ELNS Staff

Melinda Martin

Program Director

Melinda Martin is the Program Director at Epiphany Lutheran Nursery School and serves as an ex-officio member of the ELNS Board of Directors. Mrs. Martin earned her bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Science from Thiel College and her Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After working in administration for more than a decade and then relocating to the Richmond area with her family, Mrs. Martin began working at ELNS as a substitute teacher. She was then a lead teacher in the Orange Class for eight years before becoming the Program Director. Mrs. Martin and her husband, Phillip, have three children, all of whom have attended ELNS. As a Pittsburgh native, Mrs. Martin follows Steelers football and Penguins hockey and in her spare time she enjoys baking, travel, reading, and spending time with family.

Debbie Sexton

Finance Manager

Debbie Sexton is the Finance Manager for Epiphany Lutheran Nursery School. Debbie joined the Epiphany Lutheran Church staff as the Finance Manager in 2016 after a 32 year career with Bank of America in various finance roles primarily focusing on profitability analysis, budgeting and business line performance.  She began working with the nursery school in 2019.  Debbie is a native Richmonder and a graduate of the University of Virginia. Debbie and her husband Derick have 2 sons and a daughter-in-law living in Richmond. They are also blessed with two grandchildren.

Stefanie Reyes Diaz

Green Class Lead Teacher

Janet Lichenstein

Green Class Assistant Teacher

Ms. Janet joined ELNS in the fall of 2021 as an Assistant in the Green Class.  Ms. Janet has worked in child care for many years including owning her own daycare.  She loves working with children, especially the youngest ones here at ELNS! 

Liz Nygren

Orange  Class Lead Teacher

Ms. Liz joined ELNS in January 2019 as a floater and a substitute teacher before moving to the Orange Class as an assistant and now the lead.  Ms. Liz is currently working on completing her coursework for certification in early childhood development. She has worked with children regularly since she was a young adult. She has one son, Johnny, who is a graduate of ELNS. Ms. Liz enjoys reading, playing tennis, crafting, and spending time with her son.

Lizhen Li

Orange Class Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Li moved to Richmond with her husband from NJ in 2019. She got her teaching certificate in a university in China, taught English there with her husband and tutored middle school students. She has a love for young kids. She has been loving volunteering as a PreK teaching assistant at her church. Mrs. Li has one daughter, Olivia, who is in the Orange Class at ELNS. Mrs, Li enjoys reading biographies, cooking and traveling with her family.

Hannah Fritzemeier

Blue Class Lead Teacher

Mrs. Fritzemeier (Mrs. Fritz to her students) grew up in Louisa VA and has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Development from Reynolds Community College. Mrs. Fritzemeier has been working with preschool aged children since 2009 and has been at ELNS since 2014.  She enjoys volunteering with her church’s children’s ministries and traveling with her husband and son. They especially enjoy visiting Disney theme parks. In her spare time Mrs. Fritzemeier also enjoys shopping at vintage shops, crafting, and baking.

Kathy Lazerte

Blue Class Assistant Teacher (M, T, F)
Floating Assistant (W)

Ms. Lazerte (Miss Kathy to her students) joined ELNS as an Assistant Teacher in the Blue Class in 2021.  A native of Pittsburgh, PA and an avid Steeler fan, she moved west and spent time in Oregon, Washington, and Missoula, MT.  Miss Kathy has worked for over 18 years in special education classrooms and loved the unique challenges and rewards that are to be found there.  Three years ago Ms. Kathy decided to move to Richmond to be closer to her mother and sister.   She has found her new hometown lovely...with both the ocean and mountains nearby!  She's the proud mother of two grown children, enjoys power walking, reading, and Scrabble.  

Katie Morgan

Red Class Lead Teacher

Mrs. Morgan joined ELNS in 2022.  She holds an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and has a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from VCU.  She has been teaching in the Richmond area for the past ten years.  Mrs. Morgan and her husband have 4 sons ranging in age from newborn to kindergarten.  When she and her husband aren't taking their kids to soccer, tball or swimming, they love to day trip around Virginia, especially toward the beach!  

Donna Perry

Red Class Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Perry first joined ELNS as a substitute in 2019 and continued to sub until she took the position in the Red Class in 2022.  She graduated from William & Mary with a degree in French and received her teaching license from VCU.  She taught French in the Richmond area for 13 years.  Mrs. Perry and her husband, a professor at the University of Richmond, have one son who is currently a college student.  Mrs. Perry loves to read, play Scrabble & Yahtzee, travel and bake.  

Kelly Scruggs

Yellow Class Lead Teacher

Ms. Scruggs joined ELNS in 2018. She graduated from VCU with a bachelor’s degree in early and elementary education. She is also a performer and teacher of improv comedy at CSz Richmond Theater. Kelly has been performing improv since she was 12 years old. Her background in improv and teaching make for a wonderful and fun combination. She’s always loved kids and knew teaching was were she would end up eventually.  In her spare time, Ms. Scruggs has taught herself to sew and she has a great love of  three toed sloths. 

Katie Lipschultz

Blue Class Assistant Teacher (W, Th)

Mrs. Lipschultz (Ms. Katie to the students) joined ELNS last year as a substitute teacher. She greatly enjoyed it so she moved into an assistant role for the Blue class on Wednesdays and Thursdays this year. She has an undergraduate degree in Marketing and a graduate degree in HR. Katie has two children (an 8 year old girl and a 6 year old boy) in elementary school who are ELNS alumni. Between being an ELNS parent and teacher, Katie has been involved with ELNS for over 6 years. When she's not working, Katie enjoys going to museums, reading and hanging out with her kids.  

Tom Stevens

Music Teacher

Mr. Stevens earned his music performance degree from the Manhattan School of Music. He is a member of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, is a faculty member at the University of Richmond, teaches at other area private schools and  offers private music lessons.  Mr. Stevens is married and has 2 school aged children in  that both attended ELNS. This is his 9th year as our music teacher and our students love his high energy music classes.  It's also a special treat that our students get to see the variety of instruments that Mr. Stevens plays including piano, viola, violin, and accordion.  

Patty Engle

Floating Assistant Teacher (M, T, Th, F)

Miss Engle earned a BA in elementary education from Indiana State University. After retiring from Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, IN, she moved to Virginia to be closer to her daughter. This is her 5th year at ELNS. She has 3 children and 6 grandchildren. Besides traveling to visit all the grandchildren, she loves to bake and read.