Elizabeth Hearle graduated from The College of William and Mary with B.A. degrees in Psychology and Elementary Education and from Old Dominion University with an M.A. in Early Childhood Development.

She was previously a kindergarten teacher in the Virginia Beach Public School system and at the Chapin School in New York and a preschool teacher at Saint Luke’s Parish School.  She has served on the boards of Saint Luke’s Parish School, Tokeneke PTO, Royle PTO, OPUS, Person-to-Person and the Darien Foundation for Technology and Community.  She became the Executive Director of The Darien Nature Center in June 2013 and the director of SLPS in June 2016. Originally from Virginia Beach, VA, Elizabeth has lived in Darien since 2004 and been a member of Saint Luke’s Parish since 2000.

She has three children, all of whom attended SLPS. Her sons are currently at Darien High School, and her daughter just began her sophomore year at Miami University in Oxford, OH.  In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys reading, gardening and spending time with her family.

Saint Luke’s Parish School Staff:

Dee Fumega – Administrative Assistant
Jennifer D’Orta – Nurse
Jennifer Shea – Treasurer


Our teachers and assistant teachers are the backbone of SLPS. They actively participate in regular teacher meetings and in-service training programs, as well as continual participation in workshops, conferences, and seminars to improve their already considerable skills. This allows your child to benefit from the latest teaching techniques available.

We strive to keep our student/teacher ratio low. All classes include assistant teachers to enhance your child’s learning experience. All of our staff are trained in First Aid and are CPR and Epi-Pen certified.

JESSICA BLACK-3s Assistant Teacher

Jessica grew up outside of Boston. She graduated from The University of Vermont with a degree in Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics. For the past 14 years, Jessica has been raising her three children, first in NYC and now in Darien. She and her husband Andrew started a children’s toy company a few years ago which reignited her interest in early childhood development and motivated her to substitute teach at SLPS. This will be her second year as an assistant teacher in the 3’s program. In her spare time, Jessica likes to play tennis, walk her dog Taco and spend time with her family.


Karen graduated from Sacred Heart University with a degree in English Literature and a concentration in Elementary Education.  She holds a Certificate for Nursery through 8th grade. Karen has taught 2’s at Saint Luke’s since 1999 and has also taught in the Creative Kids and Lunch Bunch programs.  Both of her daughters attended St. Luke’s. Karen also teaches the 2’s three afternoons a week at The Holly Pond School at the Darien YMCA. Karen and her family have lived in Darien since 1989.  She is a member of the Spirit of Black Rock Fife & Drum Corps and the Fifth Connecticut Regiment Revolutionary War reenactment group. Karen and her husband are active in the Events and Programs committee at the Darien Historical Society. She enjoys reading and gardening.

ERIKA CAPUTO- Pre-K Head Teacher

Erika received her B.A. in Communication from the University of California at San Diego and has completed CDA coursework through Connecticut’s community college system.  She joined the Saint Luke’s Parish School team in 2009, working with Pre-K and Creative Kids.  Erika’s children attended Saint Luke’s Parish School; she served on the Parent-Teacher Committee (PTC) during that time.  Erika worked in the “corporate world” until her second child was born.  She and her family have lived in Darien since 2004.  In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, studying martial arts and volunteering on the Darien Arts Center Dance Committee.

MORGAN CASTROS- 4’s Head Teacher

Morgan graduated from Marshall University with a degree in Early Childhood Education/ Elementary Education/Special Education as well as a minor in Child Psychology.  She graduated with an emphasis in Reggio Emilia studies.  She was previously a preschool teacher at Children’s Discovery Center in Charleston, SC and also worked for Cabell County Schools in Huntington, WV as a para-teacher in a 3rd grade classroom.  Morgan recently moved back from Charleston, SC to her hometown of Stamford where she has been assisting with curriculum writing for Building Blocks in Stamford and Wilton.  In her spare time, Morgan enjoys doing calligraphy and painting.

KRISTEN CHARNEY- Older 3’s Assistant Teacher

Kristen graduated from Loyola University in Maryland with a BA in English/Writing. Following graduation, she spent ten years in the marketing and advertising space, primarily for telecom companies. She and her husband moved to Darien in 2008 and became part of the SLPS community a year later when their oldest child started in the 2s program. Her four children spent 10 cumulative pre-school years at St. Luke’s. Kristen switched from school parent to teacher last year (as a substitute and assistant Friday 3s teacher). She enjoys staying active by playing sports and managing her children’s busy schedules.

