Former Teacher/Counselor Spotlight


Where in the world...

~Here is his journey since leaving Collier High School in June of 1987.    

It was in 1985 that my wife, Faye and I founded the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children.  With the help of many friends and in the memory of a fellow collage classmate and dear friend, Faye and I started on a journey to help people dealing with the reality of HIV/AIDS in their lives.

When our friend shared with us that he had the AIDS virus, I remember hearing the term “compromised immune system” for the first time.  The medical community knew little about this new and deadly disease when it began to spread throughout United States in the early 1980’s.

He had many close friends who came together and supported him during his illness and death. He was forty years old, a talented artist, humanitarian, pacisifist and lover of life.  It was during the course of his illness that Faye and I decided to do “something” on his behalf.  He was always reaching out to others. We decided to start a non-profit foundation and call it “The AIDS Resource Foundation for Children”.  Faye and I visited United Hospital in Newark were we met our first child who had HIV/AIDS.  I can still see her in my minds eye.  She was two years old standing in her pink pajamas, rolled up at the cuff, in bare feet, in a hospital room that was her home for the last two months.  She had no place to go.  Her mother died of AIDS and although her aunt took in her sister, she was afraid of AIDS and would not take her other niece home.  It was then and there, that it became clear to us that we should try to open a transitional home for children with HIV/AIDS. 

Driven by the image of that little girl orphaned to the hospital.  Faye and I set out to find a home.  Faye started volunteering at the Children’s Hospital AIDS Clinic.  She became the “play lady” for the Children as they attended the AIDS clinic run by Dr. Jim Oleske.  I thought she would come home depressed at what she would see in the lives of these babies and children with HIV/AIDS.  On the contrary, when she came back from Newark to our Monmouth County home, she was energized and couldn’t wait for the next clinic day. I was able to get some computers donated to the clinic and Faye brought in toys, games,  clothing and snacks for the children. I remember Faye telling me of an incident when a nurse handed her a cup and asked her to obtain urine sample from one of the children, the nurse was afraid of contracting HIV/AIDS, as were so many other people at the time.  AIDS was a disease that was deadly, contagious and spreading.  

At this time I was the Director of Collier School, a day school run by the Sisters of the Good Shepard in Monmouth County. I was hired to open the day school since the residencial for girls  was being forced to close due to lack of state funds. My job was to open a program for both boys and girls.  The program was located in Wickatunk, on the grounds of Rest Hill, the former estate of the Collier family.

I had a mix of both administrative duties coupled with daily contacts with the students. I loved working for the Sisters.  My boss, Sr. Carol was also a very good friend. The staff were exceptional. I had been there for 10 years. By now the program was very well established and  on its feet financially. The social service staff and teaching faculty were a pleasure to work with .  Their dedication and hard work was evident in the success of the students. 

At this time,  Faye and I had three children: Amber 13, Kevin 9 and Monica 1.  At first,  I looked upon this new venture for people with HIV/AIDS as something I could do as a volunteer.  I began spending weekends, after school time and evenings looking for a building that would accommodate a transitional home for children and babies who were bordering in the hospital with HIV/AIDS, with no place to go.  It took us a year and a half to finally connect with a lead that would pay off. I remember that Collier had off on Columbus Day, Amber’s birthday.  I decided to drive to Newark with Faye and the kids and look for a home.  I drove through the neighborhood of west Newark and came upon what appeared to be a monastery.  There was a neighborhood block surrounded by a high gray stonewall.  The arched entrance had chiseled in stone the Latin words: “Venite Adoremus”, translated “Come Let us adore Him”.  I was intrigued and proceeded to ring the bell.  A sister answered and ask me who I was looking for.  I asked to speak to the Sister in Charge.  She led me to a room with a large screen on one side.  I waited and soon a Sister came to the other side of the screen.  She introduced herself as Sr. Mary Joseph.  I told her that we were looking for a home for babies with AIDS and asked her to have the sisters pray for that intention.  She said that she would , and invited me and my family in for Vespers, the evening prayer of the church.  I went outside in the cold, drizzling rain and brought my family into the chapel. As we sat quietly, we could hear the sisters entering the chapel, in silence, on the other side of the large screen.  Soon we could hear the office being sung, in English. This evening prayer, is made up of  psalms and hymns.  As the sisters sang to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar:  “O God come to my assistance.  O Lord make haste to help me.  Glory be to the Father and the Son and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end.  Amen.  Alleluia! “

