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.

Hannah Lindsay

Green Class Lead Teacher

This will be Mrs. Lindsay's 2nd year on staff at ELNS. She joined us from Knoxville, TN where she had six years of early childhood experience in both the classroom and administrative roles. She attended Carson Newman University and earned her Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance certificate through Roane State Community College. Mrs. Lindsay has two children (both of whom have attended ELNS) and enjoys party planning, crafting, family walks with her kids, husband, and dog and is currently learning to quilt.

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.  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.

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.

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. 

Janet Lichenstein

Green Class Assistant Teacher

Lizhen Li

Green Class Assistant Teacher

Denise Wright

Orange Class Assistant Teacher

Ms. Wright moved from Northern Virginia to the Richmond area in 2018 . She has over 20 years experience in early childhood. She joined the ELNS staff in January 2019 as a substitute teacher, and has been an assistant in the two year old and four year old classes. Ms. Wright has 2 adult children and just welcomed her first grandchild. Besides spending time with her family and two grandpuppies, she enjoys reading and scrapbooking.

Kathy Lazerte

Blue Class Assistant Teacher

Ms. Lazerte 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.  Ms. 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.  

Johanna Gattuso

Yellow Class Assistant Teacher

Ms. Gattuso (Ms. Josi to her students) started at ELNS, Yellow Room in 2021. She grew up in the Delaware Valley, outside of Philadelphia. She is a retired registered nurse with a masters degree from Case Western Reserve University. She is the mother of four grown children, all of whom grew up at Epiphany Lutheran Church. She is familiar with the ELNS classrooms thru teaching Sunday School here for many years. She enjoys volunteering with Shalom Farms, swimming, and all things outdoors. She has two granddogs in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, and one grandcat in San Diego.

Patty Engle

Floating Assistant Teacher

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 4th year at ELNS. She has 3 children and 6 grandchildren. Besides traveling to visit all the grandchildren, she loves to bake and read.

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 7th 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.