Dr. Christopher Nagy, Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Nagy graduated from St. John Lateran University in Rome, Italy with both a Bachelor of Philosophy and Bachelor of Theology degrees. While in Rome, he also earned his Master of Arts in Theology from St. Thomas University. He returned to the United States and began his formal career in education in Bethlehem, PA in a private school. He taught Latin and Theology as well as gained a love for working with students both in the classroom as well as while serving as a club advisor and assistant athletic director. After a short time at the school, Dr. Nagy was asked to take on additional duties including the role of vice principal and oversight of school finances. He earned his Masters in Education in Educational Leadership and administrator certifications from Lehigh University in 1993.
Dr. Nagy transitioned to public education as a high school assistant principal in Allentown, New Jersey where he was promoted to high school principal in 1999; he worked in this position for 11 years. While there, Dr. Nagy positioned the school to be recognized among the top 100 schools in New Jersey by NJ Monthly Magazine. During this time, Dr. Nagy earned his Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration from Widener University and was the first in his class to publish his dissertation as a book: The Alternate Route Teachers' Transition to the Classroom: A 21st Century Perspective on the Journey for Those Who Seek Alternative Pathways to Teaching. In 2011, he assumed the role of Superintendent of Schools in Bergen County, NJ where he had oversight of two high schools and the Region III North Jersey Autism Center. As Superintendent, he increased academic achievement, established a one-on-one student laptop initiative, created a character education platform to include social and emotional (SOMO) wellbeing skill development, and implemented a social media platform for the district. He also created a special education program at the high schools to integrate special needs students with autism: The Valley High School Program, a first for the district and region. The work gained recognition from the NJ Dept. of Education and was awarded a grant to promote integration of special education students into regular education settings. Based on the work accomplished in the district, Dr. Nagy published two articles for AASA (American Association of School Administrators) (see http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=27856 and http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=24766).
In 2014, after three years in Bergen County, Dr. Nagy received the opportunity to leverage his administrative footprint in post-secondary education and career technical education in a duel role as the principal of the Adult Division of the Burlington County Institute of Technology and the Burlington County Apprentice Coordinator. At BCIT, he increased student enrollment and apprenticeships, expanded course offerings and programs, established a summer session, revised the website, created a job posting board for employers, and worked closely with county entities to promote job creation, training and youth partnerships while working on the promotion of partnerships with Rowan College at Burlington College. Given the success and turnaround of the program, Dr. Nagy then became the shared Assistant Superintendent for Special Education at the Burlington County Special Services School District and Burlington County Institute of Technology. At BCSSSD, he quickly engaged in the shepherding of the restructure of the BCSSSD Westampton Campus and newly formed partnership with Bancroft at Burlington County. As Superintendent, he also engaged in a process to expand programs as well as enhance the infrastructure, Child Study teams, curriculum and instruction, data, social media, web presence, district technology plans, establishment of District Curriculum Council, special education transition programs, emergent workforce development opportunities and in demand employer needs such as the newest launch of the School of Construction Technology among other innovations.
Dr. Nagy is a believer in being a lifelong learner and leading by example: in March 2016, he earned his certification in Applied Positive Psychology from the Flourishing Center in NYC to benefit the students and staff of both the BCSSSD and BCIT districts. Dr. Nagy also teaches Rider and Delaware Valley University doctoral courses related to curriculum and instruction, leadership, technology, diversity, societal change and special education. He is a former president of the Northern Valley Administrators Consortium and Upper Freehold Administrator’s Association and was the former NJ Department of Education Legal Chair for the Board of Examiners. Dr. Nagy is now treasurer to the NJ Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools, member of the Burlington County Workforce Development Board and member of the Burlington County Education and Youth Services Collaboration Committee.
September 2017: The Burlington County Chamber of Commerce named Dr. Nagy one of 25 Burlington County Emerging Leaders.
Appointments April 2018: Dr. Nagy was elected to the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors until 2020.
Dr. Nagy's recent publications are:
Dr. Todd Bonsall, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Insruction
Dr. Bonsall graduated from Albright College in Reading, PA with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. He also attended the National College of Chiropractic where he earned a second Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology, as well as his Doctorate in Chiropractic. After practicing chiropractic for twelve years, Dr. Bonsall entered the immersion program at the College of New Jersey where he earned a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Hence, Dr. Bonsall has transitioned form hands-on healthcare to hands-on education.
