Meet the Faculty

Little Blessings

Emily Uskudarli

Acting Director, Little Blessings Childcare

Mrs. Uskudarli was born in Danbury, grew up in Newtown, and attended Newtown Schools. Mrs. Uskudarli knew from an early age that she wanted to work with children. Certified as a Head Teacher, Mrs. Uskudarli’s credentials include 12 years experience working with children and CPR and First Aid Certification. She has worked at Christian Life Academy since 2007 and is currently working toward her degree in education. She and her husband Ethan have 2 children. Mrs. Uskudarli’s family involvement with CLA runs 2 generations deep.  Her daughter is a student at CLA, her son attends Little Blessings, and her mother, Carina Stefanko, is CLA’s Kindergarten Assistant. In her free time, Mrs. Uskudarli enjoys spending time with her family and 3 dogs, taking weekend vacations to Vermont, watching movies, and crocheting. Her family attends Shoreline Community Church in Branford, where she volunteers with the children’s ministry. She loves being part of a child’s learning process, and watching children grow physically, mentally, and spiritually.

PreSchool

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Mrs. Kim Lindemann

Mrs. Lindemann grew up in the Litchfield Hills of CT and graduated from New Milford High School.  She attended Mattatuck (now Naugatuck) Valley Community College in Waterbury, CT, with a concentration in Early Childhood Special Education and Community Bible Institute in Poughkeepsie, NY, where she completed her Biblical Studies Program.  She also holds a Dental Assistant Certificate.  

In addition to her many years of experience in the field of Special Education, Mrs. Lindemann has 20 (+) years of service in Children’s Ministry, Music Ministry and Church Leadership.  She counts it a blessing to be part of the CLA Family and enjoys working with young children.

She resides in New Preston, CT, with her husband, Lou, daughter, Avery, and dog, Sugar.  

Jill Oliveto

Jill Oliveto

Preschool (K3) Paraprofessional

Mrs. Oliveto grew up in Connecticut and attended New Fairfield Schools. She attended both Elim Bible Institute and Liberty Bible College. She previously worked in the Health Care field, working with the elderly and the developmentally disabled. She then realized her passion for teaching young children and made a career change. Her experience includes 16 years in the classroom and 28 years in children’s ministry. She has taught at Christian Life Academy since 2005. In her free time, Mrs. Oliveto enjoys bird watching, gardening, and walking and hiking with Dominic, her husband of 28 years. She and Dominic also volunteer together in the Royal Rangers children’s program at First Assembly of God Church in Brookfield, where they also worship. Mrs. Oliveto loves that Jesus comes first at CLA and is thankful for the children she teaches and their families.

Tracy Karolczuk

Tracy Karolczuk

Preschool (K4) Teacher

Miss Karolczuk grew up in Connecticut and attended Newtown Schools. She currently lives with her mom, brother, and two cats, and loves having other family members close by as well. She studied at both Western Connecticut State University and Naugatuck Valley Community College, earning her Head Teaching Certification in Early Education.  She is also working toward a degree in Early Childhood Education. Though Miss Karolczuk has only been teaching at Christian Life Academy since 2013, she has 12 years experience working with children. In her free time, she loves dancing, playing tennis, mini golf, taking walks, and painting. She also loves to sing and is active in the music ministry at Walnut Hill Community Church, where she worships. Miss Karolczuk loves the strong curriculum at CLA, and enjoys watching the children grow and learn to care for one another.

Kathy Re

Kathy Re

Preschool (K4) Paraprofessional

Mrs. Re grew up in New Fairfield and graduated from Danbury High School. She has over 20 years experience working with children, and joined Christian Life Academy in 1993.  In her free time, Mrs. Re enjoys walking, swimming, crafting, shopping, playing tennis, and spending time with her family. Mrs. Re has been married to her husband Carlo for 38 years. They have 4 grown children and 3 grandchildren. They are long time members of Brookfield First Assembly of God. Mrs. Re enjoys working with young children, especially in a Christian environment!

Elementary

Kristy Pfeiffer

Kristy Pfeiffer

Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Pfeiffer grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She attended both Colorado State University and Fayetteville State University where she received a B.S. in early childhood education and her teacher certification. She believes that education never ends and has over 40 credits of graduate work and continuing education classes. She joined the Christian Life Academy family in 2012. Married for 30 years, Mrs. Pfeiffer and her husband have two children, a cat, and a dog. In her free time, she enjoys reading, walking her dog, playing tennis, brain games, and spending time with her family and friends. She worships at Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel, where she teaches Sunday School, co-leads a community group, and has been involved in missions for many years. Mrs. Pfeiffer says that, at CLA, “God’s love can be seen and heard and felt within the halls and walls of this special place.”

