Our teachers and staff of the Early Childhood Center are highly qualified, competent, and caring educators sensitive to individual needs of young children. We employ and support a teaching staff that has the educational qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment necessary to promote children’s learning and development and to support families’ diverse interests and needs.
To meet the rigorous standards of The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), at least 75% of our teachers have a minimum of an Associate's Degree or are currently enrolled in an accredited college program to achieve this goal. To meet Delaware’s professional development requirements, all of our teachers and assistant teachers complete a minimum of eighteen hours of high quality early childcare and education coursework each year.
By setting these rigorous expectations for the education and preparation of teachers of young children, the J fully supports the belief that teachers are the most important contributors to quality educational experiences for our children.
My name is Valerie LaRock, and I am the new ECC Director! My husband and I have 2 amazing sons, Jackson (8) and Ryder (5). We celebrate all things family in my household and believe in true teamwork. We love the water, taking fishing and relaxing trips on our boat, and being outside together. I am so thankful to be a part of this community and look forward to meeting each and every one of you.
Beth Ann Short
My name is Beth Ann Short and I’ve been the Office Manager at the ECC for 13 years. My husband Adam and I have two children, Luke (15) who attends Salesianum High School and Hailey (13) who attends St. Mary Magdalen School. In my spare time I enjoy reading, shopping, playing tennis, and going to Bethany Beach! I absolutely LOVE working at the J and especially interacting with all of the sweet families here at the ECC!
Chief Operating Officer, JCC
Hi, my name is Mona Duwell. I am the Assistant Executive Director of the Siegel JCC. I have been at the J for 17 years. My husband, Ron, works for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and plays hockey at the J every week. I have two children, Ron, who recently moved back from Japan where he was teaching English, and Cathy, who works for CIGNA in Athens, Georgia. I am also the proud grandma of 3 beautiful children - Maverick, Emmelyn and Ren. In addition to LOVING the J, I love football, hiking, knitting and being a grandma!!
Hi! My name is Amy Karpinski. I’ve been in childcare for 20+ years. I love working with infants and toddlers and watching them grow and change. I have a degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Rhode Island. I like to spend time reading, going to Longwood Gardens, baking, and quilting.
Teacher & K'Ton Ton Curriculum Coordinator
My name is Erin Strickland and I have been an employee of the JCC since 2000. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education, and I am extremely passionate about Early Childhood Education. I am married and met my husband here at the JCC. I have two beautiful daughters, Meredith and Charlotte. My hobbies include cooking, reading (when I have time!), and spending time with my family!
Program Coordinator & Preschool I Curriculum Coordinator
My name is Nicholas Tavares, and I have been an educator for 19 years, of which the last 3 have been here at the JCC-ECC. I am the Program Coordinator overseeing the operations that make our center community an amazing one to be a part of as well as the Preschool I Curriculum Coordinator. I have an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and Development, and I'm currently working on finishing up my Bachelors Degree in Human Services with a concentration in Early Childhood Education Administration. In my limited free time, I enjoy anything related to the arts. Visual Arts, Dance, Theater, Music…really, anything that allows an individual to express themselves in creative ways piques my interest.
My name is Pam Galbraith and I am a Pre-Kindergarten Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator. I’ve been teaching at the J for 11 years. I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree, in Early Childhood Education from Lesley College. I am a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children & the Nursery Kindergarten Association of Delaware. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, cooking, and spending time with my family.
Teacher & Curriculum Coordinator
My name is Rachel Hess. I have my degree in Early Childhood Education and have been employed at the JCC since 1996. I am extremely enthusiastic about working with young children and have enjoyed teaching two and three year olds and working with our infant and one year old teachers as their curriculum coordinator. I live in Wilmington with my husband Eric and our teenage daughter Kaitlyn. I spend my free time going to gymnastics meets (our daughter is a competitive gymnastics) and going out on our boat at the beach.
I’m Allyson Jacobs, and I have been a member of the J for many years. I have two wonderful boys who attended the J for school since the age of two and camp as well. After being just a parent at the J, now I am loving being on the other side of things and teaching here at the ECC. I look forward to being a part of the J family for many years to come.
Hello! My name is Amanda Masten and this is my 4th school year at the ECC. I am currently finishing up my Master's Degree in Special Education with a concentration in Early Exceptional Care. My Bachelor's Degree is in Early Childhood Education. I have been married to my husband, Terry, for 7 years and we have a 6 year old daughter, Penny. In my free time, I like to be outdoors, exercise, swim and play board games with my family. I am currently teaching Pre-K and cannot wait to help shape your child's future for the better.