At the onset of his educational career, Dr. Bonsall taught Biology and Physical Science at Lenape High School for three years. Upon receiving his Master’s degree, he obtained a position at Salem County Vocational Technical School as Assistant Principal. After two years, he was promoted to the Principalship of SCVTS for an additional three years. At this time, Dr. Bonsall transitioned to the Cumberland County Technical Education Center as the Principal for five years. Next, he acquired a district-level position at the Middlesex County Vocational Technical School District as the Director of Career and Technical Education for three years prior to becoming the Assistant Superintendent of BCIT/BCSSSD.
Over the past 14 years, Dr. Bonsall has developed a passion for both Career and Technical Education and Special Education. During this time, it has been his pleasure to work with both general education students and students with special needs through specialized hands-on career and technical education programs. In addition, he has significant experience in the development of CTE academies that serve to meet the needs of highly focused, high achieving CTE students. Recently, he has been instrumental in the development of the following programs: Advanced Manufacturing and Fabrication; and the Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology Academy; as well as the infusion of Drone Technology and the College Head Start program. He has expanded the use of virtual and augmented technology in Welding and Auto Collision Repair. In addition, Dr. Bonsall has been heavily involved with the modernization and renovation of the Cosmetology, Allied Health Professionals and Welding Technology programs.
In addition to being a facilitator of the TregoED strategies to appraise situations and analyze decisions, potential problems and potential opportunities where he and his colleagues were recognized with the Benjamin B.Trego Award, Dr. Bonsall implemented a Grant Council and co-developed a Curriculum Council to oversee all aspects of curriculum and instruction. In 2011, Dr. Bonsall was presented with the SREB/TCTW National Outstanding School Award for outstanding achievement in Applied Technical Mathematics.
Ryan Varga, Principal BCSSSD Westampton
Ryan Varga is a graduate of Lock Haven University(LHU) with an undergraduate degree in Teacher of the Handicapped K-12 and Elementary Education. While at LHU, Ryan was a member of the CEC, Special Olympics, and played baseball, receiving Regional All American honors.
Upon completion of coursework, Mr. Varga was hired by Edgewater Park School District where he worked for ten years in the roles of inclusion teacher, 7th grade Math Teacher and Algebra 1 teacher. When an inclusion teacher, Mr. Varga worked in the Extended School Year (ESY) program at Jacques School leading to collaborative efforts with BCSSSD host classes. To complement his classroom teaching, he completed PBSIS training at Boggs Medical Center, Princeton University. Later, Mr. Varga had the chance to implement the PBSIS initiative within the Edgewater Park school district experiencing a significant decline in referrals. Continuing his educational journey while at Edgewater Park, Mr. Varga transitioned to content-specific learning with math as a 7th and 8th Grade Math teacher joining the South Jersey Math Partnership, receiving a Graduate Certificate of Study for Differentiated Instruction Mathematics from Rowan University.
While teaching, Mr. Varga earned from Delaware Valley University, a Masters in Educational Leadership, leading to a new position as Assistant Principal/Director of Student Activities at Riverside High School. In his new role, Mr. Varga had many opportunities of work within the school and community to develop improvement strategies for students with behavior/education challenges through RTI methodology. Efforts implemented saw an increase in student involvement with clubs/activities, increased professional development training for staff while starting the PBSIS initiative.
After serving as an assistant principal at Riverside High School for five years, Mr. Varga was hired as Principal of the BCSSSD Westampton Campus which services students pre-k through age 21.
Joan Barbagiovanni, Principal, Burlington County Alternative School
Joan Barbagiovanni is a native of South Philadelphia, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Ethnic Studies from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. After completing this degree, she returned to Philadelphia and spent one year serving in the AmeriCorps at Sharswood Elementary School. It was during this time with the AmeriCorps, a civil service program serving areas with significant socioeconomic issues, that she realized that her true passion is education.
