David Leitner started working at The Calais School in 1994 when he was first hired as a licensed clinical social worker to develop and deliver group therapy and individual counseling sessions. In 2002 the Board of Trustees promoted Mr. Leitner to Executive Director where he assumed overall executive responsibilities for the school including administrative, educational and therapeutic programming.
Prior to his work at The Calais School, Mr. Leitner earned a Masters of Science in Social Work at Columbia University and worked as a licensed clinical social worker at the Columbia Consultation Center in Morristown with a team of psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers. As a therapist, Mr. Leitner worked primarily with families and children struggling with mood disorders, learning disabilities, and psychiatric related illnesses.
Working together with the Calais Foundation and The Calais School, David Leitner has committed his energies towards the development and delivery of world-class educational and therapeutic services for individuals struggling with multiple learning disabilities. Mr. Leitner is married and has four children. In his spare time he is actively engaged in the training of his bird dog, Axel and volunteer work with his wife Robin.
Diane Manno, LCSW, Ed.D is the Principal at The Calais School.She has been employed by The Calais School since 1999 when she was hired as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and School Social Worker. Dr. Manno became Assistant Principal at The Calais School in 2006 after earning her Doctorate in Education. In 2012 Dr. Manno was promoted to the Principal’s position with the vision of creating academic and social excellence in a special education setting.
Working with special education students and their families is a lifelong passion of Dr. Manno’s. Using a team approach with faculty, parents and Child Study Teams has created an atmosphere of trust, high standards of performance, and a customer service model as a keystone for providing quality programming for students Pre-K through 12Plus.
Steve Sokolewicz comes to The Calais School with over 15 years of experience in education. Mr. Sokolewicz began his career as a history teacher in the Clifton Public School system and served as a District Supervisor of Social Studies in the Jersey City School District after completing his MA in educational administration. Currently, Mr. Sokolewicz is the Assistant Principal and Supervisor of Curriculum at The Calais School. He organizes teacher professional development, oversees mentoring for novice teachers and coordinates the school’s Calais iPad Infusion Project and Extended School Year Program,
In addition to classroom responsibilities, Steve has been involved in coaching, student council and yearbook advisorships. Mr. Sokolewicz firmly believes that children best learn when provided every opportunity to showcase their individual talents.
Jaime Westerfield is the Supervisor of Instruction at The Calais School. Ms. Westerfield comes to Calais with 20 years of experience supporting both children and adults with developmental disabilities. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from DeSale University and worked as a Social Worker for the Arc of Sussex County (SCARC) for 7 years before earning a Masters in Education. After spending 8 years as a Special Education teacher she completed her Master’s in Administration from Centenary College and obtained her NJ Certification as School Administrator.
For the past 4 years Ms. Westerfield has served as the Director of Special Services and Assistant Principal in the public sector where she was responsible for aligning districts to the NJ Special Education Code and creating in-house programs and Transition services to support the most challenging students. She is extremely excited to join the Calais team and looks forward to creating effective programs that will better serve the needs of the students at Calais.
Everyone at the Calais school is devoted to offering support for families and are responsive to changing requests and needs through PTO and Parent Support Meetings. If you are looking for a new learning environment for your child, the Calais school is definitely worth a look.
The entire staff at The Calais School are very supportive... I love everyone equally. They all work very hard to make me feel comfortable and help me to succeed. When I first came to The Calais School, all of counselors helped me work through my anxiety which makes them even more special to me.
The Calais School helped prepare me for the future because they taught me how to open up and express my feelings. I learned not to be afraid to ask any questions. And I learned how to let people love me.
I can’t say enough about the warm, loving approach this school community offers. They have spent countless hours of patience and thought devising a plan for our son’s success. He is thriving academically and socially. Everyone from the Directors to counselors, therapists, teachers and aides bring an individualized approach-making sure that each child thrives and learns in their own unique way.
Calais has prepared me for the future by helping me come over my depression and anxiety and allowed me to look at things in a way so I can deal with them like I didn’t know I could.
The people of Calais are like family to me. Each one of us are all different, but we accept each other for who we are. I tried my absolute best here by turning every obstacle into opportunities to succeed. I have no regrets. Calais has made me who I am today. It has given me the opportunity and the voice to share my story.
I am a graduate of The Calais School. I am honored and proud to say that I graduated from Calais 25 years ago.
I have Tourette’s syndrome and I have to tell you that the seven years I spent at Calais were some of the best years of my life. I was able to be myself and not worry about what others thought. The staff was wonderful and worked hard not only with me but with all the students academically and personally. I left here in 1989 with the self-confidence that I don’t think I would have gotten elsewhere.
I have done so much with my life since graduating from The Calais School. I started a career in the film and television business, and have worked on films such as The Basketball Diaries, The Departed and a number of Indie films. I am a self-taught special effects make-up artist and a well-rounded artist.
Right now I am in the process of filming a documentary about my life. The film follows my life with Tourette’s and the positive things that we all can do when we put our minds to it.
My message to everyone is: stay strong, be positive and don’t ever give up.
Because of my experience at The Calais School, I have become a person which I thought could never have existed. My 10 years at Calais turned out to be rewarding and full of accomplishments. I look back and I really don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for this school. I have become a man…who is able to do so much more with my life than I could have ever dreamed of…and I give a big thanks to all who worked with me – it was time well spent.
We wanted to say thank you for your commitment and effort in teaching and guiding our son… he grew and developed under your guidance, until he was ready to go to the mainstream full time. My husband and I are so grateful that we found Calais School. You carried us through some of the toughest times in Nathaniel’s development.
"Upon meeting with members of The Calais School hearing what type of services would be offered to help our son, we knew The Calais School was the missing piece to our puzzle! Because of the positive learning environment at The Calais School, coupled with cutting edge learning materials, we have seen wonderful growth academically. The teachers are very well trained to help a child succeed while building their confidence. Because of the nurturing environment at the school, our son’s confidence has grown and he now realizes that he can be a success in life."
"Our son has been a student at The Calais School and we have seen enormous progress academically, socially and very importantly emotionally. The exceptional teachers and counselors have been an essential part of his success. The nurturing staff gave him the tools to strengthen his capabilities to deal and navigate through stressful situations. This has been very important as he has learned to not only handle the stressful situations but also advocate for himself in certain challenging situations. This has made him a very happy and confident young man, and for that we are very appreciative."
"My child has benefited from going to The Calais School because the faculty understands my child's academic and social needs. They find strengths and weaknesses in those areas and build on them in his educational program."
"The Calais Staff has literally saved our son’s life. THEY ALL TRULY CARE about OUR child. I wish they had more schools that specialize in our children’s needs like The Calais School. We are very happy to share with you that our son is now a senior and is looking ahead at college to continue his education."
"My child has benefited from going to The Calais School because the faculty understands my child’s academic and social needs. They find strengths and weaknesses in those areas and build on them in his educational programs."
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter