The Academy

A non-sectarian, licensed, special education school providing an alternative educational experience for students in grades 7-12 who experience social, emotional, behavioral or substance use challenges that impact their academic achievement.

Providing both self-contained and mainstreamed academic programs, each student receives a customized academic program to meet his or her strengths, needs and learning styles.

Location & Campus

The Academy is located in Morris County, NJ at 80 West Main Street, Mendham. Situated on a beautiful 26-acre campus in a 35,000 sq ft. education center, The Academy offers coursework focused on core academic areas meeting all state special and general education requirements, taught by caring and engaged, state-certified teachers.
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“In my dealing with inpatient programs, Daytop is the best — very thorough, very professional, you always give me what I need and you provide complete services for these kids. Your people know what they are doing.” – NJ Probation Officer


To provide quality educational services for students with a broad range of academic needs in a therapeutic, substance free environment, while fostering an ethic of hard work, honesty and mutual respect, promoting accountability to oneself and the community, and helping prepare students to return to their home school, post-secondary education and/or job placement.

Licensure & Professional Affiliations


The Daytop New Jersey Academy is licensed by the New Jersey State Department of Education. Daytop New Jersey is accredited by The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The Academy is a member of the Association of Recovery Schools, the National Association of Private Special Education Centers, ASAH, the Special Education Alliance of Northern NJ and the Character Education Partnership. Additionally, the Principal/Education Director is a member of the NJ Association of Pupil Services Administrators and the NJ Association of School Administrators.

“The program at Daytop NJ, the staff and teachers have transformed me from an emotionally vacant alcohol and drug-dependent teenager into a hard-working, intelligent, “normal” member of society who is going to Rutgers University with a future ahead of her. Who would have thought?”  
– Former Student

The Team

With a capacity for 75 students, The Academy maintains class sizes of four to eight students. Students come from all walks of life across the state of New Jersey, in both the day and residential programs.

The school’s team of professionals include:

  • Twelve certified teachers, teaching in their area of training and expertise with Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees, five with special education certification.
  • State certified school psychologist (doctorate level).
  • Student assistance counselor
  • Transportation specialist

All faculty are supervised by the Director of Education, Nicolette Rittenhouse-Young.

Education Curriculum & Character Development


The Academy follows a traditional school-year schedule with extended school-year scheduling during the summer. In addition to the full range of course offerings which include grade level Math, Science, History, English, Health, Physical Education and Art, The Academy also offers facilitated foreign language in Spanish, German, Latin and French using Rosetta Stone.

Academically, the curriculum is aligned with the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards (NJCCCS) and our teachers provide individual academic planning for each student. In collaboration with the student’s home school district, The Academy supports work provided by the district and supplements it within the regular or special education curriculum.

All students attend school full time (8:30 am – 2 pm) and are provided with lunch from a professionally trained culinary chef. Transportation is provided for students who live within a 15 mile radius. Transportation can be arranged for students who live farther away. Students have access to the latest in educational technology including SMART boards, computer labs, laptops, and Kindle reading tablets.

Each Friday, students have the opportunity of spending more time in a program of particular interest, such as art, music, yoga, equine therapy, physical education, cooking or may participate in a wide range of community service projects. Additionally, once a month, Fridays are dedicated to hosting and engaging special motivational or inspirational speakers such as Steered Straight, Ryan’s Story, and representatives from self-help and community based organizations.

The student assistance counselor, in conjunction with personnel in the home school district’s guidance office, assists students with college planning and preparation, and Daytop New Jersey has relationships with the recovery support communities at both The College of NJ and Rutgers.

Therapeutic Services

The school psychologist provides individual and group therapy for each student in adherence to the student’s IEP and in coordination with the student’s therapist, treating clinician, outpatient program, and in collaboration with the home school district’s professional staff (school psychologist, social worker, SAC). Daytop New Jersey can also provide a unique continuum of care through its outpatient treatment programs, should a student need intensive outpatient treatment services while also attending The Academy. We may be able to provide transportation to our outpatient programs.

Examples of the types of groups offered at The Academy include: female gender group, social skills, anti-bullying/dealing with bullies, character development and anger *management. Additionally, AA/NA groups are offered at least once weekly.



In many circumstances, tuition at the Daytop New Jersey Academy will be paid by the student’s home school district. When that is not possible, the cost is $247 per school day, payable monthly. Scholarship assistance may be available. Please contact Nicolette Rittenhouse-Young at or 973-543-5656, ext 708 to discuss your situation more personally.

“His school experience at Daytop has been so rewarding for him and we know how highly he thought of his teachers…Jose had been wonderful in giving him a sense that he could do Math, Kathleen was always available for some feedback, John made him write and gave him confidence…and all of them took the time out of their busy schedules to talk to me. You have a fantastic staff of teachers at Daytop.” – Parent of Daytop student


Student referrals for admission to The Academy come from the student service professionals (school psychologist, social worker, student assistance counselor or director of special education services) as well as from other treating professionals, and parents or guardians. Students may enroll at any time during the school year (or summer program) and may stay for a duration that is determined by their situation as recommended by education and treatment professionals, and based on their progress and needs.

Inquiries or referrals are welcomed. Please contact Nicolette Rittenhouse-Young, Director of Education, at or 973-543-5656, ext 708.

The following is a general guideline for assessing a student’s match for The Academy. While no student fits these indicators perfectly, students well suited for our education and therapeutic services usually possess a number of “good fit” characteristics.

“Good Fit” day students:
  • Middle school or high school student
  • Experiencing difficulties with academics due to emotional, behavioral, motivational or learning issues
  • Possible or diagnosed mood, anxiety, trauma, ADHD and/or learning disorder
  • Classified in their home school district
  • Need a smaller setting or a more personalized approach
  • Benefit from being in a recovery focused, therapeutic school environment
  • Stepping down from higher levels of treatment intervention and using the Day School experience as a transition back to their home high school
“Cautiously Considered” students:
  • Significant/severe learning disabilities
  • Significant social impairment as typically seen with students on the spectrum
  • History of physical intimidation/bullying of others
  • Explosive temper/anger management issues
  • Persistent and recent eating issues or self-injurious behavior
  • Law enforcement/court involvement
  • History of serious suicidality
  • History and recent running away from home or school
“Poor Fit”/Not Appropriate Students
  • High School or GED graduate
  • Physical violence, intimidation, or predatory behaviors against others
  • Students needing more intensive or locked facilities, or who may need physical restraint to ensure safety
  • Students with moderate to serious spectrum disorder deficits, or mental illness
  • History of fire setting/charged with arson
  • Registered with Megan’s law or history of committing sexual abuse