Meet our Team at Alpha School, A Special Needs School in New Jersey

The Alpha School Team

Meet a few members of our school family.

john gonzalez supervisor of instruction Alpha SchoolJohn Gonzalez, Principal
John Gonzalez is the new principal at the Alpha School. Previously, Mr. Gonzalez was the supervisor of instruction at the Gateway School in Carteret, New Jersey and as the Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction. John is a graduate of Rutgers University and New Jersey City University. Mr. Gonzalez has a Master of Arts in Special Education and brings 15 years of experience working as a classroom teacher, head teacher, and administrator with the Jersey City and Newark Public Schools.

lee vodofsky Alpha SchoolLee Vodofsky, Supervisor of Instruction
My name is Lee Vodofsky, and I am the new Supervisor of Instruction at the Alpha School. I graduated from King’s College (Bachelors of Arts in Political Science) and Wilkes University (Master of Science in Special Education and Educational Leadership). Prior to joining our team, I spent the past fourteen years working with students with special needs in both the public and private sector. I have coached football, wrestling, and lacrosse over the last two decades. I hope to bring my expertise to Alpha to facilitate classroom instruction and provide real-life experiences to improve the lives of my students.
In my personal life, I have been married to my wife, Leslie, for 6 years, have a 4-year-old daughter, Lucia, an 18-month-old son Logan, a cat, and a dog. In my free time, I am either playing with my children, working out in my gym, playing rugby (Princeton AC Rugby), or working on my house.

Rebecca Shpigler, Social Worker
Rebecca Shpigler is the social worker for Alpha School. Ms. Shpigler obtained both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Social Work from the University of Georgia. Before working at Alpha, Ms. Shpigler provided in-home and in-community therapy services for children and families around New Jersey. Ms. Shpigler primarily uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy along with a holistic approach. During sessions, she typically combines talk therapy with therapeutic games and activities.

Ms. Shpigler empowers students to develop healthy coping skills so they can communicate effectively with others, increase levels of self-esteem, process emotions effectively, work on conflict-resolution strategies, and discuss other topics that may arise. Ms. Shpigler also provides support to family members and guardians to link them with various resources so they can support their students as much as possible while also maintaining their own levels of self-care. When Ms. Shpigler is not at work, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. 

Linda BarichLinda Barich, School Nurse
I have enjoyed being the Alpha School nurse since 2003. I became a registered nurse after completing the nursing program at St. Vincent’s Medical Center of Richmond School of Nursing and I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Kean University. I completed the NJ School Nurse certification program at New Jersey City University. My favorite aspect of nursing is the interaction with the students and the challenges of acting as an independent practitioner in the school setting which requires responding to diverse nursing situations. I keep current with best practice standards in nursing including asthma management approaches as developed by the Pediatric/Adult Asthma Coalition of New Jersey and seizure management practices from the Epilepsy Foundation of America. I work with an interdisciplinary team that includes teachers, teaching assistants, parents, therapists, our social worker, students’ physicians and administration to provide care which focuses on both the health and academic needs of our students. I admit that it is a very different type of nursing, moving from hospital based care to community nursing, but now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

“You can’t educate a child who isn’t healthy and you can’t keep a child healthy who isn’t educated”.
— Dr. Jocelyn Elders, 15th Surgeon General of the United States

eileenEileen Trainor, Transition Coordinator
I graduated from Kean University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education. I have been an educator at the Alpha School since 1989. Currently, I am the high school Career Education teacher and I work with our students to develop various work and age appropriate social skills to succeed in the working world. Within our classroom we have created businesses such as napkin and stationary imprinting, balloons and personalized mugs and ornaments, commercial embroidering and heat press machines. In addition we run an office skills program where the students make copies, collate, shred papers and participate in large bulk mailings for various organizations. We also run our Otis Spunkmeyer cookie program several days a week.

I also work as the Transition / Structured Learning Experience Coordinator. Students 14-15 years old are assigned a work experience within our school setting to prepare them with the skills necessary to function on a job. When students turn 16, I work closely with the job coach to place our students in various local community businesses that provide them with the opportunity to sample career choices and field experiences.

Working with our students continues to be the best part of my job. I especially enjoy when our former graduates come back to visit and share their successful work experiences.

