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The heart and soul of our school is our wonderful teaching staff. All are amazingly thoughtful, highly educated & experienced early childhood educators who each bring immeasurable warmth, talent, and dedication to our programs.

Kate Luedtke, K’tanim Preschool Director


Kate Luedtke brings over 20 years experience in Early Childhood to her role as leader of our wonderful K’tanim family. At the Westport Community Nursery School, she developed and managed the Kindergarten program, after having served as the school’s Curriculum Coordinator, and the Head Teacher of a 3’s classroom, a 4’s class, and a mixed aged group of 3’s/4’s. She has also made a positive impact on the Stratford Public Schools working with their School Readiness program, and put her extensive experience to further use in teaching ESL (English as a Second Language).

In addition to having earned a Masters in Elementary Education and a BA in Psychology, her credentials also include a Child Development Associate (CDA) Degree in Early Childhood, a Connecticut Head Teacher’s Certificate and the Connecticut Director’s Credential at a Master’s Level. She is also a trained Music Together teacher.

Born and raised in Trumbull, Kate still lives there with her husband Brad and two sons Logan and Braeden.

Amy Gold, Teacher

Ms. Gold earned her Masters of Professional Studies in Elementary and Special Education from Manhattanville College, and began teaching preschool in Mamaroneck, NY in 1997. She adores and cherishes the honor of being a child’s first teacher and working closely with families to instill a lifelong love of learning in her students. A longtime resident of Fairfield with husband Jonathan, daughters Emma and Riley, and dog Winnie, Amy loves capturing special moments and so is almost never without a camera.

Gennifer Lippman, Teacher

Ms. Lippman holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Advertising from the University of Vermont as well as a Master’s in Elementary Education from Sacred Heart, and taught 1st grade for five years prior to joining K’tanim. “I love seeing the raw excitement that a four year old shows about the simplest of things,” she says, “A room full of four year olds laughing and chatting can make most days brighter!” Genn is a very active Beth El congregant with husband Joshua and two sons Ross and Noah — both of whom are graduates of K’tanim Preschool and now attend Beth El Religious School.

Rianne Sappern, Teacher

An early childhood educator for over 25 years, Ms. Riri began her career leading inclusion preschool classrooms and early intervention programs in NYC. But she’s been with us here at K’tanim for over a decade, both co-teaching the 2’s and in many years running the Little Explorers program. “There’s nothing like nurturing their developmental skills while witnessing them mature into incredible, independent little people.” she says. “You will often see me with paint in my hair and sparkles/glue on my clothes, a sign that we had another incredibly fun day learning.” Rianne holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education/ Special Education, as well as a Music Together certification. She lives in Fairfield with her husband of 21 years and two wonderful children, now ages 19 and 15.

Sue Shanahan, Teacher

A K’tanim teacher for 10 years, Ms. Sue loves working with 3 year olds, particularly in those “I did it!” moments when they can put on their jacket themselves, learn to spell their name, or put on their shoes themselves. But the best part? “Having conversations with 3 year olds, of course! You never know what they are going to say!” A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Sue also studied abroad in Grenoble, France — and loves everything French and France related! She is married with three teenage children, Margot, Clare, and Kevin.

Mara Schwartz, Teacher

Ms. Schwartz holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from SUNY Albany, a Master’s in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Baruch College, and is in her 6th year in of the Teaching English as a Second Language program at Pace University. She taught elementary school at PS130 in NYC’s Chinatown, as well as at Coleytown Elementary in Westport, but has loved teaching the 3’s here at K’tanim since 2010. “It is amazing to see how they change throughout the year. They are so loving and kind to each other, creative in their play, and eager to learn about the world. I love how they make me laugh and give me great big hugs.” Mara lives in Fairfield with husband Jonathan, twin 17 year olds Alissa and Matthew, and dog Jasmine.

Joan Fleming, Teacher

Ms. Fleming has co-led our 2’s class since 2012, after having taught 2nd grade in the Derby Public Schools. “I love watching them make connections between things that they do at home and things they do in school. I actually feel like we are able to witness their brains growing right before our eyes!” Having grown up one of seven siblings, Joan loves outdoor sports (running, hiking, or skiing), hot power yoga, and always being surrounded by family. She holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from St. Michael’s College and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Sacred Heart. Along with her husband Chris, Joan has lived in Fairfield for twenty years and raised three children, Mikaela, Collin, and Keira — all of whom are multi-sport varsity athletes.

For more information or to schedule a tour, please contact our director, Kate Luedtke, at kluedtke@bethelfairfield.org or (203) 374-5544. Registration for the coming school year is now in progress. We look forward to welcoming you to the K’tanim family!

For upcoming Preschool events, check out the Calendar, and filter for Preschool.