Janice Persico

Our new director Janice Persico has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Children and Youth, received from Eastern Connecticut State University. She has experience in early childhood programs and also has administrative skills, having worked as an executive secretary and in human resources.

Janice spent many years at home with her three daughters, one currently a Stepaway student, and is excited to be leading the quality early childhood program Stepaway offers. Building family relationships and supporting our community are important to her.

She loves yoga, writing, you can find some of her short stories in the Monroe Courier, and painting. As a member of Stepney Baptist Church, Janice has spent the last two years helping in the nursery there and teaching Sunday School to the children. She feels very blessed to be a part of the Stepaway family.


Bernadette Lewis

Bern Lewis has lived in the area all her life and moved to Monroe in 1982 when she married her husband, Craig. She has two children. Her daughter is in college pursuing a career in Elementary Education and her son is a sophomore at Masuk High School.

Bern has an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education and has taught preschool for 28 years, 21 of them at Stepaway. She was Director of Stepaway for six years before leaving to raise her own children. When her son was two years old, she returned to Stepaway to teach Parent & Me classes for two year olds. She loved being back in the classroom and gradually increased her hours. She currently teaches two and three year olds. She finds it’s a joy to work with them when they’re two and often has the privilege of working with them again as three’s. This continuity is a part of the Stepaway philosophy as it provides a wonderful opportunity to really get to know each child and his/her family. Her special interest is in science and she brings monarch caterpillars that she finds to the classroom each fall so that the children can raise and release them.

Mrs. Lewis loves working with children and parents and feels blessed to be a part of the Stepaway family.


Patti Dias

Patti has loved being a preschool teacher and being a part of the Stepaway family for the past 15 years. After attending Central Connecticut State University with a major in Liberal Arts, she realized that working with children was her passion and talent.  After spending a few years at home with her children, she joined the staff when her youngest graduated from Stepaway.  She works with both the 3’s and 4’s assuring the continuity that is part of the Stepaway philosophy.  Her gentle approach and soft and patient personality make Patti a perfect fit for our classroom.

Patti feels privileged to have worked with so many families over the years and to have watched many children and their families grow.  Patti is the mother of three children.  Her youngest two are college students.  Her oldest son, along with his wife and baby, have embarked on a new adventure and are currently living in Thailand.

As a member of Stepney Baptist Church, Patti has also spent many summers teaching preschool age children at Vacation Bible School.  She also used her musical talents in the church praise band where she played the drums.


Tracy Nalaboff

Tracy Nalaboff has a BS in Elementary and Special Education.  While living in New York she taught Kindergarten.  After moving to Connecticut and having three children, she was thrilled to get back to teaching.  She taught Pre K for eight years before joining the staff here at Stepaway as a 3’s, 4’s and Pre K teacher.  Tracy shares her enthusiasm for learning through many fun hands-on literacy and math activities.  She is wonderful at accommodating different learning styles and takes care to be sure each child’s unique needs and interests are met.

Tracy and her husband have three children, two daughters in college and a son at Masuk.  She loves to hike with her dogs, ski, and going to the beach with her family.


Lydia Schober

Our 2's and 4's teacher, Lydia Schober is a former educator from New York City.  Lydia earned a degree from New York University and a Masters from Teacher's College, Columbia University in Dance and Dance Education.  While in New York, she developed educational relationships with Lincoln Center Institute, City Center Theater and New York Free Opera and Dance.  Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to education, she infuses the arts into classroom experiences.  Often she uses imagery from children's literature as impetus for creative movement.

Capitalizing on the nature of young children to move and explore their world through kinesthetic experiences, Lydia enjoys leading young children as they dance a poem or explore the concept of time through movement. When these experiences are fun, purposeful and channeled, meaningful learning occurs.

Lydia has four wonderful children and enjoys hiking and baking pies.  She also teaches religious education at St. Catherine of Siena.


Kristin Pardue

Kristin Pardue graduated from Gordon College with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a minor in Biblical Studies.  Kristin comes to Stepaway with years of experience working in education. Her background includes working in early childhood programs, along with substitute teaching in the Monroe Public Elementary Schools and at a private K-12 school. Prior to having her own children, she worked as an Academic Counselor partnering with parents as they planned their children's educational paths.

Before returning to work, Kristin enjoyed being home with her boys for a number of years. Her sons are currently ages 9 and 11, and they attend the Monroe Public Schools.

Volunteering has been an important part of her life since her early teenage years. Kristin worked with children while serving on multiple missions trips including work in Mexico and in Ireland. She has also volunteered in the library and in the classroom at her children's elementary school. For many years Kristin has served in her local church as a preschool teacher in the Sunday School program. In addition, she has volunteered as a children's group leader through their Vacation Bible School. She loves working with children and their families, nurturing their development and making them feel safe and secure.


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