Kathleen McCarthy Gorski, M.Ed., Principal
Kathleen began her career in education teaching for 17 years with Bayonne Public Schools. She then went on to become an administrator with Millburn-Short Hills Public Schools, serving as Vice Principal of the middle school in the district. She later moved on to Cranford Public Schools where she served as a Principal for 8 years before joining First Children in 2010. Kathleen is a certified school superintendent, principal, supervisor, teacher of the handicapped and elementary school teacher. She holds a Master’s degree in Teaching from Marygrove College and a from Kean University. Some of her accomplishments/awards are state model of the Olweus Bully Prevention program, assistant director of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development-northeast region, Principal of the Year-Cranford Public Schools 2003/2004 and NCASES board member and commissioner. Kathy is a passionate educator and visionary of academic excellence for all children.
Phone: (908) 654-2472
Ellen D’Amato, Ph.D., School Psychologist and Clinical Administrator
Dr. Ellen D’Amato is the School Psychologist and Clinical Administrator for First Children School. Dr. D’Amato has devoted her entire career to the delivery of services to students with developmental disabilities. As a Special Education Teacher, Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant, and currently as a School Psychologist, she has developed and implemented intervention programs for students ranging in age from infancy through high school. Her area of expertise is the education of students who have significant cognitive, communication, physical, and medical challenges. She is experienced in the identification and provision of individualized supports to students who have multiple disabilities.
Dr. D’Amato earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Fordham University where her research focused on the needs of families of students with disabilities. She is the co-author of Tips for Teaching Infants and Toddlers- a resource for parents and early intervention teachers/therapists.
As the School Psychologist at First Children, Dr. D’Amato coordinates a multi-disciplinary team of speech, physical, occupational, and behavioral therapists, serves as liaison to local child study teams, and provides educational and therapeutic support to the students, staff, and families of First Children School. She is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (Division of Early Childhood) and the American Psychological Society- Division 33 (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) and Division 16 (School Psychology).
Phone: (908) 654-2477
Holly Pedicone, School Social Worker
Phone: (908) 654-2470
Judith Wood Wussler, School Coordinator
Judith has been a part of First Children School since its beginning. In the late 1970s the State of New Jersey made it obligatory that children ages 3 and older with disabilities must have an appropriate education, with therapies, at no cost to families. For a year before that Law went into effect, Judy was a volunteer at Children’s Specialized Hospital with a group of preschoolers who became the nucleus of the original school class of about five students. A native of Fanwood, she actually attended elementary school in the same building that now houses First Children School, Day Care, and some aspects of First Children Services. Judy attended Douglass College and Berkeley Secretarial School and worked in the office of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Superintendent of Schools, giving her a background for her position as School Coordinator at First Children, where she has multiple duties as she interacts with staff, students, families and public school districts.