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 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. This program recently saw its first class in China graduate this Spring of 2018 with a U.S. Diploma and all of the 37 graduates successfully were admitted to colleges such as Cornell, Rutgers, Syracuse and University of Connecticut 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!
Meet a few of our
talented & engaged faculty
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.
A native of California, Jennifer has been surrounded by the field of education for all of her life. Her mother, aunt, grandmother, and father were all teachers. This has influenced her career choice and the path that has led to where she holds a position today as an administrator at a large California State University. She obtained her Associates Degree from a Community College, and then went on to earn both her Bachelors and Masters’ Degrees from a California State University.
She continues to thrive in the world of education and works with goals of student success and inclusive excellence to better her department and campus for the benefit of the students. For the past 4 years, Jennifer has been invaluable in bringing both her academic and administrative experience and excellence to bear in her work with Aquinas International Academy. She is an excellent member of our academic team.