All of our Teachers/Guides are diploma holders of the Association Montessori International (AMI). AMI was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1929 and is the recognized global standard for Montessori quality. VFKH teachers hold a Master of Education in the Montessori Method. The teachers at VFKH have been teaching the Montessori Method between 5 to 30 years and our classroom assistants have been with the school 3 to 20 years.
Head of School
Mrs. Susan Kelly was first introduced to Montessori through a survey of education course while receiving her Bachelor’s degree. Mrs. Kelly spent a summer applying the concepts in a free summer program she created and was amazed at how brilliantly the children responded! Thus, Mrs. Kelly headed to Washington D.C. for her post-graduate AMI studies in Montessori and became a Primary Guide. After meeting and marrying Mr. Edward Kelly, the two opened Valley Forge Kinder House and the rest is history! Now they have 5 children and 8 grandchildren. Mrs. Kelly loves tennis, biking, walking, reading, and family time.
Limerick Campus Office
Mr. Kelly founded Valley Forge Kinder House in 1977 with his wife, Susan Kelly. Originally from the area, Edward Kelly has lived in Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Wayne, and Royersford. He came to learn about Montessori through his wife and together they opened the school and have been dedicated to educating their 5 children and many more children through the years. Mr. Kelly enjoys making “Dad jokes”, biking, travel, and road trips. Just ask about his cross-country road trips!
Ms. Bernadette attended Valley Forge Kinder House from the age of one and continued through 4th grade in Montessori. Ms. Bernadette studied child development and business administration. She worked in China and Taiwan as an educator. Later, Ms. Bernadette was the child care professional development manager for southeastern Pennsylvania. After having her own children, Ms. Bernadette enrolled in the Montessori Assistants to Infancy training for the prenatal through age 3 time of development. Ms. Bernadette loves spending time with her three children, live music, traveling, and cooking (and eating!).
Mary Sue Barr
Mrs. Barr was introduced to the joyful world of Montessori learning by one of her college professors. She is grateful to have been able to build on her Montessori Primary training taken many years ago by more recently completing her Montessori elementary training and teaching in the area. Mrs. Barr is a lifelong Pennsylvanian, a veteran homeschool mom, and a dabbler in many needle and fiber arts as well as cooking, baking, and gardening. She is also a bibliophile!
For a few years, Mrs. Broom taught high school math and science, which lead her to examine education and child development. Through this search, she encountered Montessori and pursued training in 2013. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Mrs. Broom lived in Eastern Cape and Cape Town, South Africa and Orange County, California before moving to Pennsylvania in 2020. Her hobbies include knitting, reading, crafting, and cooking, though researching and material making for Montessori remains her biggest past-time.
A teaching internship after college was Mrs. Paseltiner’s introduction to Maria Montessori, which inspired her to take the Elementary Course at the Washington Montessori Institute. She has taught at The Whitby School in Connecticut and at VFKH Montessori School. Mrs. Paseltiner is also the proud parent of three Montessori graduates — two from The Montessori School in Connecticut and one from VFKH Montessori School. Mrs. Paseltiner was born in Durham, NC, and did most of her growing up in Port Washington, NY until her family moved to Bridgton, ME. She and her spouse lived in Connecticut for 20 years with their 3 children before moving to Pennsylvania 9 years ago. Mrs. Paseltiner is a rhythm tap dancer and an Irish step dancer. She loves genealogy, baking, and geometric constructions.
Megawati (Megan) Tjokro
Primary Lead Teacher
Ms. Tjokro believes that each of us is created uniquely. Ms. Tjokro searched for an educational system that has a child-centered approach. She discovered the Montessori educational method during her bachelor’s studies in Early Childhood Education. She then obtained her AMI Primary training in Atlanta followed by a Masters in Education from Loyola University in Maryland. Ms. Tjokro is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia. She has a teenage daughter. When Ms. Tjokro was young she helped in her grandmother’s restaurant. Now she still loves to cook yummy Asian food and washing dishes. Her famous dishes are shrimp fried rice and fried wonton/dumplings. Yes, cooking is her hobby.
Mrs. Forshaw developed an interest in Montessori education because of the “hands-on” learning, child-centered approach, as a contrast to traditional education. As a trained Occupational Therapist, Mrs. Forshaw brings this knowledge into the environment. She is originally from Australia and has lived in the U.K. and France. Mrs. Forshaw now lives in Phoenixville with her British husband and two teenage children. Her favorite activities are hiking, admiring beautiful gardens, drinking good coffee, and cooking.
Ms. Phelen started as a volunteer at VFKH in 10th grade and became very interested in Montessori. She continued on to college to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education. She then attended Washington Montessori Institute and completed her AMI Montessori Primary training. Ms. Phelen started teaching at VFKH in 1988 and has been here ever since! Over 30 some years. Ms. Phelen loves nature walks, singing, sewing, gardening, and children are her love.
Mr. Jagusak was first introduced to Montessori by a professor in his “Women in Psychology” course. He was inspired to pursue Montessori after observing how children learn while in Ghana. Mr. Jagusak then went on to Washington Montessori Institute and obtained his AMI Montessori Primary diploma through Loyola University. Mr. Jagusak has lived in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and has taught in the area. Mr. Jagusak is married with identical twin 6 year old boys. He has a passion for soccer, specifically Liverpool Football club, and watching live music.
Toddler Lead Guide
Mrs. Olivier was first introduced to Montessori through a position in a Montessori school in New Mexico. She fell in love with Montessori. She then taught in South Korea and met her husband. After taking a year to travel, Mrs. O had the opportunity to work at a Montessori school in South Africa. Now Mrs. O has returned to the area after living abroad for 10 years. Mrs. O’s daughter is in Ms. Phelen’s class and she is happy to be back living in Phoenixville!
Farah A. Ortiz Melendez
Toddler Assistant / Co-Lead Guide
Mrs. Ortiz earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus and worked as an Industrial Engineer for 17 years. She fell profoundly in love with the Montessori Method when she discovered Montessori for her own children. Inspired by her daughter’s development, first in the Montessori toddler community and now as elementary student, she decided to pursue a career in Montessori Education. Mrs. Ortiz obtained the Three to Six Montessori Orientation certificate from the Association Montessori Internationale and has applied the Montessori principles with her children at home. She recently completed the Six to Twelve AMI Montessori Orientation certificate and previously worked at Guidepost Montessori in Massachusetts as a toddler Assistant Guide. She is currently pursuing a 3-6 AMI Diploma with Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies training center. In her free time, Mrs. Ortiz enjoys spending time with her family, reading, trying new recipes, and is passionate about Spanish Flamenco dance. She is a native Spanish speaker and lives with her husband, dog and two children, who are both attending VFKH.