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Mr. Gerald Glisson, Principal


What is the Great Falls Academy Program?

The Great Falls Academy Program is a nontraditional school setting for at-risk school-age youth.  The basic mission of the program is to meet student’s academic needs while providing them with special assistance to develop responsible patterns of behavior in a safe, disciplined environment.

The Great Falls Academy Program is a collaborative endeavor by the Paterson Housing Authority, The City of Paterson (Youth Services Bureau), The Paterson Board of Education, The Passaic County Superior Court-Family Division and The Paterson Police Department.

The Academy resulted from these organizations coming together and agreeing on the best approach of dealing with the education of the city’s most at-risk and disaffected  high school aged youth.  Each organization is a significant and permanent partner of this alternative program, fully supporting the educational, social, health and vocational needs of the students.  As partners  guided by a common vision, the team is committed to the youth they serve, charting a course to academic achievement, family stability, interpersonal maturity and self-reliance.  The Great Falls Academy program is designed as an integrated developmental model for youth and their families.

How Does The Great Falls Academy Program Help Students?

The Great Falls Academy Program encompasses three Phases.  Each serves a distinct purpose, yet is an integral component of the holistic design of the program.

  • Care & Concern               
  •  Belonging
  •  Generosity    
  •  Independence

Phase I

This initial  phase of the program provides students with clearly defined boundaries, structured academics, and strong peer support.  While fostering a clear sense of  responsibility and discipline.  Phase I defines acceptable behaviors for interacting with authority figures, peers, and the community.  Community Service projects are a major component of Phase I.

Phase II

Here, students concentrate on interdisciplinary instruction, participating in standard core curriculum classes as well as personal development classes.  Self-knowledge is expanded as students recognize their own strengths and improve their academic and life skills.  

Phase III

The final phase of the GFA Program is one of many options.  Students who meet the exit criteria,  either, re-enter into their regular high school, enroll in a GED program, enroll in a Vo-Tech school or enter the workforce.  Each young adult is assisted through the decision-making process and monitored for a minimum of one year.  Student enrollment is determined by the Paterson Public School District and by the Family Division of Superior Court.