Leadership Team

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Jennifer Williams

Chief Operating Officer

Vice Principal


Jim Gillen



Jim Gillen has been an educator almost all his life. He graduated from Christian Brothers Secondary School in Ireland 1967 and became a teacher in 1970. He graduated from University College Dublin in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Latin and Math and earned a Higher Diploma in Education, Honors. He then emigrated to the U.S. later that year with his wife.

His life since has been a catalog of educational engagement:


He taught at La Salle High School in Pasadena from 1976-1979 and then he took a position in the Chaffey Joint Union High School District from 1979-1985 as a Math, English and Latin teacher.

In 1990 he served in the Chaffey District as Math Department Chairman at Ontario High School and in 1995 became the GATE and AP Coordinator. In this position he raised the participation levels of students from 85 to 375. He became the AP Latin teacher during this period and saw 3 of his ex- students attend Harvard University concurrently.


In 2008 he became the Chaffey District Coordinator of a newly formed entity called the Chaffey Online Learning Academy (COLA) in response to a flight of students from the district to competing chartered educational entities that were attracting district students to its doors resulting in a $5 million loss to the District. The COLA program ran an online academy enabling students who would otherwise have left the district to remain and graduate from their local high school via the independent study process. The COLA program resulted in a net gain of almost $2 million to the District in its first two years.


Jim then took early retirement to assist other High Schools, primarily private, to acquire their own online programs as often they lack the resources and staff to accomplish that. In so doing, opportunities arose to pair those schools with Asian schools to develop cross cultural exchanges such as student visits, summer camps and also curricular offerings to Asian students. The demand has grown for programs such as these and not only in the High School area, but also K-12.


Aquinas International Academy(AIA) is a natural consequence of that demand and has been designed to provide educational opportunities for all curricular levels in a NON-Denominational setting. We can now provide foreign students the chance to acquire a High School Diploma without the expense of emigrating to the U.S. and the burden of securing Visas and homestay. Graduates of AIA have been accepted to colleges such as Lehigh, Rutgers, Syracuse and University of Connecticut, UCLA  among others.


The future potential of this program, monitored as it is by frequent visits annually to the Asian schools to assure continued success in implementing the U.C. and Aquinas Approved curriculum, can be a tremendous source of cross cultural educational exposure for both Asian partner schools and AIA. We welcome our Asian sister schools to join AIA at the confluence of East meets West in this educational venture!

Jennifer co-founded Aquinas International Academy with a wealth of business and communication

experience. With over 35 years working as a business consultant, she found her

passion to be in education. Her first experience in education was starting an online learning program for a private school in Cincinnati, OH. From there she went on to start four additional online and blended learning programs. Her wealth of business knowledge has been instrumental in the start up of over

twenty companies, some of her own and many as a COO, CMO, Director of Operations as well as National Director of Sales and Marketing. Holding vital positions with Fortune 500 companies, and having experience in international business partnerships have allowed her to learn from the best of the best.


She credits her military service experience, starting at “entry level” and working her way through the ranks, while taking in as much knowledge and experience as possible with every opportunity.


A lifelong learner she is close to earning a degree in Business Administration with a focus International Business. In addition, she continues to glean valuable knowledge and experiences by participating in entrepreneurship courses, researching and creating strategic alliances with her peers. She believes in working together as a team – “If you have an idea and I have an idea, that we share, now we both have two and our opportunity for success has just doubled!”


Jennifer also owns a marketing firm and her most recent accomplishment in that business was to obtain a valuable partnership with the largest media company in the world. Bringing this opportunity to her clients gives them an unmatched competitive edge in the sales and marketing arena.

She has been an active Chamber of Commerce member in the various cities that she has lived and worked. Taking on the role of B.E.S.T. program chairperson, a program partnering local businesses and schools to stress the importance of education and success in Corporate America.  She implemented and coordinated

many events including tours and hands on training for the students, fund raising events to fund school equipment, reading programs where employees read to students on their lunch break and various other learning incentives.


She served on the Board of Directors for over 10 years for local Breast Cancer Non-Profit organization. Additional community service work includes volunteering in homeless shelters,

Hoxworth Blood Center/ Johnson & Johnson blood drives, advisory board member for a Family Resource Center and Vice President of the PTA. She has repeatedly been called on to  teach, train and motivate large groups on personal image, sales and marketing of products and services.

