NCPG is delighted to have an outstanding group of teachers returning to NCPG this year, and have also expanded our teacher community with a fabulous addition of new teachers. We encourage you to get to know each of these highly educated and knowledgeable women.
Monique Nelson – Newborn A (Child Due September- May) & Newborn B (0-5 months)
Monique Nelson is an Arizona native. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University in biology/premed. She holds an additional degree in nursing with a clinical focus in pediatrics. Monique worked in the field of pediatrics as a pediatric triage/advice nurse for over 25 years. She has also been teaching pregnancy, newborn, infant and toddler classes for the past 22 years as well. Monique taught not only for North Central Parenting Group but Scottsdale Parenting Group and East Valley Positive Parenting group before the group dissolved. Monique and her husband Dave just celebrated 25 years of marriage this past June and they are the proud parents of Taylor age 22 and Dylan age 17.
Melissa Thomson – Newborn A (Child Due Sept – May) and Newborn B (0-5 months)
Melissa Thomson was born and raised in the Phoenix Valley. She attended Arizona State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and her Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education. Melissa has 12 years of experience as a Certified Child Life Specialist and is currently a Fragile Infant Specialist, helping families transition home from the NICU setting. She obtained her infant massage instructor certification back in 2010 and loves teaching families the many benefits for parents and infants. Melissa is passionate about helping mothers adjust to their new role as a parent as well as supporting them in finding their confidence as new mamas. Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband Braedon and their identical twins, Claire and Lily. As a twin mama, she’s proud to be involved with local parenting group Phoenix Valley Mothers of Multiples and helps plan their family events. Melissa is excited to join NCPG and looks forward to meeting you soon!
Blaire Hinks – Class 1A (5-11 months)
Blaire Hinks is a native to Arizona. She grew up in the Madison School District and went to Xavier College Prep for high school. She graduated from University of Arizona in 2002 with a BS in Business Marketing. She went on to help manage at the Hubbard Swim School. During her 17 years at the swim school she was in charge of staff training, the special needs program and taught countless number of swim classes to babies and young children. Blaire has been married to her husband, Otto, for 16years and they have six children; Tommy (14), Maggie (12), Joe (10), Will (8), Rosie (5), and Grace (4). After years of teaching new moms in the pool and having six babies of her own, she realized there was need for support in the home for new moms after birth. Blaire opened her own business, Lille Landsby Postpartum Village, in 2018. She is a lactation counselor, postpartum doula, and baby-wearing instructor that provides a holistic in-home care approach for all families with little ones. Blaire’s favorite things to do during her down time are going on adventures with her family, date night with her husband, and working out.
Amy Stewart – Class 1B (12-17 months)
Amy has a Master’s of Science degree in Nursing, is a Certified Pediatric Nurse, and nursing professor. Her scientific and research-based nursing background, paired with her love for being a mother to her five adopted children provide unique and relatable teaching opportunities. Amy is also the founder of Hope in Parenting, providing parenting tools, resources, and online courses for all partners in parenting. Amy feels her greatest accomplishments are found in her home. She loves being the wife to her husband Drew and mother to her 5 children Merik (11), Sophie (10), Olivia (5), Gracie (4), and Spencer (2).
Laurel Hamilton – Class 2A (17-23 months)
Laurel Hamilton is an educator with over a decade of experience working with children and parents across the Valley. She received her Masters in Elementary Education at Arizona State University and went on to teach third grade in the Spanish Immersion program in the Cave Creek School District. After the birth of her children, she stayed home until they began elementary school. Laurel then taught the early threes and parent-child programs at Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool where she continues to be involved there as a substitute teacher. PPP is one of the few NAEYC accredited Reggio Emilia preschools in Arizona and teaching there has shaped who she is as a parent and educator. Laurel is originally from Washington State, but has lived in Scottsdale since 2001. She has been married to her husband, Todd, for nearly 20 years and they have two children, Grant (15) and Tatum (13). She enjoys hiking, playing pickleball, reading and traveling with family and friends.
Kristin Klecka – Class 2B (24-29 months)
Kristin Klecka is an educator who has been working with children since the early 2000’s. Trained in Elementary Education, she has worked fulltime with two different grade levels (fourth and second) for six years and has also substitute taught in grade levels K6, including leading gifted/honors classes. Teaching in both California and Arizona, Kristin has a firm grasp of critical early years teaching skills and methods such as Core Knowledge. Kristin’s course work at the University of Arizona resulted in a Bachelor of Arts in Family Studies and she subsequently obtained a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education at the University of Pepperdine in Los Angeles, CA. She also achieved her teaching credential in California. But, her greatest accomplishment has been being a wife and fulltime mom to three children Ashlyn (14), Reid (12), and Beau (10). They have taught her more about love and life than anything else. Kristin likes to cook, exercise, spend time with friends, and travel.
