Staff

Calendar of Events

Check the Calendar of Events for all your child’s upcoming class events and activities.
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HNS Programs

Our daily program is a balanced combination of free play and guided activities.
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We are proud of our excellent teaching staff. Consistent with our developmental philosophy, our staff is committed to continuing education in early childhood development; all are actively involved in curriculum planning. Our teachers bring a wide variety of life experiences to share with the children, such as music and performing arts, creative arts, and travel abroad. In keeping with licensure requirements of the State of Connecticut, all staff members maintain current certification in American Red Cross Infant/Child CPR and First Aid training. The state also requires criminal background checks on all staff members, as well as signed TB test and health statements.

Lisa MacNeil (Director)

Lisa joined the HNS staff in 2006. SHe recieved her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from UCONN and her teaching certificate from Southern CT State University. Lisa taught both PreK and Kindergarten in MA before becoming a FT mom when her first son was born. Two of her 3 boys attended HNS and she enjoyed helping in their classrooms and subbing before being hired as a lunch bunch teacher. Lisa was a 3s teacher's aide and taught 3s and 4s for several years. She was the Registrar and Associate Director before becoming the Director in 2015. Lisa lives in Simsbury with her husband, Mark and their 3 sons. She enjoyes watching her sons play sports and spending time at the beach with her extended family.

Kristy DeConti (Teacher, 4s)

Kristy was excited to join the wonderful staff at HNS in September 2016 as a 4s teacher! She has been working with preschool aged children for 10 years- whether in the public school system, private daycares, as a nanny or a special education teacher. Kristy has a BA in Theatre and a MA in Early Childhood Special Education and finds that they go hand in hand. She lives in Simsbury with her husband Brian and her sons, Holden (a student at HNS) and Anderson. In her free time she loves to cook, hike and run.

Lisa Hugel (Teacher, 3s & 4s)

Lisa subbed for 2 years before joining the teaching staff at HNS in 2000. She is a native of Simsbury and still lives in Simsbury with her husband (and high school sweetheart) Craig. Lisa holds a Bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, but enjoyed being full-time mom for many years. She is actively involved in community organizations such as Simsbury Newcomers Club. In her free time, Lisa enjoys Jazzercise and visiting her grown children.

Manuela Hanshaw (Teacher, Pre-K)

Manuela joined the HNS staff in 2007. She received her BS in accounting and French and has an MS in taxation. Manuela enjoyed being a full-time mom for many years. When she is not spending time with her children, she spends her time volunteering either at Simsbury High School, Simsbury Friends for Music, or at the Friday Cafe in Cambridge, MA. She is also a leader of the senior and junior high youth groups at her church and taught Sunday school for many years. She and her husband Frank live in Simsbury with their basset hound Eliza.

Michelle Winkleblack (Teacher's Aide, 3s)

Michelle fell in love with HNS when her daughter attended and has been there ever since! She began by substituting and then joined the staff as a teacher’s aide in 2010. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from James Madison University and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Boston University. Michelle lives in Simsbury and enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, Grant, and their two daughters.

Karen Papagelis (Teacher, 4s)

Karen joined HNS in 2012 with several years of experience teaching in elementary classrooms and special education settings. She received a BA in elementary and special education from Providence College and then earned her MS in elementary education from Central Connecticut State University. She is certified by the state of CT to teach K-6 as well as special education Pre-K -12. Karen also has invaluable early childhood experience as the mother of three HNS alumni! After years of volunteering as a parent and serving as HNS Board president, she joined the staff and loves teaching and playing with 4-year-olds. Karen and her husband, George, reside in Simsbury with their children and dog. Karen enjoys numerous athletic and musical events with her family.

Lisa Putnam(Teacher, 4s and Explorer's Club)

Lisa joined our staff in September 2015 as a 4s Explorer's Club teacher. Lisa is a mother of a Hopmeadow Nursery School alumnus. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Lisa is an active member of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary. She has lived in Simsbury with her husband, Roger, and their two children since 2005.

Maureen Gaffney(Teacher, 3s)

Maureen joined our staff as a 3s teacher in September 2016. All 4 of Maureen’s children attended Hopmeadow, the first in 2003 and the last finished in May 2016. Maureen received her BA from Bridgewater State University and M.ed. from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She taught in MA until 1998 when she married and moved to CT where she taught first and second grade in the New Britain Public Schools. Maureen lives in Simsbury with her husband and their four children. Maureen enjoys staying active, volunteering in her childrens’ schools and spending time with her family.

Anne Montesi (Teacher, Explorer's Club)

Anne joined our staff in September of 2013 as the Explorer’s Club Teacher. Science and nature have always fascinated Anne and she enjoys guiding young learners to explore and discover the wonders of our natural world. She taught kindergarten and first grade for thirteen years before becoming a full-time mom. She is certified by the state of CT to teach Preschool-Grade 8. Anne received her BA from Assumption College and MA in Education from The University of CT. Anne, her husband Rob, and three children share their home in Simsbury with various critters. Currently they care for Tucker, a Goldendoodle, a guinea pig named Meadow, Gracie the rat, numerous hissing cockroaches,a terrarium of snails, four Blue Death Feigning Beetles, a Texas Gold Millipede, two tarantulas, a Vinagaroon, hundreds of mealworms and superworms, and an orchestra of crickets.

Lisa Jennings (Teacher's Aide, 3s)

Lisa has been our go-to sub for several years now, and is also a 3s teacher's aide. Lisa received her BS in accounting from Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire. Both of her children are HNS alumni. Lisa spends her spare time teaching herself Italian in an effort to read ancestor's letters and recipes.

Kathy Vincent (Teacher, 3s)

Kathy joined our staff as a 3s teacher in September 2015. Kathy's three children attended HNS, the first one beginning in 2007, and the last one finished in 2014. During that time, she was always willing to parent help in her child's class. Kathy also worked as a substitute teacher at HNS. She has a B.S. in Human Development and Family Relations from UConn and spent years working in Social Services before having children and becoming a FT mom. She devotes much of her free time to volunteering at her children's elementary school, and also enjoys gardening and baking.

Julie Zehren (Teacher, PreK)

Julie joined our staff as a 4s teacher in September 2015. Julie's 2 children attended HNS. Julie was a very active member of the Hopmeadow Community during her children's time here. She often parent helped and chaperoned field trips. She served on the board of Directors as the Secretary. She earned her BS in Elementary Education from Wheelock College and her Master's in Education from Cambridge College. She taught Pre-K, third grade and ESL (English as a second language.) She lives in Simsbury with her husband John; and children Emily and Brody. They love the ocean and spend a lot of time in Southern Maine on the sea coast with friends and family. Julie grew up in Farmington, CT.

Bridget Veratti (Teacher, 3s)

Bridget joined our staff as a 3s teacher in September 2016.