Prior experience is in the Armed Forces, where she served in the United States Navy from 1985 until honorably discharged in 1992. She continues to work with her veteran peers by actively participating with organizations like Bunker Labs, Action Zone Tampa  and Veterans Florida.

She is the mother & mother-in-law of 3 beautiful and talented adults and a very proud and smitten Gigi to 2 amazing grandsons. 

Meet a few of
our talented & engaged faculty

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Julia Nikol
Elementary and ESL

Julia Nikol is a licensed elementary teacher from the United States. She graduated with honors from Cornell College with her Bachelor of Arts in English and Russian. She’s certified through TEFL to teach English as a second language and also has an elementary teaching credential from the state of Florida. While studying to become a teacher, Julia completed her practicum in a virtual elementary school. She has 7 years of teaching experience in various settings, both in the virtual and physical classroom.

From the traditional public school classroom to more experimental settings such as Montessori and Reggio Emilia schools, Julia is familiar with a variety of teaching methods and has integrated a number of techniques into her pedagogical approach. Julia is currently living in Taiwan and has previously worked in Iceland, South Korea, Mexico, and Russia. In her free time, she enjoys biking, playing the piano, and studying languages. 

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Dr. Pankaj Mehrotra
AP Chemistry, AP Biology

Dr. Pankaj Mehrotra completed his Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Applied Zoology from University of Delhi, India with a Gold Medal for securing first rank in University at Annual Examination. He further worked on molecular cloning undergraduate research projects funded by Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India and International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi, India. He further pursued Master of Science in Integrative Genomics from Black Hills State University, South Dakota, United States of America. He worked on genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics research project at Centre for Conservation of Biological Resources as part of his master degree program and was also worked as a teaching and research assistant i for undergraduate studies and also was involved in a science education teaching workshop as an teaching assistant organised by Center for the Advancement of Math & Science Education. His research findings were presented at regional and national conferences and secured second best poster prize at Branch Meeting of American Society for Microbiology, Colorado. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Sciences from Institute of Medical Sciences from University of Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom funded by European Marie Curie Research Commission working on immunological properties of Candida albicans, Candida aureus and Candida haemunolii affected by differential expression of signal transduction genes.  This early stage fellowship also involved visit to collaborative fungal research laboratories in Spain, Germany and Denmark. His research finding has been presented at various international conferences. At Centre for Science and Mathematics Education at The University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi, United States of America he was introduced with science education and worked as Lecturer for undergraduate course. He has published his research finding on Scientific and Science Education research in international journals. He has also published a textbook on Biology – Fundamentals of Biology with an American Publisher Top Hat which has received an ISBN number. He is a member of Marie Curie Research Fellow Association, US Department of State (International Exchange), Centre for Open Science, Virginia, United States of America. He has worked as a Middle Year and Diploma Program Biology Teacher for International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), University of Cambridge (IGCSE program) as a Biology Teacher, Lecturer of Biology at St Theresa International College, Thailand, Biology & Chemistry College Professor for Bard Early College in China and currently working as a Biology & Health Science Instructor of University of the People, Pasadena, California, Advanced Placement Biology & Chemistry Teacher for Aquinas International Academia, Garden Grove, California and he is also Member as a Biology Board Reviewer for MERLOT, California, United States of America.

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Kathy Rhodes

Social Studies Teacher

 Mrs. Rhodes graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.A. in political science and an M.A  in Social Science Education.  In 2001, she became a National Board Certified teacher through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  Additional certifications include:  gifted education, vocational education as a Teacher Intern instructor, CRISS reading instruction, and special education collaborative teaching. In 1985, she co-authored the teacher’s manual for Local Government in Georgia written by Dr. Mary Hepburn at the University of Georgia. During her teaching career, she was employed by the Clayton County Board of Education and the Griffin-Spalding County School System as a classroom teacher.


In May 2013, she retired with 31 years of credited service. During her teaching career, she had the opportunity to write curriculum, serve as Department Chairperson, work on the pilot program for state-wide end of course testing, teach professional learning courses to teachers and staff, develop curriculum units, and supervise student teachers.

Mrs. Rhodes has also enjoyed serving as the faculty sponsor of the Mock Trial team, National Honor Society and Student Government.  Mrs. Rhodes has been working as an online instructor since May, 2014.