LSSNY is delighted to welcome Jason Adolphus as the principal of The New LIFE School.
Says our President and CEO, Dr. Damyn Kelly, “Jason stood out among a cohort of excellent candidates for the position. He is an ‘educator’s educator’ and brings knowledge of not only the community in which The New LIFE School is located — having served as an assistant principal in the area — but also the needs of young people enrolled in special education programs. He is a valued addition to our team.”
At The New LIFE School, our students range from age 8 to 21 in grades 3 to 12. They hail from all five boroughs of New York City, bringing diverse backgrounds and experiences with them. They have previously struggled academically, behaviorally, and emotionally in a mainstream school setting.
Rather than view The New LIFE School as their last resort, Jason focuses on the benefits of a therapeutic setting. “It’s more about placing students in an environment where there’s a complete focus on their social and emotional well-being,” he says. “Without that, academics could not take place.”
Jason’s experience as a US Marine taught him that the basics are essential. “The big things will never get done until the little things are,” he says.
He acknowledges that IEPs (Individual Education Plans) require a balancing act on the part of educators to provide a common core rich curriculum while tailoring the instruction and learning among individual students.
“Academic rigor is important for all of our students,” he says. “It should not always be about percentages, but about growth. “You have to crawl before you can walk.”
Even more so than in typical school settings, teachers at The New LIFE School need to fulfill multiple roles. “As a leader of the school — and that includes teachers — you wear many hats,” he says. “You are a coach, motivator, supporter and advocate. Being an educator myself, I understand.”
Jason acknowledges that COVID has presented challenges to all students and families. Many students are suffering from depression because of the pandemic and members of our community need social, emotional, and academic support.
“We have to get back to basics,” says Jason. “We have to be nimble and flexible. We want to get our students to a place where they feel safe, supported, and academically challenged.”
Prior to joining LSSNY, Jason worked half a mile away in the South Bronx. Over the course of six years, he worked as first Dean of the school, Social Studies teacher, Assistant Principal, and Interim Principal.
He grew up in South Brooklyn, on the border of Coney Island and Brighton Beach. His neighborhood was diverse, and his worldview expanded through his military travels.
After working in the corporate sector, he decided he could make more of a difference with students and young people. He met his wife at SUNY Oneonta, a teacher’s college. In addition to his son, who has a BS in Sociology and works in San Diego, Jason has a daughter who has a master’s degree in Special Education and teaches kindergarten at the Department of Education.
He will continue his work as an adjunct professor at Lehman College. “I still want to continue inspiring teachers,” he says. “It’s not financially driven. I came up through the ranks. I want to create a pipeline for aspiring teachers.”
Jason believes that we should help one another be better human beings. “There are a lot of good people in the world,” he says, “and we have to be supportive of those who need guidance and give them our respect. As human beings, we need second, third, and fourth chances to do things right.”