Every IEA Academy class is taught by a content area specialist who is trained in teaching gifted youth.

Academy teachers are enthusiastic experts in their subject matter – they are academics, researchers, and gifted individuals themselves with a passion for learning, driven to support the gifted community. Each teacher’s expertise and commitment enables students to explore topics in greater depth with authorities on the subject. Take a look at their passions, their interests, and why they love teaching Academy students.


Adela Robins

Adela loves teaching and is especially passionate about fostering social and emotional growth in her students. With a B.A., credentials, and a master’s degree from the University of La Verne, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the classroom. With five years of teaching experience under her belt, she’s adept at creating inclusive learning environments where every student feels valued and supported. Beyond the classroom, you’ll find Adela enjoying the company of her two beloved dogs, exploring new recipes in the kitchen, and soaking up the beauty of the great outdoors through hiking and camping adventures. Her commitment to education extends beyond academics, as she recognizes the importance of nurturing well-rounded individuals who thrive both inside and outside of school.

Alessandra Santucci 

Alessandra is a native of Chicago, IL, where she received her BA from Northwestern University in Italian Studies and Visual Arts. With over 20 years of instructional experience, Alessandra loves to share her passion for language and the arts with all students. She particularly enjoys combining art and design with other disciplines to create interesting, well-rounded courses. Alessandra is a dedicated proponent of polymathic study, and she believes that the most effective educational communities nurture creativity and curiosity, celebrate individuality, and foster a sense of responsibility for self, environment, and both local and global communities. In addition to work in the design sector, Alessandra is a certified yoga instructor, teaches dance and Italian language, and is working on improving her Mandarin Chinese and Korean. She also adores darkroom photography, reading, cooking, linguistics, and travel.

Alka Kumar   

Alka holds a Master’s degree in Life Science and has conducted research in Microbiology related to Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza in plants. In addition to her work at IEA, Alka is an instructor and independent consultant to public and private schools in and around LA. She currently teaches STEAM to grades K-5 at Sierra Madre Elementary, and offers her own Curious Kids Science Enrichment classes, camps, and workshops. Dedicated to inspiring young girls who have a passion, talent and aptitude in the STEAM fields, Alka has also brought her love of teaching to Project Scientist Academy. A nature lover at heart, Alka enjoys visiting National Parks in her leisure time with family.

Anita Russell 

Anita is a third-generation Californian and self-confessed bookaholic. She graduated from CSUN with a B.A. in communication studies and earned her teaching credential in history from National University. Anita also attended film school at L.A. Valley College. While at Fairfield School, where she taught for fourteen years, Anita created a class called Global Awareness, which combined geography, current events, and history after a student told her that his family drove to Cuba for the weekend. She also taught textual analysis to middle schoolers, who brought their annotated books to a 10-year reunion to show her how much they still valued them and used them as a reference. Upon joining Community Charter Early College High School in 2004, Anita created a Humanities course incorporating state standards in English, history, drama, and art to help her students understand how other cultures can be very different from their own. From 2012 to 2018, Anita brought government alive by connecting the Constitution and Bill of Rights to current events. In addition to books and reading poetry out loud, Anita loves road trips and learning to see life through the camera lens.

Benjamin Fields

For as long as he can remember, Benji has been driven by questions: Could life evolve on other planets? What’s the origin and eventual fate of the solar system? Of the galaxy? Of the universe? What geophysical processes shaped the mountains and valleys we see today? How did chemicals congeal together to form our atmosphere? What lies in the largely unexplored reaches of the oceans, waiting to be discovered? His passion for these questions led him to teach here at Academy, where he can explore these topics, and more, with his students. With a BA in Physics and Astronomy and research experience at the SETI Institute, Benji is uniquely equipped to foster a deep understanding and love of science and to help students uncover fundamental truths about our universe. 

Carla Collier

Carla is an enthusiastic STEM tutor with a Master’s in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and a Bachelor’s in Human Biology from USC. Beyond her academic achievements, she is the Founder and President of
Fundación de la Igualdad Educativa en Honduras, where she led a dedicated team, securing funding, expanding outreach to over 600 students, and implementing effective monitoring systems. As the former Math Director at USC’s Joint Educational Project, Carla directed 80+ tutors, contributing to a 30% improvement in student success. Her passion for education, coupled with diverse experiences, makes her eager to inspire students with a love for discovery. She looks forward to bringing her enthusiasm and making a positive impact on students’ learning journeys!

