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

lee vodofsky Alpha SchoolDiane Gray, Supervisor of Instruction
My name is Diane Gray, and I’m the Supervisor of Instruction at Alpha School. I have been in the field of education for over 20 years. I graduated from LaSalle University with my Elementary and Special Education degrees. I received my Masters of Education degree, as well as, my Guidance Counselor Certificate and Supervisor Certificate from Georgian Court University. I worked in public school special education for 15 years, while also coaching girls softball and basketball. I was the Stem teacher at Harbor School, before beginning as the RKS Supervisor of Instruction. I have had the privilege of supervising at all three of our schools, Alpha, Harbor, and Gateway. I am very fortunate to be part of this amazing team of professionals. I look forward to a productive partnership between our staff and families to ensure that our children can achieve their highest potential.

Laura Altschul Erdo Alpha School NurseLaura Altschul-Erdo, School Nurse
I have been a registered nurse since 1995, and I completed my BSN and certification in school nursing at Monmouth University in 2006, while raising two children of my own. Previously, I worked at a hospital in Long Branch that helped shape my nursing career. I am happy to have taken this new direction in my career as a school nurse. I love children and I love being able to work with the students. My favorite aspect of school nursing is interacting with the students on a daily basis to meet their health care needs. I work diligently with the teachers, teachers’ assistants, parents, therapists, social workers and students’ physicians to accomplish this. The current situation with the pandemic has given me many challenges in helping to keep the students and faculty safe at the Alpha School. I am continuing my education so that I can learn the most up to date methods and procedures that this position requires. My love for this position will continue to keep me dedicated to the Alpha School and its students.

“It’s not how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.”
— Mother Theresa

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.

grassoStephanie Grasso, Teacher Leader
My name is Stephanie Grasso, and I have worked at Alpha School for 9 years. I started as a paraprofessional and have been the classroom teacher for the past 5 years. I attended Georgian Court University and graduated in 2009 with Bachelors’s in Psychology with dual minors in Elementary education/special education graduated. I love working in an environment where students feel safe and loved. My students teach me something new every day and because of them, I am a better person. I have always felt like our school is more than just a school, we are a family. I am so blessed to be able to work with the most patient, loving, and talented staff on Earth.

Outside of Alpha, I enjoy spending time with my family. I love to read, going to the beach, attending concerts, and traveling. My most rewarding travel experience was going to South Africa. I went on several safaris and even experienced a safari riding an African elephant.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

nolanJess Nolan, Primary teacher
Hi! My name is Ms. Jess Nolan. I have been a primary teacher at Alpha School for the past five years. I have been lucky enough to work with students with special needs for the past seven years. I was born and raised in New Jersey. In 2013, I graduated from Georgian Court University with a Bachelor’s Degree, teaching certification (K-6) and a TSWD Endorsement.
When I am not at work, I love spending time with my one-year-old son, husband, and our two dogs. I love being outdoors submerged in nature. 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 with my little family.
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 one of the greatest joys of my life.

Jamie Ponticello, Social Worker
Jamie Ponticello is the social worker for Alpha School. Ms. Ponticello received both her Bachelors and Masters in Social Work from Monmouth University. Before working at Alpha, Ms. Ponticello provided in-home therapy services for children with disabilities and worked at a transitional living program.

Ms. Ponticello strives to help all students to develop healthy coping skills so they can communicate effectively with friends, family, etc. Ms. Ponticello also aims to increase students’ levels of self-esteem, how they can process emotions effectively.

When Ms. Ponticello is not at work, she enjoys going for walks with her dogs, hanging with friends and family, and traveling.

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 every day. I feel that I make a real difference in the lives of our students and their families.

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.

Christine Spina, Secondary Teacher
Hi! My name is Christine Spina. I was born and raised in Jersey City/Bayonne. I graduated from Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University) with a Bachelors’s Degree in Special Education. I taught for 2 years at St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Jersey City. I moved to the shore area 20 years ago to begin working at Alpha School. The best part of working at Alpha so long has been working with the students and watching them grow through the years as well as the lifelong friendships I have made. I am a proud mom of 9-year-old soon to be 10-year-old triplets, Nicholas, Elizabeth and Robert. I love spending time with my kids and cheering on their sporting teams! When I have free time I enjoy reading, walking, going out to eat, and going to Broadway shows.

pat-sterlingPat Sterling, Transition Coordinator
Pat Sterling graduated from Trenton State College with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education. Pat started as a classroom teacher at Harbor in September of 1989. Starting in September 1997, Pat became the Transition Coordinator for our high school program and has remained in this position since that time. Mrs. Sterling works closely with our high school students and their families to develop appropriate vocational skills to help facilitate job placement after graduation.

eileen trainorEileen Trainor, Secondary Teacher
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 work with the older student population. In addition to being the classroom teacher, I also teach the students Career Education skills to help prepare them for life after Alpha School.
Working with our students continues to be the best part of my job. I especially enjoy it when our former graduates come back to visit and share their successful work and community experiences.

So grateful to continue to work with my Alpha Family after all these years. It truly is a group effort to provide our students in a nurturing environment promoting a functional educational experience. When I’m not at work I enjoy spending time with my husband Patrick, our 13-year-old son Joseph 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.

tomaineChristine Tomaine, Secondary Teacher
My name is Christine Tomaine and I am a classroom teacher for secondary students. I was born and raised in North Jersey and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Special Education from William Paterson College. After graduation, I got married and moved down the shore to Ocean County. I taught at the Brisbane Child Treatment Center for 3 years before my daughter was born. After staying home for 12 years while raising 3 kids, Allison, Michael, and Brian, I started teaching at Alpha School in the spring of 1989. The best part of the job, of course, is working with the students, often keeping in touch with many long after they graduated. The staff is wonderful and are not only my coworkers but often become good friends. My three children are grown, married and we have been blessed with 2 wonderful grandsons. I enjoy spending my free time with them and my husband, Mike. I also enjoy reading, going to Teas, traveling, concerts and plays.

Sara Stockton, Primary Teacher
Hello. My name is Sara Stockton and I am a primary teacher at the Alpha School. I joined this exceptional school community in November of 2016. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Douglass College at Rutgers University in 1997. I received my Teacher of Art certificate from Georgian Court University and my Teacher of the Handicapped certificate from New Jersey City University. I was a paraprofessional and an Art Teacher for a combination of 9 years and took a 10-year break to stay home to be with my two daughters. I love every day at the Alpha School. The students are such a big part of my life and the people I work with are caring, dedicated and unlike any others. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my daughters, my sister and my cousins as well as friends. My favorite pastimes include going to the beach, cooking and drawing.

Steven Fortunato, BCBA, CPI Coordinator
I have been with the Alpha School team since 2013. I currently hold the positions of BCBA and CPI Coordinator. In 2012 I graduated from King’s College with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Special Education, in 2016 I received my Master’s in Applied Behavioral Analysis from Georgian Court University, and I became a certified CPI instructor in 2019. I also work in the same roles at Harbor and Gateway schools. Outside of the three schools I provide in-home behavior therapy as well.

When I am not working, I enjoy family time with my beautiful wife Jennifer and my 1-year old daughter Stevie June. My wife and I both share the passion of working with students with different disabilities. I strive to provide each individual I work with the skills and tools to help them become successful in different areas of life. In collaboration with other members of the great Alpha staff I design plans and strategies for students to achieve their individual goals and progress in the classroom setting. It is important to me to give each student my best every day.