Ms. Monica Beckwith Hicks, Memorial PDS Director
Ms. Monica has been involved in education in St. Johns County since 1998, and has been a teacher from preschool throughout high school, a curriculum coordinator, an instructional coach, a reading specialist, and is now the director of Memorial Presbyterian Day School. Ms. Monica is a Flagler College graduate and has her Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership. She is married with one son in high school and one at the University of Florida (Go Gators!). This is her fifth year at PDS and she loves all the sweet little children, especially as her own are now teenagers!
Ms. Nancy Thompson, VPK Teacher
Ms. Nancy is originally from Long Island and moved to St. Augustine to attend Flagler College, where she graduated in 1995. She and her husband have one daughter, now starting high school, who is a Memorial PDS alumna. Her own great experience as a PDS parent led her to become an assistant teacher in VPK and then later to be the lead teacher in 3PK. When a long standing VPK teacher retired last year she decided to move to VPK, her first love, for her 10th year at PDS. Ms. Nancy loves to learn and enjoys going to preschool trainings where she gets new ideas to implement in her class.
Ms. Ashleigh Bakonyi, VPK Assistant Teacher and STEAM Enrichment Coordinator
Ms. Ashleigh has her BA in Business but after her youngest child started in the 2PK class at Memorial PDS she decided she wanted to come and join us! She has three children from preschool to 1st grade and this is her 2nd year at PDS and her first with VPK. Ms. Ashleigh will be bringing lots of fun special enrichment activities this year to our STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) and is adding a new special gardening enrichment too as this is a special hobby for her.
Ms. Karen Heifner, VPK Teacher
Ms. Karen grew up in Pennsylvania and received her BS in Elementary Education from Lock Haven University. After staying at home with her daughters for nine years she discovered her passion for teaching in the preschool classroom. She has taught at Christian based preschools all across the country for the past 12 years as her husband served in the military. With both of her girls now away at college she feels especially blessed to spend her mornings creating a warm and welcoming classroom for her students.
Ms. Jenn Michael Gonsalves, VPK Assistant Teacher
Ms. Jenn has been a parent and advisory board member for a few years and this year decided to fill a new opening and join us in VPK. She has two sons, one in VPK and the other in 1st grade. Ms. Jenn's past work history includes being part of the creative department in New York City for shows like Saturday Night Live and the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. She says the jump from showbiz to preschoolers isn't as big of a move as you might think with the temperament of celebrities and preschoolers being so similar! We look forward to utilizing her creativity at PDS.
Ms. Lindsey Hailey, 3PK Lead Teacher
Ms. Lindsey is a graduate of the University of Florida and comes from a family of educators. She was very involved in her eldest daughter's education as a volunteer and decided she wanted to jump into the fray too, so now that her second daughter is two she decided to join us! Ms. Lindsey has worked in our church nursery and as a Sunday School and VBS preschool teacher, and she is excited to have her first full time class at Memorial PDS.
Ms. Elizabeth Greco, 3PK Assistant Teacher
Ms. Elizabeth is a graduate of St. Augustine High School and is the daughter of educators. She knew at a young age that she wanted to be a teacher so took all of her preschool education classes before she even got out of high school! Ms. Elizabeth has two young children this is her 2nd year at Memorial PDS.
Ms. Nicole DuPont, 2PK Teacher
Ms. Nicole is in her fifth year at Memorial PDS and loves working with two year olds; she is clearly a natural and a favorite of kids of all ages. She recently received an advanced child care credential, and she is a lifelong learner and always excited to learn more by attending every preschool training that she can! Ms. Nicole has three children of her own ages 6 to 15 and is seldom seen without several children in tow.
Ms. Jen Metych, 2PK Assistant Teacher
Ms. Jen is in her fourth year at PDS and has recently started taking classes to get an advanced certification in preschool teaching. She has four children of her own from 1st to high school and enjoys spending time attending soccer games and other children's activities! Ms. Jen is happy to be in 2PK as she loves the little ones and misses when her own children were that age! She is loved by all the children at PDS.
Before and After Care
Ms. Kristen Shaughnessy, Sunshine Club Teacher
Ms. Kristen is the accounting clerk for Memorial Presbyterian Church, and she always enjoyed the children she saw while at work in the finance office. We are lucky that she decided to take us up on our offer of teaching our early morning children before she goes to her "day" job in the other wing of the church! Ms. Kristen graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in finance, and also spent a year in the domestic peace corps. Many of our students know her as their soccer coach as she does that too!
Ms. Lee Kutschke, Extended Day Lead Teacher
We recruited Ms. Lee as she has been the director of the church nursery on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights for many years. She is from Illinois originally where she was a paraprofessional in special education. Ms. Lee likes walking, bowling, gardening, playing games on the internet, and teaching children! She is married and has 8 children, 15 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren, and 1 great great grandchild and acts as everyone's grandmother at PDS.
Ms. Cassidy Steiner, Sunshine Club and Extended Day Assistant Teacher
Ms. Cassidy is a sophomore at Flagler College studying marine biology, and she would like to do something that includes that and children after she graduates. She has worked in various church nurseries and summer camp programs for years in her home town and we are happy to have her here at PDS now that she lives in St. Augustine during the school year.
Ms. Stacey Barden, Art Teacher
Ms. Stacey received her B.A. at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City and her M.F.A, in English from Southern New Hampshire University. She has always been interested both in the development of young children and art. She combines those things in the classroom and is the teacher of the Smiling Easel after school enrichment program. Ms. Stacy has worked at Memorial PDS for 14 years and has also taught VPK. She has one grown son and enjoys cultural events, reading, animals, yoga, and eating out.