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
Ellen has devoted her entire career to the delivery of services to students with developmental disabilities. As a special education teacher, learning disabilities teacher-consultant (LDTC), 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.
Phone: (908) 654-2477
Holly Pedicone, LCSW, School Social Worker
Holly Pedicone’s primary focus has been assisting families of children with disabilities in obtaining services for their child and providing support for parents as caregivers. This has included educating parents and families about services such as health services and financial assistance when needed and also registering with state and federal programs for children with disabilities. In addition, at First Children School, Holly provides support programs for the families of our students. She has been a part of bringing educational speakers to meet with parents and providing special days for moms, dads, siblings and extended family to participate with their student in fun and educational ways. Since family involvement is a very important piece of the education of our students, these events are one-way families are able to share in the school experience with their student.
In addition to her work with our school families, Holly has a private counseling practice working with adults, couples, families, and children. Holly graduated from New York University with a master’s in social work in 1978. She is a member of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
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.