In 2002, Mrs. Barbagiovanni completed her Master of Arts in Teaching at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She spent two years working in Gloucester Township Public Schools serving as a long-term substitute for Special Education, English, and Social Studies. In 2004, Joan took a permanent position teaching 7th grade English Language Arts at Woodstown Middle School located in Salem County, New Jersey. During her time at Woodstown Middle School she was named Teacher of the Year and was awarded the honor of Exemplary Secondary Educator by the New Jersey Department of Education. She also served as a new teacher mentor and worked in various curriculum initiatives. With guidance from her building Principal, Mr. John Fargnoli, she was strongly encouraged to return to school to pursue a degree in Educational Leadership. In 2008, Joan completed her Master of Arts in Educational Leadership at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mrs. Barbagiovanni also authored and supervised a program entitled STAND (Students Trying a New Direction) which supported students with certain academic and social barriers that interfered with their success at school
Seeking a new challenge, Mrs. Barbagiovanni accepted an English teaching position at the Burlington County Alternative School in 2013. At the end of the school year, she was offered the position of Principal at BCAS. Most recently under Joan’s leadership, BCAS was named a State School of Character and a National School of Character for the 2017-2018 school year.
Joan Barbagiovanni is a lifelong learner who is pursuing her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at Rowan University.
Mark Castellane, Lumberton Campus Supervisor
Mark Castellane has been a presence in the District since 1999, currently serving as the Supervisor of Education at the Lumberton campus. Mr. Castellane has held Supervisory positions throughout the District including Elementary and VisionQuest campuses. Mr. Castellane received his Bachelor’s Degree at Averett College in Danville, Virginia and subsequently his Master’s Degree in Education at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Michelle Ciasca, Westampton Elementary Campus Supervisor
Michelle Ciasca has been with the BCSSSD since 2014. She first started with the Educational Services Unit (ESU) as an Instructional Supervisor and most recently, as one of the Supervisors of Education on the BCSSSD Westampton Campus. Prior to joining the team at BCSSSD, Ms. Ciasca was a special education teacher at Burlington Township who taught self-contained MD and Autism classes. Ms. Ciasca has a passion for involvement with Special Olympics, which when in Burlington Township, she started their Special Olympics team and has continued working with Special Olympics at BCSSSD as the Special Olympics Supervisor. Ms. Ciasca received her undergraduate degrees in Early Childhood and Special Education from West Chester University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and was a member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society. She completed her Master’s degree in Educational Administration at The College of New Jersey where she graduated with honors. Ms. Ciasca was recognized as an Educator of the Year by the Burlington Masonic Lodge and as an Outstanding Contributor to Special Education by the Burlington Township parent organization.
Jeremy Cohen, Director of CST/Related Services
Jeremy Cohen is the Director of CST/Related Services for the BCSSSD District, a role of which he was assigned this July after serving as a Supervisor of Education the prior year. Before coming to BCSSSD, Mr. Cohen taught special education in the Trenton Public School District where he was a teacher of self-contained LLD and behavioral classes. While in Trenton, Mr. Cohen served as the coordinator for the District’s Extended School Year (ESY) program for the special education department. In addition to ESY, he also participated on the data team, positive behavior support team and conducted collaborative sessions for special education teachers in the district. Wearing multiple hats, Mr. Cohen is currently the district testing coordinator for BCSSSD and is an active participant the District Curriculum Council and Affirmative Action team.
Mr. Cohen holds a master’s degree in special education from Wilmington University, with a certification in special education and regular education and maintains a second master’s degree in school leadership. He is currently working on his doctoral degree from Wilmington University in Educational Leadership and Innovation.
Michelle Delaney, BCAS Assistant Principal
Michelle Delaney is a resident of South Jersey and has enjoyed being an educator for more than 17 years. During that time, Mrs. Delaney completed her undergraduate studies at York College of Pennsylvania, her Master’s Degree at Rowan University, and recently, she completed her certification for her Educational Leadership (NJ-EXCEL) program.
Mrs. Delaney began her career as a 7th and 8th grade mathematics teacher at Woodstown Middle School for 14 years. Here she served as a middle school math coach, mentor, and workshop presenter. In this role, she first encountered an opportunity to work closely with the administration and teachers to identify and implement best practices, curriculum updates, hands-on learning activities, and data compilation. Mrs. Delaney's dedication to her students and service as advisor to mathematics competitions such as MathCounts and Math Showcase, earned her the recognition of Teacher of the Year.
After years as a mathematics teacher in a middle school, Mrs. Delaney accepted a position at Audubon School District as a high school PARCC support teacher, where she collaborated with the mathematics department and administration on strategies to engage low achieving students in supplemental classes. At the conclusion of the school year, Mrs. Delaney joined the Burlington County Alternative School team as a mathematics instructor. It was this shift from the traditional setting to the alternative school setting that changed her focus to the whole child and the school family.
