Faculty and Staff
International Montessori Schools – Paoli
Jennifer El Helou, Director
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 three children, the youngest of which is a student at IMSchools the other two having graduated into the Great Valley School District.
Melissa DePaula, Elementary Program Coordinator
Ms. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Art History from Rutgers University. She is certified by the New Jersey Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Academic Schools in Elementary Education. Ms Melissa has been a lead elementary teacher at the IM Schools Paoli location since the fall of 2010. Prior to joining IM Schools, she worked as an elementary teacher in the East Brunswick Public School District in New Jersey for six years. Ms. Melissa is married to a biomedical engineer and they have two daughters who both began their education in Montessori early childhood programs. Ms. Melissa finds working in the IM Schools community very fulfilling because its’ educators are strongly committed to developing self-confident, curious and independent learners who aspire to become capable and compassionate global citizens.
Ghada Schoucair, Lead Primary Teacher
Ms. Ghada joined IM Schools in 2012 and holds a Montessori Certification for Children of ages 2-6 years from the North American Montessori Center. Prior to this Ms Ghada taught math in elementary and middle schools for 14 years in her home country of Lebanon. She also volunteered at Upper Merion Elementary school for three years. Ms. Ghada speaks three languages, Arabic, French and English and enjoys teaching French to her students in the classroom.
Yue Ying Chen, Assistant Primary Teacher
Ms. Yueying has been with IM Schools since 2015. She holds a Degree in Information Engineering and also holds a Certification from the CDA National Credentialing Program awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition. Ms. Yueying is a kind teacher with great knowledge in early childhood education. Ms. Yueying is a great communicator has been working with young children for over nine years where she provides the best possible learning environment to meet each student’s needs. Ms. Yeuying incorporates her Chinese heritage into the classroom by teaching Chinese to both the Pre-primary and Primary classes and she also runs the Chinese club at IM Schools, Paoli.
Aiswarya Nair, Assistant Primary Teacher
Ms. Aiswarya hold a Bachelor’s Degree of Technology (Mechanical Production Engineering) from India. Ms. Aiswarya has worked as a lecturer in an Engineering College for a year and as an Engineer in Vikram Sarabhai Space Research Center in India. She loves teaching in Montessori Schools and her 4-year old son is a student of IM Schools. Apart from teaching, Ms. Aiswarya likes to practice yoga, biking, dancing, theatre and learning new skills.
Lavanya Srinivasan, Primary Assistant Teacher
Ms. Lavanya joined IMSchools @ Paoli in February 2020. Ms. Lavanya completed her Master’s in Fine Arts with specialization in vocals from Bharathidasan University, India, as well as having a certification in Teacher Training from India where she worked as a music teacher in schools for 8 years. Miss Lavanya enjoys working with children and after moving to the US, worked as a Child Watch Assistant at the Upper Main Line YMCA for about 19 months.
Ms. Lavanya is very passionate about music and has been singing since the age of 10. She loves singing Indian classical music and bhajans and has taken part in various competitions and music programs. She has also judged at music competitions. In her free time, Ms Lavanya loves teaching music, playing the violin and cooking delicious food for her family.
Dalia Osman, Lead Teacher
Ms. Dalia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Alexandria University and Certifications from the School of Graduate Professional Studies from Penn State Great Valley. She joined IM Schools in 2012 and is currently a student of Chestnut Hill College completing her Master’s in Early Childhood Education with Montessori Certificate.
Ms. Dalia is fluent in English, Arabic and French and teaches French in both the Elementary and Primary classes which is her special strength. Ms. Dalia especially enjoys teaching children about different cultures of the world, the importance of respecting all cultures and how to be global citizens. She has been volunteering in local Public Schools for more 10 years in her spare time.
Sonia Stracchi, Assistant Primary Teacher
Ms. Sonia has more than 15 years of experience working as administrative assistant and executive assistant in an International Company in Italy. Ms. Sonia moved to the United States with her family in 2015 and is fluent in three languages: English, French and Italian. She loves teaching in Montessori schools where she is able to observe children work with the Montessori materials in a peaceful environment. Her daughter is a student of IM schools and Ms. Sonia joined IM schools as Assistant Teacher in 2017. In her spare time, she likes reading, hiking, practicing yoga, traveling and learning about different cultures.
Maya Alshaar, Preprimary Assistant Teacher
Ms. Maya joined IMSchools February 2018 and holds a Diploma in Montessori Education from North American Montessori Center, Canada. Maya loves working with children in the classroom and has an especially caring and kind nature which is important when teaching young children. Ms. Maya respects all cultures and truly believes in global citizenship. In her free time, Ms. Maya teaches Sunday School, likes to read, listens to music and spends time with her family.
Laura Sears, Assistant Primary Teacher
Ms. Laura joined IMSchools in March 2018 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Conservation with minors in Entomology and Spanish from the University of Delaware. She has been involved in Environmental Education for the past 5 years, and she loves sharing her love of nature with others. It was through a former position that she learned about Montessori, and is excited to become part of this wonderful community. She is enrolled in the Montessori Teacher Training program, MITE, located in Wilmington, Delaware. In her spare time, Laura loves to read, listen to music, dance and enjoys meandering along a wooded trail looking for signs of wildlife.
Senem Uyanik Sacin, Lead Pre-Primary Teacher
Ms. Senem Uyanik Sacin joined IM Schools in 2010 and holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Archaeological Restoration and Conservation from the University of Ege, Turkey. Ms. Senem has worked for archaeological excavations, museums and private collectors for ten years. She holds an American Montessori Society credential in Infant /Toddler through the Montessori Institute for Teacher Education (MITE).
Ms. Senem is a dedicated Pre-Primary teacher who is passionate about Montessori philosophy. She decided to pursue the Infant/Toddler Montessori Program as in the first three years, brain development is more rapid than at any other period in life. She believes in providing appropriate support and education in a safe environment during this period which promotes a life-long learning capacity.
In her spare time, Ms. Senem researches how children’s museums curate their exhibits and hopes to contribute to, and improve upon, the experience that the museums provide to their youngest visitors. She also enjoys designing jewelry, visiting museums, parks, doing jigsaw puzzles, working with a private art collector, spending time with her family and reading about Montessori Education.
Kaye Dirks, Assistant Pre-Primary Teacher
Miss Kaye has more than 10 years’ experience working with young children and is currently completing her Montessori Certification. She enjoys working with our younger children and creates positive relationships through her nurturing demeanor. Prior to her teaching experience, she worked in Banking for 20 years in S Africa. Ms. Kaye joined IM schools in July 2016 and her hobbies include hiking, cooking, reading, travelling and embracing different cultures.
Hena Karmakar, Assistant Teacher
Ms. Hena joined International Montessori School, Paoli, in December 2019 and holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature from The University of Burdwan, India. She previously worked as an assistant teacher for two years in a nursery school in India. Ms. Hena loves music, has a diploma in Indian music and regularly participates in community musical concerts. Ms. Hena lives with her husband and her 9-year old son and in her spare time loves to cook, read and spend time with her family.
Lisa Ridley Hunter, Yoga Instructor
Ms. Lisa joined IM Schools in 2007 and has worked as both a yoga teacher and as an assistant teacher at three IM Schools location. She is originally from the United Kingdom, but has lived in the US for many years. Prior to moving to the USA, Ms. Lisa lived in Saudi Arabia where she taught in an Embassy school. Ms. Lisa holds her Montessori Certification from the North American Montessori Center and currently teaches Yoga at the Paoli, Great Valley and Malvern locations.