Cynthia Molt 

Cynthia Molt is a Southern California native of the San Gabriel area. Ms. Molt has been an educator and administrator for over 30 years. She has a B.A. degree from California State University, Long Beach, majoring in English literature with a teaching emphasis and three Master’s degrees: in administration, curriculum, and teaching, from Azusa Pacific University. Though she began working in education, her career took her in another direction when she began writing in Hollywood, including covering events for the entertainment industry, and interviewing notable individuals. She has written two books on Hollywood history which are still in print. She returned to education in the early 1990s, writing a social studies curriculum for Arcadia Unified School District, which was later adopted by the state, and has worked in private, public, and charter school systems ever since, spending the majority of her tenure in the Pasadena Unified School District. Ms. Molt has also developed course modules for K-12 students who are learning in a blended and/or virtual environment. Ms. Molt has worked with gifted students in nationwide programs and has certification in administration, multiple subjects, second language learners, and gifted education, as well as developing curriculum in mechanical and structural engineering for K-8 students. She enjoys spending time with her cats and dogs and bird, as well as reading about history and biographies, developing entrepreneurial ideas for a business, studying topics in computer science, and writing new books.

Ellen Brown  

Ellen Brown comes to us from the Mirman School for Highly Gifted, where she taught second grade for twenty years. Ellen believes that every child deserves individualized instruction, and that incorporating values into each lesson is key to fostering the whole child. Ms. Brown studied at UCLA and CSUN and went to graduate school at UC Riverside. She also went to film school at L.A. Valley College. Ellen plays guitar and writes, and loves horseback riding, traveling, and movies! True to her own passions, she has taught a wide range of topics, including poetry and drama, history of cinema, and political and cultural histories. Classes such as Study of Star Wars: The Hero’s Journey, Buy Me That! A Kid’s Survival Guide to Advertising, Poetry Book, King George: What Was His Problem? and Relax! Yoga and Other Calming Tricks continue to be favorite offerings at IEA.

Grayson Kent

Grayson is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara, where he earned his BS in Paleobiology. He has worked with a wide variety of animals, from everyday household pets to sign language-using chimpanzees to venomous snakes, and has over 25 years of experience owning and handling exotic reptiles. He has also participated in several zoological/paleontological studies and is an officer of the Southwestern Herpetologist Society. Grayson has been employed as the Animal Curator of a children’s museum, the Reptile Specialist of a major chain pet store, and as an assistant/technician in a veterinary clinic. In 2012, Grayson started his own mobile natural history museum, Rock & Roll Reptiles, to bring his passion for animals and fossils to children everywhere (and adults, too!). He is thrilled and honored to teach at IEA.

Joan Horvath and Rich Cameron    

Joan Horvath and Rich “Whosawhatsis” Cameron are the co-founders of Nonscriptum LLC (www.nonscriptum.com). Since 2015 their Pasadena-based consulting and training firm has focused on teaching educators and scientists how to use maker tech, with a particular focus on teaching math and science with 3D printing. Joan is an MIT alumna, recovering rocket scientist and educator. Rich is an open-source 3D printer hacker who designed the RepRap Wallace and Bukito 3D printers. They have written 10 books together (so far!), most recently a three-book hands-on math sequence culminating in Make: Calculus.

Kathleen Caine         

Kathleen obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics. Before moving into the field of teacher education, she taught at the middle and high school levels. She discovered math circles while helping students prepare for mathematics competitions, introducing students to many “low threshold, high ceiling” problems over the years. In working with students on any type of problem solving, her goal is to make sure the setup of the problem is clear, and then be the questioning voice that allows students’ ideas to come to the forefront. Kathleen grew up in Hawaii and California but has lived in Massachusetts, Arizona, and even Germany. As a mother of two bright, inquisitive kids, Kathleen has worked hard over the years to provide opportunities for her children and their friends to make projects of their own vision. Kathleen believes that learning to be okay with initial failure(s) is paramount to gaining the confidence to try really challenging problems. With her desire to provide a space to try new ideas and have a safe space to fail (but not give up), Kathleen opened TinkerSpace in Montclair, CA in 2018.