FIONA CONNOLLY-  4’s Assistant Teacher

Fiona emigrated from Ireland to the United States in the early 90s.  She hails from a large family of 8 and has a twin sister who lives in the United States as well.  She has had many jobs since then including marketing, working in a hair salon and childcare.  She has also been a longtime substitute teacher at SLPS and has worked with children of all ages.   Fiona currently lives in Stamford with her husband and 2 daughters- Emma Rose who recently graduated from Loyola University Maryland and Jessica who is currently a sophomore at Villanova University.   She is looking forward to working full time at SLPS!

HELEN DEL BENE- 4s Head Teacher

Helen earned a B.A. in Italian from Middlebury College and later got her Certificate in Early Childhood Education from Norwalk Community College. She joined Saint Luke’s in the older 2’s classroom in 2014 before moving to the 4’s in 2017. Helen and her family have lived in Darien for 13 years. Outside the classroom, her interests include cooking and baking, reading, traveling as much as possible and spending time with her family in Vermont.

HOLLY DRAKE- 3’s Head Teacher     

Holly grew up outside of Rochester, NY, and graduated from Cornell University with a BS in communications. Post college, she worked in public relations and corporate marketing/video production in New York City.  She’s been a resident of Darien since 2002 where she’s enjoyed raising her three sons – all of whom attended SLPS.  Holly taught for Maureen Bloom Playdates prior to coming to SLPS in 2018.  In her spare time, Holly enjoys outdoor activities – running, biking, kayaking, paddle, gardening – but more than anything treasures time with her family all together.

ASMAE ELBAQI- 2’s Assistant Teacher     

Asmae has years of experience in caring for children of all ages as she has been in child care for over 15 years. She loves working with younger children and comes to SLPS with many outstanding references from the families with which she has worked. She and her husband live in Darien and have 2 children in the Darien Public Schools.  In her spare time, Asmae loves spending time with her family.

SARA FAUGNO- 4s Head Teacher

Sara earned an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Norwalk Community College. She began her teaching at Canaan Ridge School where she taught for 8 years. She then moved on to become the director of Noah’s Ark preschool in Stamford. After Noah’s Ark, Sara decided to take time off  to raise her three beautiful children. Sara and her family have been a part of the Darien community since 2014 and enjoy all that is has to offer. In her spare time, she loves volunteering in her children’s schools, spending time at her family’s house in Vermont, watching her children’s sports events and going out for coffee with good friends.

AMANDA FOSTER- PreK Assistant Teacher

Amanda Foster is currently attending Norwalk Community College for an Associates Degree in  Early Childhood Education. She started as a counselor in training at a Stamford summer camp at the age of 13. By the time she turned 16, she was a full-time camp counselor and worked with children ages 5 through 12.  In 2017, Amanda started working at St. Lukes on Sundays in the Godly Play room with children between the ages of 3 through 5. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, going to concerts and spending time with her friends and family.



Catherine earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her Master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Maine.  Her previous teaching experiences include teaching third grade at Fairfield Country Day, teaching at Easton Country Day and co-teaching in the 3rd grade at Pear Tree Point School. She and her husband both grew up in Darien and are raising their three children here in town.  She is happy to be returning to teaching at SLPS where she attended as a child. In addition to teaching, Catherine has run the Beachcomber Camp at Norwalk Yacht Club, taught CCD at St. Thomas Moor and is a Girl Scout leader.

JENNIFER KOUTINAS- 2s Head Teacher   

Jennifer has been active in the childcare preschool field since 2004. She began in Stamford as a co-teacher and worked her way up to lead teacher in the 3/4’s classroom. She was also an  Administrative Assistant in a preschool. She has worked in Afterschool programs and Summer Camps with preschool and elementary aged children. Starting in 2005, she runs the Sunday School nursery room here at St. Luke’s.  She was an assistant in the young Two’s room with Mrs. B for 2 years before becoming the head teacher in the older 2’s classroom last year. She recently completed her Child Development Associate Degree (CDA). In her spare time she enjoys the beach, going to live shows and concerts and spending time with her family and two grown children.