Carina Stefanko

Carina Stefanko

Kindergarten Paraprofessional

Mrs. Stefanko grew up in Danbury and has attended Brookfield First Assembly of God since she was a child.  She has been married to her husband for 39 years and has 3 grown children, Christopher, Emily , and Elizabeth—who have blessed her with 7 wonderful grandchildren! Mrs. Stefanko was a stay-at-home mother for 17 years before she began working at CLA in 2002. She has worked in K4, 1st Grade, 3rd Grade, and now Kindergarten for the past 6 years. She loves working with children and encouraging their own creativity. She has volunteered at First Assembly with the Missionettes girls’ ministries, the youth group, Vacation Bible School, and Children’s Church.  Mrs. Stefanko says she loves “the opportunity to pour God’s love into our students,” and considers CLA to be a mission field for the community.

Carolyn Faurote

Carolyn Faurote

First Grade Teacher

Mrs. Faurote was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Central New Jersey and Chappaqua, New York. She has a B.A. in Psychology with a Child Development focus from Susquehanna University, a minor in Computer Science, and many continuing education credits in education. Before becoming a teacher, Mrs. Faurote worked as a Systems Analyst. She has taught at Christian Life Academy since 2002, and all of her children graduated from CLA. She has 4 children, 2 grandchildren, a dog, and a horse. In her free time, Mrs. Faurote enjoys horse care and riding, hiking, biking, and water sports. She loves to share her love of animals and the outdoors with people, and often uses her horse, Zip, as a ministry. She worships at First Assembly of God Church in Brookfield.

Dotsy Torres

Second Grade Teacher

Mrs. Torres grew up in Scarsdale, New York and Virginia before moving to Connecticut. She is married with 4 children. She has a B.S. in Child Studies and a CT Head Teacher Certificate. Prior to discovering her gift for teaching children, she worked in a law firm for 10 years. She has taught at Christian Life Academy since 2004. Mrs. Torres worships at First Assembly of God Church in Brookfield, where she coordinated the  Children’s Ministries program. She is also involved with the Young Lives Program in Danbury, and participates in mission trips.  Mrs. Torres has sent all of her children to CLA and loves that CLA trains children both academically and spiritually.

Amy Santoro

Third Grade Teacher

Mrs. Santoro was born in Danbury, CT and has lived in the area all of her life. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and Fairfield University with a Master of Arts in Psychology. She has been married to her husband Dominick for 24 years. She, her husband Dominick, and their sons live in Danbury. Both of their sons attend CLA. In her free time she enjoys reading (especially non-fiction), baking, and hiking. She and her family worship at Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel.

Mrs. Santoro’s experience includes managing group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, and Human Resources. She has also worked as an elementary and nursery school substitute teacher. She joined the CLA teaching staff in 2014. Mrs. Santoro says, “This school has been so good for my boys. I love that they have excellent Christian role models and caring, compassionate teachers.”

Nicole Mitchell

Fourth Grade Teacher

Ms. Mitchell is new to CLA and Connecticut this year. She moved from New York to Danbury, with her three boys, who also attend CLA. She loves the positive impact CLA is having in her boys’ lives! Teaching is definitely something that runs in Ms. Mitchell’s family. All of her aunts, as well as her mother are teachers. Her mother founded and ran the Corona Christian Academy in Queens, NY for over twenty years. Ms. Mitchell has taught everything from Preschool to High School, and enjoys working with children and helping them find the joy in learning. She is our current fourth grade teacher, and is excited to share her love for Christ and learning with her students. When she isn’t in the classroom, Ms. Mitchell and her boys like to travel.

Dee Phillips

Dee Phillips

Fifth Grade Teacher

Mrs. Phillips grew up in Attleboro, Massachusetts. She earned a B.A. in History from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and an M.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Bridgeport. Mrs. Phillips joined Christian Life Academy in 2014, after teaching 13 years at other parochial and public schools. She has been married to her husband Kevin for 33 years. She has three grown children: Lauren and Jill, who live in North Carolina, and Randy and his wife Nellie, who live in South Carolina. Mrs. Phillips recently became a first-time grandmother.  In her free time she enjoys traveling, quilting, and cooking. She worships at Community Chapel in Southbury, CT, and spends summers running the kitchen at Camp Marion, a Christian camp. She is also TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certified and volunteers with Literacy Volunteers in Waterbury.

Middle School

AnnaMarie March

AnnaMarie March

Sixth Grade Middle School Science Teacher

Mrs. March was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and attended Holy Rosary School. Her education at St. Catharine Academy gave her a strong foundation for life. She earned her B.S. in Behavioral Science from Iona College, and has also completed graduate credits in education from Mercy College and Fordham University. She has 19 years teaching experience; 6 of them at Christian Life Academy. She and her husband William have two sons, the younger of whom attends CLA. Mrs. March is passionate about singing and loves to use her talent to glorify the Lord. She also enjoys acting, cooking, fishing, and camping. The March family worships at Grace Family Church in Newtown. Before moving to Connecticut Mrs. March was actively involved at the Mission Church in Holmes, New York, where she served on the worship team, choir, missions trips, and volunteered with children’s ministry programs like Vacation Bible School. Mrs. March feels God has blessed her with the gift of teaching and called her to the profession, which she loves.