When I’m not at work I enjoy spending time with my son Joseph, my husband Patrick and our Wheaten Terrier Tucker. My favorite hobbies include photography, shopping, decorating and vacationing, especially on Long Beach Island.

When not at work I enjoy photography, shopping and spending time with my husband Patrick and my son Joseph.

kathymKathy Moore, Health and Physical Education Teacher
I began teaching at Alpha School in 1985, as the Health and Physical Education instructor. My responsibilities include developing, strengthening, and implementing the health and physical education curriculum. I enjoy helping my students strengthen appropriate social interactive skills with their peers during activity. I have established a strong rapport and respect with my students, which I am very proud of. In addition, I have established athletic programs for our students to participate in Special Olympics competitions – both bowling and bocce. Beginning this year, I have established an Alpha School Alumni bocce team for participating in Special Olympics. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Trento State College(presently the College of New Jersey), and I hold a New Jersey teaching certificate to teach Health and Physical Education – grades K-12. I reside in Brick Township with my husband Tony, and have three wonderful children, Amy/husband TJ, and twin sons Michael and Ryan.

wandaWanda Pratola, Secretary
I first started at the Harbor School (our sister school) in 2001 and I transferred to the Alpha School in 2004, and have been here ever since. My job is diversified which makes it interesting on a daily basis. I am the first person everyone sees when you enter our doors. I have a positive attitude and I am always happy to greet all our visitors. My duties consist of answering the telephone, taking care of students’ records, scheduling all meetings, and speaking with many of our students’ parents on a daily basis. I also assist all our staff with their needs as well. I feel that being positive, compassionate and getting along with administration as well as my co-workers is very important in our setting. The Alpha School has become my second family and I enjoy coming to work everyday. I feel that I make a real difference in the lives of our students and their families.

Denise E. Kumpel, M.A. CCC/SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist
I have been a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist since 2002. I initially earned an A.A degree through Ocean County College and a B.S degree in Speech from Stockton University, before going on to acquire an M.A. degree from The College of New Jersey in the area of Speech and Language. I was employed on an emergency certified basis in a special needs school in N.J., while continuing to pursue my education. Following the completion of my Master’s Degree, I joined the Alpha School family, and have provided speech and language services to children and students from the ages of Preschool-21. I primarily service the High School students at Alpha, and enjoy focusing on increasing social and pragmatic skills, and further transferring those skills over into community settings. In addition, I work for Early Intervention servicing the birth-3 population, and also do part-time private therapy work as well. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with and taking walks with my dog, drawing, exercising, and cooking/baking.

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Kean University in May of 1992. I went on to receive my Master of Arts degree in Speech Pathology in August of 1993. My first job experience was as a Speech-Language Pathologist at the Children’s Center of Monmouth County. I have worked for a private practice in Monmouth County as well as for several agencies throughout Ocean County. I currently have a part-time private practice.

blankBeverly Holborow, Speech and Language Pathologist
Related Services Specialist

I began working at the Alpha School in September 1996 as a staff Speech-Language Pathologist and Related Services Specialist. As the Related Services Specialist, I am responsible for coordinating Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy for all the students that attend the Alpha School. In addition, I act as a liaison between the therapy staff and the administration. I provide information regarding our therapy programs to parents and case managers looking to place students at our school. I collaborate with therapists from our sister schools, Harbor School and Gateway School, to gain new information and ideas to keep our therapy program dynamic. As a staff Speech-Language Pathologist, I provide speech and language therapy for Elementary through High School aged students. I have mentored and supervised many students from various undergraduate and graduate programs in Speech Pathology. I developed a dog therapy program here at Alpha School. My therapy dog Vegas works with students in individual speech therapy sessions as well as larger class group sessions. Additionally, she assists students experiencing anxiety and emotional difficulties. I have attended numerous continuing education courses in the areas of augmentative communication, oral-motor/feeding and autism. I received formal training in the use of PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) method. In 2002 I received the Ruth K. Newman award for Excellence for teaching special needs students.

