Staff Profiles

AKLEC educators and staff are highly qualified and have a wealth of knowledge and skills relevant to early childhood education.

All nursery and preschool teachers receive a minimum of 30 hours of professional development, annually. Specific areas of training include bilingual education, High Scope curriculum, child guidance, first aid, and language and literacy development.

Administrative Staff

School head of Nursery and Preschool

AKES ECD Professional Development Coordinator

HR and Operations Manager

Finance Manager


Preschool Classes / Brave Butterflies Teaching Team

Supervising Teacher

English Teacher
Ms. Jennifer Churchill-Owen

Arabic Teacher

Assistant Teacher

Creative Caterpillars Teaching Team

Lead Teacher

Lead Arabic Teacher

English Teacher

Teaching Assistant

Laughing Ladybugs Teaching Team

Lead Teacher

Classroom Assistant

Classroom Assistant
Ms. Abegail Damian

Teaching Assistant

Happy Honeybees Teaching Team

English Teacher

Classroom Assistant


Support Staff/Cleaner

Administrative Staff

Ms. Kelli Allen

School head of Nursery and Preschool

My name is Kelli Allen and I am the Head of Nursery and Preschool at the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre. I am from the USA and my children and grandchildren all still reside there. My role at the Centre is to support parents, children and staff in a friendly and safe environment. I will be supervising the day-to-day activities, promoting staff development, ensuring that the curriculum and resources are of the highest quality and will be liaising with parents and outside organizations.

I am beginning my 8th year in Dubai and I really enjoy living here. While in Dubai I have gained additional experience in my roles as a KG1 Teacher, Teacher Trainer, Nursery Manager and Early Childhood consultant. Prior to living in Dubai I have worked as either a teacher or Nursery manager in the USA, Canada, Korea and New Zealand. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and over 33 years experience with the Early Years.

I believe in promoting independence in young children, allowing them to learn through play and feel that a Nursery/Preschool environment will best prepare them for later life. I believe strongly that AKELC is a place where each child can learn, play, explore and grow as an individual to be and do the best that they can. I am happy to be working in such a high quality Nursery and love the international staff and families. I look forward to meeting with you soon and to sharing in the learning journey with our children and families.


Ms. Marva Headley

AKES ECD Professional Development Coordinator

My name is Marva and I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. My role at the AKELC is to support the professional development of teachers so that teachers and children can engage in mutually fulfilling learning experiences. I will be working with staff at the AKELC and Pre-primary staff across the AKES network to enrich the ECD outcomes for children through coaching, workshops and training.

I have been working in the field of ECD for the past 14 years and have an Honours Diploma in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelors Degree in Sociology and a Masters in Education. My entire career has been nurtured from working with diverse cultures and I am indebted to all the families and professionals I have worked with that have contributed to my professional development in the field.

I am a passionate educator and my passion involves working with children, parents and educators to enrich programs and child outcomes. I believe the role of the teacher is the beginning of success in early learning environments and that children deserve our best every day! Literacy is my specialty and I look forward to contributing to the work of the AKELC to strengthen the capacity of the AKES to provide quality programs to children.


Ms. Irnesa Hodzic

HR and Operations Manager

My name is Irnesa (or Irny for short) and I am the HR and Operations Manager for AKELC since October 2015.

My role is divided between supporting AKELC staff and Centre, and supporting AKELC parents and children. Within the HR role, I support staff with all their human resources needs. While within the Operations role, I assist with marketing needs for the Centre, support the Centre and AKES with any administrative requirements, and assist parents and their children at the front desk to provide a strong and caring support base.

My family’s philosophy of education as a strong foundation for success has been instilled in me from a very young age. Hence, though I have worked in many industries, I am always pulled back toward education which I have had a great love and respect for. Therefore, it is a great privilege and honour for me to work with AKELC staff and parents.

Please come on by and say hello! I am happy to help and I hope that I may enrich your lives as much as you have enriched mine!


Ms. Anam Tamiour

Finance Manager

I am a mother of two preschoolers and the Finance Manager at AKELC. I have a MSc. in Business Analytics and Consulting from Warwick Business School and a BSc (Honors) in Accounting & Finance from Lahore University of Management Sciences.

