SPecial Services

Mount Ephraim Public Schools provides an array of services to the students, parents and staff of Mount Ephraim, NJ. We provide a continuum of programs options to accommodate student needs in programming within the least restrictive environment.

Our Child Study Team is comprised of a School Social Worker, School Psychologist, Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant, Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Each discipline offers expertise in a variety of areas. They each have various responsibilities to enhance the educational experience of our students.

Child Study Team and Related Services Staff

Christina Battiato-Director- District Wide (MB) ext. 6051

Debbie Henderson-Administrative Assistant CST- District Wide (MB) ext. 6051

Kristina Podolski- Social Worker- District Wide- (RWK) ext. 6065

Courtney Cairns- School Psychologist- District Wide- (MB) ext. 6057

Dr. Angela Meluso- BCBA- District Wide- (MB) 1204

Christine Schwarz- Speech Pathologist- District Wide- (MB) 1205

Denise McGuckin- Occupational Therapist- District Wide- (MB) 1204

Elyse Brown- Physical Therapist- District Wide- (MB) 1204


Roles of the Child Study Team

School Social Workers provide services to students and their families to help the students attain maximum benefits from their educational programs. The school social worker takes into consideration the social, emotional, cultural, and economic differences among children and their families to promote the student’s academic and social/emotional well being and enhance their full educational and individual potential. It is the responsibility of the school social worker to do a social assessment that includes observation of the student and communication with the student’s parents/guardians. The social assessment includes adaptive social functioning and emotional development and of the family, social, and cultural factors which influence the student’s learning and behavior in the educational setting. The School Social Worker also provides counseling as a related service. The school based counseling addresses social and academic issues.

School Psychologists are specialists with training and expertise in psychology as it is applied to education. They use their training and skills to collaborate with parents, educators, and other professionals to ensure that every child learns in a safe and supportive environment. School Psychologists use their understanding of school organization and effective learning to help students realize their academic and social potential. They tailor their services to the particular needs of each child and each situation. School Psychologists are trained to assess and counsel students with behavioral, emotional, and educational concerns. Psychological assessments shall be the responsibility of a School Psychologist. The psychological assessment should include standardized and functional appraisals of a student’s current cognitive, intellectual, adaptive, social, emotional and behavioral status in the context of their environments. Serving as case managers the School Psychologist consults with a wide array of educators to develop strategies, modification systems and offer support to aid classroom management. The School Psychologist also provides counseling as a related service. The school based counseling addresses social and academic issues.

The Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant (LDT-C) functions in the school environment as an educational diagnostician, instructional programmer, Child Study Team member, and case manager. The LDT-C is required to be dually certified as a teacher. The requirement of classroom teaching experience offers a multi-dimensional relevance to the assessment and implementation processes. Learning Disability Teacher-Consultants use their understanding of classroom functioning, effective teaching and adaptive instruction to help students maximize their learning potential and provide practical assistance to their teachers. Service provided includes teacher/student consultation, preventative pre-referral intervention, assessment, coordination of services, and program development. The LDT-C must also effectively communicate with parents, teachers and administrators. An educational assessment shall be the responsibility of a learning disabilities teacher-consultant. The assessment should include both standardized and functional assessments, review of the student’s work samples and the student’s records, classroom observations, interviews of teacher and other relevant parties, evaluation and analysis of the student’s academic performance and learning characteristics.

Speech-Language Specialists are experts in all areas of communication who make assessments, analyses and classifications of students' communication competencies and characteristics. As a member of the educational team, the Speech Language Specialist participates in the planning of educational programs for children with communication disorders. Speech Language Specialists plan, prepare and deliver treatment programs for children with speech and language deficiencies. They also serve as resource persons in the area of speech and language development and disorders to classroom teachers, parents, administrators and the child study team. A speech and language assessment shall be the responsibility of the district’s Speech/Language Pathologist. The assessment shall include observations of the student in other than a testing session, consultation with the classroom teacher, communication with the parent(s)/guardian(s), and an evaluation and analysis of speech and language development.

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst is a professional who practices applied behavior analysis or is a behavior specialist and has received additional education and credentials to allow them to practice independently. BCBAs are responsible for assessing and evaluating students with behavior, psychological, developmental or social disabilities and then developing a treatment plan that involves using applied behavior analysis, reinforcement and task analysis. In addition, behavior analysts also work with teachers, caregivers, parents and family members to help them better understand how to identify, modify or understand a child’s behavior. BCBAs also typically supervise registered behavior technicians and board certified assistant behavior analysts (BCaBA).

School based Occupational Therapy (OT) is provided when a student needs services to function in an educational environment. The need for OT services is identified through the use of formal and informal assessments conducted by the therapist. Direct OT services consist of group and/or individual sessions provided in class or out of class where the child’s specific goals are addressed through hands on, purposeful activity. Consultation is an ongoing communication between the therapist, parent, teacher and student where problem solving and trial of different adaptations are used to allow the student to functional optimally in his/her educational environment without the need for direct services.

