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 Murphy
Susan Murphy has a Master of Arts in Teaching 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. Susan joined our staff in 2005. She currently serves as Preschool Director as well as a teacher of our 5-day class.
Margaret Goggins, is a 3-day class teacher. Margaret joined our staff in 2008 after many years of service as the parent of five of our alumni and member of the Preschool Board. Margaret has a Master's degree in early childhood education from Westfield State College in Massachusetts and taught preschool and second grade for eight years before tackling the job of full-time mom.
Magen Lefkowicz joined our staff in 2020 as a teacher for our Tuesday/Thursday students.
She has served as a Lunch Bunch teacher, substitute, and board member at HPP. Magen has extensive experience as a middle school social studies teacher and has an undergraduate degree in sociology from the University of New Hampshire and a Master's degree in International Relations from universities in England and Mexico. Magen brings the gifts of patience, calmness, and fresh enthusiasm to our staff. She is the parent of two former HPP students!
Jillian Manning is teaching our 2½-year-old class and a 3-day class. She has been a frequent and invaluable substitute teacher at the preschool. Jill brings an educational background in the ODU Theater Arts program as well as experience in school programs and childcare. Two of her children have come through the HPP program.
Mary Murray has a Master's 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. Mary joined the preschool staff in 2006.
Kim Pagels-McKnight joined our staff in 2017 after serving as a substitute teacher for several 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.
Sharon Rajanayakam, is a 2-day class teacher. She first joined our staff in 2018 after serving as a substitute teacher and Preschool Board member. Sharon has degrees in Social Work from Radford University and a great deal of experience working with families. Her two children are alumni of Hilton Presbyterian Preschool.
Jaime Cox is our 5-Day Assistant. She is the parent of two HPP alumni, has served on our Preschool Board, and has been a volunteer at the school. Jamie has a theater degree from CNU and currently enjoys working as a fitness instructor. We are pleased to have her on our staff!
Cara Miller joined our staff in 2021 as a teacher assistant. Cara assists in the 2 1/2-year-old class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is a "floating" assistant the rest of the week. Cara has an educational background in Art and Art History, has experience in childcare both in classroom and home settings, and has the privilege of being the aunt of three HPP students, two former and one current!
All of our staff members have been preschool parents here at Hilton Presbyterian with a total of twenty-one alumni. 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.