As a teacher I view myself as a protector of children’s play. My job is to create a safe inviting space with engaging play materials, then step back and let the children take the lead while I look for ways to enhance and extend their play. One of the great pleasures of teaching is that it is never stagnant, there is always room for growth and each year brings a fresh start. It is difficult to articulate what quality play looks like, but it is easy to recognize when we see it. Good teaching is about recognizing that spark and nurturing the flame.

– LINI ECKER

Tracy King

tracyAdministrative Director
Tracy joined CCNS as a mom in 1999 and has served as the Administrative Director since 2004. Her title does not fully describe her deep commitment to CCNS – from the time she was a parent to now, Tracy has really done it all. She brings with her a rich business background stemming from her time at KPMG Peat Marwick and then in corporate real estate with Jones Lang LaSalle in Boston and New York. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Richmond. Tracy and her husband are very active members of the Rowayton community. She has served on the boards of Darien Junior Sailing Team, the Rowayton Library, the Rowayton Civic Association, the New Canaan Crew and the Rowayton Village Planning Committee. She has been an active volunteer both in the Darien and Norwalk Public Schools. In her free time, Tracy loves to travel, read, and cook. Both of her two children are CCNS graduates.

Dana Gorman

danaEducational Director and Fours Teacher
Dana has dedicated her life to early childhood education and is passionately committed to teaching children through play by inspiring them to be curious and creative learners from their first introduction to education. Dana joined CCNS as a mom in 1999, took over as Educational Director in 2002, and became the head fours teacher in 2005. She received extensive training on the Project Approach from its developers Lillian Katz, Sylvia Chard and Judy Helm. Dana was recognized by Stepping Stones Museum, winning the prestigious 2010 Playful Practices in Teaching Award. Dana taught kindergarten at North Mianus School in Riverside, CT for nine years before coming to CCNS. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Boston University and a Masters of Arts degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Columbia Teachers College. Each of her three children attended CCNS.

Click here to see Dana’s blog, Playfully Learning.

Lini Ecker

liniTwos Teacher
Lini’s love of educating young children is obvious and infectious. One of the most creative teachers around, she is constantly researching and learning new ideas and approaches to enhance her students’ learning experience. She came to CCNS from Playspace, an extremely successful preschool program for 2-and 3-year-olds she created and ran from her home in Norwalk for 16 years. CCNS was so lucky to have her bring her rich experience here where she started the innovative twos program in 2009. Lini holds a degree in Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College in Boston. She taught for six years in Cambridge, MA before moving to Connecticut. Lini loves being active and outdoors – she enjoys pilates, yoga, walking, and riding her bike – which you can see her doing to-and-from school when weather permits. Her passions also include photography and Myers Briggs Type Theory. She and her husband have two grown sons.

Adele Evershed

adeleThrees Teacher
It is no wonder Adele is adored by all of her students – her sense of humor, her love of music and dance, and the joy she gets from teaching are obvious the second you walk into her classroom. Adele joined CCNS as a mom in 2008 and joined the staff as an assistant teacher in 2011. Adele taught elementary school for 11 years in London and Manchester before moving to Asia. While in Hong Kong, she ran a “Mommy and Me” group for ages 18-months to 3 years old at the Canadian International School. A UK native, she is active in the expat community here in Fairfield County where she runs a group to help newly arrived expats build a community mostly through socializing. She also writes and directs the annual British Group Pantomime that benefits Neighbors Link Stamford, an organization that helps immigrants integrate into the community. Adele has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Exeter in the UK and a Postgraduate Teaching Degree from the University of Surrey. Adele has four children, the youngest of which attended CCNS. Her family keeps her quite busy, but in her free time she enjoys reading and going to the theater.

Carolyn Barrese

Assistant Twos Teacher
Carolyn has been working with kids of all ages since she was a teen.  She graduated from Pace University with a degree in Human Resources and a graduate degree in Elementary Education.  She was the Director of Student Activities and Orientation  at Pace, and then a stay-at-home mom to her 3 children.  She taught many years of religious education at St. Anthony’s in Nanuet, NY and at St. Jerome’s here in Norwalk.  After teaching 2’s at the Wilton YMCA for 5 years, she became the EdgeKids supervisor at The Edge Fitness in Norwalk and then moved to another child based role at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, CT.  Carolyn spent many years volunteering at her children’s schools and was a founding member and head of the parent board at Extreme Cheer CT.  A Long Island native, she has lived in Westchester and Rockland counties in NY, and settled in Norwalk in 1997.  She enjoys yoga, pilates, traveling, the beach and spending time with friends and family.

Wendy Hopper

Assistant Fours Teacher
Wendy joined the CCNS team after spending the past few years as a stay-at-home mom to three children.  During this time, Wendy was an active community volunteer in her children’s schools as well as serving on the board of trustees for the Darien Nature Center.  Prior to that, Wendy taught second grade at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, NY and kindergarten at the Chestnut Hill School in Newton, MA.  She is a graduate of Saint Michael’s College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and holds a masters degree in elementary education from Lesley University.  In her spare time, Wendy loves to be with her family and dog, read, listen to Broadway music and be active outdoors.  Her love of children, being outdoors and teaching in a warm, creative atmosphere brought her to CCNS

Beth Colonna

Assistant Threes Teacher
Beth came to CCNS in 2016 after ten years teaching Mommy and Me, music and story time classes at local children’s studios Elephant Steps, Green Moon, and Family Children’s Agency. A Virginia native, she received her undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from James Madison University. Before moving to Connecticut, she taught in Loudoun County Public Schools. She has also completed her Early Childhood Education Certificate at Norwalk Community College.
She served on the parent board of Five Mile River Nursery School, and was active in the parent association for many years at Pear Tree Point School and Greens Farms Academy. Beth and her husband, Paul, have been Rowayton residents for 18 years and have two teenaged sons. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano, guitar, and autoharp with her students. When she’s not teaching you can find her golfing, skiing or supporting her boys’ rock band and soccer team.

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