Curriculum and Instruction Leadership Team

Sparta Township Public Schools
Office of Curriculum and Instruction

Dr. Daniel R. Johnson - Assistant Superintendent

Dr. Johnson leads the instructional leadership team within the Sparta School District.  Under his leadership, the team works to plan curricula updates, professional development, long-range technology plans, textbooks and resources, assessments, and data collection.  Dr. Johnson received his undergraduate degree from Keene State College in New Hampshire where he majored in English and Education.  Dr. Johnson has also received two Master's Degrees from Seton Hall University - one in Education and Supervision and the other in Educational Leadership. Dr. Johnson received his doctorate from Seton Hall in Educational Leadership, Management, and Policy.  Prior to becoming Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Johnson served as a building principal for 11 years at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.  In addition, he was an English Department supervisor, building level vice principal, and English Teacher.  Dr. Johnson has been the recipient of the Seton Hall University Spirit Leader Award, NJPSA Visionary Leader Award, New Jersey Principal of the Year, and was named a National Distinguished Principal.

Phone - 973-729-7174

Ms. Mary Hassenplug - Supervisor of English/Language Arts Grades 6-12

Ms. Hassenplug serves Sparta School District as the English/Language Arts Supervisor for grades 6-12.  Prior to arriving at Sparta in 2011, Ms. Hassenplug taught English for 24 years at High Point Regional High School, while serving as English Department Supervisor for four years. Ms. Hassenplug is the recipient of the Princeton Prize for Distinguished Secondary School Teaching and a Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholarship to Japan.  In recent years, she served on the New Jersey Department of Education Model Curriculum Development team, designing assessments based on the Common Core State Standards and PARCC text-based questions. Currently, she serves as a Mentor for the Conference on English Leadership (CEL) Emerging Leaders program.  Ms. Hassenplug holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education from Bloomsburg University and a Master of Arts degree in English Literature from William Paterson University.  Ms. Hassenplug advocates for literacy across the curriculum, believing that students of Art, Science, Social Studies, Math, and all other disciplines need to be critical readers, writers, and thinkers in order to succeed.  She encourages parents and guardians to read to and with their children to celebrate the beauty and power of words.

973-729-6191 ext. 265

Mrs. Leala Baxter - Supervisor of English/Language Arts Grades PreK-5

Mrs. Leala M. Baxter joined Sparta Township Public Schools in 2012 as an Elementary Curriculum Supervisor.  Currently, Mrs. Baxter is the Curriculum Supervisor for Alpine Elementary and Mohawk Avenue School.  
Mrs. Baxter has a master’s degree in reading, as well as a reading specialist and supervisor’s certificate from East Stroudsburg University.  She is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University with a degree in early childhood and elementary education.  Mrs. Baxter has received various educational trainings including: Lindamood-Bell, Project Read and Orton Gillingham.  Mrs. Baxter’s professional background includes 20 years in public school education.  She served as the PreK-8 Supervisor of Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology Integration of Tewksbury Schools in Tewksbury, New Jersey and has worked as a classroom teacher and reading specialist in both elementary and middle school in the Allamuchy School District in Allamuchy, New Jersey.  Mrs. Baxter is committed to Academic Excellent and character.  She prides in providing students the foundational framework needed to prepare them to meet the future demands and requirements for college and career. 

973-729-3107 ext. 519

Mr. Steven Schels - Supervisor of Social Studies

Mr. Schels earned his B.A. in History and an Ed.M from Rutgers University in New Brunswick and an M.S. in Educational Administration from the University of Scranton.  Upon graduating in 1996, he entered the teaching profession as a secondary teacher of social studies at Pequannock Township High School, where he taught until 2006.  After relocating with his family to Sussex County at that time, he joined the faculty of Sparta High School, where he taught history until 2014.  In 2011, he became the Supervisor of Social Studies grades 6-12 and currently he serves as the Supervisor of Social Studies & World Languages 6-12.  Mr. Schels is currently a doctoral student through Walden University, with a specialization in Teacher Leadership.  He resides in Hamburg with his wife Tricia and two daughters Jacqueline, 9, and Jamie, 3.  