Mrs. Delaney’s roles at BCAS have included Math Teacher and Supervisor of Education. Having recently earned her principal’s certification, Mrs. Delaney now assumes the position of Assistant Principal.
Jacquelene O'Brien, Supervisor of Transition Program
Ms. O’Brien graduated Summa Cum Laude with a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Special and Elementary Education from Gwynedd-Mercy University (GMU) in 2006. Upon graduation from GMU, Ms. O’Brien began her teaching career in the Evesham Township School District where she taught self-contained preschool disabilities and autism classes for over a decade. While teaching, Ms. O’Brien earned a Master of Science in Educational Leadership with supervisor and principal certifications from Delaware Valley University. Based on her education and work experiences, Ms. O’Brien brings an expertise working with children and adults with significant intellectual disabilities requiring intensive therapeutic and medical treatment.
Eager to embrace a new challenge, Ms. O’Brien joined the Pioneer Autism and Sensory Center (PASC) program at BCSSSD as an Autism Consultant in 2017 serving students ages 3-21. She is currently enrolled in a post-master’s course sequence through the University of North Dakota to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). In 2018, Ms. O’Brien was appointed as the Supervisor of Education of the Transition Program and has a vision to empower students to transition into young citizens with employable skills sets inclusive of vocational training. In her undergraduate years, she served as an education representative in the Student Government Association and was an active member of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education, and Sigma Phi Sigma, The National Mercy Honor Society.
Ms. O'Brien was appointed in 2018 as the Supervisor of the Transition Program.
Tara Pyfrin, Westampton High School Campus Supervisor
Ms. Pyfrin is excited to begin her career at Burlington County Special Services School District as a Supervisor of Education at the Westampton Campus. She graduated with honors from Rowan University with an Master of Arts degree in Reading Education and a Master of Education degree from Strayer University. She is currently finishing her ED.S in Reading Education and working on her doctoral degree at Walden University where she is specializing in Tiered Learning in a Special Education setting. She has worked as a Supervisor of Instruction at Pineland Learning Center and as a Reading Specialist. Ms. Pyfrin was nominated in 2015 as the The Jaycees and Atlantic City Weekly Top 40 Under 40 Professionals in Southern New Jersey for her work in education and community service.
Adell Valasek, Westampton Campus Supervisor of Autism
Adell Valasek started her career path and passion for teaching individuals with developmental delays in college when at Shippensburg University where she completed her Masters degree in Administration with honors. She continued to pursue her special education teaching certification at Widener University while working at Devereux CARES as an instructional coordinator. Ms. Valasek graduated with honors from Widener University and was a member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society. Upon graduation, she began teaching in a self-contained class at North Hanover School District. During this time, Mrs.Valasek continued to develop her passion by completing coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis at Penn State University. There she received her Board Certification as a Behavior Analyst. Her journey continued as an Autism Consultant at the Educational Services Unit (ESU) of the Burlington County Special Services School District. Being a lifelong learner, she went back to school at Rutger’s University where she obtained her Supervisor of Education certification. Within the last two years, Mrs. Valasek has completed her principal coursework from the University of Scranton.
Ms. Valasek is now working as the Supervisor of Education at Burlington County Special Services School District. She has provided trainings through the Burlington County Professional Develop Institute and taveled to Belgium to train staff and teach students with autism and behavior interventions.
Educational Services Unit (ESU)
Bobbie Downs, ESU Director, BCSCRT Administator, BCPDI & Public Home Instruction
Bobbie Downs is currently the Director of the Educational Services Unit (ESU) for Burlington County Special Services School District. Ms. Downs decided to pursue a career in education after serving as a teacher and administrator in a school for Sudanese refugees in Cairo, Egypt. Since that time, Ms. Downs served in the role of teacher and administrator at the Burlington County Alternative School before being named Director of the ESU. Ms. Downs received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Master’s Degree in Teaching from Drew University. Later, Ms. Downs earned her Master’s degree in School Leadership from Rowan University. Currently, she is pursuing her Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Rowan University. Ms. Downs also holds a Graduate Certificate of Autism Education and is a certified mindfulness instructor for Mindful Schools. Ms. Downs is an active member of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the National Alternative Education Association and the educator National Honor Society Kappa Delta Pi.