Chelsea Kunde – Class 3A (29-35 months)
Chelsea has her Bachelors of Art in Psychology from The University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) and her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from The University of San Diego. She has worked extensively with children, families and couples specifically helping them with parenting skills and/or training. She has worked as a behavior interventionist, parent trainer, therapist providing individual, couple, family and group services and a sleep consultant. Chelsea owns her own company called Building Blocks Family where she provides consultation services on sleep, discipline, and potty training to families with children ages 0-6 years old. BBF was created to provide loving family solutions to families. She helps families to create a safe and predictable world for their children while maintaining healthy and safe practices. Most importantly, she helps them to create a happy environment for both parents and kids to thrive and enjoy! Chelsea enjoys in her free time taking a pilates or spin class, watching bad reality tv, hanging with her girlfriends and spending time with her family. Chelsea is married and has two daughters Harper (6) and Reese (3). This is Chelsea’s first year teaching at NCPG and she is excited to be part of this wonderful community in her new role as teacher!
Barb Grady – Class 3B (36-41 months)
Barb Grady is in her 31st year teaching for NCPG. She is a nationally certified counselor, certified teacher and parenting coach. In 1999, Barb began her business, Parenting-Plus, where she offers parenting classes, personal growth groups, individual consulting and life/parent coaching for both adults and children. Barb has taught preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades as well as high school and college. Barb has two daughters: Jody, who is a director for Honor Health in charge of the Covid patients and has two children (Carter 11 and Grady 9), and Annie, who works for the city of Santa Rosa and has a two-year-old daughter. Barb loves being an involved grandparent! She is delighted to return this year to share her passion and to motivate and inspire parents. You can learn more about Barb and access parenting resources from her website: www.parenting-plus.
Emma Porter– Class 4A (41-47 months)
Emma is an Arizona native and currently lives in north central Phoenix. She received her degree in Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University. Over the past 11 years Emma has taught multiple ages ranging from preschool to fourth grade. In addition to NCPG, she is at Christ Church School part-time teaching the Play & Learn class as well as working for All Schools Consulting. As an educator and parent, Emma feels that it is important that adults have the ability to manage their own emotions when responding to children’s challenging behaviors. Emma is married and is a mom to two young boys, Carson (3.5) and Cameron (8 months). In her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with her family, trying local restaurants with her friends, watching anything on Bravo TV and volunteering at a local dog rescue. She is excited to be a part of the upcoming new year with NCPG.
Annemarie Mansour– Class 4B (48-53 months)
Annemarie has her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Child Development from Saint Mary’s College of California, and her Master’s Degree in Psychology from Palo Alto University. Annemarie has worked as a Family Behavioral Specialist, helping families with children ages 0-6 manage behavior problems to ready their children for kindergarten. She is currently the Preschool Director at Saint Thomas the Apostle School. Annemarie is also a Love and Logic facilitator, has received training in the fundamentals of Conscious Discipline and is a certified Kidding Around Yoga instructor. Annemarie and her husband Nick have been married for 23 years and have four children; Nick (22), Isabelle (20), Marissa (18) and Joseph (14). Annemarie’s favorite days are those spent with her family relaxing at home, reading, cooking and making each other laugh. Annemarie is excited to return to the NCPG community and continue to help parents navigate this journey of parenthood.
Lisa Ameis – Pre K (enrolled in Pre-K or Junior Kindergarten)
Lisa Ameis is a native of Phoenix, Arizona. She attended Northern Arizona University, as well as Central Arizona College where she obtained her CDA certification. Lisa has been married to her husband Todd for 32 years, and is a mother to 6 children. She has over 30 years of teaching experience in the early childhood classroom setting. She has taught Pre-K for the past 14 years at Christ Church School. Lisa is excited to start her new position this year at CCS as Curriculum and Marketing Coordinator. She spent many years serving on parent boards, site councils, and PTOs while her children were in school. She was also very involved with her children both with National Charity League and Boys Team Charity. I’m her free time, she loves to hang out with her family and travel with her husband Todd, now that they are empty nesters. Lisa is looking forward to her first year with NCPG! She has always believed the days are long, but the years go fast and has learned to treasure the experiences she has gained as a teacher and a parent.
Jemeille Ackourey – Kindergarten (enrolled in Kindergarten)
Jemeille Ackourey has been with NCPG since 2014. She comes to us with a perspective on positive youth development that has been developed through her 40 yrs of professional experience, education and training. Currently, Jemeille is in private practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor offering therapeutic services to individuals and couples. Jemeille also provides executive coaching and corporate training. Prior to her work as a psychotherapist, Jemeille spent 25 years with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix where she retired as their VP of Operations. During her time with the Clubs she trained staff on youth development strategies and leadership development; designed programs; developed community coalitions and helped to grow the Clubs to one of the largest community based agencies in Arizona. Jemeille’s greatest joy is her family. Her marriage to Karl has brought together a blended family of 5 children plus their growing families.
Michelle Cox – Elementary School (grades 1-4) & Middle School (grades 5-8)
Michelle has been married for 24 years and is the mother of two adults and two teens. She loves to spend time with her family as they discover new places and explore the outdoors. She also loves to create – the messier the art project the better. Michelle is the founder of Build Family Connection and has coached and taught hundreds of parents over the last 10 years.
Michelle graduated with a BS in Education from Northern Arizona University, completed “The Choice in Coaching: Arbinger Mastery Training for Coaches,” a graduate of the Coachville School of Coaching, and is a PCC certified coach with the International Coaching Federation.
The information provided by NCPG instructors should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.