Michelle Butera, Preschool Director – Michelle is excited to continue some of the long-standing traditions of Ardmore Preschool while maintaining the nurturing environment APWPS offer. Michelle has a background in finance and management, 25 years of parenting experience and 25 years as member of APC, 8 years of Sunday School teaching and involved in the preschool for 19 years. She brings her faith, her heart and her wisdom to help the preschool have an amazing year. Michelle is originally from Cherry Hill, N.J.. She has her undergraduate degree from Drexel University and her Masters Degree from Penn State University. She loves to see the happiness and joy that comes from each child. Michelle is the mother of two adult daughters.
Patty Burchette – Patty has always had a passion when it comes to working with children. After many years of working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and then taking time off to be at home with her kids, Patty found herself enjoying being in a classroom. From teaching Sunday School, volunteering in her kids classes and then teaching preschool while living in IL, she is thrilled to be a part of the APWPS staff this coming year! After growing up in St. Louis, Patty attended Indiana University and received her Bachelors in Science-Nursing. Patty and her husband moved to Philadelphia just after college. After several moves that took them up and down the east coast and Midwest, her family is happy to be back in Philly again! Patty and her husband, Brett have two children-Caroline (age 13-an APWP graduate) and Owen (age 6-who will start First Grade this fall). Patty is excited to be teaching the 3 year old class this year and looks forward to her favorite part of each day…..”seeing a smile on a child’s face after helping them with something as small as tying their shoe or as big as learning something new.”
Alyce Cerniglia grew up in the Philadelphia area. She has her undergraduate degree in Finance and graduate degree in Human Resources from Catholic University in Washington DC. She enjoyed many years using her Human Resources skills while working as an international college admissions counselor and corporate recruiter. Alyce returned from living in Washington DC shortly after meeting her husband “down the shore”. Alyce and Joe have three boys (ages 12, 11 and 9) who all attended APWPS. Alyce has substituted at APWP many times over the past 5 years. Alyce enjoys reading and inspiring future readers starting at a young age. She loves reading during story time or picking that perfect picture book. Alyce is thrilled to be teaching the two-day class, “where it all begins”. Alyce’s family lives in Wynnewood and belongs to St. Margaret’s Church in Narberth.
Nicole, Finnegan, MS, OTR/L is a certified and licensed pediatric occupational therapist who works with children privately and through Early Intervention. Through her OT services, Nicole addresses fine and gross motor skills, sensory processing challenges, regulation and skills related to daily routines and activities. She is passionate about providing support to both children and their families to maximize their potential across settings. Nicole is also mother to three beautiful boys and enjoys spending time with her family and being outdoors.
Raelyn Harman, Church and Preschool Administrator. Raelyn earned her Masters in Social Work at Temple University and has worked as a community organizer, in the Department of Human Services, the Philadelphia School District and as a trainer of child welfare social workers. She managed the office for her family’s business. Raelyn and her husband, Gopal Subramanian have two children, Peter and Maya and live in Havertown. Raelyn is a member of Overbrook Presbyterian Church and enjoys travel. crocheting and gardening.
Leigh Lignowski Leigh grew up in Summit, New Jersey. She has an undergraduate background in Literature and Art and graduated from Villanova Law School, where she met her husband. They have four children, two boys and two girls, all of whom “graduated” from APWPS. Leigh taught K-8 art at St. Colman-John Neumann and was a substitute at our preschool for several years before joining the staff. She’s been teaching for four years and currently teaches both the two-day and three-day classes. She loves being with young children and is excited to encourage their creativity, curiosity, joy, and love of learning, and to watch them grow over the course of a school year. Leigh’s family belongs to St. Colman Church in Ardmore.
Denise Peters – Denise has her degree in Early Childhood Education and has been teaching children since her Springfield High School’s Early Childhood Program. She grew up in Spingfield, PA and met her husband, Bob in church and they have 4 grown sons with the youngest recently married. Denise currently is attending Springton Lake Presbyterian Church in Media. Denise has been teaching at APWPS for 5 years and is currently teaching the five-day class. Denise loves pre-schoolers because they are innocent and funny. She also love dogs, especially her Minitature Dachshund and English Pointer. Denise enjoys spending time with her family and three young grandchildren.
Danuta (Danka) Jablonska-Rauer – Danka is from Poland, where she began her academic and professional career by completing a Master’s Degree in Early Education and becoming a teacher. She taught preschool children and grade school children for over 12 years and currently is a teacher in the 2-day and 3-day classrooms. In 2001, Danka moved to the United States, where she met her husband. She now lives in Ardmore with her husband, their two young daughters, a bunny rabbit and four goldfish. Danka loves to involve her little ones in crafts, gardening, baking and creative play (everything she enjoys doing!) She loves to see each child’s curiosity grow as he or she explores the world.
Irena Reynolds – Upon completing her degree in Public Administration from the Technical University of Varna, Bulgaria, Irena Reynolds arrived in the United States in 2003 for a year long internship. The following year she became a nanny for a Philadelphia family while earning her Masters Degree in Central and Eastern European Studies from LaSalle University. While rearing three children of her own, she has become a Cub Scouts of America Den Leader and is currently a Cub Scout Pack Chair Woman. Residing in Ardmore for the last 9 years with her family, Irena very much enjoys being involved at her children’s school, Penn Valley Elementary, and is currently serving on the Home and School Association Board as its Vice President.
After her youngest child started attending Ardmore Presbyterian in 2014, Irena began helping as a substitute teacher, and has assisted in most of the classrooms since. She is exited to begin her first year as a two-day class teacher and assistant at the five-day programs!
Laura Rossio — Laura Rossio grew up in the Philadelphia area, and has a background in nursing. She has been teaching at APWPS since 2005 and is currently a teacher in the 5-day program. Laura enjoys the genuine enthusiasm and joie de vivre of these youngest children in the preschool. She marvels at the incredible growth from fall to spring as language emerges, skills improve, and the children begin to care about each other. Laura feels a teacher should be a role model, patient, kind and especially flexible in expectations. Laura is the mother of a daughter and was raised as a Quaker.
Shannon Smith, has an undergraduate background in Childhood Education and Family Studies with a minor in Psychology from Penn State University. After college she has worked as a child mental health worker, victims advocate, and as an assistant and lead teacher for the YMCA. Shannon and her husband have 2 daughters both who went to Ardmore Presbyterian Preschool and are now in elementary school.
Karen Tolbert grew up in Buffalo, New York. She attended Bucknell University and received a BS in Elementary Education. She earned her Masters in Reading Education from the University of Virginia. She taught for seven years prior to having children and moving to the area in 2013. Karen currently lives in Bala Cynwyd with her husband and two children. Currently she is a teacher in the three-day program. Her children are recent graduates of APWPS.
Sheila Vaccaro has been working with young children since her first job at sixteen years old. She earned her BA in elementary education and psychology at Albright College and her MA in counseling psychology at Rosemont College. Sheila has taught Head Start for the Philadelphia School District and was an elementary school counselor for ten years in the Central Bucks School District. She lives with her husband and two sons (both APWPS graduates) in Wynnewood.