Our Staff

Jennifer Kovacs was raised in Edison, but now lives here in Piscataway with her husband. She graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters in Early Childhood/ Elementary Education. Ms. Kovacs is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society and The Golden Key International Honor Society. Ms. Kovacs has worked with children since and her mother have made many positive changes, adding Infant and Toddler classrooms, expanding the afterschool program to include school age children, adding a language program, Zumba program, and a music together program, adding an Infant and Toddler Playground, redoing the porch, siding, and ground cover for the big playground and redoing the floors. Ms. Kovacs is happy to be part of the Start-Rite Family and looks forward to a long happy future.2000, she started as an assistant and after graduating in 2004 became a lead teacher in a Pre-K class. In her 17+ years of working in childcare she has worked in every position with every age group from 6 weeks to 14 years of age, including as the Director of a school age before and after care program. In the fall of 2014 Ms. Kovacs’s lifelong dream of owning her own school came true. In 2016 Ms. Kovacs became a certified Music Together teacher and has been teaching the In School Music Together Program. As new owners, Ms. Kovacs

 Ida Silva lives in Middlesex. She graduated from Somerset County Collage with an A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education and received her Group Teaching Certification from the State of New Jersey. She worked in an Infant Day Care Center in Westfield before joining the Start-Rite Family in 1987, as the Pre-K Parrot class teacher. The following year Mrs. Silva became the 2½-3½ years old Bluebird Class Teacher, and in the fall of 1994 she became the 3½-4 year old Canary Class teacher. Mrs. Silva became the assistant director in 2005 and then in 2006 she attended the Directors Academy sponsored by Kean College and in 2007 she became the Director. Mrs. Silva’s hobbies include traveling, arts and crafts, and reading.

Mary Beth Paolini lives in Whitehouse Station. She graduated from Somerset County College with an AAS in Early Childhood Education and received her Group Teaching certification from the State of New Jersey. Mary Beth joined the Start-Rite Family in September 1988 as the Pre-K Robin class teacher. In 1991 she left to start her family, twin sons who have been diagnosed with Autism. She remained a stay-at-home mom until the fall of 2000, when she rejoined the Start-Rite Family as the teacher of the 2 ½- 3 year old Bluebird class. In the summer of 2007 Mary Beth left to become a “Family Support Partner” to help advocate for families of emotionally and behaviorally challenged children. She missed teaching and once again returned home to her Start-Rite Family in the fall of 2009, resuming her role as the Bluebird class teacher. She has now retired as the Bluebird teacher but continues to work here as a substitute teacher

Danielle Mendez- is from Staten Island, NY and now lives in South Plainfield with her husband and two children. She has been working and volunteering with children for 10+ years. She has coached cheer leading, softball, and basketball as well as served on numerous PTSO boards for her children’s school. She was also a nanny for a few years. Once the children were old enough to go to school she became a preschool teacher at Spring Academy, where she taught English, Spanish, Math Science, Social Studies, and Arts and Crafts. She has obtained 2 years of college credits in Early Childhood Education and ASL from St. John’s University and CSI CUNY. Mrs. Mendez is CPR and First Aide Certified, and will be working toward her CDA. During her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, and cheering her children on in various sports and dance competitions with family and friends.

Helene Huyler graduated from Summit High School and worked in the Banking industry before marrying, moving to Piscataway and becoming a mother to two sons. She began working at Start-Rite in 1981, when her youngest son was four, and attending the Pre-K Robin Class. Mrs. Huyler has assisted in all of the classrooms at one time or another. The teachers are always happy when they see her entering the classroom. They know they can depend on her to assist them in achieving their classroom goals. The children are also excited because they know Mrs. Huyler is always willing to listen to what they have to say. In her spare time she enjoys gardening and spending time with her grandchildren.

Michele Kennedy graduated from East Brunswick High School and studied Early Childhood Education at Middlesex County College. She received her CDA certification from Community Childcare. Mrs. Kennedy traveled with her husband while he was in the army, and spent five years operating a home daycare center in Fort Drum, New York and Mannheim, Germany. When they returned home Mrs. Kennedy worked with infants and toddlers for six years in a daycare center. In the fall of 2011 Mrs. Kennedy joined the Start-Rite Family, as an after school teacher. She has worked in all the classrooms, filling in whenever help was needed. Mrs. Kennedy is the teacher in the Infant/Toddler classroom, opened in the spring of 2015. In her spare time she enjoys baking and arts and crafts, but her favorite activity is spending time with her son James.

Christine Spengler lives in Piscataway with her husband, five children, and 3 grandchildren. She has a BS degree in Early Childhood Education and Psychology from New Jersey City University and is certified in ESL. She has been teaching for over 9 years, and joined Start-Rite Nursery School in the spring of 2016.




 Karen Zullo lives here in Piscataway. She graduated from Kean University in 2009 with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education and Earth Science and is a certified teacher in P-3 to K-5. Ms. Zullo started volunteering at Start-Rite in 2005 for a college course and started to work as the aftercare aid from 2005 to 2009. She worked at other schools as a Pre-K 3 year old teacher before rejoining the Start-Rite Family in September 2015. In her free time she volunteers on a First Aid and Rescue Squad and plays an active role in the Kiwanis of Edison Club. She also enjoys to reading, doing arts and crafts, and spending time with her family


  Shaniqua Muniz (Bluebird Class Lead Teacher)

Shaniqua Muniz lives in North Edison, with her adorable baby boy and their family. She is working on completing her Associates degree in Early Childhood Education at Middlesex Community College. Right after graduating High School Ms. Muniz worked as an assistant teacher for 4 years in North Edison.  Then to expand her horizons she worked for Block Staffing Services for 3 years, but discovered that her true passion is teaching, and is now excited to be returning to the field of Early Childhood Education where she plans on staying. 

 Julie Rodriguez lives here in Piscataway with her husband and three daughters. She has her Medical Assistant Certification from Everest Institute, and she also has her CDA (Child Development Associate). After working for several year as a Medical Assistant she decided to return to her true passion which is teaching young children. She is excited to be continuing her 10 year long career in the field of early childhood education here at Start-Rite. When she is not here at work she enjoys taking her two younger daughters who are in high school and middle school, to their extra-curricular activities and helping them with their homework.


 Tatiana Rodriguez grew up right here in Piscataway, where she continues to live with her family). She worked as a after school teacher for the Piscataway board of education for 3 years before coming to work here at Start-Rite. Her first year she worked as the Assistant teacher in the Hummingbird Room (our toddler class), and she did such a great job that this year she has been promoted to the lead teacher in that class. Miss Rodriguez is currently working on obtaining her CDA (Child Development Associate). When she is not at work, she enjoys taking care of her two younger sisters, and spending time her boyfriend of several years.


 Cayla Ulmer grew up and still resides her in Piscataway with her family. She joined the Start-Rite family in June of 2016. She has now been working in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 4 years, and has 2 years of college credits in Early Childhood Education. When she is not at work she enjoys spending time with her high school sweet heart, and taking care of her new puppy.



Desiree Jones lives in Piscataway with her son. She is the mother of six children, and grandmother of five. She has been in the field of early childhood education for many years. She ran her own family childcare business back in the late 90s. Ms. Jones is now one of our infant room teachers, and has also become our Music Together teacher. She is also teaching children 0-5 years old weekly character lessons at a non-profit organization on Thursday nights. In addition, she teaches keyboard classes to youth ages 6-15 years old. One of the things she loves to do in her spare time is write poetry.