Secaucus Public School District

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Meet Our Administrators

Meet Our Administrators

(201) 974-2000, x 2089

Mr.  Kenneth Knops assumed the position of Interim Superintendent of Schools for the Secaucus Public School District (SPSD) effective November 30, 2015. Prior to that he served as Superintendent of Schools in the districts of Clark, Branchburg Township, and Morris Plains. Earlier in his administrative career Mr. Knops worked in the capacity of primary, elementary, upper elementary, and middle school principal with the West Long Branch, Dover, and Glen Ridge School Districts.  

He began his educational career as an elementary school teacher of Grades 3 through 6 and a coach of basketball and softball.  

Mr. Knops received his B.A. in Elementary Education from Rider University and his Educational Administration and Supervision from Montclair State University.  Mr. Knops was the recipient of the Governor’s Teacher of the Year Award in 1987 and the Ercell Watson Educator of the Year Award from Montclair State University.

Mr. Knops resides in Glen Ridge in Essex County. He has a 20 year old daughter, Victoria.


(201) 974-2008
Ms. Grace Yeo assumed the role of Business Administrator/Board Secretary on April 1, 2016. Ms. Yeo was employed by the SPSD in January 2005 where she held positions as payroll accountant, staff accountant, and Assistant Business Administrator/Board Secretary. In March, 2013 Ms. Yeo was appointed the Acting School Business Administrator/Board Secretary, and held this position until February 2014 at which time she returned to the corporate sector. Previous to her employment with the district she worked for Unilever Best Foods in Bayonne for 19 years as their Purchasing Agent/Senior Cost Accountant. Prior to Unilever Best Foods, Ms. Yeo was the Assistant Treasury Manager for Urban Brands, Inc., in Secaucus.

Ms. Yeo received both her B.S and M.S. in Accounting from St. Peters University in Jersey City and resides in Secaucus with her family.

DR. DANIELA RISERDanielaRiser.jpg
(201) 974-2052
Dr. Riser assumed the position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction on July 17, 2017. She previously served as the Supervisor of Science, Family/Consumer Science, Business and Art and on an educational consulting committee for Measurement Inc. and the NJ Department of Education for the NJ-ASK 4 Science and Biology Competency Tests. Earlier in her career, she served as a Department Chair and Facilitator for both the secondary science and mathematics departments.  

Dr. Riser became a high school biology teacher in September 2000 and taught science for 13 years in the Secaucus School District. She earned her B.S in Biology at Stockton University, her M.S. in Anatomy/Physiology at Rutgers University, and her Ed.D. in Supervision in Science Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.  
In 2008, using the work from her doctoral dissertation, she published a book -  Enacting Inquiry-Based Science Curricula: A Comprehensive Middle-School Study.

Dr. Riser resides in Rutherford, NJ with her husband and two children.


(201) 974-2068
Ms. Susan Smahl has been the Director of Special Services in the SPSD since 2008 and is primarily responsible for overseeing Pre-K through Grade 12 special education programs and services in the district. She is a member of the Executive Board of the New Jersey Association for Pupil Services Administrators (NJAPSA). Additionally, Ms. Smahl  serves as the district's Anti-Bullying Coordinator and was the volunteer coordinator of the Hudson County Consortium for Social Emotional Character Education for four years.  

Prior to joining the SPSD team, Ms. Smahl held positions as  Supervisor of Secondary Special Education with the Millburn Township Schools, Essex County Supervisor of Child Study, Educational Evaluator and teacher of special education for the New York City Public Schools in Kindergarten through Grade 8.  

Ms. Smahl is a certified special education teacher in both New Jersey and New York, is a certified Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant, and holds administrative endorsements including supervisor, principal, and chief school administrator. Ms. Smahl has a B.A. in English and Film, a M.A. in Special Education, advanced training in learning disabilities, and a post-graduate certificate in Educational Leadership.

(201) 974-2029
Mr. Charles Voorhees is SPSD’s Director of Athletics. He was hired by the SPSD in 1995 as High School Math teacher. Mr. Voorhees was awarded Teacher of the Year in 1998, and served as a Character Education Coordinator from 2005 to 2011. In 2011 Mr. Voorhees was appointed to his current position as the Director of Athletics, Health and Physical Education.  

Mr. Voorhees has served as the Head Coach of the Secaucus High School Varsity Patriots Football team since 1999 and in 17 seasons has 112 wins and 63 losses with six consecutive league championships - from 2006 to 2011.  Mr. Voorhees has been honored as Coach of the Year for the BCSL, NJIC and Hudson County, and was named Athletic Director of the Year in 2015. He is member of the NJIC Football Committee, Realignment Committee and Facilities Committee. Mr. Voorhees was an Assistant Football Coach for Secaucus High School from 1988 to 1990, St. Peter’s Prep in 1991 and Jersey City State College in 1992.

After graduating from Secaucus High School, Mr. Voorhees attended Muhlenberg College where he received his B.A. in Accounting. While at Muhlenberg, he was a four-year varsity letterman football player and played in the Centennial Conference Championship in 1983 and 1986.  He was nominated First Team All Conference Running Back and was given the Most Courageous Player Award in 1986.  Additionally, during his time at Muhlenberg, he was a member of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity and Vice President of the college’s Chess Club.  Mr. Voorhees has two masters degrees from Jersey City State College: the first in Mathematics Education, which he received in 1994 and the second in Administration and Supervision, which he received in 2002. 