Nicole Margiotta, Technology/
Augmentative Alternative Communication and Deaf & Hard of Hearing Department
Nicole Margiotta received a Culinary Degree from the Academy of Culinary Arts and was the first female research chef in the history of Campbell Soup Company. With research and development background, and a passion for children, Nicole left Campbell Soup after 15 years and received her bachelor’s degree from Rowan University in special-education. She taught fifth grade resource room and inclusion in Lumberton Township for three years. She went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Assistive Technology (AT) from Fort Hays State University and an AT certificate from CSUN (California State University Northridge). Nicole joined the Educational Services Unit of Burlington County in 2003 where she created the AT Department. She received her supervisory certificate from Rutgers University in 2004 and became the Supervisor of the IPP (Integrated Preschool Program) at community based preschools in Burlington County. Two years later, she create the Augmentative Alternate Communication (AAC) branch of the AT Department. Over the past five years, Nicole and her team have created the Burlington County Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education Initiative. She spearheaded ASL (American Sign Language) as a foreign language for both Burlington County Institute of Technology and Burlington County Special Services School District. In addition, she and her team developed Sign Me A Story and AAC Social Groups events for the community; both held at the Burlington county library. Nicole was the recipient of the 2016 Burlington County Principals and Supervisors Association visionary Leadership Award.
Alan Kotzen, Public Child Study Team & Juvenille Detention Center Education Program
Alan Kotzen graduated from Temple University with a Doctoral degree in School Psychology. His first opportunity to utilize that degree was with the New Jersey Department of Corrections at the Juvenile Medium Security Facility (JMSF) in Bordentown, New Jersey. At JMSF, he served as the Child Study Team Coordinator in a lock-down facility for students/residents aged 14 – 21. After twelve years, Dr. Kotzen was promoted to Detention Center Manager for the Juvenile Justice Commission. In this capacity, he ensured that all residents of the then eighteen juvenile detention centers across the state received a New Jersey Department of Education-compliant education. In 2016, Dr. Kotzen retired from State service and accepted the position of Supervisor of Education at the Burlington County Juvenile Detention Center, a responsibility with which he was intimately familiar. In his spare time, Dr. Kotzen provides Child Study Team services and consultation to public and non-public schools across Burlington County.
Brooke Vermes, Supervisor Public Child Study Team and Related Services
Brooke Vermes is the Supervisor of Public Child Study Team and Related Services. In 2011, Ms. Vermes received her bachelor’s degree from Holy Family University in Elementary and Special Education. After graduation, Ms. Vermes spent seven years at Beverly City School District, where she taught a multi-grade self-contained class, multi-grade resource class and inclusion. She has taught reading, writing and math from grades K-8, which has expanded her knowledge in various grade levels. Ms. Vermes has served as the Pre-Intervention and Referral Services liaison and she has served on the Curriculum Team. While teaching, Ms. Vermes continued her education at Holy Family University and she earned a Master’s degree as a Reading Specialist in 2014 and Supervisor and Principal certifications in 2016. She accepted a Reading Specialist position with ESU in 2018 and then was promoted to Supervisor shortly after. Ms. Vermes is an active member of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, Kappa Delta Pi National Honors Society and Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Key Women Educators.
Leigh-Ann Esaia, Supervisor Nonpublic Child Study Team and Speech, Charter Child Study Team
Ms. Esaia lives in Beverly, NJ, and graduated from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 1999, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in speech pathology and audiology. Immediately after graduation, Ms. Esaia began her speech career in the Pleasantville School System. In 2004, while working in Pleasantville, Ms. Esaia received her Master of Science degree in communicative disorders from West Chester University. After a successful span with Pleasantville Public Schools, Ms. Esaia began working in the Hammonton School District, where her speech students ranged from preschool through high school. In 2012, Ms. Esaia had an opportunity to return to her former grammar school when she accepted the position as the Speech Language Pathologist in Beverly City. She was delighted to assist the children in her hometown community. In 2014, Ms. Esaia attended Rowan University to receive her supervisor’s certification. In 2017, Ms. Esaia accepted a position in the Educational Services Unit of the Burlington County Special Services District (ESU-BCSSD). In 2018, Ms. Esaia was asked to be the Supervisor for Nonpublic CST/Speech and Charter CST. She looks forward to working with the many professionals at the ESU-BCSSD.