I handle all finance related matters for AKELC, from keeping track of payments and receipts to compiling monthly, quarterly and yearly financial statements, preparing budgets and forecasts and conducting variance analysis. I am also responsible for internal and external audits and timely reporting to our head office regarding all financial matters.

I am also responsible for assisting parents at AKELC by helping them manage their fee payments efficiently. Being a mother, I understand that life can be daunting for parents at times as they try to do perfect things for their children, and understand that complex fee structures and policies are just adding to the list. And we definitely do not want to increase parent worries! Therefore, I strive to come up with the most self explanatory schedules and policies and am happy to assist parents with working out the best options. I am a solution oriented person, so come to me with any fee related queries and I will have a solution for you!


Ms. Preethy Dominic

School Nurse

Hello, I am Preethy and I work as a School Healthcare Nurse at AKELC. I graduated from Bangalore University, in India and hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I have professional experience of 15 years in India and Dubai. I have now worked for 9 years as a School Nurse in Dubai and really enjoy the city. As the School nurse, I am committed to ensuring that the environment and classrooms are safe for our children to learn and play. I’m also responsible for the overall health and wellbeing of our children; this is a top priority at AKELC; from nutrition to general health screening and monitoring personal care skills that infants and toddlers learn everyday, my role extends beyond the classroom and ensures that children have the right skills to practice appropriate hygiene and self-care.

I’m so happy to be a part of the team at AKELC and look forward happy and healthy days ahead.


Brave Butterflies Teaching Team

Ms. Fazilat Notta

Supervising Teacher

My name is Fazilat Notta. I am the Supervising Teacher for the Brave Butterflies class. I was born, brought up and educated in Khorog, Tajikistan. I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree of Education from Khorog State University and my Masters Degree in Education from Middlesex University Dubai.

This is my fourth year at the AKELC and the centre is very special to me. After completing my studies this is where I took my first fragile steps into the world of Early Childhood Education. I love working at the AKELC because of the diversity of people, the amazing children, our staff, the curriculum and the arrangements. Every day presents new challenges and I constantly find myself amazed by the solutions and innovations presented by our curriculum that really meets the needs of a modern generation and the wonderful team that works together to make a difference. I am committed to creating a classroom environment that inspires children and fosters a love of learning. My daily life at AKELC feels less like work and more like an ever- evolving project that lets me grow up with the children and helps them become the best they can be. Feeling part of this buzz, the professionalism, the common goal makes working at the AKELC an exceptional career choice for me.

I am a dedicated mother and like to spend my free time with my family and friends. I love to read and my favorite children’s book is “What Shall We Do With the Boo-Hoo Baby?”


Ms. Rima Yaseen

Arabic Teacher

Hi, I am Ms. Rima. I am from Palestine. I graduated from Damascus University with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature. I have been teaching for 7 years in pre-school.

I have attended workshops and seminars in Early Childhood Education. I am happy to join AKELC this year where I can share my knowledge and teach children to speak and learn Arabic in a fun way.


Ms. Liezl Romualdo

Assistant Teacher

My name is Liezl Romualdo and I am from the Philippines. Last January 2016, I was given a chance to work at Aga Khan Early Learning Centre as an Assistant Teacher in the Happy Honey Bees class. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Notre Dame of Marbel University, Koronadal City, Philippines.

Previously, I had the opportunity to explore Dubai in 2004-2008 as a private tutor of three children (3 -7 years old). I also worked at Universal American School (UAS) here in Dubai as an Assistant Teacher in a Pre-K class before joining AKELC. I enjoy being with children and watching how they grow and learn. It makes me happy as I also grow and learn with them. After being a mother of four boys, being with these little ones, and attending trainings on the Early Years I am able to understand the developmental process of each child. This experience helps me to know what each child needs in terms of care and nurturing their skills. I believe that every child is gifted. I think they just need to discover it and I am here to help them find it. I know that learning is a continuing process from birth to death and a treasure that is never lost. I remember what my mother said to me “Education is a gift that none can take away”.

I am looking forward to assisting in the Laughing Lady Bugs class this year and am so happy to be a part of each child's growth and development. I feel blessed and proud to be with AKELC.


