Maral Orchanian, Preschool Director

Maral Orchanian has been the Director of St. Stephen’s Armenian Preschool since April 2009. Prior to this, she served as a Nursery I class teacher for 10 years. Maral received her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University in 1998. She is born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, where she got her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Aleppo. She served as the principal of an elementary school for 9 years before moving to the United States in 1991. During her first year in Massachusetts, Maral taught Armenian in the Kindergarten classroom at Armenian Sisters’ Academy for 1 year before pursuing her Masters’ degree in Early Childhood Education at Lesley University. Maral is the proud mother of two boys who are St. Stephen’s school Alumni. She enjoys being a part of the SSAES preschool staff and loves being surrounded by children. Her goal is to ensure that the Preschool is a safe, enjoyable and fun environment for the children to learn and play.

Vicky Ashjian, Pre-Nursery Teacher

She was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. She graduated from M & H Arslanian Djemaran, and later attended Pigier College. Vicky served as Assistant Manager of an international auditing company. Before she married her husband Vicken, Vicky also worked at the Japanese Embassy Administrative Offices.

Vicky and her family moved to Massachusetts in 2003. She soon started substitute teaching at St. Stephen’s Preschool, and after a few years worked at the Hairenik Association as the advertising manager for the newspaper.Vicky is now a certified Lead Teacher from EEC, and has been a Pre-Nursery teacher at St. Stephen’s Preschool since 2009. She speaks 4 languages, Armenian, Arabic, French, and English. Vicky’s daughter, Karyl graduated from St. Stephen’s Elementary School, while her son Chris, is currently a student.Vicky’s favorite movies are Oliver Twist and The Sound of Music. She loves cooking, photographing, music, reading, and traveling.

Yelena Hakobyan, PreN T-Assistant

Yelena Hakobyan was born in Gyumri, Armenia. She graduated from Armen Tigranian Music School, and continued her music studies and received a bachelor’s degree at the Kara-Murza Music College; with degrees in Piano Pedagogy and Musical Accompaniment. Yelena spent the next 18 years teaching piano at Armen Brutyan Music School. During her tenure she also worked as music instructor to kindergarten students. In 1996, Yelena and her family moved to Boston, MA. In 2004 Yelena started working as a music instructor for St. Sahag & St. Mesrob Armenian School. Then in 2011, she joined St. Stephen’s Preschool as a teacher assistant. She enjoys working with the other teachers who are as passionate, dedicated and caring towards students as she is. Yelena is a certified Early Education & Care (EEC) Teacher. Additionally, she completed a course in Early Childhood Education in the area of Massachusetts Guidelines and Core Competencies at UMASS Boston, she also completed a course in Behavior Management at Mass Bay Community College. Yelena continues to offer private piano instruction to children, and hosts recitals to showcase her students’ hard work and talent to the community. Yelena has been married for 32 years and has two boys, each graduated with bachelor’s degrees in their esteemed areas of study.

Anna Kupelian, M.A., NIA Teacher

During the twenty-five years of my teaching career, I have had an opportunity to work with children of different ages. I must admit that working with preschool children is the most enjoyable and rewarding experience, although at times it can be very challenging. The preschoolers should feel that they are valued and surrounded with an abundance of love and care. Once they feel safe and protected, they proceed to explore, observe & make sense of things. They are the most intelligent, curious, and creative little people. Preschool age education is the foundation on which more complex education is built later in life. I truly believe that this is the time when we can make them feel strong and capable of achieving things, teach them to be proud of their origin and culture, and shape them as honest & respectful citizens. With this belief and mission, I enter the school every day to bring more passion, creativity & engagement in my classroom.

Svetlana Vehapetian, NIA Co-Teacher

Svetlana Vehapetian is a Nursery II Co-Teacher. She has been working at St. Stephen's Armenian Elementary School for 14 years. She is a proud mother of two children who have graduated from this school. She enjoys being with children and teaching them songs, dances and spending time playing with them. She loves the experience of seeing how these children grow, and learn over the year and believes it’s a great privilege and opportunity to have an Armenian school so that we can keep our language, history, and culture alive.

Maral Derderian, B.S., NIIB Teacher

Maral Derderian is a Nursery II Lead Teacher. She has been teaching at St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary since the school first opened its doors to eight students in 1984. She is extremely proud that the school has fulfilled its mission, and has had so many great accomplishments. Maral started as the Armenian language teacher and teacher’s aide. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Early Childhood Education from Lesley College (University) in 1994. She enjoys being with children and teaching them, she also learns a lot from them and thinks that they are the most precious beings in the world. She talks with children and encourages them to talk about their passion and interests. She wants not only to touch children’s minds but their hearts and feelings as well. She believes that by creating a safe, friendly and nurturing environment for children, they can grow, thrive and have a positive educational experience.

Margarita Harutunyan, NIIB T-Assistant

Margarita Harutyunyan was born in Gyumri, Armenia. She graduated from S. Mussalyan School and she attended Tigranyan Music School majoring in piano. In 1991, Margarita earned her bachelor’s degree in M. Nalbandyan Pedagogical Institute. She graduated Pedagogy and Methodology of Elementary Education with a specialty in music. Also, in 1991 Margarita was awarded a Teacher Qualification for High School from the State Examination Board. Upon graduation she started work as an Elementary School teacher in #23 secondary school for the next 13 years. Margarita came to the U.S in 2004. In 2005, soon after she settled in the US, she began working at St. Stephen’s Armenian Preschool. She is now a certified lead teacher by the Department of Early Education and Care. For the past 8 years, she has been a teacher’s assistant for Nursery 2. It is her goal is to teach the children Armenian culture, language, and history. Margarita is married and has a son Gagik, who also attends St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School. Margarita spends her free time reading books and spending time with her family.

Tina Panian, B.S., NIIA Teacher

Tina Panian was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Belmont High School and holds a B.S. in Marketing from Bentley University. After working in financial services for 5 years, Tina stayed home to raise her children. She is married and has three little boys, Aren - 8 and Vicken - 6, who both attend St. Stephen’s, and Raffi who is 9 months old. While taking an early childhood development course, Tina started working at St. Stephen’s Armenian Preschool in 2008 and is currently a Nursery 2 lead teacher, certified by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. She enjoys cooking, swimming and traveling. Tina loves to sing - which is a big plus in a preschool classroom and she is also a Marvin the Martian collector.

Vilma Cimenian, NIIA T-Assistant

Vilma Cimenian was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, where she attended Essayan High School. In 1996, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Three years later in 1999, she married her husband Manuel and they had two boys, Shant and Aren who attended St. Stephen’s Armenian Preschool. After her children were born, Vilma’s passion to be with children grew, and she decided to pursue a career working with young children. She attended Mass Bay Community College and studied Early Childhood Education while working at St. Stephen’s Preschool and is currently certified as a Lead Teacher by the Department of Early Education and Care. She has been teaching at St. Stephen’s Preschool since 2005.

Outside of school, Vilma enjoys spending time with her family and close friends, but her priority is to spend individual quality time with her two boys. She likes to read and collect old books in her library. She also enjoys making flower arrangements and designing and sewing wedding veils as a hobby. Vilma’s motto is “No matter how busy life gets, always make time for good friends!”