New Directions Alternative Program

Address: 2847 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201
Phone Number: 703-228-2117
Fax: 703-875-8920

Administrator: Philip Bonar,

Web Site:


The New Directions program provides identified students with academic, counseling, and vocational opportunities in a small and nurturing environment. Its highly structured, controlled, and supportive academic setting offers academically unsuccessful students the possibility of earning the high school credits needed for graduation.


Students with difficult behaviors can learn and can make a positive contribution to school and the community. New Directions, a small program by design for 35 students, is based on the idea that programs should be made to fit students. We are committed to providing the academic, behavioral, and family support that will allow students to progress, families to work together toward success, and students to become contributing members of society. We have high expectations for the academic progress, behavior, and attitude of our students, and we believe they can meet, if not exceed, these expectations. New Directions is planned to provide a new chance for academic, behavioral, and personal success for all participants.

What Does New Directions Offer?

  • An alternative instructional program
  • An opportunity for students to receive a high school diploma
  • A safe structured learning environment with a closed campus
  • A bus that transports students back and forth from their homes to the school door each day
  • Lunch that is provided on site
  • Constant adult supervision throughout the day, at a ratio of one adult to seven students
  • An opportunity for students’ social and emotional needs to be addressed that empowers students to act responsibly and reflectively
  • Cooperation with court officials to increase the opportunity for student success in school and in the community
  • An agreement signed by the student and family to abide by the rules and procedures of the New Directions program

Program Details

New Directions has two main components: academic, and counseling. All students attend school each day from 7:50 a.m. to 2:24 p.m. and maintain a full academic workload enabling them to earn credits towards high school graduation. Students take the same required courses that they would take at the comprehensive high school. Students are expected to make progress toward academic goals, and families are encouraged to meet with staff to develop programs to reinforce schoolwork at home. Students successfully complete the New Directions program through one of several paths: (a) they complete the APS graduation requirements and graduate from high school; (b) they receive a GED; (c) they return to their home high school; (d) they transfer to the High School Continuation Program at Langston or at Arlington Mill.
Students are encouraged to prepare for post secondary learning opportunities, such as four-year college two-year college, and trade schools

Programs are offered within the New Directions program to meet the social/emotional needs of students. Through group and individual counseling, conflict resolution and mediation, and group activities, students learn new strategies for dealing with problems. Close communication is maintained between the family and the school.

Student Profile

(The following characteristics apply to students currently enrolled in New Directions)

  • The student is at least 14 years of age and has reached at least grade nine in school.
  • The student is on probation and has a probation officer.
  • The student has experienced difficulty in the school and/or in the community.
  • The student needs a strictly controlled environment.
  • If the student has a special education designation, he/she is able to function with monitoring only special education services.
  • If the student speaks English as a second language, he/she is at the HILTEX B level (the last level of English as a second language support before the student enters the regular English program) or has successfully exited from the ESOL/HILT program.
  • The student’s academic history indicates potential for success in the New Directions program.
  • The student is recommended by his/her home school and is accepted by a screening committee of Arlington Public Schools staff members.

Staff Members

The staff at New Directions, comprised of an administrator, three (3) full-time teachers, one (1) part-time teacher, a full-time counselor, a part-time technology support person, and a part-time substance abuse counselor are:

  • Experienced
  • Certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Committed to student success
  • Educators who provide rigorous academic environment
  • Teachers and counselors who assist students in making a successful transition to work or to post-secondary education.


  • Effective collaborative relationship with Juvenile Domestic Relation Court Services Unit
  • 90% pass rate for Reading and Writing SOL
  • Academic partnerships with Arlington County Department of Libraries
  • Business partnerships with APS Extended Day Program, and SRA corporation
  • Increased student motivation
  • 80% of students taking the PSAT/SAT
  • Students taking the pre-ASVAB for military
  • Juniors and seniors considering college and receiving assistance with college applications
  • Seniors participating in the NOVA pathways program


In fall 1993, high school administrators and the senior administrative staff met together to discuss the changing needs of the student population, particularly among increasing numbers of disruptive students. Out of this discussion came the recommendation from the Superintendent that an alternative education program be developed to begin during the 1994-95 school year. During the summer of 1994, the Director of Special Projects assembled a committee of representatives from a wide variety of school, county, and community groups to assist in planning. The New Directions program is the result of the collaborative effort put forth by the entire Arlington community. The first group of students opened the program on March 20, 1995.