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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

Mara holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from SUNY Albany, a Master’s in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Baruch College, and a 6th year degree in the Teaching of English as a Second Language from 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 and dogs Smoke and Lacey. They are currently enjoying their empty nest while twins Alissa and Matthew are away at college.

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.

Sue DeThomas, Teacher

Ms. Sue graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work.  After working for a year, she went back to college to obtain her Master’s in Social Work.  She worked for many years with the geriatric and hospice population.  She loves working with the young 2’s to watch their excitement and their ability to just be themselves!  Sue lives in Fairfield with her husband, Kevin and 3 children, Lleyton, Tallulah and Willow along with her two cats and 2 dogs.  In her spare time Sue enjoys taking walks, cooking and hanging with her family.

Sarah Tyler, Teacher Assistant

Sarah has been volunteering/working with children for almost 10 years and have worked at the K’Tanim summer camp since 2019. For as long as she can remember, she has always loved interacting with and teaching children. Despite their age, she always learn something new from each child. She finds it fulfilling to watch each child grow and see the person they become. She hopes to be a positive influence on every child she works with.

Sarah received her Associates of Science in Criminal Justice from Housatonic and just recently graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from Central Connecticut State University.

She enjoys hiking, traveling, and outdoor activities. Her lifelong goal is to eventually travel to all of the U.S. national parks.

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.

Josie Nathanson, Floater

Josie Nathanson is a mom of 4 boys, three of which are graduates from K’Tanim preschool. Her youngest son Graham will be in the 3s class.  She loves K’Tanim and helping out in any of the classes! Josie loves cooking, reading, going to flea markets, and anything miniature.

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.