As the choir sang, I noticed a shaft of light streaming through the beautiful stain glass window.  The chapel filled up with color; warm yellows, oranges and reds.   The sun must have come out and as I as I look around,  I was taken both with beauty of the music and warmth of light.  I became overwhelmed with a sense of peace.  The sister’s continued to sing: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want, He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul…” I knew then every thing was going to be all right. It became clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Faye and I were going in the right direction.  As we left the chapel and headed back down the parkway, I knew we would find a home.

One month later, in November of 1986 we met Sr. Elizabeth Ann , the President of St. Elizabeth Hospital. finally a door opened for us…she had a site for our home, at long last.  It was a modest two-story brick house on the corner of William St. and South St.  And across from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. It had a large side yard and needed repairs. 

We went to work, immediately.  I started calling friends to help.  My mom suggested that I call Charlie Marchianti a friend who, when I was a kid, let me borrow his canoe to fish in the Delaware. He was the president of the NJ AFl/CIO.  I told Charlie what we were planning to do with the house in Elizabeth and he said he would make some phone calls. 

That next Friday, I was working in the home, three black sedans pulled into the driveway.  I thought they were the FBI.  Three men in suits got out and introduced themselves as Johnny Williams, head of the carpenters local in Union county, Tom Coyle, plumbers local and Neil Boyle from the electrician’s local.  They proceeded to tour the house and took notes with pen and pad in hand.  The next day they showed up in work clothes with their tools.  They brought with them family members and union workers.  They started to renovate that home from top to bottom.  New wiring, hot water heater, furnace, appliances, walls were built, bathrooms and the kitchen was remodeled. In a matter of four weeks the home was ready to receive its first child.

It was at this time That I was faced with a very tough decision.  I could not work on opening the home and continue to work at Collier. Faye and I talked it over and I decided to tell Sr. Carol that I was going to leave.  She was not happy, but accepted my decision. 

Sr. Carol along with the staff and students from Collier School came and worked in the home. Doug Gillespie, the building trades teacher, told me the class wanted to bring a gift for the home when they came up to paint the picket fence.  I ask them to bring a brass doorknocker with the inscription “Venete Adoremus”. 

On one cold Saturday in February, the house was freezing.  We discovered that there no oil in the oil tank. I called a local oil delivery company and when I told the delivery man that this was going to be a home for babies with HIV/AIDS, he said:  “Doc, this tanks on me.  I grew up in an orphanage in Elizabeth, and I just want to pay something back” I was stunned.  I have had a stranger buy me a beer before, but never a tank of oil.

On another occasion, I felt it necessary to tell our neighbor on the corner what we were doing, so he would not be surprised by the publicity.  He ran a business, The Magic Fountain. A soft ice cream and take out restaurant that catered to the high school kids in the neighborhood.  He was a little guy named Ernie but he had a big heart.  When I told him of our plans for the house, he said “God bless you.  I will give your staff and all the children for as long as I can free sodas, ice cream and hot dogs, just ask.”  And he proceeded to make milkshakes and ice cream sodas for the 20 volunteers working that day. Amber and Kevin brought the treats over for the volunteers.  Talking about being welcomed into the neighborhood.     

On Sunday May 17, 1987, we had the official opening of the Home.  With a procession of Franciscan priests and friars, speeches and a wonderful reception with food and drinks sponsored by Sr. Elizabeth Ann and the hospital.  What a wonderful day it was. St. Clare’s Home was truly a home created out of love and good will.

That was over 33 years ago.  Today The AIDS Resource Foundation has grown into a multi-service state-wide agency serving hundreds of people dealing with the reality of HIV/AIDS.  Our son Kevin along with his wife Annie are runing the agency and our two daughters are serving on the Board of Directors. Aside from the three St.Clares Homes, the agency provides housing for homeless people with HIV/AIDS,  a residence for women coming out of prison with HIV/AIDS, two residences for young gay males with HIV/AIDS and we are opening a new residence for women who have been physically and sexually abused with HIV/AIDS.  Today,  I am semi-retired and travel to Newark to run a recovery group for men with HIV. I also help in our soup kitchen and food pantry. But after all these wonderful years of helping people with HIV/AIDS, I still look back at my days a Collier with  great memories. Although so much has happened in my life over the years those days at Collier still remain close to my heart.   

