Our Staff

Jennifer Kovacs was raised in Edison. 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 2000, she started as an assistant and after graduating in 2004 became a lead teacher in a Pre-K class. In her 15 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. As new owners, Ms. Kovacs and her mother have made many positive changes, adding Infant and Toddler Class classrooms, expanding the afterschool program to include school age children, adding a language program, Zumba program, and are currently working on adding a music 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.

 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.

 Jennifer Blackburn lives in South Plainfield with her three children and her beautiful granddaughter. She graduated from Timothy Christian School in Piscataway and received her CDA certification from Kean College. Ms. Blackburn worked at a few other centers before joining the Start-Rite Family in 2004. She taught the younger Pre-K Parrot class for four years before becoming the teacher in the 3 ½ year old Canary Class where she plans to remain for many years. In her free time Ms. Blackburn enjoys reading, arts-n-crafts and spending time with her family, friends, and her cats.


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.

 Kaitlyn McQuone lives in Dunellen with her husband (who was a Start-Rite student himself when he was in preschool) and her three young children. She has a CDA, and has worked in early childhood education for over 10 years.





 Belinda Schwartz graduated with a B.A. from Boston University last summer. Miss Schwartz has been working as an assistant in the Robin classroom, and the Baby room. She spent one summer as a camp counselor at the YM-YWHA summer camp in Union and a semester student-teaching at Jackson-Mann Public School in Boston. Besides English, Belinda can also speak Spanish. She was a voracious reader from a young age, her favorite childhood books being Harry Potter and Nancy Drew. Belinda loves learning about different places and cultures through reading and/or travel, and she enjoys sharing those experiences, as well as her love of reading with the children. 


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