973-729-6191 ext. 298

Mrs. Marisa Wilson - Supervisor of Science

In addition to being a Sparta High School alumni, Ms. Wilson has been employed by the Sparta 
Township School system since 2004.  Prior to becoming the Supervisor of Science, Ms. Wilson taught earth and environmental science, oceanography, astronomy, and meteorology at Sparta High School. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Geoscience from Montclair State University, a Master in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove University, and a Master in Educational Leadership from Montclair State University. It is her belief that a high quality science education is important for all students from K-12. Science education helps our students become informed citizens and consumers, while also preparing them to compete globally in the rapidly expanding science-related fields. Ms. Wilson values community input and local resources to provide our students with cutting edge science curricula and field experiences for all grade levels. 

STEM Academy Info


Ms. Katie Arbolino - Supervisor of Mathematics Grades PreK-12

Ms. Arbolino began her career in education in 2006.  Since then she has had the opportunity to work both inside and outside of the classroom, developing math programs and professional development opportunities for colleagues.  Ms. Arbolino is committed to being involved in all facets of curriculum development, standardized testing, and auditing our wide variety of programs and events.  Ms. Arbolino received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education with a Mathematics Specialization in grades 5-8 from Kutztwon University.  In addition, she received a Master's Degree from Centenary College in Instructional Leadership.

973-729-6191 ext. 260

Mrs. Adrienne Castorina - Supervisor of Special Services Grades K-12

Mrs. Castorina began working in the Sparta School District in 2010 as a school social worker on the Child Study Team at both the middle school and elementary school levels.  Mrs. Castorina holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Rutgers University, and a Master's of Social Work degree from New York University.  She is currently taking educational leadership courses through Centenary College.  

Mrs. Castorina has an extensive clinical background that includes working in the mental health field with adults, children, and families at Saint Claire's Hospital.  She spent ten years working at the Park Lake School where she specialized in supporting students with Autism.  Her work not only included helping students but also partnering with parents, siblings, and grandparents, as well.  

Collaboration is an integral part of Mrs. Castrorina's work.  She values taking a team approach when it comes to the well-being of a student.  She embodies the whole student approach.  Supporting parents and  understanding their needs helps her to foster a positive relationship in the school setting.

973-729-3151 Ext. 338

Mr. Mike Cronin - Coordinator of Instructional Technology

Mr. Cronin is a proud graduate of Sparta High School.  He started his career in IT working in the leisure/recreation business in varied management capacities.  Mr. Cronin joined the IT department in the Sparta School District in 2007, and took over leadership of that department in 2014.  Mr. Cronin studied at University of Massachusetts and Chubb Institute

973-729-6191 ext. 281

Mrs. Melissa Postorino - PreK-12 Instructional Technology Coordinator

Mrs. Postorino began her teaching career in Sparta in 2003 as a 5th grade math and science teacher.  After nine years of teaching in the classroom, she moved into her current role of an Instructional Technology Coordinator in 2012, supporting staff and students in grades K-12 in utilizing technology in the district.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with a specialization in Elementary Education from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  She also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Fairleigh Dickinson University, as well as a Master of Arts in Educational Technology from New Jersey City University.

973-729-2155 ext. 430

Mr. Patrick Chodkiewicz - PreK-12 Instructional Technology Coordinator

Mr. Chodkiewicz began his career as a fifth grade math and science teacher at Sparta School District in September 2000.  In January 2008, he transitioned from the classroom to his current role as Educational Technology Coordinator.  Patrick currently supports all staff and students as they embrace technology and how it relates to the curriculum.  He also continues to work with the curriculum office as well as the community to share and support new instructional programs that are deployed for staff and students.   Mr. Chodkiewicz has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Kutztown University. Additionally, he holds a Master's Degree from Marygrove College in Education and another in Educational Technology from New Jersey City University.

973-729-2155 ext. 416

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