FIONA LAVELLE- 4s Assistant Teacher

Fiona was raised and educated in England, where she went on to a career in banking. She started as a substitute at SLPS in 2012. Fiona has supervised in our Lunch Bunch program and has also been an assistant in our 4’s class. She and her family have resided in Stamford since 1998. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and walking with her dog.

STEPHANIE MCGRAW- 2s Assistant Teacher

Stephanie has lived in Darien for twenty-five years and is married with four children (a daughter and three sons) all of whom attended SLPS.  Her youngest is a junior at Darien High School.  Stephanie received her B.A. from Dickinson College and did some graduate work at George Washington University. She worked for a consulting firm in Washington D.C. before moving to Darien. Stephanie has extensive volunteer experience, including League of Women Voters, Darien Scouts Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust, Royle PTO, and DHS.  She was also Treasurer at SLPS for 7 years.  Most recently, Stephanie worked at a preschool in New Canaan as an Assistant Teacher in the 4s. She loves making new friends, walking, hiking and reading.


CARRIE MCMASTER- Floating Assistant Teacher

Carrie has been an involved member at St. Luke’s since her boys (now 17 and 20) were students at SLPS. She was an assistant teacher at SLPS in the 3 year old class for 4 years before taking on the role of Children’s Ministries Coordinator for the church. For the past several years, she has been our Godly Play teacher and a very popular substitute teacher.  Carrie is on the St. Luke’s Flower Guild. She and her husband also coordinate the Run with the Saints event at St. Luke’s and are active parishioners. Carrie loves gardening, reading and spending time with her family and 2 dogs.


Mary Beirne earned her bachelor’s degree at Denison University and her Master’s in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from NYU. She has taught Young 3’s at Saint Luke’s Parish School since 2012. Prior to Saint Luke’s, Mary Beirne student-taught 3rd grade at Manhattan Country School and 4th grade at Manhattan New School. Mary Beirne and her family have lived in Darien since 2007. She is extremely active in the community and an active member of Saint Luke’s Parish. Her daughter attended Saint Luke’s Parish School. In her spare time, Mary Beirne enjoys gardening, opera, photography and genealogy.


Mary Kate grew up in Westport and graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A. in Human Development and Families Studies. She then moved to Boston for a few years where she graduated from Wheelock College with an M.S. in Early Childhood Development. Since coming back to CT in 2015, Mary Kate has taught 4’s and Pre-K in Westport, Greenwich and most recently Fairfield for three years. She enjoys spending time with her niece and nephew, as well as going to the beach and trying new, local restaurants with friends and family. Mary Kate has a love for play-based, intentional teaching and comes from an entrepreneurial-minded family, so she started her own small business creating playdough kits to encourage open-ended play at home!

ANNIE TINGLEY- 3s Assistant Teacher

Annie received her BA in History from Kenyon College in Ohio. She has been a teacher at Saint Luke’s since 2015. Annie has gained extensive practical experience through numerous volunteer activities in the Darien school system while her children were students there. Her three children attended Saint Luke’s Parish School, and she is a parishioner of Saint Luke’s. She and her family have lived in Darien since 1994. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, working out and walking her dog. She enjoys spending time with her adult children.

ANNEMARIE VIERLING- PreK Assistant Teacher

Annemarie earned her BA in Sociology from St. John’s University in NY. She has been a teacher in the 2’s, 4’s and PreK  programs and Lunch Bunch for the older children since 2010.  Prior to teaching she worked in Advertising Sales for Rodale Press in NYC.  Annemarie and her three children live in Darien and are very involved in the YMCA special needs programs.   She is an avid runner and enjoys swimming and spending time with her oldest daughter who continues to be the role model for her two boys.

LILY ZINICOLA- Young 2’s Assistant Teacher

Lily was born and raised in London, England, where she trained as a Montessori teacher.  She moved with her husband and two children to Connecticut in 1999, after spending 4 years in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Lily attended Norwalk Community College to study Early Childhood Education. She has worked as a co-teacher in private nursery schools in Stamford for many years. Most recently she worked at Just Wee Two, an enrichment program for 2 year olds in Stamford and Greenwich.  Lily also volunteered in her children’s elementary school and has helped out at an after school program. In her spare time, Lily enjoys cooking and entertaining, reading and spending time with her family.