Creative Caterpillars Teaching Team

Ms. Shafaq Mirza

Lead Teacher

My name is Shafaq Mirza and I am the Lead Teacher in the Creative Caterpillars class this year. This is my first year at AKELC and I’m excited to join the team. I was born and raised here in Dubai, U.A.E. I received my Bachelors in Child Development from Michigan State University and recently attended Teachers College, Columbia University for a Masters in Early Childhood Education. Prior to working at AKELC, I have worked with children from birth-6 years of age in both play-based and school settings in Dubai and the U.S. Early childhood education has been a passion of mine and I consider myself to be a child advocate.

I believe these early years are a critical period for growth and development. Children need an optimal learning environment with supportive adults who value their individuality. It is imperative to let children formulate their own thoughts and grow in a nurturing environment. My favourite part of working with children is having conversations with them and the daily laughs that we share. I have a keen interest in children’s literature and hope to introduce many authors and books in my classroom this year. I enjoy my time working in classrooms as no day is the same. I look forward to getting to know these little people with ‘big’ personalities and hope to share a few laughs together as we all learn from each other.


Ms. Ala’a Masri

Lead Arabic Teacher

My name is Ala’a Masri. I was born in the UAE and have lived here all my life. I am the lead Arabic teacher in Creative Caterpillars class at the AKELC. This is now my 3rd year at AKELC and I really enjoy my role. I have worked closely with many children with different learning styles and personalities. I'm very passionate about helping children to improve their language both in English and in Arabic. I strongly believe in using different teaching tools especially visual and interactive learning techniques can help young children learn quickly, especially in areas of language development.

I have a bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Al Ain, UAE, with a specialization in teaching English. Previously, I have carried extensive freelance translation work from English to Arabic and Arabic to English for professional companies and have privately tutored several children both in English and in Arabic.

As you can tell, I love languages and think there is great value and potential in starting toddlers and infants in bilingual programs early in their life.


Ms. Safia Dhalla

English Teacher

My name is Safia (Sophie) Dhalla and I am an English Teacher in the Brave Butterflies class. I was born and raised in Richmond, BC, Canada. I have my Diploma in Early Childhood Education, which also allows me to work closely with children who require extra support. I have worked with children for the past nine years and for the past five, I have been a preschool teacher, working with ages 2-5.

Watching children grow and develop their skills and knowledge in the classroom setting is so rewarding to me. This is one of the main reasons why I am so passionate about working with the early years age group. During my years of working with children, I have noticed that not only do I help the children grow, but they help me grow as a person as well. My favourite thing about working with children, is just listening to the stories they tell. I love how imaginative they can get and how important it is for them to use their imagination in their early years. I strongly believe that children who learn through play, develop so many skills that they will not be able to learn later on in their life.

Working at AKELC has been a dream of mine and I am very excited to work with the other teachers and give the children the best experience possible. I am also excited to share and learn new ideas with the teachers and the children here at the centre.


Ms. Anna Mae Vallez

Teaching Assistant

I am Ms. Anna and I am from the Philippines. In September 2013, I was given the opportunity to join the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre as a Teacher Assistant. I hold a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, with a major in Early Childhood Education (ECE) from Pilgrim Christian College, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.

In line with my training I became a Teacher at Faith Christian School in my country working with preschoolers, KG 1, KG 2 and Year 1. I personally feel that being with children teaches me so much about myself and the world everyday – this is the biggest learning ever and I do really love that aspect of my role. As an educator I understand that learning is a continuous process and that for young children it should be exploratory, fun and supported by nurturing adults.

As a part of the AKELC family I devote myself to doing my best always. I look forward to working with the Laughing Ladybugs team this year to support your child's growth.


Laughing Ladybugs Teaching Team

Ms. Sophia Aziz

Lead Teacher

My name is Sophia Aziz and I am the English Nursery Teacher in the Happy Honeybees class here at the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre, Dubai.

