Speak to families who have been a part of Les Enfants, and you’ll find out that we truly are a special place. Much of our staff has been working together for many years. We are like a family, and your children are part of that family. Children are always cared for with love and respect.

Careful thought is constantly given to how we can be the best we can be for your child. We offer you the expertise of many years of experience along with the dedication of a staff that truly cares, from the directors to each teacher and caregiver. Our personal touch will make you feel at peace and secure that your child is in the best hands when he or she is at Les Enfants.

Our families are an integral part of our team. We believe in working together in supporting each child in their emotional, social, and academic development. Daily communication through email, phone calls, photos and most importantly personal smiles and warm welcomes is what we believe is key to a successful preschool day. 

Our program supports individual and group needs, suited to a wide range of developmental patterns and individual differences by:

Providing experiences within a child’s range of interests and competencies so that there are many opportunities for success that contribute to his or her sense of self-worth;

Establishing a climate that fosters feelings of security and a sense of independence so that an awareness of one’s values both as an individual and member of a group can be felt;

Providing guidance for the child as he or she learns to relate to others, so that warm human relationships can be developed.

“I hate selling real estate…”

“I can’t stand all the politics at the school where I’m teaching…”

“Why don’t you girls open up your own nursery school so Frani can teach and take the baby to work with her?”

So went the conversation one Sunday afternoon in 1980. By the end of that evening, plans were made to visit a “school for sale” advertised in the newspaper that day.

What started out as three young women whining about their work, inspired by a husband looking for a way for his wife to work and still be around their children, turned into an operation of the successful preschool and summer camp known as Les Enfants.

The young women were Virginia Volpe, Maria Hughes, and Francesca Bunucci. The road to success was long and hard, at times seeming impossible to travel due to the untimely death of Virginia in 1990. Virginia was not only the business backbone of the school, but also Fran’s sister and Maria’s childhood friend. But their perseverance paid off.

The original Les Enfants of Fort Lee that started out with an average attendance of ten to fifteen children became an Infant/Toddler Center licensed for sixty children. A Preschool facility was opened in 1995 on the border of Palisades Park and Fort Lee and serves over one hundred children.

Les Enfants has built a reputation of being a professional establishment of academic excellence while retaining the warm atmosphere of a small center through the personal touch given by the caring involvement of the directors and staff.

Expanding and even just holding on for so many years has been a true growth process, not without growing pains, but also not without great satisfaction. “Children,” now adults, who still visit the Center to recount memories of times spent in preschool, is a reward not found in many careers. We are now privileged to welcome some second-generation students!

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Maria Hughes

Owner and Executive Director
Maria Hughes is the owner and Executive Director of Les Enfants Preschool. She holds a degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. She taught in the Special Education field for four years prior to founding Les Enfants in 1980. She was a classroom teacher at Les Enfants Preschool until 1990, when the Center expanded and she had to serve as full-time Director. Maria’s love, expertise, and dedication to excellence in education is what makes Les Enfants a special place. Maria is also a founding member of the New Jersey Child Care Association.

Nancy S. Festini

Director of Preschool
Nancy S. Festini is the Director of our Preschool. She has been working at Les Enfants since 1995 after receiving her degree in Early Childhood as well as Elementary Education from York College of Pennsylvania. Prior to taking her position at Les Enfants she taught preschool and served as assistant director for two years. Nancy is also the mother of two children who attended Les Enfants Preschool.

Donna Stradl

Program Coordinator
Donna Stradl is the Program Coordinator at our Preschool. She is directly involved with teachers in curriculum development and daily programing. She has been a part of the Les Enfants family since 1991, beginning as an assistant teacher, moving on to be a lead teacher and has served as Program Coordinator since 2001.

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