My name is Amy Skammer and this is my 12th year teaching at the ECC. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Temple University in Public Health Education. I previously worked for the American Red Cross for ten years. I am married to Tim and have 2 children ages 23 and 20. Both of my children attended the J preschool and camps. I enjoy playing with our springer spaniel, playing tennis, swimming, and watching college football.
Hello, I’m Atiya Siddiqui. I have been working at the J for 27 years. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences from Pakistan and have completed my TECE I and II. I am currently working in the infant room and love the babies! I am married and have four children and in my spare time I love gardening, cooking, sewing, and working with children!
My name is Danielle Arnone. I attended Delaware Technical and Community College studying Early Childhood Education. I have been working in Early Childhood since October 1992, most of my experience being with Infants and Toddlers. I married my high school sweetheart in May 1998 and we have three daughters; Katie, Gabby and Izzy. I enjoy spending time at the beach, reading, doing DIY projects and watching my girls play sports.
Hello, my name is Deb DeLong. I am excited to be part of the JCC family. I have previously taught for the Dioceses of Wilmington for 15 years. I worked with 2, 3, 4 and 5 year olds. However, I love 1 year olds the best! I love being with my family which includes my husband Ted, my daughters Samantha (25) and Madison (17), and my son TJ (15) and last but not least our crazy cat Winston. Needless to say there is never a dull moment in our house. I am so happy and honored to be part of your children's lives.
Hi! My name is Deena Nekoukar, and I have been working at the JCC's ECC for almost 20 years. I have worked with all ages, and I am currently in Pre-K. I enjoy spending time with my family, hanging out with my dog, Hero, and practicing aerial arts.
My name is Donna Sue Robinson, and I am excited every day to be with your children in the ECC! I have been a Teacher Assistant for 29 years. I’m the jack of all trades around here. You will see me with all age groups giving lots of TLC. I’m a mom of 3 and have 5 wonderful grandchildren. I feel truly blessed to be here at the JCC!
Hi everyone! My name is Gina Kaufman, and I have been here at the J for almost 20 years. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood/Professional Education with a minor in Elementary Education from West Chester University. I have a 2 year old daughter, Gianna, who loves being here, too! I am currently teaching Pre-K upstairs and love it. I truly believe in teamwork and helping one another to create a strong working environment for our children. I love spending my free time with husband, family, and friends. We enjoy being outdoors most of all, especially with our Mastiff dog, Canoli.
Hi, my name is Jessica Ulmer, and I am currently studying psychology at Wilmington University. I have been working at the JCC for almost four years! In my free time I love going to the beach, playing with my dog Rusty, and hanging out with friends and family. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your children’s lives!
My name is Jillion Roach and I earned my degree at BMCC Early Childhood Education in Trinidad and continued my education in Early Childhood by earning a Bachelor’s in Behavioral Science. I have four children of my own and have a passion and love for all children! In my spare time I take the children in my community to the mall, bake, cook, learn, help with social life, and talk about school and life with them. I am also very involved in my church and Children’s Ministry. I have worked at the J for almost 14 years and love it!
Hi! My name is Kenisha Crumpler, and I have been working with children for over 11 years. I love teaching them and creating activities for them as well! I have my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Development, and I look forward to spending time with your children!
My name is Lisa Stephey, and I have an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education and have been a teacher at the J for over 20 years. I have a daughter, Henrietta, who is in 4th grade and a son, Hawken who is in 1st grade. I am a two year old teacher and I love teaching your children and being a part of the J!
My name is Maria Medina, and this is my first year at the JCC. I've been working with kids for about five years. I have my Associates degree in Early Childhood Education. I've been an infant teacher for most of the years I've been working. I worked with toddlers for a few months, but my passion is infant care. I am from Mexico, and I am bilingual. In my free time I love to spend time with my boyfriend and watch movies. I love to do lots of messy activities with children. I love to sing and read books to infants in Spanish.
My name is Rasheda Ashby, and I have been with the ECC since January of 2013. I have been working with all age groups here at the ECC and I have my degree in Early Childhood Education. My husband and I have four terrific kids and in my spare time I like to make candles. I am looking forward to a fantastic year!
Hi my name is Tiffany Millar, and I have been working with children for approximately ten years. Not all ten years have been in education; I was previously an investigator for child abuse and neglect with The Division of Family Services. Besides being a Pre-K teacher, I am a mom to a beautiful three year old little girl named Ava. When I have a moment of free time I’m usually on Pinterest looking up art projects or recipes. I love life, but working with children makes it that much better!