Web site: 

Dr. Terrence P. Zealand Ed. D. 


moranMrs. Moran was a counselor at Collier High School from 2000 to 2012.  She has been at the Summit Medical Group Behavioral Health Program in Berkeley Heights since November 2012 as a Senior Clinician.  This employment opportunity has also allowed her to acquire CBT training in February 2015 and become certified in CBT therapy.  Also, she more recently became the Lead Clinician in their Pediatrics department.  She noted that she has been enjoying her tenure with the Summit Medical Group.  Despite her busy work schedule, Mrs. Moran finds the time to enjoy biking and cooking.

When speaking about Collier High School, Mrs. Moran noted that she often thinks of the students and staff. "I fondly remember my time at Collier High School."


Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High SchoolI had the good fortune of reminiscing about ol’ times at the Smoke and Mirrors Fashion Show in May 2017 with Mrs. Schopel.  Some alumni may remember her as their teacher’s aide or as a substitute teacher from 1977 through 1985.   Mrs. Schopel remembers her working experience at Collier High School as “the best time in my life and I still feel that way.  I’ve never worked with a more caring and wonderful group of people.”  After leaving Collier, Mrs. Schopel attended Brookdale Community College and majored in Human Resources.  While in college she was a teaching assistant at Brisbane Residential School from 1985 through 1990.  She then continued her teaching assistant position at the Center School in Highland Park until 2010.  More recently she has been employed at the Aftercare CYO in Freehold and is enjoying working with children in kindergarten through grade 5.

Mrs. Schopel currently lives in Howell, NJ with her husband and two cats.  She  enjoys spending time and babysitting her eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  In her spare time, Mrs. Schopel enjoys traveling; in fact when I called her again about this spotlight article, she was vacationing in Colorado.   Mrs. Schopel enjoyed remembering the successes of the seniors when they were ready to graduate.  When she occasionally runs into the Collier High school alumni in the community, “it was impressive and heartwarming to hear about how they had continued to build a life for themselves.”

e’re so glad we had the chance to catch up with you at the Fashion Show, Mrs. Schopel.  It’s clear that Collier always stays a part of us even after being away for many years.


Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School

Since leaving Collier in 1998, a lot has happened! I met my husband during my last year at Collier and together we bicycled from Boise, Idaho to the Oregon Coast (after he had already biked the whole country alone!) We moved to Seattle, WA the following summer 

so he could go to graduate school. I was ready for an adventure outside of NJ and we thoroughly enjoyed our time living there. I had a great social work job focusing on addictions and trauma. We were married and had our daughter, who is now 15! 

We moved back to NJ accidentally (long story) in 2002 when she was 7 months old and my husband became a teacher. I began a psychotherapy and life coaching private practice in Ocean Township that has since become my full time job. Now we take bike trips with our daughter all over New England in the summers and enjoy life here on the Jersey shore with our dog and 2 cats. 

We just visited Seattle over spring break and though we love it there, we are planted here among family and friends. Our family has become very musical with 2 drummers and a guitar player/new pianist! We also enjoy being involved in local organizations focused on the environment and helping homeless youth get on their feet and thrive!

I was at Collier as a social worker and addictions specialist for 12 years, right out of graduate school. It was an amazing job where I enjoyed the challenges of working with the students and staff and was part of the Collier family. I’m still in contact with some staff I worked closely with and still wake up some mornings having dreamed about Collier. You never really leave a place so filled with love, professionalism, and commitment!


Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School
Funny you should ask…he stopped by Collier High School a few months ago with his significant other and dance partner, Dorthea.  The two of them are dancing their way through retirement to the sounds of salsa, hip hop music and music from the 50’s through the 90’s.  When he’s not cutting a rug, he belongs to two golf clubs, sometimes playing golf five times a week.  Mr. Hennessey, who currently resides in Garwood, N.J. has a busy schedule since retiring in 2004.  He has four grandchildren and has made time to see his grandson wrestle to 108 victories and watched his granddaughter in the world cheerleading competition in Orlando, Florida.  Life has come full circle as he also gets to watch his son coach Girls’ basketball in Pompton Lakes, N.J.  As some of you may remember, Mr. Hennessey was a girls’ basketball coach in Union County while he was at Collier.

