Our Staff

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.



Mona Duwell

Hi, my name is Mona Duwell. I am the director here at the ECC. I have been at the J for 14 years. I have two children, Ron, who teaches English in Japan and Cathy, who is the most fabulous mom to my grandson Maverick. My husband, Ron, works for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and plays hockey at the J every week. In addition to LOVING the J, I love football, hiking, knitting and being a grandma!!

Amie Baker
Assistant Director

Hi, I’m Amie Baker. I am the Assistant Director of the ECC. I am so excited to be a part of the J family and to help make your children get the very best preschool experience. My husband and I love how the ECC has helped us shape our 4-year old into a loving, smart, and funny kid by giving him security, structure, love, and the freedom to be himself.


Evelyn Johnson
Preschool Curriculum Coordinator

Hi, I’m Evelyn Johnson, and I have been teaching at the J for 20 years. I have been the J Curriculum Coordinator for the past 5 years. My previous teaching experience includes Kindergarten and 1st grade. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the University of Delaware. I am currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Nursery Kindergarten Association of Delaware.


Pam Gailbraith
Lunch Bunch Coordinator

My name is Pam Galbraith. I’ve been teaching at the ECC for 8 years. I hold a BS degree in Early Childhood Education. I am married and have three great children who have graduated from this program. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, camping, and spending time with my family.


Beth Ann Short
Administrative Assistant

My name is Beth Ann Short. I have been the Front Desk Coordinator for 8 years. I have a 10-year-old son named Luke and an 8-year-old daughter named Hailey who both go to school at Saint Mary Magdalen. I enjoy reading, shopping, playing tennis, and going to Bethany Beach!


Jessica Smith

Hi, my name is Jessica Smith and I have worked at the J Early Childhood Center for 8 years. I graduated from Penn State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. I enjoy working with children, and, in my spare time, I like to go to the beach and spend time with my family!


Elizabeth Leahy

My name is Elizabeth Leahy, and I am so excited to be back working at the ECC after being gone for 7 years! I am currently working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood at Wilmington University. In my free time I like to sew, knit, and read, as well as spend time with my family including my 4 year old son, Jackson, who is in Pre-K here at the ECC!


Cindy Carr

My name is Cindy Carr, and this is my first year at the J! I have an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education at Wilmington University. I have worked with children for 7 years and love it! I have a deep passion for teaching!


Julia Melone

My name is Julia Melone, and I have been teaching at the J for 9 years in a variety of classrooms containing all different age groups. I have a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree from the University of Delaware in History Education. Dancing, singing, and caring for animals are some of my favorite things, but I get my greatest joy from being a mom to my teenage daughter, Victoria.


Atiya Siddiqui

Hello, I’m Atiya Siddiqui. I have been working at the J for 24 years. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences from Pakistan. Last year, I took TECE classes during a 6 month training course. I worked with one year olds last year and am currently working in the infant room. I am married and have four children. I love gardening, cooking, sewing, and working with children!


Donna Robinson

Shalom everyone! My name is Donna Sue Robinson, and I am excited to be singing with your children this year! I have been married for 37 years, and I have 3 wonderful children. I entered the field of childhood education in 1989 after years of being a stay-at-home mom. I worked as an assistant teacher of 3’s and 4’s at Chester Bethel Preschool until January of 2010. I feel truly blessed to be here at the J!


Megan Burdeshaw

My name is Megan Burdeshaw. I have been working in early childhood for 6 years and now have my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Development from the University of Rhode Island. I recently moved to Wilmington with my family, and I’m so happy to be a part of the J and be a part of your children’s lives!


Dianne Coffin

My name is Dianne Coffin, and I have been working at the J for a year and a half. I graduated from Wilmington University last May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, and I absolutely love working with children! I was previously working as a floater at the ECC but now I have a permanent home with the one year old class. When I am not working, I enjoy skiing, going to the beach, and spending time with my daughter, Laila.


Rasheda Ashby

My name is Rasheda Ashby, and I have been with the ECC since January of 2013. I have been working with the one year old classes as I pursue my degree in Early Childhood Education. My husband and I have four terrific kids including a 4-year old who just started at the ECC this school year. I am looking forward to a fantastic year!


Liz Schwartz

My name is Liz Schwartz, and I am a long-time member of the J.  I have been teaching at the ECC for 6 years, and I’m so grateful for all the friends I have made here. I love being around my friends and family-especially my teenage son and daughter!


Marla Friedman

My name is Marla Friedman, and I work in the toddler/two class. I also teach Judaics to all of the classes. I love sharing Judaics with children through storytelling, dance, song, and all five senses. I am currently in my 19th year at the J. This year, my goal is to bring more community-based events that center around our Peer K Explorer® Ethics Curriculum. I also teach yoga to all ages.


