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 received 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.

Nikki Groeschner (Teacher, 4s & Creative Explorers)

Nikki joined HNS in September 2017 as a 4's and Explorer's Club teacher. Her children attended HNS, where she co-chaired the fundraising committee and served on the board of Directors. Nikki earned her B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, and her M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from The New School. While in graduate school, Nikki completed an internship with Community Word Project. She went on to work as a Teaching Artist for CWP, where she taught poetry, performance and community building in public schools throughout NYC. Nikki lives in Simsbury with her husband and two sons. She enjoys reading, hiking, volunteering at Heublein Tower and exploring New England with her family.

Jennifer Dunnigan(Teacher, 3s; Treasurer)

Jennifer Dunnigan joined HNS as a 3’s teacher in the fall of 2021. Jen’s daughters attended HNS beginning in 2015, during that time she served on the Board of Director’s, began substituting at HNS in 2017 and became the Treasurer in 2019. Jen earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from CCSU. She lives in Simsbury with her husband, 2 daughters and 2 dogs. In her spare time she volunteers at her daughters’ school, enjoys hiking, knitting and baking.

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. In September 2017, Michelle began teaching the 4s. 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 & Creative Explorers)

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.

Katie Crawford(Teacher, 3s & 4s)

Katie joined HNS in September 2022 as a 3's teacher. Both of her sons are HNS alumni. After several years volunteering as a Room Parent, Library Chair and Scholastic Chair as well as chaperoning field trips, and volunteering in the classroom and at holiday parties Katie joined the staff as a substitute teacher and then became a classroom teacher. She received her B.A. from Virginia Tech, M.A. in Education Theater and Social Studies from NYU and a Nature Based Certification from ERAFANS. Katie holds a CT teaching license in Social Studies (7-12) and Theater (PreK-12). Katie has worked as a teacher, tutor, sub and teaching artist. She lives in Simsbury with her husband, 2 son's and many animals (dogs, cats and bunnies). She loves to read, craft and explore nature whenever possible, especially in Vermont where her parents live. .

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.

Lindsay Thomson (Teacher, PreK)

Lindsay subbed at HNS in 2019 after her twin boys finished attending the PreK program, and formally joined the staff in 2021. In addition to her experience raising three boys, she received her BS in Elementary Education and her MA in Education from UCONN. Lindsay also holds certification in Educational Leadership from CCSU. Lindsay and her husband Rich moved from West Hartford to Simsbury to raise their boys and it was the best move they made! Lindsay is an avid gardener and loves hiking and spending time at the beach with her family.

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.

Manuela Hanshaw (Teacher, 3s)

Manuela is very excited to return to HNS after being away for a few years. She and her husband have lived in Simsbury for over 30 years and have three grown children. She originally joined the HNS staff in 2006 and taught Pre-K and 3’s for about 10 years, and loves working with young children and teens alike. When she is not spending time with her family or their new Bassett puppy “Winnie”, she enjoys time on the beach and actively volunteering in the community with the homeless and food insecure. Manuela earned a Bachelor’s degree in both Accounting and French, and an MS in Taxation.

Susan Pugh (Teacher, PreK)

Susan joined HNS as a 3s teacher in 2021. Prior to joining our staff, both of Susan’s children attended HNS. During this time, she served on the Board of Directors, chaired the special events committee, chaperoned numerous field trips and volunteered in the classrooms. Susan earned her BA in elementary and special education as well as her MA in educational psychology both from Marist College. She worked as an elementary school substitute and fourth grade teacher before moving into the medical education industry. She has spent the last several years as a stay-at-home mom and is excited to be back in the classroom which she loves. Susan resides in Avon with her husband Brian,two children, two dogs and several fish. 

Hilary DiMascio (Teacher, 4s)

Hilary joined our staff in 2021 as a 4’steacher.  Hilary is a mother of five HNS alumni. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology fromSyracuse University, a Masters from University of Maryland, and her Ph.D. inSchool Psychology from University of Connecticut.  She has lived in Simsbury with her husband,Felice and her five boys since 2004.