• The B.R.I.D.G.E. staff is a multi-disciplinary team of educators and human service professionals whose shared background encompasses expertise in the following areas: alternative education, special education, programming for at risk youth, social work, and human services. A brief profile on each staff member follows.

    Ellen Spiegel, Principal/Founding Director

    Ellen Spiegel holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Education from Simmons College and a master’s degree in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University. Her teaching credentials include: Massachusetts certification in Administration (5-8), General Elementary Education (K-6), General Middle School (5-9), and Special Education (preK-9). Prior to her leadership role at the B.R.I.D.G.E. Program, Ellen spent ten years managing and teaching in an alternative middle school in Boston, with oversight responsibility for 14 staff and 60 students.

    Jim McCarthy, Assistant Director/Social Worker

    James McCarthy holds a Master’s in Social Work and is a licensed Social Worker (LCSW) and School Adjustment Counselor. James has an extensive background in programs, schools, and services targeting at-risk youth, including: B.R.I.D.G.E. Program Social Worker/Assistant Director; Director of the ADAM Project for Big Brother/Big Sister of Greater Lowell;  Crisis Intervention Specialist at Woburn High School; and Middle School Social Worker at Hanscom Middle School on Hanscom Air Force Base. James has been trained in Social thinking, Developmental Design, Responsive Classroom and Creative Inclusive Learning (LGBTQ), and is certified in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention.

    John Plunkett, Reading-Language Arts Teacher

    John Plunkett holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he won the Jack Kerouac Award for Creative Writing. He is certified in English 5-8 and 8-12. Prior to working at the B.R.I.D.G.E. Program, John worked as a substitute teacher in Chelmsford and Lexington after many years in business management.

    Craig Sonis, Math Teacher

    Craig Sonis holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, a Master of Business Administration from Suffolk University and a Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics from Rivier University. He is certified in Math 5-8.  Before working at the B.R.I.D.G.E. Program, Craig worked as a seventh grade math teacher in Lynn, MA and Hudson, NH. After several years working in marketing and advertising 

    James Keegan, Social Studies Teacher

    James Keegan holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Assumption College and a master’s degree in Education from New England College. Prior to joining the B.R.I.D.G.E., James taught History at the Gerald Creamer Alternative School, was an in-school suspension teacher at Dracut High School, and guided a disabled student at the Robinson Middle School. James has also coached sports for the past 5 years.

    Rosa De Los Santos, Special Education Teacher

    Rosa De Los Santos has a bachelor’s degree in education from Fitchburg State College and a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Cambridge College. She is certified in Elementary Education and Moderate Special Needs 5-12 and K-8. Prior to working at the B.R.I.D.G.E. program, Rosa taught at Malden High School, the Guilmette Middle School in Lawrence and The Protestant Guild. She has also been a parent liaison within the Lowell Public Schools.

    Katherine Budinger, Science Teacher

    Katherine Budinger holds a Massachusetts certification to teach middle school Science (5-8). Prior to working at the B.R.I.D.G.E., Ms. Budinger taught in New York and in San Diego, CA. She also spent many years as a health care administrator before returning to teaching.

    Darcy Parker, Skills Teacher

    Darcy Parker holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Saint Michael’s College as well as a master’s in education from University of Massachusetts Boston. She is certified to teach English in grades 5-8. Prior to working at the B.R.I.D.G.E., Darcy taught middle school English in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

    Mary Morrison, Art Teacher

    Mary Morrison holds a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She is certified to teach Art in grades K-12. Prior to working at the B.R.I.D.G.E., Mary taught Art for over twelve years in public and charter schools in New Hampshire and North Carolina. 

    Linda Willis, Instructional Specialist

    Linda has worked as an Instructional Specialist and in Curriculum Support for the Lowell Public Schools for 18 years. Prior to this she was a Middle School Reading Teacher in Lowell and New Hampshire. Linda is currently an instructor with the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton, MA, and was previously an instructor with the Lowell Teacher’s Academy and Middlesex Community College. Her teaching certifications include Elementary (K-6, K-8), Middle School (5-9), Reading Specialist (all levels), Supervisor/Director (all levels), and Principal (K-6, 5-9).  Linda holds a B.A. from Wheaton College, an M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction from Lesley University and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership & Policy from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

    Jose Rodriguez, Social Worker

    Jose Rodriguez received his Master’s Degree in Social Work from Boston University School of Social Work with an extensive focus on clinical social work. He served for over 15 years as the Mobile Crisis Intervention Director in Lawrence and served for over 5 years as Lead Social Worker for the Lawrence Public Schools. He has extensive experience working with family systems and at risk youth. Jose is a Licensed School Social Worker and Licensed School Counselor all levels. He also holds a license as an LCSW. Jose has been trained in Crisis Management, Restorative Justice in Schools, and Think an evidence-based approach of collaborative problem-solving (CPS) for children with severe behavioral challenges.

    Sara Espinal, Caseworker

    Sara received her bachelor’s degree at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts where she majored in Sociology and minored in Gender Studies. After graduating, Sara moved to San Diego, California where she worked with infants and toddlers. Upon returning to the east coast, Sara attended Wheelock College where she earned her Master of Social Work in 2017 and, shortly after, obtained her license as a School Adjustment Counselor.  Sara has previously worked as an In-Home Therapist with adolescents and teenagers, as well as a School Social Worker with elementary and middle school students in the Greater Lowell area.

    Rebekah Frechette, Skills Builder

    Rebekah is currently enrolled at Westfield State University and is working towards a degree in Psychology. Prior to her work at the B.R.I.D.G.E.,  Rebekah worked for the City of Lowell’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and as a substitute teacher for the Lowell Public Schools.