Mr. Hennessey remembers the six years he spent at Collier High School as among the happiest of his life.  He noted that “the attitude of the students was wonderful. It was a fun and comfortable feeling to be with them.”

As Mr. Hennessey was getting ready to leave Collier, he turned around and said, ‘What can I say, I’m a happy guy.”

We wish Mr. Hennessey continued joy and happiness in his retirement. 


Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School


Mr. Breen stopped by Collier High School recently while attending his grandson's christening in New York. He filled us in on his life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he has been living with his wife and five year old daughter Maddie since 2011.  His wife is a marine scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration where she is working to rebuild the coastline of Louisiana.  Mr. Breen has been quite busy as a free-lance drama director, musical arranger, conductor, guitar player and a home school teacher for his daughter.  Some of his credits include directing To Kill A Mockingbird at the Ascension Parish Community Theater, directing an Irish play called The Weir at the Baton Rouge Irish Club, conducting a musical at Louisiana State University and playing guitar in a New Orleans jazz band called The Wild Irish Roots.

Though he enjoys life in the south, he fondly remembers his fourteen years at Collier High School.  His efforts to formalize our drama department brought about some of his favorite productions which included Man of La Mancha, Dracula, The Laramie Project and Scrooge.

Mr. Breen noted that he was grateful for the opportunity to keep in touch with the Collier alumni through FACEBOOK.  He was impressed with how the they are living their lives and fondly remembers them.  He wanted to say "thank you" to the alumni for making his life better today.

Thank you Mr. Breen for bringing theatrical and musical magic to the stage at Collier High School!


Sr.Kathy began her connection with Collier in 1962 at the Kateri SummerCamp.  For the next couple of summers while she was a student at Georgian Court College, she worked as a volunteer at the camp.  Sr.Kathy graduated college in 1964 with a degree in Mathematics Education. She began teaching at St. Rose High School in Belmar and then in 1966,she entered the Sisters of Mercy. Sr. Kathy taught at several schools thereafter including Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, Mount St. Mary Academy in Watchung, Cathedral High School in Trenton and St. Mary Elementary in Trenton. At age 27, Sr. Kathy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Fast forward to 1981 when Sr. Kathy became a Math teacher at Collier High School until 1985.  She was also Collier's very first computer teacher! She noted, "My years of association with the Good Shepherd Sisters and Collier High School have been an important part of my life experience." Her diagnosis eventually prohibited her from continuing to teach at Collier but it would not stop her spirit.
Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School

Sr.Kathy began mouth painting in 1992 with the help and guidance of Sr.Doris Kelly.  She uses her mouth to create various works with oils,acrylics and watercolor.  "Although I only paint once a week, it is a very important and vital part of my life.  My time with art provides me with many opportunities for creativity and accomplishment," she said.

Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High SchoolWatercolor is her main focus and a few of her subjects include landscapes and flowers.  She took second place at the 2008 Multiple Sclerosis Association of America's art contest with "Burr" a watercolor portraying springtime at the shore.  In 2007 she won third place for a painting of her brother's cat named "Trudy."   At the 2011 Bryn Mawr rehab contest in Pennsylvania, she took first place for an art piece and has received honorable mentions. Sr. Kathy said, "Before entering contests, almost all of my other paintings I have given as gifts to those who have taken care of me, supported and helped me.  During the fall 2012 season, her art work called "Colors of Faith" was part of the Seton Hall University Walsh Gallery.

Morerecently Sr. Kathy has decided to grow her hair for the organization"Locks of Love," a non-profit charity that takes donated hair and makes high quality hairpieces for those suffering from a medical hair loss. 

Her indomitable spirit is evident in her art work and her never ending compassion for those who need care.   

Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School     Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School



Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School

Since leaving Collier High School, I've missed many of my former students. Iam happy to follow some students on Facebook which is nice. I've also missed the opportunity to work with the great staff. I do continue to work part time as a computer consultant, but I have limited the hours,so I have plenty of time for enjoying my hobbies and other interests.

