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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, 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

Miss Sue is starting her 13th year with K’tanim.  She has been a 3s teacher for all except for 1 year.  Sue holds a bachelors degree from the University of Rhode Island and spent a semester in France while in college.  She loves working with children especially the preschool aged ones.  “It’s so rewarding to watch them grow, become more independent and explore new things!” Miss Sue enjoys playing tennis, doing yoga, and going to the beach in her free time.  She lives in Fairfield with her husband, Kevin, three children (Margot, Clare and Kevin), and dog, Keegan.

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.

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.

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.