School Faculty

Dr. Marissa Kiepert Truong

Head of School

Ph.D. Educational Psychology, Temple University
M.S. Psychology, Villanova University
B.A. Psychology, Gettysburg College

Dr. Marissa Kiepert Truong joins St. David’s Episcopal Day School as Head of School with 17 years of service in the field of education. Upon graduating Gettysburg College, she began her career as an early childhood teacher while simultaneously earning her M.S. degree in psychology from Villanova University. In 2001, Read More…

Amy Van Sciver Darst

Assistant Head of School

B.S. Education, Cabrini University
PA Early Childhood N-3 Certification
PA Elementary K-6 Certification

Amy Van Sciver Darst joins St. David’s Episcopal Day School as Assistant Head of School with over 20 years experience in the education field. Amy grew up on the Main Line and attended T/E School District. After graduating from Conestoga High School, Amy pursued her Read More…

Margaret Biester, M.S.Ed

Lead Teacher, Kindergarten Enrichment

Marketing & Technology Coordinator

St. David’s Episcopal Day School welcomes back Margaret Biester as the Kindergarten Enrichment Lead Teacher for a second year. Margaret received her B.A. in History from the College of Wooster in Ohio and went on to pursue a Master of Science in Elementary Education at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. She has 6 years of experience teaching children from kindergarten through 5th grade, and holds a Pennsylvania certification in Elementary Education, Middle School Social Studies and Middle School Language Arts. Previously, Margaret worked at Germantown Academy and more recently has taught Kindergarten at Mosby Woods Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia where she also served as the Project Based Learning Team Leader. In addition, she is trained in Responsive Classroom and Project Based Learning and earned a Working Professionals Business Essentials Certificate from the Wharton School of Business. At SDEDS Margaret also holds the leadership position of Marketing and Technology Coordinator and is responsible for the school’s social media presence and use of technology in the classrooms. In her spare time, she loves to bake, dance and spend time with her two wonderful children, Lucy and Wes.

Candice Brown

Lead Teacher, Twos

Candice Brown holds a degree in psychology and has over 13 years of experience working with children. The 2019-2020 school year is her second at SDEDS working with two year olds. Most recently, Candice has spent 6 years teaching Preschool and Pre-K students. Additionally, she has spent time traveling abroad and has visited 7 countries. Highlights of her experiences have included visiting orphanages in Bulgaria and Greece, and teaching English to children in Croatia. Miss Candice took a couple of years off to stay home and devote her time to her daughter, Cora James, but has been enjoying her time at SDEDS!

Carla Castaneda, M.A.T

Lead Teacher, Pre-Kindergarten and STEM enrichment

Summer Camp Director

Carla Castaneda is the Lead Teacher for Pre-Kindergarten program and our STEM enrichment club. Carla received her B.A. in English from Rowan University in New Jersey and later completed a Masters of Arts in Teaching at Montclair State University. She holds a NJ certification in early childhood education (Preschool to 3rd grade) and is currently transferring her certification to Pennsylvania. This is Carla’s second year at SDEDS, after having taught in the nursery school last year. Carla brings to SDEDS eight years of teaching experience with preschool and pre-k students. In her free time, Carla enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and running the occasional 5K. During June and July, Carla is the Summer Camp Director.

Demery Close

Lead Teacher, Twos

Demery Close joins SDEDS with 10 years of experience in the education field, most recently working as a director and early childhood teacher at Mount Vernon Children’s House in Danville, Virginia. Prior to that Demery worked with elementary school-age students. She holds a B.A. in psychology and studied special education at St. Joseph’s University.

The Rev. Elizabeth Colton


The Rev. Elizabeth Colton (Liz), grew up in Albany, New York. A first career in music education took her from central New York State to the Bay Area of San Francisco, to Brisbane, Australia, teaching every level from small children to teacher training, except high school! Returning to the Philadelphia area to teach at The Episcopal Academy, a big part of her work was helping to plan chapel services. Following ordination, she served a number of churches in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, making a specialty out of creating worship experiences for young children. Together with colleagues, she offers a Worship With Young Families opportunity for St. David’s Episcopal Day School Families and St. David’s Church families on weekends. Liz is chaplain to the children, but also to their families and to school staff as well.

Ashlee Dadd

Activities and After School Supervisor

Spanish Education

Ashlee Dadd supervises the SDEDS extracurricular activities and after school program, in addition to providing Spanish education to all of the students. As a foreign language teacher, Ashlee understands the importance and benefits of early foreign language instruction. Since 1999 she has taught pre-k to 8th grade Spanish in several schools in Delaware and New Jersey and helped create various after school and summer programs in Spanish language instruction. Ashlee is a graduate of Hollins University with a double major in Spanish and sociology and also completed education courses at Wilmington University. She spent a summer in Guayaquil, Ecuador where she studied at la Universidad Laica Vicente Rocafuerte and taught English in a local orphanage. She also spent over a year in Puebla, Mexico where she attended la Universidad de las Americas and worked as a language instructor for Berlitz. Being a travel lover, she has also visited Spain and Puerto Rico.

Christine Dolor, M.S., CCC-SLP

Lead Teacher, Kinder Club and “Playing With Words” Enrichment

Assistant Teacher, Pre-Kindergarten

Private Speech Therapy

This is Christine’s second year at SDEDS as the Lead Teacher for the speech and language enrichment program and as Assistant Teacher for Pre-Kindergarten. Christine earned her BA in Communication Sciences with a concentration in Communication Disorders from the University of Connecticut, and a M.S. in Communication Disorders from William Paterson University of New. Christine also holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Over the past 15 years, Christine has worked with children with language-based learning differences at the Crossroads School in Paoli and, more recently, at the Bryn Mawr Thorne Language Enrichment Kindergarten Program where she worked for 8 years. In addition, Christine has also worked with many children with articulation and social language needs. In her free time, Christine enjoys outdoor activities with her husband Scott, and her two daughters, Sophia and Addison. She also loves to read and run. Christine has always had a special interest in working with children in the classroom and during play, so that she could support them with their speech and language needs in natural situations and contexts.

Ellen Galka

Assistant Teacher, Young Fours

Ellen is the Assistant Teacher in the “Young Fours” nursery school classroom. This is Ellen’s second year at SDEDS working with threes and fours. Ellen earned a degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bucknell University. Previously, “Miss Ellen” had the pleasure of working in the “On My Way to K” Enrichment Program through A First Foundation, LLC. After taking time off to spend with her three children, she returned as a teacher in various early childhood learning schools, primarily working with students ages three to six years old. In addition to working at SDEDS, Ellen tutors children in reading and is certified in the Wilson Reading System. Ellen enjoys spending time with her husband and watching her children in their various sports and activities such as karate, soccer, baseball, and theater! You may spot her with a good book in hand in her favorite vacation spot – Ocean City, New Jersey!!

Kimberly Harkin

Lead Teacher, Threes

Kimberly Harkin is the Lead Teacher for the “Threes” nursery school classroom. Kim joined SDEDS earlier this year as the Assistant Teacher in our Kindergarten Enrichment and is excited about her new role for the 2019-2020 year. Kim previously worked as the Director of Education at The Malvern School and was an early childhood teacher at the Little Paradise Day School.

Libby Hipp, M.A.

Lead Teacher, Nature Enrichment Club


Libby Hipp is the Lead Teacher for the ”Nuts about Nature” Enrichment Club. Libby received her B.A. in History from Denison University and a M.A. in Teaching from Kent State University. Prior to joining SDEDS she was a Kindergarten Assistant teacher at Old Trail School in Ohio and taught preschool at St. Christopher’s School in Gladwyne. She is the author of Dewi Finds His Treasure, a children’s book about St. David’s curious church mouse. Libby has twins in college and enjoys traveling with her husband Tom. She loves hiking, movies and desserts. Her favorite place is her family farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where she gets to see lots of God’s creatures.

Kerry Hurly

Assistant Teacher, Threes


Kerry Hurly is the Assistant Teacher in the Three Year Old Program. Prior to her position in the Threes, Kerry assisted in multiple age groups at SDEDS during the 2018-2019 school year.

Stacie Jacoby, M.S.

Reading Specialist

Private Literacy Tutoring

Stacie Jacoby returns for her second year at St. David’s Episcopal Day School as the Reading Specialist. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Minor in Communications at The George Washington University. Stacie subsequently received a Master of Science in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a Reading Specialist Certification at Saint Joseph’s University. She has been working as a preschool teacher since 2008, while creating and implementing classroom curricula. She has additionally served as a tutor for preschool and elementary aged children. Last year, Stacie received her Wilson Reading System Level I Certification at AIM Academy and looks forward to utilizing the Wilson multisensory approach with her students. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two children, Ben and Simone, along with her dog Boots and husband Matt.