​School based Physical Therapy (PT) may be requested when there are those unique situations in which gross motor activity may significantly impact a student’s ability to access their education. The school therapist works on school related goals to help the student benefit from their educational program. Educational performance for young children also includes self-help skills, gross motor skills and participation in physical education classes. PT services can take place in a variety of school settings such as a classroom, hallway, gym, and playground or in separate therapy room. Collaborating with educational staff to modify the child’s environment and daily school activities is also part of school therapy.


Meet the Team

Christina Battiato, Director of Special Education, LDT/C

Greetings Mount Ephraim Families,


It is with great excitement that I write this letter of introduction as the newly appointed Director of Special Education and Early Childhood for the Mount Ephraim Public School District. I am eagerly awaiting the start of the school year and meeting each and every one of our students. As an educator, I am devoted to continually exploring new ideas to meet the needs of all students and look forward to the opportunity to interact with our staff, parents, and community members.


I have been dedicated to the field of education for more than 20 years as a supervisor of special education, a learning disabilities teacher/consultant, a special education teacher, a high school field hockey and softball coach, and a youth soccer and lacrosse coach. I am the very proud parent of three children; a high school junior preparing to enter the college search process; a high school sophomore entering the HVAC program at his local Vo-Tech; and a seventh grader who is very much enjoying his time not thinking about a college or a trade. I attended The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey where I earned an undergraduate degree in Marine Science. In addition, I have earned masters degrees in both Special Education and School Leadership from Wilmington University in Delaware.


I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to join this school community and am looking forward to working with our students, teachers, parents, and community members during the upcoming school year. My door is always open and I welcome your conversation and input throughout this year.


Yours in Education,

Christina Battiato, M. Ed.

cbattiato@mtephraimschools.com

856-931-7807, ext. 6051


Debbie Henderson, Administrative Assistant

Hello and thank you for visiting our website! I am the administrative assistant for the team and am happy to help with any questions you may have for your student. I have worked in the District as both a paraprofessional and as an administrative assistant. I am a resident of Mount Ephraim and enjoy spending time with my family and cooking.

Kristina Podolski, School Social Worker, ext. 6065


Courtney Cairns, School Psychologist, ext. 1205


Christine Schwarz, Speech Language Pathologist

Hello! It's wonderful to be providing speech-language services in Mount Ephraim. I attended Stockton University and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Speech Pathology & Audiology, then graduated with a Master’s is in Communication Disorders from West Chester University of PA. My career as a Speech Language Pathologist began in 2003 in Washington Township where I grew up and still live with my husband and three girls. Helping students make progress with their communication skills is the most rewarding part of my career!

Dr. Angela Meluso, Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Hello Mount Ephraim families! Just a quick introduction: I have been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst since 2013 and have been working in the southern New Jersey area in homes, schools and community settings ever since. Prior to that I worked in homes and community settings in both southern New Jersey and Raleigh, North Carolina. My graduate educational background is in Lifespan Developmental Psychology with a focus on children's memory for traumatic events. My professional focus turned to Applied Behavior Analysis shortly after graduate school and I have been working in this field ever since. I absolutely love seeing the impacts on the lives of children and families that can be made schools and families work as a team to develop skills that contribute to meaningful change and enhanced quality of life.

Denise McGuckin, Occupational Therapist

Hi! I have been the school occupational therapist for MEPS since 2010. Before that, I have been in the field of developmental disabilities since 1993 working with clients in group homes. That is where I was first introduced to therapy. I began to explore the world of therapy as an occupational therapy aide working in a skilled nursing facility. This paved the way to getting my Masters degree in occupational therapy in 2002 from Seton Hall University. Since then, I have worked in hospitals in NJ and PA, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the feeding department as well as outpatient, Virtua early intervention and acute care, and at various school districts. I have since gone on to become a certified functional nutrition counselor specializing in how to improve learning disabilities through environment and nutrition. Mt. Ephraim has been my second home since 2010 and I am grateful for being able to serve the students every day! Outside of school, I enjoy exercising, spending time with my family and dog (Fezzi), fervently reading, and spending time on Cape May beaches.

Elyse Brown, Physical Therapist

I am excited to return as the physical therapist for Mt. Ephraim School District. This is my third year and I have enjoyed getting to know the staff and students. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Physical Therapy degree from the School of Health Related Professions at the University of Medicine and Dentistry/Rutgers University campus, which is now Rowan University. I have worked in many settings from inpatient rehabilitation including traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury, the hospital setting including the transplant team, and the outpatient setting including pediatrics and aquatics. I have worked in Philadelphia and Houston, Texas prior to moving back east with my family. I have three children. A freshman at Tulane University in New Orleans and a junior and sophomore in high school.


I feel very fortunate to be part of the child study team and to be able to collaborate to provide the best care and support to our students in the educational setting.