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Kean University in May of 1992. I went on to receive my Master of Arts degree in Speech Pathology from Kean University in August of 1993. My first job experience was as a Speech-Language Pathologist at the Children’s Center of Monmouth County. I have worked for a private practice in Monmouth County as well as for several agencies throughout Ocean County.

maryjoMary Jo Mongaliri, Art Teacher
I started at Alpha School in 1983 as a full time employee, after subbing for two years in the classrooms. All together I have 34 years of experience working with students who have a variety of disabilities. My art room is always busy with classes as well as individual specialty art groups. The inspiration and chatter while my artists work is such a great thing to view as well as hear. Students are always encouraged to experiment and exchange opinions to create their art. I see my job as more of a facilitator and mentor to the artists at our school, helping them to build their skills and techniques through the elements of art. Along with regular artwork during the year our students have the opportunity to enter state and local art contests. We have had winners and received honorable mention for their work. We also present our artists work at the local library, galleries, and in a traveling art exhibit through Brookdale Collage. One of my privileges is to also coach the Alpha Cheerleaders and Stompers, who perform at school events and intermural games. I have also presented at the ASHA Conference where I was privileged to share my skills with my peers. My experience at Alpha School has been an enriching one for me and I hope for my students.

Jorie Sanzone, Paraprofessional
I started working at Alpha School as a paraprofessional in February of 2000. I have worked with students in preschool through high school and have enjoyed working with all of the age groups. I also currently work in the after school program and we have a lot of fun. I have three children, two girls and a boy. In my free time I like to go to the beach and watch the sunrise and look for sea glass. Traveling is also something I enjoy. I like working at the Alpha School because we are one big happy family and work together to meet the needs of our students.

Jess Perricane, Elementary teacher
Hi! My name is Ms. Jess Perricane. I am an elementary teacher at Alpha School. I am a first year teacher and it has been a wonderful year thus far. I have been working with special needs students for the past four years. I was born and raised in New Jersey. I attended Georgian Court University and graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree, teaching certification (K-6) and a TSWD Endorsement.

A little bit about myself, I love being outdoors submerged in nature. I truly enjoy hiking especially when my two dogs tag along. I am an avid traveler. I have traveled to Guatemala, Honduras, Thailand, Cuba and across the United States. I love the sense of adventure when traveling and learning about different cultures. I have learned and grown with every trip that I have taken. I look forward to all of my future adventures that lie ahead.

I am so thankful to be able to work with such exceptional children. Being a part of my students’ journeys to achieve their goals has been the greatest joy of my life.

Katherine Frustieri, Job Coach
I started working at the Alpha School in September of 1998. I was a Para-professional for three years in the High School before taking on the position of Job Coach. I take our students, ages 16-21 to a variety of local businesses for job sampling. Our students volunteer for these work experiences. I train the students on how to complete the tasks and appropriate social skills needed for job placement. Since acquiring this position, I have added several new businesses that participate in our program. I believe that my enthusiasm for this program translates to our student’s performance and their eagerness while on the job sites. I also run the weekly pizza program and the annual Mother’s Day plant sale. All proceeds are used for the end of the year luncheon to reward our students for all their hard work.

Beth Mulholland, Physical Therapist
Beth Mulholland has been working at Alpha School as a Physical Therapist for more than 15 years. Her previous experience includes working in pediatric and adult inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation as a therapist and supervisor, and in home care. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy from Russell Sage College in 1982, and her Masters in Public Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1994. She enjoys working with her students at Alpha, focusing on improving their motor skills, balance, fitness and functional mobility in the school setting. She has extensive experience in evaluating and recommending orthotics, and has developed an orthotic program here at Alpha School. She has assessed many students for durable medical equipment, strollers, and adaptive bicycles. Her goal for her students is to help them maximize their movement potential, and develop healthy movement and fitness habits that they can carry on after they complete their schooling.

Amanda LathamAmanda Latham, MT-BC, Music Therapist
Amanda Latham received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Therapy and her minor in Psychology from Montclair State University. She completed her internship at the Center for Discovery in Harris, NY; and went on to receive her Music Therapy Board Certification in December 2012. She was hired as the Music Therapist at Alpha and Harbor School in September 2014, where she uses music to address goals such as increasing socialization skills, communication, and self-expression. Amanda is currently a member of the New Jersey Task Force for Music Therapists, working toward state recognition for music therapists in New Jersey.