Bear Den Program Recognized as Innovative Special Education Program by New Jersey School Boards Association

Posted by Bergenfield Public School District on 5/25/2021

Bergenfield, NJ (May 13, 2021) – In partnership with the Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped (ASAH), the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) recognized the district’s “Bear Den Life Skills Program” as one of six imaginative programs that are helping some of the state’s 250,000 special needs students.

Located in a fully-appointed home located on the Lincoln Elementary School property, the “Bear Den Life Skills Program” provides the opportunity for students with severe disabilities to practice daily living skills to increase their level of independence.

The “Bear Den” began as an integral component of the district’s “IEP for Life” pilot program. This three-year grant from the New Jersey Department of Education provided funding to promote positive post-school outcomes for students with disabilities by establishing a model program for those aged 16 to 21.

The program is accomplishing this goal through person-centered planning, community-based instruction, and systematic instruction during age-appropriate activities in the community—such as integrated, competitive employment, adult education classes including college courses, public transportation utilization, shopping, recreational activities with peers without disabilities, and facilitating linkages between students and adult service agencies.

“This program provides hands-on learning experiences that will last these students a lifetime. It is rewarding to be able to offer this opportunity here within our community” said Superintendent of Schools, Christopher Tully, Ed.D.

Since 2002, as part of its celebration of Special Education Week, NJSBA and ASAH have sponsored an “Innovations in Special Education” program that has drawn wide interest from the state’s special education community. For this year’s award program, public and private schools from across New Jersey submitted 41 eligible entries.

The New Jersey School Boards Association, a federation of boards of education, provides training, advocacy, and support to advance public education and promote the achievement of all students through effective governance.

Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped is a not-for-profit organization of private schools and agencies in New Jersey which provide highly specialized services to more than 10,000 infants, children, and young adults with disabilities. Founded in 1974, ASAH now serves 129 schools and agencies throughout the state.

To read more about the awards, visit