Saint Mary School|Milford, CT | Preschool
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Preschool Staff

Director – Joan Calendrillo

Joan Calendrillo

Mrs. Calendrillo says, “I feel blessed to teach our youngest students about Jesus and watching them grow in faith. Our environment here at St Mary’s allows each child to shine and be the very best they can be.”

The preschool was a traditional part time program for three and four year olds when it began and has since expanded many times.  She became the Director in June of 2007 as the preschool expanded to offer a Full Day Class for Four year olds while maintaining our other programs.

She is part of the St Mary’s Parish Twinning committee and has traveled to our sister parish of St Therese in Marbial Haiti three times.  She shares with all the children of St Mary School knowledge and love of the people of Marbial.  Through our service projects and activities she tries to help the children to live out our mission statement of service to others.  She  also serves on the Visiting Committee of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.  This involvement helps her to professionally investigate the programs of other private schools and broaden her personal knowledge.

She is an active parishioner of St Agnes Parish since 1983.  In her spare time,  she enjoys the company of family and friends. Book clubs, travel and museums fill her summers and time with her four grandchildren is priceless.


Today’s Teacher Spotlight is shining on our Preschool Director & Teacher Mrs. Joan Calendrillo! Her teaching motto is, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin.

Her students might not know that Mrs. Calendrillo enjoys visiting lighthouses and climbing to the top! She loved Math when we was a student and for a long time wanted to be a High School Math Teacher.

When not in the classroom, Mrs. Calendrillo enjoys being with her family, especially her four grandchildren. To relax she likes to read and crochet, and for adventure she loves to explore nature!

Her advice: “I would like my students to remember that they were made by God so they must be special

Teacher – Andrea Dente

Andrea Dente

Ms. Dente has been working at St. Mary School since 2011.  Her role has been as a teacher assistant working in the preschool and first grade classes.  In 2013,  she completed and passed the ParaPro Assessment for paraprofessionals. She is excited to be working now as a lead teacher under the direction of Mrs. Calendrillo in the part time 4year old class.

In a volunteer capacity, Ms. Dente has  been the SMS Library co-chair since 2007 and the SMS Book Fair co-chair since 2008. She has also been a Girl Scout troop leader since 2006, leading her daughter and her friends from Daisies to Cadets.

“I have been so fortunate to experience St. Mary School as both a parent and an employee. The best part about working at the school for me is the staff. The teachers and staff are like family. They are always there for me, willing to help in a moment’s notice. The same caring and nurturing environment that they provide for the children is extended back to the staff.”

Teacher – Robin Zsampar

Robin Zsampar

Robin Zsampar  has been working at St Mary School  since 2007.  Her favorite thing about SMS is the “Small school environment, and the special attention that each child receives. Its like one big family here! “.

Mrs. Zsampar is an avid Red Sox fan, and enjoys gardening, spending time with her kids, and family get togethers.

Assistant Teacher – Debbie Carelli

Debbie Carelli

Debbie Carelli has been working at St. Mary School since 2005 as an Assistant Teacher for the Director, Mrs. Joan Calendrillo, in the 3 and 4 year old Pre-Kindergarten Programs.

“My job is both inspiring and rewarding.”  

Mrs. Carelli graduated from Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School, Melville, N.Y. and worked as a secretary in many corporate businesses such as: CBS, Estee Lauder in New York City, Panafax/Panasonic in Long Island to name a few. She moved to Connecticut with her husband and worked as a temp secretary for JE Robert Company and then at Bayer Pharmaceutical.

When she had her son, who attended SMS from Pre-K through Graduating 8th grade, she stayed at home until he went to kindergarten and worked part-time in the Milford Public schools in Food Service/kitchen help. In between she was a counselor for the Girl Scout/Cub Scout camp at Katoya.

Mrs. Carelli enjoys dancing, sports, traveling, the beach, helping others and spending time her family. She is a volunteer in Civic and Community Service, as a secretary for the Milford Newcomer’s Club/ a non-profit organization and she also volunteered and cooked for the needy. Her family are parishioners of Saint Mary Church.

Assistant Teacher – Debbie Dehart

Debbie Dehart

One of my greatest joys is having the opportunity to watch the children grow socially and academically.”  Mrs. DeHart has been working at Saint Mary Preschool since 2000 under the direction of Joan Calendrillo with the 3yr old and 4yr old classes.

Mrs. Dehart has 2 children who both attended Saint Mary Preschool through Grade 8. She enjoys reading, traveling and gardening. Her favorite thing about SMS is the sense of community.


With school starting very soon, we continue our series of Teacher Spotlights! Today it is shining on one of our Preschool Teachers Mrs. Debbie DeHart! “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” by Dr. Seuss is Mrs. DeHart’s favorite quote. Did you know that she has two daughters (both graduated from St. Mary School) and one is studying Education and the other is an Occupational Therapist? Outside of school she likes to spend time with her family and friends, travel and genealogy. Mrs. DeHart loved history and reading when she was a student and the best advice she can give HER students is to, “Always keep trying and never give up!”

Assistant Teacher- Karen Lagarde

Karen Lagarde

Karen Lagarde has worked at St. Mary School as an office/teacher assistant since 2008. She graduated from Bunnell H.S. in Stratford and earned a B.S. from Fairfield University. Before coming to Saint Mary School she worked as a National Account Manager for AT&T in Norwalk and Farmington, CT.

Mrs. Lagarde loves to spend time with her husband and two daughters. She likes skiing in the winter and sailing in the summer. Her most favorite place to be is in a good book.

Her favorite thing about working at Saint Mary School is “Seeing the smiling faces of the children first thing in the morning!”


Today’s Teacher Spotlight is shining on Preschool Assistant Teacher Mrs. Karen Lagarde!

Mrs. Lagarde’s favorite quote is, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu.

Did you know that she loves to cook and has a huge collection of cookbooks? Or that history and literature were her favorite subjects in school?

Mrs. Lagarde enjoys traveling with her family, watching her daughters’ sporting events and reading a good book in her free time.

The best advice she can give her students as they continue their education is, “Pursue those things you really enjoy and never give up on the hard stuff, you’re smarter than you think!”

Assistant Teacher – Marion Turiano

Marion Turiano

Assistant Teacher – Roseann Farrell

Roseann Farrell