Preschool Staff

cropped Michelle Butera head shotMichelle Butera, Preschool Director – Michelle is excited to continue some of the long-standing traditions of Ardmore Preschool while maintaining the nurturing environment AWPS offer. Michelle has a background in finance and management, 20 years of parenting experience and 20 years as member of APC, 8 years of Sunday School teaching and 15 years of preschool teaching experience. 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 come from each child. Michelle is the mother of two daughters in college.

pearliePearlie Diesinger, Preschool Administrator/Church Secretary Pearlie was born and raised in the south and moved to suburban Philadelphia when she married husband Bill. She has been on church staff since 1969 starting as an assistant teacher in the pre-school. She has been on staff ever since, mostly in her current capacity. Pearlie lives in Wayne and has a grown son and two step-grandchildren.


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. FrPatty Burchetteom 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 APWP 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 12-an APWP graduate) and Owen (age 5-who will start Kindergarten 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.”

Leigh Lignowski Leigh grew up in Summit, New Jersey. She has an undergraduate background in leighLiterature and Art and graduated from Villanova Law School, where she met her husband. They have four young children, two boys and two girls, all of whom “graduated” from APWP. Leigh taught K-8 art at St. Colman-John Neumann and was a substitute at preschool for several years before joining the staff to teach MDO with Laura Rossio. 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.

xxpetersDenise 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 heading to college this fall. Denise has taught numerous programs in church from Pre-K to Youth Group and is presently attending Springton Lake Presbyterian Church in Media. She also teaches a summer program for Haverford Park and Recreation’s Tot Lots. Denise loves pre-schoolers because they are innocent and funny. She also love dogs, especially her Minitature Dachshund and English Pointer and is looking forward to meeting her first grandchild this fall.

Danuta (Danka) Jablonska-Rauer – Danka is from Poland, where she began her academic and danskaprofessional career by completing a Master’s Degree in Early Education and becoming a teacher. She taught preschool children and grade school children for over 10 years. 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.

xxlaurarossioLaura Rossio — Laura Rossio grew up in the Philadelphia area, and has a background in nursing. She has been teaching at APWPS since 2006 in the Mother’s Day Out program, with Leigh Lignowski. 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.

xxsuzannescovillSuzanne Scovill — Suzanne Scovill is from Dearborn, Michigan (Go Blue!). She has taught over 35 years in many places – the most fantastic place was Zimbabwe, Africa. She has been teaching at APWPS since 2000 in the four year old class. She has a B.S. in Elementary Education and graduate work in Early Childhood Studies and Special Education. Suzanne loves seeing the children laugh and have fun discovering new things. Books, words, hands-on projects, developing responsibility and friendships are key elements in her class. Suzanne wants children to feel competent and good about themselves. “Even small people can do BIG things”. She also lends her creativity to the Art Classes she teaches at APWPS. Suzanne has a daughter and a son. She attends Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.

Shannon Smith – 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. Shanon and her husband have 2 daughters both who went to Ardmore Presbyterian Preschool and are now in elementary school.

karen-tolbertKaren 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. Her daughter just graduated from APWPS and her son is in the three-day program.

Ami Van Dine, MS, CCC-SLP – Ami Van dine, MS, CCC-SLP is a licensed and certified speech – language pathologist who received her Masters of Science at La Salle University in 2008. She is currently employed by Goldstar Rehabilitation, where she teats the birth-to-three population through early intervention. She also works in a private practice servicing school-aged children. Additionally Ami is published in the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and the Journal of Communication Disorders. Ami has had two children graduate from APWPS.

Elizabeth Luff — Elizabeth has taught dance to all ages for many years. Her company, Moving eluffStudios, takes dance out of the studio and into the community, including Ardmore Presbyterian Preschool. Elizabeth works with each class dancing to a variety of music, with props an stories. Boys, girls, and often teachers dance up a storm in her classes! Through dance children practice gross motor skills, learn to manage their bodies in space without bumping, and explore concepts like big and little, high and low, floating leaves and swirling snow. And most important, as one student replied when Elizabeth asked, “Why do people dance?” “Because it’s fun!” Elizabeth is a graduate of Lower Merion High School and the University of Delaware. She is a member of Ardmore Presbyterian Church. She is married with a son in college.