Using the gift that God has provided, Mrs. March has joined Jericho Partnership in Danbury, CT serving as Associate Director for the Spring St. Summer Learning Program. She has been blessed to be a witness for Christ sharing the Good News to inner city children.

Donna Collins

Seventh Grade and Middle School History Teacher

Mrs. Collins joined CLA in 2015 as the middle school history and eighth grade homeroom teacher. She attributes her teaching ability to God’s grace and God’s gifting, for His glory! With almost two decades of teaching experience as a home educator, Mrs. Collins has tried to instill a love and appreciation of lifelong learning in her three children, and believes that it is never too late to learn something new. She has also taught numerous other students in a variety of subject areas for over a decade.

Mrs. Collins holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Health & Society from Brown University, and spent a number of years in social services and hospital settings before she became a stay at home mom, which was absolutely her favorite job of all before joining the CLA Faculty. After spending so much time teaching her own children and other students too, she came to recognize that she simply loves learning and inspiring others to learn as well. She enjoys listening to good music, singing, dancing, hiking, canoeing and kayaking, reading, writing, learning sign language, and being creative. She and her husband Joe are worship leaders at the Shepaug Valley Bible Church in Roxbury, CT. Their two youngest children attend CLA.

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Stacey D’Agostino

Eighth Grade and Middle School History Teacher

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Dorothy Miller

Middle School Math Teacher

Extracurricular

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Mrs. Christine Markovits

Art Teacher

Mrs. Markovits is our art teacher.

Mrs. M grew up in both California and Connecticut. She currently lives in Danbury with her husband, Brian and son, Ronan.

Mrs. M has a B.F.A. in Studio Art as well as her degree in Early Childhood Education.  She is passionate about educating children, which she has been doing for over 20 years. Prior to entering the education field, she was a jewelry designer.

Mrs. M has extensive knowledge in the Reggio Emilia approach to education.

Mrs. M says “I look forward to helping children grow as artists”.

Vivian Sakis

Vivian Sakis

Music Teacher

Mrs. Sakis grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia where she was involved in church activities since high school. She and her husband, Chris, relocated from Virginia to New Milford in 1990. They have three children, Kara-Leigh, Amber, and Joshua. Mrs. Sakis graduated from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education with a concentration in vocal/piano. She was also trained to teach Yamaha Music School. Mrs. Sakis previously taught 12 years in parochial schools and has been teaching private piano for more than 37 years.  She is the worship leader and pianist at Christian Life Fellowship in New Milford, where her husband is Pastor. She has been the director of numerous musicals with church youth and adult choirs. She has experience as accompanist for numerous choirs and soloists. She admits that music has been her interest and favorite pastime her whole life, but she also enjoys bike riding, learning about history, reading biographies, baking, and cooking.

Maria Rago

Spanish Teacher

Senora Rago was born in Argentina. She moved to the United States in 1987 with her husband Ricardo and young son. She lives in Bethel with her husband and dog Marly. Senora Rago is the mother of three adult children, Constantino, Micaela, and Sophia. She has 34 years of experience in the classroom, having taught in Argentina, and Rogers Park Middle School, Immaculate High School, and Immanuel Lutheran School in Danbury. She has taught biology, bilingual programs, and Spanish from Pre-K through 12th Grade. Senora Rago hold a bachelors degree in science and Spanish and a masters degree in education.

Alan Freeman

Alan Freeman

Physical Education Teacher

Mr. Freeman grew up in Windham County in eastern Connecticut. He has a Bachelor of Science in Forest Resource Management from the University of Montana and also studied for the ministry in Providence, Rhode Island. He was ordained by the Open Door Fellowship and the International Ministerial Fellowship at Rock Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Mr. Freeman served as a pastor and church administrator prior to a career as a case worker for the Connecticut Department of Social Services. He had coached middle school track and field prior to coming to CLA. He enjoys working with children and imparting concepts he has learned in track and field and cross country running. Mr. Freeman enjoys hiking, being in the woods, at the beach, and national parks. He attends Christian Life Fellowship in New Milford with his wife Joan. He is also a volunteer chaplain for the Department of Corrections. Since starting at CLA, Mr. Freeman, “has enjoyed learning and teaching concepts of movement and development in physical education.”

Joyce Vigue

Extended Care Teacher

Mrs. Vigue grew up in Woodbury, Connecticut and graduated from Nonnewaug High School. As a child, she was involved in Girl Scouts. As a Senior Scout she had the opportunity to travel to the Girl Scout Chalet in Switzerland.  She graduated from Bryant College in Smithfield, Rhode Island, with an Associate’s Degree in Executive Secretarial Science. Mrs. Vigue is married with 3 children and has a dog named Katie. After working as an executive secretary for 14 years, she became a home school mom. She loves to work with children and loves CLA because she has the freedom to pray with children and to share God’s Word with them. In her spare time, Mrs. Vigue enjoys walking, reading, making homemade crafts, and she loves to visit Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.