I have completed a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology at Karachi University in Pakistan, and also have a Diploma in Educational Psychology as well as Montessori Methods of Teaching. In addition, I am a certified Remedial Teacher for children with learning difficulties. I have been working with children for over 4 years. I really enjoy working with children and truly believe that l have found what I was meant to do. These little people have taught me so much about discovery, imagination, curiosity, joy, and the never ending journey of learning. I love to bring aspects of music, art, and creativity into the classroom but most importantly, I love supporting each child in their own individual path and always strive to give them the care and resources necessary to ensure their development and progress.

The AKELC is a magical place and I feel honored to be part of this family!


Ms. Felicitas Bernabe

Classroom Assistant

My name is Feli. I have lived in Dubai for 16 Years and was a full time housewife before coming to the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre. I have two children who are currently studying here in Dubai. I find that being a mother I am able to care for and support the children in a nurturing way. I am proud to be one of the staff members in the Creative Caterpillar team here at the AKELC.

Being with the children here is one of the great joys of working at the AKELC and I am also thankful for the great working atmosphere.


Ms. Amber Afshan

Teaching Assistant

Hi! My name is Amber and I come from the Northern Areas of Pakistan. I have an honors degree in Textile Design.

My inspiration to pursue Art Teaching in general and ECD in particular, started while I was working at Quest Edutainment? Centre in Islamabad in 2013 – I realized the unique opportunity to bridge my passion and the chance to teach young minds to come to love Art as much as I do. I have also been working with Aga Khan Regional Education Board Islamabad (REB), one of the agencies of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) as a volunteer art and preschool teacher to provide development material for Early Childhood Development programs for children of 0-3 and to their parents.

ECD teaching has been a thriller for me, every time I work with young minds I get enthused by their wild imagination and creativity. I believe that the care and experiences that infants and toddlers receive during their early years has a powerful influence on how they view the world and relate to others. I also believe that a balanced, nurturing, caring, developmental approach to education for children can ensure a successful life. A child can learn, grow and discover the world while having fun and doing hands-on exploration of the world around them.

I look forward to be assisting the Preschool teachers in the Creative Caterpillars team at AKELC and working with our artists in the making!


Happy Honeybees Teaching Team

Ms. Hamida Vadsaria

English Teacher

My name is Hamida and I am an Early Childhood Teacher with a supervisory role in the Happy Honeybees classroom. I have a Bachelor's degree of Commerce awarded by the University of Mumbai. I worked with the Ismaili community institution as a professional office administrator for seven years and hence gained great administrative and people skills.

Since moving to New Zealand in the year 2002, I completed additional studies and was awarded a Graduate Diploma in Teaching, specializing in Early Childhood Education, by the University of Auckland. During my studies I started exploring the world of Early Childhood Education. I am humbled to say that my experience working with young children is quite varied, such as preschool, kindergarten and community settings over the last 11 years. Teaching children is my passion. It provides me an opportunity for continual learning and growth. I believe security and trust are very important components of my relationship with each child. Young children are very concerned about themselves and the small world they live in: family and home. However, each child is unique with different interests, backgrounds, and developmental stages. Therefore in planning our daily programs, we ensure activities are developmentally appropriate, that the environment is child-centered where children have the opportunity to master new challenges through activities and topics that are meaningful to them, thus building their self-esteem as they develop and learn.

I have been at the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre, Dubai for the last 3 years and I am proud to be part of this international team.


Ms. Nena Atanas

Classroom Assistant

Hi! My name is Nena. I started working at the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre in 2010 as the Housekeeper.

I have now moved into the Toddler Room as their Classroom Assistant and nanny. I love children and enjoy helping with their daily routine.

I think that all children need the love and care that their mother gives them when they are here with us at Nursery School. I have two children of my own back in the Philippines and I like to think that all the children here are like my own children: delightful and precious. I am always happy and try to ensure that the children in the Toddler Room are always happy too.


Ms. Jasmin Macaltao

Supporting Staff

I am Jasmin C. Macaltao from the Philippines. I am happily married to Mr. Joel Macaltao and blessed with one daughter. I finished college with a medical secretary qualification and started a family business in the Philippines. I came to Dubai with my husband last year in hope of finding a brighter future. We have now been living and working in Dubai for nearly almost 2 years. I am currently working to help to care for the spaces around the AKELC, children and staff at the AKELC. I’m happy to part of the team at AKELC, where everyone is family!