Geraldine A. Gibbia, Ph.D. is one of the co-founders of the Phoenix Center and currently serves as its Executive Director. Dr. Gibbia received her doctorate in Speech and Hearing Science from the City University of New York, her master's degree in Speech Pathology from Queens College and her B.A. from Marymount Manhattan College. She has over 35 years of experience in working with children with communication, learning and social difficulties. After college, Dr. Gibbia worked in public education for several years serving in various child study teams and speech language specialist positions with Bergen County Special Services School District, the Bergenfield Public School District and William Paterson College. It was at that time that she was confirmed in her passion to serve children with disabilities; so, in 1981, she started her Ph.D. completed it in 1990, and co-founded the Phoenix Center in 1991. She believes that learners with disabilities have gifts and talents, and it is her responsibility and those who work with these learners to uncover those gifts and celebrate children's abilities, not their disabilities. She has spent the last 18 years of her career dedicated to improving the lives and skills of the learners at the Phoenix Center. As well, she has served in numerous capacities, including First Vice-President of ASAH, the New Jersey Association for Private Special Education Schools, she is a member of the PRAISE Advisory Board for the Archdiocese of Newark and teaches religious educators how to reach and teach learners with disabilities, and she has lead numerous professional education presentations statewide. As co-founder of the Phoenix Center, Dr. Gibbia is dedicated to providing a well integrated, educational and therapeutic program focusing on the development of the whole child and his/her family.
Dr. Douglas A. Berrian is one of the co-founders of the Phoenix Center and currently serves as its Director of Professional Development. Dr. Berrian has a B.A. in psychology and an M.A.T. in special education from William Paterson University. He also has a doctorate in educational administration from Seton Hall University. In addition to serving as Director of Professional Development at the Phoenix Center, Dr. Berrian also serves as an adjunct professor in the Counseling and Special Education Department at William Paterson University. He has also been an adjunct professor at the College of St. Elizabeth, Caldwell College, and N.J. City University teaching technology courses, special education courses, and educational administration courses. Dr. Berrian began his career in special education as a Big Brother volunteer and then served in various teaching positions in the Paterson Public School District and at the Bergen County Board of Special Services. He then held administrative positions as Principal at the Early Childhood Learning Center, Director of Student Personnel Services for the Butler Public Schools and Director of Special Services for the Mountain Lakes Public Schools before co-founding the Phoenix Center in 1991. Dr. Berrian has dedicated his career to the field of special education and most enjoys working through and dealing with the challenging behaviors of our students.
Julie Mower, MA.Ed. serves as the Principal of The Phoenix Center. She is responsible for overseeing the daily management of the school, provides training and support for our teaching and related service staff, and maintains an active role with Partners in Caring (PIC); the school's parent association. Mrs. Mower received her master's degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from The University of Phoenix and her B.A. in Art Education from New Jersey University. She joined the Phoenix family in 1994 as an art teacher because of her love of children and desire to creatively work with students with disabilities. Mrs. Mower developed and implemented the Visual Arts program for 10 years at the Center. During that time, she published lessons on various art websites in support of students with disabilities. With the desire to do more to directly serve students with disabilities and their families, and in an effort to have more impact on the educational services provided at the Center, Mrs. Mower joined the administrative team as the Assistant Principal in 2004 and is dedicated to providing integrated and individualized programming for our students.
Bebe Cherian, MSW is a school social worker who serves as supervisor of the Behavior Department at The Phoenix Center. In that capacity she provides support to our teachers and specialists, and presents workshops on behavior strategies to our parents. Ms. Cherian received her MSW from Columbia University School of Social Work and her B.S. in Social Work from Dominican College. She is also a recipient of the National Association of Private Special Education Center's (NAPSEC) Ethnic Diversity in Special Education Leadership Scholarship and received her Supervisory Certificate from Caldwell College. Ms. Cherian is also a senior-level Nonviolent Crisis Intervention instructor, providing training and ongoing support to the staff. Ms. Cherian joined the Phoenix Center family in 1996 because of her desire to have a positive and meaningful impact on the lives of children and their families. Because Ms. Cherian believes in the importance of enhancing the quality of life for both special needs students and their families, she has also coordinated home programming, respite services, and therapeutic recreation at Appropriate Living for the Autistic, a DDD-contracted agency, for seven years. Additionally, Ms. Cherian serves as an adjunct professor at Dominican College teaching courses in social work, sociology, psychology & women's studies.
Amy Maciag, M.S. CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Specialist who serves as the Related Service Supervisor at The Phoenix Center. In that capacity she manages the full range of related services offered at the Phoenix Center, including counseling and psychological services, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and health services. Ms. Maciag received her Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Science degrees in Communication Disorders from William Paterson University. She received her supervisory certificate from Rutgers University. After working one year in the Bergenfield Public School district, she joined the Phoenix Center in 1992. For nine years, she served in the capacity of Related Service Supervisor and In-House Case Manager as well as a Classroom Supervisor for three years. She is an auxiliary member of the behavior team. Ms. Maciag is a senior-level Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Instructor, providing training and ongoing support to the staff. Ms. Maciag enjoys working with students and their families in an innovative program which has a strong emphasis on communication.
Laureen J. Protomastro serves as the Transition Coordinator at the Phoenix Center and is responsible for the coordination of Supported Employment, Community-Based Instruction, Consumer Family Life Skills and Structured Learning Experiences for our students 14 years of age and older. Mrs. Protomastro has 15 years of experience in working with students in transition services. She holds a Bachelors degree from William Paterson University. As well, she holds certifications in both Special Education and Work Experience and Career Exploration Programming (WECEP). Mrs. Protomastro was the 1996 recipient of the ASAH Educator of the Year Award. In addition she served on the New Jersey Association for Persons in Supported Employment (NJAPSE) Executive Board for three years, has done workshops for various organizations, and conducted graduate classes at the International APSE Conference. Mrs. Protomastro joined The Phoenix Center staff in 1994 because of her strong desire to work with students with special needs and their families in a program that afforded their students the opportunity for both creative and innovative programming.
Connie Andolino R.N. serves as the Certified School Nurse for the Phoenix Center. Mrs. Andolino received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Seton Hall University and her School Nurse Certification from Caldwell College. After college Mrs. Andolino worked in St. Mary's Hospital in Passaic and St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark. Her hospital experience includes Medical/ Surgical staff nurse, charge nurse, Hospital Supervisor, Patient/Staff Educator and Enterostomal therapist, a skin care nursing sub-specialty. After starting her family in 1986, Mrs. Andolino began her career in school nursing as a substitute for the Clifton Board of Education. The sixteen schools in this district provided experience in K-5, Middle School and High School. She began working part time at the Phoenix Center in 1997 as a Substitute School Nurse and Health Teacher and in 2001 assumed the role of full time School Nurse. Mrs. Andolino is a member of the New Jersey State School Nurses Association and the Essex County School Nurses Association and is a Certified Instructor for the American Red Cross in Adult/Infant/Child CPR and First Aid. As the school nurse, Connie Andolino is dedicated to fostering a safe and healthy environment for students and staff members alike as well as maintaining a working relationship between the Health Office and our Phoenix Center families.