respects and values each other’s differences. Spark Growth sees these differences as an asset to our work as they improve our ability to meet the needs of the organizations and people we serve.

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