Integrating State of the Art Psychiatric Treatment With Outstanding Academics in a Dynamic School Environment

To learn more, or to refer a student, contact Jennifer Hayes, our Director of Enrollment, at 908-543-0220 Ext 200 or


Parents, Students and Educators
What They Say

“Though I didn’t know it at the time, CDS meant everything to me. Ultimately, I was the one who made the choice to turn my life around and go down a new path.”
Student, Fort Lee, NJ

“I want to personally thank you for all of your help with this very difficult family. Their son is in great need of treatment and I know both parents are comforted by the high level of care that he will receive at Cornerstone. For them I know that they see the 24/7 hot line as a godsend: Mom said that it’s the first time that she can really sleep at night.”

Case Manager, Essex County, NJ

“Cornerstone meant a lot to me. It taught me how to cope. It has truly made me the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Student, Union, NJ

Life after Cornerstone

From the first day, under the guidance of our Transition Coordinator, we begin preparing each student for leaving Cornerstone. For those students returning to district, the student is “launched” with a farewell party, which tends to have both happy and sad moments, acknowledging their success at Cornerstone and saying goodbye to friends and staff. For those graduating, there is an off-site senior prom and then a formal graduation ceremony that together creates cherished lifetime memories.

Returning to District

All too often, students leave their home districts to attend therapeutic schools, never to be seen again. At Cornerstone, our goal is to return students to their home districts as soon as possible because we know that it is in their best interest to continue and complete their education there. This is why we strive to return students to their district within 18-22 months of their date of enrollment.

How do we accomplish this goal? We provide a wide range of state-of-the-art therapeutic interventions daily that enable a student to be emotionally prepared to return to district sooner than ever could have been expected because of the comprehensive nature of the services. Cornerstone’s dynamic academic program is designed to ensure a successful transition back to district. Our highly individualized instructional approach is geared toward keeping students on pace with their home districts, and to remediate any content or executive functioning deficits. Moreover, when our students return to district, they are fully current with all academic standards as our curriculum guides align with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. This ensures full adherence to 21st Century Learning.

Our transition efforts begin within the first few weeks of a student’s enrollment. Planning meetings with each student start with a discussion of what needs to change to achieve a successful transition. All therapies focus on overcoming the obstacles that led to placement and strengthening the supports needed to ensure success.

Our ability to achieve our mission is tied to all of The Cornerstone Experience but also to the culture within the school community that emphasizes the transitional nature of Cornerstone. We consistently create opportunities to discuss with the student body that returning to district is the norm. In weekly student community meetings, group therapy, IEP meetings, and staff meetings, we talk openly about this goal. Our school-wide system of developmental steps and levels is designed to lead students on the path back to district, to support the norm of returning “home”.

A coordinated transition is also necessary if returning to the home district is to be successful. This typically includes 2-3 months of the student attending both Cornerstone and the home district each day. We carefully monitor the student so that any “bumps in the road” can be overcome. The student is treated to a school-wide celebration once the transition is about to be completed. These occasions send a clear message to students, staff, and families that Cornerstone’s most treasured mission is to return students to their “home”.

Early College and Work Study Program

Our Early College Program serves to prevent freshman college anxiety, helping ensure Cornerstone students’ success in college. Seniors frequently participate by taking courses at a local community college during the regular school day. They receive college credit and begin to experience the demands that college will bring while addressing any stressors in therapy. Our early college program for sophomores and juniors has college professors coming to Cornerstone to teach selected honors courses.

For those seniors who plan to enter the workforce, our Work Study Program helps develop the skills necessary to obtain and hold a job. Working internships in local businesses are available to provide students with a “real-life” work experience that builds the confidence and skills needed for success.