About Us

Our Mission

New Directions Secondary School assists disconnected teens to navigate the many complex issues they face in the successful completion of their education. By providing substantial social and emotional support, college and career coaching, and an accessible standards-based curriculum, our school works on all levels with struggling teens, teaching them how to become successful in school and beyond.

History

New Directions Secondary School is a transfer high school specifically designed for over-aged high school students of the Bronx. Founded in 2013 to engage both newly arriving high school youth and current high school students in the type of supportive school setting necessary to re-establish school-going habits and the academic skills required for a full high school graduation, New Directions Secondary School is a hybrid Transfer High School with a low threshold to entry and a harm-reduction philosophy which guides day-to-day student experiences. Students can be first time ninth graders as long as they are over-age for their grade or have special circumstances which make them a good fit for our unique learning community.

Founding Principal James Waslawski organized New Directions based on his experiences as a 17 year veteran educator in Detroit, Harlem and the Bronx. True to his original vision, NDSS provides a highly personalized setting for all types of students to gain the support they need to succeed in school. Accompanying the 15+ teachers of core and elective subjects are 11 guidance counselors, social workers and support staff members which cater to student needs on a daily basis. Since its inception, NDSS has sought to maintain a 20:1 counselor to student ratio and it has successfully done this by maintaining a core partnership with co-founder Wediko Children's Services and by consistently raising funds to bring in additional supports for the school.

Our historic norm has been flexibility. Flexibility to creatively cater to a particular student’s most pressing academic and emotional needs. Flexibility to address the many factors which block full students success in school - economic, emotional, familial. Flexibility to provide layers of academic and social supports which go beyond the regular school day and week. NDSS students also historically benefit from Taft campus-wide amenities and supports including: a LYFE program (for pregnant and parenting students), Montefiore Hospital’s School Health Clinic and a full offering of competitive PSAL sports teams.

Founded on a harm reduction philosophy, each day we integrate students into an academically challenging and socially supportive environment without judgment of previous background history or experience. We acknowledge the strengths students acquire from their experiences and recommend programming options according to a strengths-based intervention model for every student. NDSS has been strategic and comprehensive in the development of its six year partnership with WEDIKO Children's Services and other consistent community partners which support effective classroom experiences, and out-of-school opportunities.

Testimonials

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