About Our Staff


Lauren Akeley-Taylor, Director  Classroom Phone:  (207) 833-5102, Email

Lauren grew up in Hampden and went to the University of Maine in Orono and earned her degree in Anthropology/Philosophy.  She began teaching at Family Focus at 2010 and earned her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from Farmington in 2015.  Lauren is committed to creating nurturing and developmentally appropriate environments for children to flourish.  She believes you are never too old to stop being playfully curious.  She lives in Brunswick with her husband, two sons and two dogs.

Teaching Staff

Debra Norton, Teacher (MWF Program)

Debra has been teaching at HCNS since 2011 and is well-known for her ability to upcycle just about anything into something useful and interesting! She specializes in the use of “Loose Parts” for classroom activities and experiments and encourages her classes to think inventively also. Deb’s natural curiosity about the world inspires children to think, question, and explore, and under her guidance, children learn the true skill of investigation.  Deb is passionate about dramatic storytelling, imaginative play, and getting children to laugh. Her love of art extends beyond the preschool classrooms, and she regularly offers a mixed-media weekend art class to children in the local community. Debra grew up in Harpswell and attended the University of New Hampshire, where she earned a BA in Liberal Arts, with a double minor in Medieval History and Geography. She worked at the Child Development Center at the Brunswick Naval Air Station, serving as an Assistant Teacher then Lead Teacher with pre-schoolers and toddlers, and earning her early childhood credentials.

Debra lives in Cundy’s Harbor with her parents and has two fantastic children.

Elise DeRosa, Teacher (MWF Program)

Elise grew up in Brunswick and is a founding young company member of the Theater Project. This is where she first fell in love with teaching, directing and collaborating with children. She earned her BA in Theater and Performance from SUNY New Paltz and worked professionally as both an actor and scenic artist for several years. For the last twenty she has worked globally as an Executive Leadership and Communications consultant, taking the principles and practices of the performing arts and applying them to the business world. After taking a much needed pandemic inspired sabbatical, she was invited to be a substitute teacher at HNS and is thrilled to be working with children once again. As a teacher Elise takes play extremely seriously and uses her connections with the children to deepen her practice. She lives in Harpswell with her two children, dog, fish and husband.

Jean Hathaway (Tuesday/Thursday Program)

In 1984 Jean and her husband moved to Harpswell Center where they opened and ran a restaurant for 17 years while raising 3 sons. As a second career, she ventured into education with MSAD#75 where she held various positions over more than 20 years.  Six of those years were as a KinderStart teacher and the remainder included classroom support positions and small group instruction in reading, writing, and math. Jean has a BA from the University of Maine in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Elementary Education. She loves the fact that she can now walk to work!