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, Nursery IB 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, Nursery IIA T-Assistant and Preschool Music Teacher

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., Nursery IA 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, Nursery IA 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.


Tirouhi Bazarbashian, Nursery IIA Teacher

I began my journey with St.Stephen’s Preschool in 2001 and have been in the Child Development field for at least fifteen fun filled years. I am an EEC certified lead teacher and also have completed Child Development, Behavior Management, Early Childhood Curriculum and Art and Music for Young Children courses at Mass Bay Community College. I am married, and am a proud mother of three children who are St. Stephen’s Elementary School Alumni. In my spare time, I enjoy playing piano, reading, listening to music and vacationing with my family. Early Childhood Education is important because it helps lay the foundation of learning. As an educator, I use my strengths of positivity and inclusivity to foster a safe emotional learning environment. I feel working with children is as exciting for me as I hope it is for them! I love reading stories aloud and encouraging and teaching children to tell stories, build great imagination, comprehension and literacy. I believe all kids deserve to have a safe educational environment to learn, have fun and grow.


Siranush Tenekedzhyan Pre-Nursery Teacher

Siranush was born and raised in Gyumri, Armenia. In 1996 Siranush completed her Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. Additionally, she had an internship in conflict resolution and legal consultations with the Ministers of Justice in Yerevan, Armenia. Siranush joined SSAES family long before she became a teacher. She joined the SSAES as a parent, volunteer and a substitute teacher. Siranush believes that to make a great difference in the lives of young children, one should be loving, passionate, patient and creative.


Maral Derderian, Nursery IIB 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, Nursery IIB 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.


Laura Terzian,Pre-Nursery Teacher

Laura Terzian was born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Radio Engineering from the National Polytechnic University of Armenia in 1990. Four years later, Laura made her journey to the US, and shortly after, she began working at the St. Stephen’s Armenian Preschool. From 2002-2009, she was a Teacher’s Assistant in the N1-A classroom. From 2009-2010, she held a Lead Teacher position for a year, after which she took a break from her teaching position in order to help in her family’s business. In 2017, Laura returned to teaching again at the SSAES Preschool in the Pre-Nursery classroom. Laura has two children, who are both alumni of the St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School. She is a natural born nurturer, and loves every aspect of her job. Her goal is to educate every child that walks through the doors of her classroom, and to instill in them a love for the beautiful Armenian culture and language.


Tatevik Karaughlanyan, Pre-Nursery Teacher

Tatevik Karaughlanyan was born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Philology and Pedagogy from Yerevan State University. Upon graduation she worked as an Expert in the Educational Center of Noravank Foundation for five years then she became the head of the same department. Tatevik moved to Boston in 2018. Shortly after she began working as a substitute teacher at St. Stephen’s Armenian Preschool. During that time Tatevik took a course in Child Growth and
Development which qualified her to become EEC Teacher certified. Since February 2023 she joined the St. Stephen’s Armenian Preschool staff and became Assistant Teacher in the Pre-Nursery class. Tatevik is a mother of three children. Two of her children currently attend St. Stephen’s Armenian Preschool. She loves children and enjoys being surrounded by them.

47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472

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