Meet Our Administration
“The Secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.” – Maria Montessori
Jacky Ekins, Admissions Director
Ms. Jacky is from the UK and first moved to the US in 2000. She has a BSc in Biochemistry and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Cardiff in Wales. She has worked in the Pharmaceutical Industry for over 10 years and has been working for IM Schools for the past 4 years. Before taking her current position Ms. Jacky worked in the Primary Classroom as an Assistant Teacher in our Paoli School, working in the multi aged classroom as well as and helping to run our Pre –K program. She takes great pride in seeing young children grow and develop as they progress through our Montessori program. She has been married to John for 19 years and with their three children Theo, Christopher and Annabelle they enjoy many activities including gardening, golf and walking their dogs.
Amy Nessen, Director, IMSchools at Great Valley
Ms. Amy joined IMSchools in January 2014 as the primary teacher and is currently the director at our Great Valley location. She has a degree in Elementary Education from West Chester University. Ms. Amy has created a supportive and welcoming environment for our families, students and teachers.
Jennifer El Helou, Director, IMSchools at Malvern
Ms. El Helou holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Temple University. She also completed a number of courses towards her Masters degree in Spanish. She studied music since the age of 6 and holds a piano diploma from the Lebanese Conservatory in Beirut. She has completed her Montessori Certification in 2013. Before becoming a Montessori teacher, Ms. El Helou worked for the Office of Student Affairs at Temple University for 5 years. She grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and has traveled to many countries in Europe and Middle East. In addition to English, she speaks French, Arabic, Armenian and Spanish. Ms. Jennifer has two children, current students of IMSchools, and is married to our wonderful music teacher Mr. Serge.
Ginny Grau, Director, IMSchools at Paoli
Ms. Ginny has been guiding children in Paoli with IMSchools for the last 7 years. Ms.Ginny has decades of teaching experience in traditional and Montessori education. She has been a role model for her students and colleagues here in the U.S. and in Italy where she taught for 5 years. Her wisdom and quiet force have contributed to a wonderful environment at the Paoli campus. Ms. Ginny inspires children to reach their potential with joy and delight.
Kishyia McKnight, Director, IMSchools at West Chester
Kishyia began her Montessori career in 1994 when she entered the field as an assistant teacher. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services and in 2002, Kishyia earned her AMS Primary teaching credentials. Over the years Kishyia has worked in the field of education as an Assistant Teacher, Lead Teacher, Director, Consultant and Teacher Trainer. As a young child, Kishyia attended a Montessori school for a short time; however, the memories of her experiences there were long lasting. Kishyia has 2 wonderful children, born 20 years apart, and is a proud grandmother of 3 energetic boys. She continues to be inspired by the sense of wonder that children exhibit.
Karen Pontrelli, Director, IMSchools at Wilmington
Ms. Karen has been involved in Montessori education for over thirty years, teaching both children and adults in the Montessori philosophy. She holds an AMS teaching credential. Karen is the mother of three beautiful sons, Michael, Gregory &Nicholas, and her first exposure to Montessori education came through her children’s attendance in a Montessori preschool. She fell in love with the respectful, gentle approach that enabled children to develop at their own individual pace to reach their fullest potential. In 1993, Karen began working as an instructor for a Montessori teacher preparation program in Philadelphia, PA and in 1998 Karen founded the Montessori Institute for Teacher Education, the first fully accredited Montessori teacher preparation program in the state of Delaware and shortly after she started The Montessori Academy of Delaware which later on joined International Montessori Schools.