`Fun stuff' for kids


Melissa Calleri coordinates recreational programs for children in Howard County


Melissa Calleri

Recreation coordinator

Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks

Salary --$37,500

Age --27

Years on the job --Two

How she got started --"It was a fluke," said Calleri, who attended Green Mountain College in Vermont. "I was there for graphic design."

But after working with a friend at a nearby summer camp for children and adults with special needs, she knew she would pursue recreation as a career. Calleri graduated with a degree in therapeutic recreation. From there, she moved back to Maryland and completed her internship working with the City of Greenbelt's therapeutic recreation program. She then applied for an opening in Howard County.

Typical day --Calleri is one of three people responsible for coordinating the nonsport children's programs for the county's Department of Recreation and Parks. This includes classes in dance, drama, crafts, cooking and art.

Calleri works with programs for school-aged children, from kindergarten to about eighth grade. Much of her day is spent answering parents' questions through e-mails and phone calls about the programs being offered.

Calleri gets a chance to use her graphic design skills because a big part of her job is promoting classes and programs through fliers, brochures and announcements she creates. Organization is a big skill, says Calleri. The winter activities are starting now, but she is also planning and setting up classes for the spring and thinking about the summer season. "We're in the job of providing fun stuff to do."

Although Calleri is not directly working with special-needs participants, she said she is enjoying the planning and development side of recreation. To stay current in her field, she will take a written exam to become a certified therapeutic recreation specialist in March.

The good --The people with whom she works.

The bad --Although Calleri initiates and coordinates many of the classes, she rarely gets to see them in action. "You spend all this time planning and we have so many great programs, but it's not always easy to get out and see them."

Creating new classes --The start of a new program does not necessarily mean a less-popular program is then eliminated. "Usually when we start a new program, we've either had a lot of requests for it, find there's a need for it, or have a location that's underused. So we cater to the needs out there."

Most popular program --Dance.

Future of nonsport recreation --New science adventure classes and more art classes.

Philosophy on the job --"Offering the best programs we can and improving the quality of life for the people that participate in our programs."

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