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Preschool Staff

We frequently receive inquiries about the qualifications of our teaching staff. This is a truly valid concern, as parents consider the best place for their children to be loved and educated. We are so proud of our staff – we really should brag more often! Here is a bit about each staff member:

HPC Preschool Director – Susan Murphyd5eb15b70e52595e-websize4
(757) 596-1939
Email: Preschool@hiltonpres.org
Taking over from Mrs. Pagels' tenure of 29 years, Susan has been a part of our teaching staff since 2005. She has a masters degree in Elementary Education from Rhode Island College, taught for 5 years in Hampton City Schools, has served as chairman of our Preschool Board, and has five sons who are alumni of our program.


Dawn McGinnis-Cole299c0501ddb8485e-websize formerly an administrator at Jefferson Labs, now teaches our 3-year-olds after being a preschool mom and substitute teacher for the past few years. She is a former Hilton Presbyterian Preschool student!



Whitney Farris4f0e3caa50b8908a-websize2 is a graduate of Duke University with a BA in botany. She also has done post-graduate work at O.D.U. in early childhood education. She has been a substitute teacher in the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, Germany, and a teaching assistant in horticulture at T.C.C. Whitney has been teaching in our preschool since 1996, bringing us a wealth of experience in history, math, and science (plus lots of “critters”).


Margaret Gogginsd4c1f444bd0102d3-websize9 joined our staff in 2008 after many years of service as the parent of 5 of our alumni and a member of the Preschool Board! Margaret has a masters degree in early childhood education from Westfield State College in Massachusetts and taught preschool and second grade for 8 years before tackling the job of full time mom. We are thrilled that she is now part of our staff.


Laura Lilly 6982741d1a422153-websize8joined our staff in 2014 and is now leading our class for 2 1/2-year-olds. She has a degree in Spanish from Washington University, has been a volunteer & substitute teacher at our preschool for several years, is a Girl Scout leader, and is an active PTA officer.  Laura is energetic, creative, loving, and full of fresh ideas.


Mary Murray 19ff9bb3963cf425-websize1has a masters degree in guidance and counseling from O.D.U. and served as the executive director of Safehaven Emergency Shelter for Children. Mary has served on our preschool board and as a substitute teacher in our program. Mary’s understanding of children is a blessing to our school. She has been with HPP since 2005.


Kim Pagels-McKnight Kim is joining our staff this year after serving as a substitute teacher for us for the last six years. Kim has a bachelor's degree from James Madison University with a double major in political science and French and spent several years living in France. Her daughter is an alumna of HPP as is Kim herself. We are thrilled to welcome her to our team!


Nancy Petters 3db6bf382645db01-websize3is a graduate of William & Mary with double majors in Education & French and taught in the Virginia Beach Public Schools. Nancy has been teaching here since 1997, bringing a wealth of language development ideas to our younger children, as well as experience in Christian education and music. Nancy coordinates our forgeign language lessons.


Sharon Rodgers d21ec7baaad799e0-websize6is a preschool mom of three former students. She helped with the 2 1/2 year old class for several years before joining the staff in 2006. She is also a former Hilton Presbyterian student! Sharon has taught in numerous children's programs in her church.


Holly ShullHShull2 is a preschool parent of two former students. Her youngest son will finish this coming school year. Born and raised in Hampton, Holly is the wife of a Newport News police officer and a full-time mom who devotes her time to her boys’ schools. Before joining the staff in 2015, she was a substitute and helped with many of the activities and fundraisers.


ALL OF OUR STAFF members have been preschool parents here at Hilton Presbyterian with a total of 24 alumni & 2 current students. They are dedicated to the preschool and its mission to educate children socially, emotionally, and academically in an environment of Christian love. Each year the staff attends training sessions at local and state workshops. There are monthly staff meetings to pool ideas for the coming month’s unit. Ours is a team teaching environment, where the special talents and abilities that each teacher brings are shared with all of the students, since different groups meet together during music, snack, outdoor play & center times.