Bhuvana Sabesan

My name is Bhuvana Sabesan. I have a degree in biology from India. This is my 21st year at the J, and I work with the three year olds. I have a son who is a doctor at Christiana. My daughter-in-law is a sweet new addition to our family. I also have twin daughters, one is in finance and one is a lawyer. My husband is a scientist at Dupont. I love my job here with the kids.


Sandy Henry

My name is Sandy Henry. I have over 21 years of experience in the early childhood education field. For fifteen of those years, I was the owner and operator of my own facility. I have a diploma in Early Childhood Education from DTCC. I have been married for 28 years, and I have 2 children and 4 grandchildren. My areas of interest are space, science fiction, ancient Egypt, and dinosaurs.


Rachel Hess

I am Rachel Hess, and I am the teacher in the two year old class. I have been employed at the J for 18 years and have a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Biology. I also have an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I have a ten year old daughter named Kaitlyn with my husband Eric. Kaitlyn attends the Odyssey Charter School. My hobbies are going to gymnastics meets, the beach, shopping, and going out on our boat!


Samantha Macleary

My name is Samantha Macleary, and I have a Bachelor’s Degree from Pensacola with a concentration in Early Childhood Education. I have been working at the J for over 7 years, and I absolutely love working with kids. My hobbies are going to the beach and bowling!


Deena Nekoukar

My name is Deena Nekoukar, and I have been part of the ECC family for 13 years. I help out in all of the classrooms here at our pre-school. Occasionally you will see me helping with carpools in the morning as well! I have two sons, Ezra and Arlo. I have been married for 13 years and am originally from North Jersey. I love working with your kids, and thank you for letting me be a part of their day. I love chocolate chip cookies.


Gina Meloni

My name is Gina Meloni. I have worked at the J for a total of 14 years. I have worked with all age groups from the one year olds up to fours, but threes are the place for me! I graduated from West Chester University in December 2004 with 2 Minors including Elementary Education and Professional Education. I am an animal lover and a strong family oriented person. I love working out and spending time with my loved ones and taking my puppy to the park.


Ann Keller

My name is Ann Keller and I grew up in CT, but have spent most of my adult life living in Houston, TX. I have two children, a son in Chicago and a daughter in Austin. I moved to Delaware in 2013 and come to the J with ten years  of experience teaching preschool. I’m so happy to be here and be a part of the J family!


Lisa Stephey

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 19 years. I have a daughter, Henrietta, who just started kindergarten and a son, Hawken who is here in the ECC. I am a three year old teacher, and I love teaching your children and being a part of the J!


Doris Crumlish

My name is Doris Crumlish and this is my first year teaching at the J Early Childhood Center! I am very excited to be starting my career here, as I am working on my degree in Early Childhood at Delaware Technical Community College. In my spare time I enjoy reading, hiking, and loving my dog and two cats. I cannot wait to see what the future holds here at the J!


Allyson Jacobs

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.


Joan Speziale

My name is Joan Speziale. This will be my seventh year at the J. Prior to working at the ECC, I have been a stay at home mom of three: 20 years, 17 years, and 12 years old. I have been involved in the Brandywine School District volunteering at times in three different schools, in many capacities, for the past 15 years. At the present time, I am continuing my education in Early Childhood Education.


Amy Skammer

My name is Amy Skammer. This is my 7th 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 17 and 14. Both of my children attended the J preschool and camps. I enjoy playing with our old springer spaniel, playing tennis, and swimming.


Erin Strickland

My name is Erin Strickland and I have been employed at the J for 14 years. I attended Neumann University for Elementary Education. I have been married 7 years and met my husband here at the J. I have two beautiful daughters, Meredith, age 6, and Charlotte, age 2. I love to swim and play racquetball. I enjoy spending time with my family and our chocolate lab Coco. My hobbies are cooking and reading (when I have time!).


Jillion Roach

My name is Jillion Roach, and I am a native born Trinidadian. 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 and my oldest daughter is in college and my second daughter is studying in Miami. I have a passion and love for 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 11 1/2 years and love it!


Dana Kimmel

My name is Dana Kimmel, and I have been teaching here at the ECC for 4 years. I graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2009 with my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and am currently finishing up my Early Childhood degree. I grew up at the J in my New Jersey neighborhood starting at the age of 2 and began working at their summer camp at 14. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, husband Jeff, and our puggle-mix, Sheldon.


Kimberly Schlezes

My name is Kimberly Schlezes. This is my first year here at the J, so I am very excited to be a part of such a wonderful organization. I attended the University of Delaware where I earned my Bachelor's Degree in History. In my free time I enjoy coaching field hockey and lacrosse. I love spending time with my family and my boyfriend. I am a huge sports fan and I love the beach and warm weather!

Specialist Staff: (Not pictured) Bridget Davis

101 Garden of Eden Road

Wilmington, DE 19803


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