Thursday, August 3, 2017


Bergen County's Hidden Therapeutic Gem - by Elma

One of the greatest advantages of getting the opportunity to work at the Bergen Volunteer Center is the ability to visit the many institutions in Bergen County - many of which I had not known about before.

One such institution was the New Alliance Academy. Just a few weeks shy of summer vacation, Debbie Emery had invited me to go along with her and Eric Fuchs-Stengel to New Alliance Academy. Pulling up to the school, taking in its beige building hooded by its green canopy, I thought nothing of it. I thought nothing of it because I was not familiar with the institution.

But, when I stepped inside I was overwhelmed by its significance.

New Alliance Academy is a high school for teenagers experiencing acute psychological distress. In addition to meeting the student's’ educational needs, the Academy also provides continuum of care which provides the students with emotional and therapeutic services. 

As I walked through their halls, I witnessed the impact of New Alliance Academy. The classrooms were lined with bookshelves containing everything from classic literature to political commentary books. The walls were covered with the artwork from the students and their well written papers.

I also had the opportunity to talk with the teachers. The investment and care which they showed for their students was remarkable. They, including the principal, knew each student at a personal level.

Their care for the students allowed them to see the need to engage them in community service. The three of us were there to discuss the importance of becoming involved in the community. Volunteerism encourages unity, leadership, confidence, discipline, and commitment. These are skills that are important for all students to possess, regardless of the type of school they attend.

Although I was there to inform the faculty of New Alliance Academy about the significance of community service, I came away, that day, learning more about Bergen County.

Our county has hidden gems. For me, the New Alliance Academy was a gem that I had the privilege of uncovering.


No comments: