School Faculty

Margaret Biester, M.S.Ed

Head of School

St. David’s Episcopal Day School welcomes back Margaret Biester as the new Head of School. This is Margaret’s third year at SDEDS. 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 8 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. Margaret is passionate about bringing education into the 21st century and how technology can be an asset to a school. In her spare time, she loves to bake, dance and spend time with her two wonderful children, Lucy and Wes.

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…

Candice Brown

Assistant Teacher, Kindergarten

Candice Brown holds a degree in psychology and has over 13 years of experience working with children. The 2020-21 school year is her third 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!

Demery Close

Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

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

Assistant Teacher, Young 4s

Spanish Education

Ashlee Dadd will be assisting the Young 4s classroom as well as 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.

Wendy Spangler

Lead Teacher, Young Fours

Originally from the Main Line, I have spent the past 20 years teaching in Greensboro, North Carolina. I moved back to the area in August to be closer to family. I have taught children ranging in age from toddlers through first grade, in both public and private schools. I love teaching all ages of children, but have found my niche in the preschool setting. I am thrilled to be teaching at St. David’s Episcopal Day School.

I received my undergraduate  degree in English and went on to pursue a Master of Education degree from Cabrini University.
I have three grown children. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, yoga, swimming and walking my two dogs.

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.

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.

Mira Fessl

Assistant Teacher, Kindergarten

Mira is from Austria, Europe and has joined our team at SDEDS last January. She has a degree in early childhood education and loves teaching at our school!

She enjoys playing her guitar, reading and going on adventures with her dog Luna. In addition to teaching she is very passionate about swimming and spends many hours at the pool deck coaching children of all ages.

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 third year at SDEDS.

Denise Schmidt

Assistant Teacher, Pre-K

Denise Schmidt joined SDEDS at the beginning of 2019 and assisted with the nursery school program. For the 2020-21 school year she will be the assistant teacher in the morning Pre-K 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.

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 third year teaching music education at SDEDS.

Michele Waters

Lead Teacher, Pre-K

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!