K’TANIM PRESCHOOL STAFF
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, the Connecticut Director’s Credential at a Master’s Level and is a certified Education Consultant. 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.
Gennifer Lippman, Teacher
Gennifer 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 staying home to raise her two children. “I love seeing the raw excitement that a child shows about the simplest of things,” she says. “This is a very special school with a tight-knit community that feels like family. You and your children will always feel loved and supported here.” Gen 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.
Jessica Searles, Teacher
Ms. Jessica has been working with young children for 20 years in Milford and most recently Fairfield. She holds an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Housatonic Community College where she graduated with honors. She was head of the Preschool Department at Good Shepherd Child Development Center as well as the lead teacher in a mixed age classroom. Jessica is passionate about working with young children of all ages and stages of growth and development while providing activities that foster creativity, self expression, and discovery. Jessica grew up in Southern Maine and Milford where she currently lives with her cat. She is the mother of an adult son Aaron and has a newborn grandson Landon. She enjoys music, crafting, hiking, and foraging. She is interested in mycology and learning about nature. Jessica is also an amazing home chef and baking enthusiast.
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.
Meghan Barton, Teacher
Ms. Barton grew up in Trumbull and holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fitchburg State College and certification in the state of CT. She spent time overseas before teaching second and third graders at Grace Christian School in Stamford for four years. After spending the last ten years raising her two children (Joy and DJ), substituting and homeschooling, she is ready to rejoin the classroom. Her family resides in Trumbull. She enjoys cleaning and organizing and finding interesting places in the area to explore with her family.
Carrie Norris Hall, Teacher
Carrie Hall has been in the teaching field in some capacity for 22 years. With a degree in Early Childhood Education, her last nine years have been spent in Kindergarten. She loves children and watching them grow and learn through exploration and hands-on experiences. Carrie and her husband are parents to three beautiful children and their family enjoys outdoorsy adventures and enjoying Mother natures’ many gifts. In her free time, she also enjoys running, gardening and time with our two dogs.
Lisa Haughton, Floater
Lisa lives in Fairfield with her husband and two teenage sons. She worked as a corporate HR professional and holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Lisa has been an assistant at K’tanim preschool in the 3’s class. She enjoys long walks with her adorable chiweenie, cooking, baking, running in local road races and spending time with her boys.