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 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.

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.

Michelle Winkleblack (Teacher's Aide, 3s; Teacher, 4s)

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.

Lisa Putnam(Teacher, PreK)

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.

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.

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.

Susan Pugh (Teacher, 3s)

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.