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

Sheri Felice, BCBA - District Wide- (MB) 1204

Amanda Winkleman- 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 in anticipation of the upcoming 2023-2024 school year. I look forward to welcoming back our returning students and meeting our new students on the first days of school.  Prior to the start of this school year, I wanted to provide families with updated information to assist you with any questions you may have as the school year progresses. 

For families that are new to the District, welcome! After completing my first full year in the Mount Ephraim School District, I continue to feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity to work alongside our students, teachers, parents, and community members.  If there is anything you may ever need, please reach out as I welcome your conversation and input throughout this school year. 

Yours in Education, 

Christina Battiato, M. Ed.

Director of Special Education and Early Childhood


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

Hello Mt. Ephraim families! I am so excited to be in my 10th year with the district and my 4th year at RWK!  I have been a licensed and certified school social worker working in schools for 17 years.  Prior to that I worked in the mental health field which fostered my interest in mental health and being a support person for those in need. I received my Bachelors of Psychology from the College of St. Elizabeth, now St. Elizabeth University, and my Masters of Social Work form Rutgers University.  When I am not at school I am typically driving my 15 year old daughter to work or my 10 year old son to baseball/wrestling practice.  When I’m done driving you can usually find me with my cat.  As a family we love to watch movies, especially in the Marvel Universe.  I have a passion for reading, chocolate and gardening.  

Courtney Cairns, School Psychologist, ext. 6057

Hello! I have been the School Psychologist in the district for 3 years now. I case manage students in PreK thru 5th grade for IEPs and 504s. I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Rowan University and began graduate school at Temple University. There I received my Master's Degree in School Psychology and Education Specialist Degree. I finished up my internship at Mastery Charter schools in Camden right at the beginning of the Pandemic! I was hired here to begin the 2020-21 school year and have been here since! I enjoy working with students and families to create the best educational experience. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter. We love trying out new restaurants and rooting for our Philly Sports Teams! I am a huge Disney fanatic and love going to the beach in the summer! I look forward to continuing to build relationships with our students and their families.  

Amanda Winkleman, Speech Language Pathologist, ext. 1205

Hello!  I am excited to be the new speech therapist for Mt. Ephraim School District, and would like to share a little bit about myself. I received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University and Master of Science degree from William Paterson University. I have been a speech-language pathologist for twenty-two years, and truly love my profession. I began my career at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, working with brain-injured adults. While this was an amazing and unforgettable opportunity, I knew that my calling was the pediatric population. Therefore, I have spent the last twenty years working with children in a variety of settings, including clinics, specialized schools, and public schools. I am passionate about supporting students who have communication delays and disorders within the school environment. I believe everyone deserves a voice, and I enjoy collaborating with families, teachers, and other professionals to maximize the success of every child. Outside of school, I can often be found somewhere in nature, hiking on a trail, riding my bike, or petting a dog. But my favorite things to do in my free time are watching my daughter Irish dance and playing with our rescue puppy, George. I am grateful for the opportunity to work in such a wonderful district as Mt. Ephraim, and I look forward to supporting the students this year!

Sheri Felice, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, ext. 1204

Hi! I am very excited to start my first full school year serving the students and families of Mount Ephraim! I have been working with children for the past 25 years and I am happy to continue my journey with you all!

Prior to joining the Mount Ephraim team I was employed with Gloucester County Special Services School District as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst for 14 years. During my time there I worked individually with students who were experiencing moderate to severe behavioral challenges. Additionally, I worked collaboratively with classroom teachers and my fellow related services providers consulting on classroom management and implementing building initiatives that contributed to a safe and positive learning environment. In addition to my experience at GCSSSD I have also provided ABA consultation with families in their homes.

In addition to obtaining my BCBA, I completed a Master of Science in Counseling with a concentration in Psychological Trauma and previously provided mental health services in the local community. Currently I am re-igniting that passion for trauma awareness and embracing a Trauma Informed approach to my practice.

I am looking forward to getting to know the students, staff and families of Mount Ephraim and wishing everyone a happy and successful school year!

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.