Sarah Keely, M.A.

Assistant Teacher, Young Threes

Lead Teacher, Yoga Enrichment

Health & Safety Coordinator


Sarah Keely has worked in the field of early childhood education since 2000 in various roles and holds a M.A. in multicultural education from Eastern University. She started teaching at a learning center while attending Gettysburg College. After graduation she returned to the Philadelphia area where she taught and was briefly for the past nine years. There she developed a passion for advocacy for the early years and specifically nature-based education. Sarah is a trained Yoga teacher, and in her spare time she enjoys being outside, near water if possible, and with her dogs. This is Sarah’s second year at SDEDS.  

Lauren Maniscalco

Lead Teacher, Young Threes

Lauren Maniscalco is the Lead Teacher of SDEDS’ “Young Threes” program and has been working in childcare for nearly 20 years. She holds a degree in Early Childhood Education and has worked with children ranging from infants through 7 years of age in a variety of settings. Previously, Lauren was a teacher at The Goddard School where she also served as the school’s Assistant Director. Over the past 9 years Lauren has been a nanny and has enjoyed teaching, caring for, and watching her little ones grow. In her free time, Lauren likes spending time with her husband and two children – hiking, visiting farms, playgrounds, zoos, and bingeing on ice cream! This is Miss Lauren’s second year at SDEDS.

Denise Schmidt

Assistant Teacher, Kindergarten Enrichment

Denise Schmidt joined SDEDS at the beginning of 2019 and assisted with the nursery school program. For the 2019-2020 year Denise is the Assistant Teacher in the morning Kindergarten Enrichment program. She joined SDEDS with over 25 years of experience working with preschool and kindergarten students, most recently at the Phoenixville Area School District. Denise holds a bachelor of science degree in Elementary Education from Millersville University.

Suzanne Schmotzer

Assistant Teacher, Twos

Suzanne Schmotzer is the Assistant Teacher in our youngest twos program. Suzanne has been working as a preschool teacher for nearly 30 years and holds a degree in Early Childhood Education. Suzanne’s experience spans teaching infants through pre-kindergarten students, and most recently worked as the Lead Teacher in the Twos Program at The Launfal School in Wayne. This is Suzanne’s second year working with two year olds at SDEDS.


Sharon Shuttleworth

Administrative Assistant

Sharon joined the SDEDS team at the end of November 2018, as administrative support and has over 20 plus years of administrative experience. She also worked in social services at a retirement community for 11 years. Sharon helped to support the elderly residents with their psycho-social and emotional needs, as well as, their families. In addition, Sharon is a licensed certified nursing assistant and licensed cosmetologist. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and dog Harley. In the nice weather Sharon enjoys riding on the back of her husband’s Harley Davidson. She also enjoys the beach, swimming, running on the Perkiomen Trail, and baking.

Tatyana Smolen

Music Education

Tatyana Smolen was born in Moscow Russia where she received her Bachelor of Music Degree at the Musical College of Moscow State Conservatory. She has taught previously at The Philadelphia School as a voice instructor and as a Music Teacher at Gwynedd Friends School and Right Steps Preschool. In addition, she has worked at the Opera Company of Philadelphia Teaching Artist Program where she instructed students in opera, singing, music appreciation, and songwriting. This is Tatyana’s second year teaching music education at SDEDS.

Stephanie Tanner

Physical Education

Stephanie Tanner is a certified health and physical education teacher who began her teaching career as a high school phys. ed. teacher. For the past two years she has taught gym classes in local preschools on the Main Line.

Michele Waters

Lead Teacher, Young Fours

Michele Waters has worked in early childhood education since 2001, spending 12 years as a nanny. Most recently working as a Headstart Teacher at the Berks County Intermediate Unit. She joined SDEDS as the young fours teacher for the 2019-20 school year. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from Alvernia University and holds a PA Early Childhood N-K Certification. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, usually watching one of her sons play soccer, football or wrestling. Michele also enjoys hiking, coffee, taking her Saint Bernard for walks, spending time at her favorite beach, Long Beach Island, and she loves everything Disney!