Congratulations to Principal John Gonzalez
If you want to understand the mission of an RKS school, you have to get to know its people: students, teachers, administrators and parents alike. Here, we are going to get to know Alpha School’s brand new principal, John Gonzalez. Principal Gonzalez joined us as the Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction in July of 2016, and since moved on to fill the same position at Alpha School. Now that he is transitioning into the head position at Alpha, we decided it was a good time to sit down with this special education veteran and gain some insight into his approach and attitude toward what we do.
Like so many who find themselves among the ranks of our dedicated army, Principal Gonzalez is the parent of a special needs child, a 10-year old on the autism spectrum. After graduating from Rutgers University, John moved on to New Jersey City University, where he earned a Master of Arts in Special Education. This leads him to began as a classroom teacher, the head teacher, in the Jersey City public school system, in 2002. Eleven years later, he became an administrator. Before joining us, he also spent some time as an administrator in the Newark public school system.
Three years ago, RKS posted for the position of Supervisor of Instruction, and Principal Gonzalez crossed over to the world of private special education. So what was different?
“The biggest surprise to me is we’re still a school. Any kids that come to our schools would get the same experience at their home school but also get a program that’s tailored to their own needs and really specifically meeting any of those needs that haven’t been met before,” said Gonzalez.
In other words, he found the approach to be still as traditional as possible. He was impressed by the amount of in-house services and how we manage to get students in the community more frequently. Yet, he still viewed it as a school like any other.
So what’s the plan for his transition to Principal at Alpha School in Jackson, New Jersey?
Gonzalez plans to “create a culture of learning from top to bottom.” Other than that, he doesn’t feel that challenges don’t change as much as you’d think over time. Though faces change, new students often resemble old students, in terms of the challenges they bring to the table.
One primary goal is to bring The Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care School-Based Program to Alpha School. This program is currently available at The Gateway School in Carteret and Harbor School in Eatontown. Its purpose is to create a healthy environment for learning that promotes academic and life success for all students. Our schools partner with UBC to develop prevention and intervention strategies to meet this goal. At no charge to the parents, the program provides a range of free and confidential mental health services including medication management with a child psychiatrist, individual counseling, family counseling, case management/referral services, staff consultation, crisis intervention and more.
As for the future, Principal Gonzalez should prove to be that rare type of leader who sees his role as one member of a team. It is one of great responsibility, of course, but it does not grant him special powers.
In speaking with him, you hear his desire to create and strengthen the environment that cultivates plenty of input from his team regarding courses of action. In activities and programs, he wants them to feel empowered, to not be afraid of trying new things and taking risks.
He can’t help but point out what most of us in special education know, which is that there still needs to be more opportunities in terms of helping individuals with special needs transition into adulthood. Meanwhile, he remains open-minded as far as new events, activities, and therapies.
Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey
Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.
— John Gonzalez, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