Kristin Petherbridge

Kristin has been an educator for many years and has taught in a variety of learning environments including community college, homeschool co-ops, and homeschool learning centers. Kristin’s experiences as a parent and as an educator have helped deepen her appreciation that each learner is unique – with their own passions and interests, and their own natural curiosities about the world around them. Kristin prefers working with small groups of students and believes success in any class starts with creating a connection with each student and establishing a collaborative environment in which students feel supported and safe to share their current knowledge, ask questions, and be open to learning. Kristin holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Truman State University and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine. She has spent time in both academic and pharmaceutical research, worked as a scientific advisor and patent agent with a law firm, has been an AirBnB Superhost, and has devoted much time to community volunteering and organizing, including starting and running a local soccer nonprofit for a short time. Kristin is a mom of three kids and is a human companion for two cats, three chickens and, she likes to think, the many birds, lizards, butterflies, and spiders in her yard and garden. Kristin enjoys being with her kids – especially hiking, camping, and traveling to new places. She enjoys puzzles of all kinds, various crafty endeavors, going to musicals, and listening to audiobooks.

Patrick McGrail         

Patrick has been a tutor in the Pasadena area for the past thirteen years, covering a wide variety of topics and grade levels ranging from preschool to college. He holds a BA from Claremont McKenna College and draws on his passion for interdisciplinary studies to help people see the academic world in a new way. Since joining IEA Academy in the summer of 2018, Patrick has taught Rocket to Calculus, combining physics, algebra, and calculus to show that math can be explosively interesting!

Richard Krejcir         

Dr. Richard Krejcir is an author, researcher, and seasoned STEAM educator with exceptional students as well as in Special Education. He holds a BA from San Jose State University, a Masters in Divinity and Cross-Cultural Communication from Fuller in Pasadena, and a Doctorate in Philosophy from King’s College London at Cranbourne. Richard recently renewed his SPED and Exceptional Student Teaching Credential, teaches Coding and Robotics, and is a LEGO League FLL Robotics Coach. Richard has 30 years of experience as an educator working in public, private and charter schools. He is Director of a nonprofit that offers educational training around the world and has established tutoring centers in US churches as well as schools abroad. As an “exceptional student” and STEM teacher at IEA, Richard pledges “to communicate with and motivate students to be active learners; to help them to achieve beyond perceived barriers; to inspire and encourage students to reach beyond society’s limits; to listen to parents and students to help empower them in an enriching, innovative learning environment where they can explore science, technology, engineering, art and math; to help give students the tools so they can thrive and be successful at learning and at life.” When not in the classroom teaching, Richard is a Boy Scout leader and enjoys spending time with his son who has autism.

Summer Ebs 

Summer Ebs has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Science Education. She has been an elementary and secondary science teacher for 18 years, has done online teaching, and taught gifted elementary science students over seven summers. Summer loves teaching science, loves all things related to soccer, and enjoys spending time playing with her young son and daughter

Tessa Lamb   

Tessa has been a teacher for over 15 years. Originally from Vancouver, BC, Canada, Tessa graduated from the University of British Columbia, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Education. She has worked in many roles from classroom to specialist teacher. Most recently she has been teaching at a progressive micro-school that focuses on the Reggio education model and she has developed an independent practice supporting children identified as twice exceptional through reading and writing. Tessa loves to spend her free time walking on the beach and cooking with her family.

Toby Jacobrown       

Toby has worked from Seattle to Switzerland to the Myanmar border, teaching biology, writing, movement theater, and massage therapy. He has managed a farm-based education program in Washington, and lead outdoor classes on wild-edibles in upstate New York. He has worked as a commercial filmmaker and created documentaries for non-profit groups. Currently he works as a writer, with several stories published and several plays produced. When he has free time, Toby enjoys ventures into Griffith Park, seeing local theater, composing music, and, of course, learning new things.

Institute for Educational Advancement - Connecting bright minds; nurturing intellectual and personal growth


–– Academy Parent

“The infectious enthusiasm of the students made teaching with IEA a joy—something I looked forward to each week”

– David Case, Instructor


–– Academy Instructor

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