Since leaving I have moved from Freehold to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey where I designed and supervised the building of a super-insulated, sustainable house in Green Bank on the MullicaRiver. It took a little over a year and a half, from first cracking openan architecture application on my laptop (the same application thatsome students worked with in my class) to finally moving in. I stillhave some window trim to complete but, by and large, the house is doneand very comfortable.

Since completing the house, I have had more time to devote to watercolorpaintings -- I'll be taking a series of classes shortly to learn morewatercolor techniques. I also recently purchased dirt bike and I'mhaving a lot of fun with it. The Pine Barrens are criss-crossed withmiles and miles of dirt roads and trails. I've been using GPS to keeptrack of where I am, but, even with GPS, it can get confusing.

In the spring, I will have the opportunity to visit Cypress andLondon for a short while. I plan to take a camera and my sketchbook.It's possible I may get to visit the Lake District in England where mymother was born. In any case, it will be my first visit to Europe and Ilook forward to learning a bit of history.


Iam currently teaching World History and U.S. History I at Notre DameHigh School in Lawrenceville, NJ.  There are about 1400 students and 100faculty. My class sizes are approximately 27 students and I teach 3 eighty minute blocks per day.  

Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School

During my second year (2013-2014), I started a club called the Notre Dame Niceties.  It is based on the idea that it costs you nothing to be kind to other people and that by spreading kindness we make the world a better place.  The club holds a boutique and offers gently used prom gowns and cocktail dresses to girts in need, who otherwise would not be able to go to the prom.  On March 28, 2014 we held our first boutique and helped approximately 20-25 girls. I know about 6 girls came from Collier High School and they all walked away with a gown.  Next year the Niceties will be doing two "out reach" boutiques and I am hoping to bring it to Collier.  The other location that we trying to secure for the boutique is the Asbury Park Boys and Girls Club.

I am also trying to establish a free summer reading clinic in Asbury Park for kids in need.  I it is just in the 

I will be returning to Notre Dame High School for the 2014-15 school year.  It will be my third year and I can't believe I have been gonefrom Collier High School for two years.  Time really does fly!


Remember the days when you entered the CHS art room and the serene demeanor of Mrs. Matos appeared?  It was then that her gentle ways allowed you to embark on your own personal creative journey.  I spoke with her recentlyand she wrote me back explaining her busy life since leaving CHS in2011.

"For the past three years I have been home taking care of my two children. My oldest daughter Evelyn is 3 1/2 and started preschool this year.  My youngest daughter Skyla is now 17 months old. Being a stay at home Mom has been a rewarding experience for me.

I have also been creating artwork as well.  I established an etsy online shop for selling paintings and repurposed artwork at I also create repurposed images for a Gallery Art Group calledArtfully Repurposed in Middletown, NJ.  FYI-Re-purposed refers to taking something that would be thrown away, such as an old piece of furniture,milk cartons or fallen leaves and turning them into a piece of art.

I miss the students, staff and landscape of Collier."

Mrs. Matos

Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School


Former Teacher/Counselor at Collier High School -- a NJ Alternative High School

Hello Collier and Alumni,

Whatever did happen to me since I left Collier? Oh. I'm supposed to answer thatquestion. Well, three and a half years ago my wife, Wendy, and I moved to Asheville, North Carolina to a cabin in the mountains. It's fun. Wehike in the  snow in the winter and we hike to waterfalls in the summer.We live where we see bears and bobcats, but we go into Asheville acouple of times a week for the live music and art and great food. Wemiss Collier and New Jersey - and I miss my students and friends atCollier - but we love it here, too.

Wendyis painting - watercolors - and taking workshops, growing in her field.Then, I got the idea - actually the idea got me - to go back to college to get a Ph.D. in education, so that I could teach teachers and consult to schools. I just finished that a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I go for an interview to become an educational consultant to write science lessons,then teach them to teachers and kids, then consult to other schools.Wish me luck. I remember with serious, serious fondness how we made french fries and icebox cake and did experiments that students made up -and how most of those experiments got me in trouble.

I miss many faces that I am seeing as I write this - young and old -happy and funny - sad and beautiful - and sincerely wish you the best that anyone or anything can bring you today and tomorrow,

John Bickart