Our Wonderful Staff

Tricia Simon


Tricia joined the Learning Tree Preschool family over 15 years ago. She volunteered to assist our team when her daughter joined our school. Tricia loved being in the classroom and officially joined our staff in 2012 as an aide. Since then, Tricia has taught Mom and Me, the 2.5 year-old class, 3 year-old class, Enrichment and the Pre-K Class. Tricia can be found daily visiting the classrooms. She infuses art, engaging ideas and brings energy to the programs. 
Tricia earned her AAS in Fine Arts and a BFA in Advertising from Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She has taught private art lessons and has worked with local students hosting and assisting at birthday parties and after-school art instruction. She also paints ornaments and enjoys the arts.  
Tricia enjoys working with children and has hosted classes through the Monmouth County Park System. Prior to working with children, Tricia worked as a graphic designer for a fashion company in New York City and for several publications on the Jersey Shore. 
Community is important to Tricia. She has served on the Parks and Recreation Committee, Rage Core Group, River Plaza Parent Faculty Association, Parent Information Committee and several other local and municipal groups. 
In her free time, Tricia enjoys spending time with her family and friends, biking, hiking, the beach and painting. 

Kelly Hegel

Pre-K & Enrichment Teacher

Kelly joined the Learning Tree family in 2009 as a mom.  Since then, she has worked in all classrooms as a parent, substitute and as a 3’s, Pre-K and Enrichment teacher.  Before Learning Tree, Kelly was an elementary school teacher in Middletown to 4th graders and Kindergarten students.  Kelly graduated from Georgian Court University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and Elementary Education.  She loves to create a nurturing environment where the students feel safe and comfortable but also challenged.  Kelly provides hands on learning that encourages curiosity, active learning, and problem solving.  When Kelly isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her family.  Kelly enjoys spending time with her family. She also loves to travel and spend time at the beach.

Christine Destounis

3’s & Enrichment Teacher

Christine joined our Learning Tree Preschool family in September 2021. She teaches the 2.5, 3’s and 3’s Enrichment Classes. Before joining Learning Tree, Christine taught Kindergarten for six years at Westminster Nature Preschool in Middletown. Christine also taught grades K-3 in the New York City public school system for thirteen years.  Christine has a B.A. in Spanish and Liberal Arts, as well as a Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Adelphi University. Christine enjoys creating a nurturing, calm, hands on learning environment for our littlest learners that builds confidence, curiosity and a love of learning. Outside of school, Christine enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, baking and playing with her four rescue pets!

Diana Scheffling

3’s Assistant Teacher

Diana first came to Learning Tree in 2015 after a friend recommended our school for her daughter.  In 2018, Diana began working as an assistant teacher in our 2.5 and 3’s classes.  Before working at Learning Tree, Diana worked in both Middletown and Oceanport Schools after receiving her Masters in Early Childhood Education.  In Diana’s free time, she enjoys time with her family, going to the beach, watching movies and baking with her children.

Meg Buckman

Pre-K & Enrichment Assistant Teacher

Meg joined the Learning Tree Preschool family back in 2004 when her daughter attended the “Mommy and Me” program. She spent many years at LTP in the “Mommy and Me” room as well and sent her children through the preschool program. Meg has also enjoyed many years of volunteering and being involved at her children’s grade school.

Meg is originally from Falls Church, Virginia and moved here in 1997 when she married her husband who grew up in Little Silver. Meg met her husband, Chip, while studying at St Francis University in Pennsylvania. Meg and Chip have four children. Meg enjoys playing tennis, walking, hanging with friends, the beach, and spending time with her family.

Learning Tree Preschool is a non-profit, integrated auxiliary of the United Methodist Church of Red Bank. We are an Early Childhood Learning Center licensed by the State of New Jersey, Department of Human Services, and Bureau of Licensing. Learning Tree Preschool does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, or disability in the processes of admissions, educational programs or employment.