Before beginning his teaching career Mr. Voorhees worked at Hartz Mountain Industries as a Project Manager and is a member of the Carpenter’s Unions Local #6 and Local #253.

Mr. Voorhees resides in Midland Park; he is married and has two sons, CJ and Eric.

(201) 974-2033
Dr. Robert Berckes was hired by the SPSD in 2009 as a Science Teacher at Huber Street School and was appointed Principal of Secaucus High School in 2010. 

Dr. Berckes began his teaching career in 1975 at Immaculate Conception School in Secaucus where he taught Physical Education and Health. In addition to these duties, Dr. Berckes taught music, directed the children’s choir and coached basketball and track. He demonstrated his love of fitness by running in the New York City Marathon 11 times. In 1983 he served as Dean and Summer School Principal.
From 2003 to 2008 Dr. Berckes served as Principal of St. Mary High School in Rutherford where he also taught Anatomy and Physiology. 

Dr. Berckes obtained a bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University and received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from New York Chiropractic College. He obtained his M.A. in administration and supervision from New Jersey City University.

Born and raised in Secaucus, Dr. Berckes resides in town with his wife. He has two daughters and a son-in-law - all three are practicing attorneys. The family has three dogs: Zachary,Oliver, and Charlie.

(201) 974-2025
Mr. Robert Valente became Principal of Secaucus Middle School in August 2013. He began his teaching career in April 1999 at a charter school in Jersey City as a Fifth Grade teacher. Mr. Valente returned to his hometown of Secaucus in September, 2000. During his 13 years as a teacher at Clarendon School, he taught Grades Four and Six, and was hired to be the very first Math Coach in the school’s history .

Mr. Valente has coached middle school basketball and high school softball. He resides in Secaucus with his wife, two children, and dog.

(201) 974-2010
Mr. Steven Viggiani became principal of Clarendon Elementary School in July of 2014. He is a certified Learning Disabilities Consultant and was previously a member of the Child Study Team at Secaucus High School and Middle School. At the same time, Mr. Viggiani served as a district technology coordinator for the special education department. Earlier in his teaching career he taught at both the elementary and high school level as a special education teacher.

Mr. Viggiani resides in Emerson; he is married and has two daughters ages 3 and 5.

(201) 974-2053
Mrs. Linda Wilhelm began her career in the SPSD in 1973 as a Sixth Grade teacher. She remained in Grade 6 for 16 years and returned from maternity leave to assume a position in  to Grade 3. She subsequently taught various grades before she was promoted to the position of the district’s Gifted & Talented Teacher/Coordinator where she remained for 18 years. She was promoted to the elementary schools' Reading Supervisor, then to the position of Director of Elementary Education and Curriculum.

Mrs. Wilhelm decided to apply for and was appointed as the principal of Huber Street School, where she has served for over five years.  

Mrs. Wilhelm holds master’s degrees from Montclair State University in Reading and Educational Administration.  

Mrs. Wilhelm been employed for over 42 years in a career that brings her joy, accomplishment and self-fulfillment.


(201) 974-2050
Ms. Christine Candela is a graduate of The College of New Jersey where she pursued a double major in English and Secondary Education. She then earned her M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from Montclair State University. She was hired in 2001 by the SPSD where she taught both middle and high school English.

In 2010 she was selected as Secaucus Middle School’s Teacher of the Year and became the Freshman Transition Coordinator at the high school. For the next four years she taught all levels of high school English, including Advanced Placement Literature and Composition, and was the co-advisor for the Class of 2014.

Ms. Candela was appointed the District Supervisor of English and Social Studies in October of 2013. The following year her title changed to that of her current position of District Supervisor of English and Art. She currently serves on the Secaucus District Evaluation Advisory Committee and coaches Track and Field at Secaucus Middle School.

(201) 974-2042
Mrs. Amanda Trombetta became the SPSD's Supervisor of Mathematics and Business in October of 2014. She also serves as a member of the Hudson County Schools of Technology Board of Education. Earlier in her career she served as a high school mathematics teacher.

Mrs. Trombetta was hired in 2009 by the SPSD and taught mathematics for five years at the high school level. She earned her B.S. in Mathematics at Montclair State University, and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Learning at William Paterson University. At the graduate level her concentration was in teaching elementary children mathematics and her thesis research focused on teaching mathematics to students with learning disabilities.  

Mrs. Trombetta is a Secaucus High School alumna and resides in Secaucus with her husband Michael and two children, Peyton and Michael.
Dr. Danielle Savino-Garzon 
(201) 974-2229 Huber Street Office
(201) 974-2435 Clarendon Office

Dr. Danielle Savino-Garzon has assumed the role of Secaucus Public School District’s Supervisor of Elementary Education and Testing in September 2016. Dr. Garzon received a Bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University, a Master’s degree from New Jersey City University, and a Doctorate from Seton Hall University. She has experience in education as an elementary teacher, K-8 curriculum coach, mentor, staff developer, NJDOE achievement coach, NJEA/ECET2 presenter and serves as a New Jersey County Teacher of the Year (NJCTOY) member.


In 2015 she was selected as the New Jersey Governor’s Hudson County Educator of the

Year and the National VIP Women of the Year. Dr. Garzon and some NJCTOY members

have been selected as a Teach to Lead recipient where her cohort was selected to conduct

a Leadership Lab presentation.


She continued to win multiple grants to enhance technology and literacy in the classroom,

received numerous district, county and national awards and was chosen to serve as a

subcommittee member in 2016 to revise the Common Core State Standards.


Dr. Garzon resides in Kearny with her husband and two children.