Almost 30 years ago, the writer, psychologist, and philanthropist Lucy Daniels was considering how to make a substantial and lasting difference in the lives of vulnerable children facing emotional challenges. Her vision was informed by her own difficult childhood and by the life- changing help she received through psychoanalytic treatment. Based on an understanding of treating the whole child from this perspective, Dr. Daniels began exploring ways to offer expert help for children. She entrusted Dr. Donald Rosenblitt, a noted child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, with crafting the vision of what would become the Lucy Daniels School.
From the very beginning, this vision involved providing care to children through strategically designed preschool and kindergarten classrooms. These classrooms were designed with special supports set in place to assist the children whose emotional and social development was not proceeding in expectable ways. Our school programs prioritized a close working collaboration between parents, teachers, and mental health staff. Our school also benefitted from the accumulated wisdom and expertise garnered in working side by side with many senior clinicians and staff of the Lucy Daniels Center who were simultaneously designing therapeutic programs and services for the community. After more than 20 years of serving the educational and emotional needs of preschool-aged children, the Lucy Daniels School took another big step. In 2012, we opened enrollment for a first grade classroom. Since then, our elementary program has continued gradual expansion to its full implementation in 2015 -2016 (fifth grade). As part of this expansion, we also chose to focus our school exclusively on children requiring extra social and emotional support to achieve their fullest potential.
Over the decades we have learned a great deal from our children and parents, from our close collaboration with other therapeutic educational programs across the country, and from mentoring other programs that have used us as a model. We have learned how to carefully craft each classroom to meet the needs of the group as well as the needs of each individual child. As an example, our preschool and kindergarten classrooms (The Early School) rely upon parents, parent guidance, and the teacher-child relationship for the educational and therapeutic components of our program. The Elementary School (first through fifth grade) adds to the team a personal (on-site) therapist for each child, and this relationship becomes the primary focus of the child’s therapeutic work. Our first grade provides an individualized transition between these two blends of therapeutic help and educations.
The quality of our work is demonstrated in the lives of the children with whom we work. However, we also have received local, national and international recognition and awards for the comprehensive and compassionate care we provide in treating the whole child.
Today and Beyond….
We continue to grow and mature as a school, while reassessing and refining our methods. We have confirmed our belief that every child wishes to succeed, to please, to behave, and to feel good—and will do so when we can help him or her clear away the inner interferences that are preventing each from being the child he or she wishes to be. At the heart of our work is a commitment to consider every feasible option to support the work we’ve begun with each child and family. In short, we never give up in our goal to enlist each child and family in the work of pursuing the maximum progressive and sustainable change possible.