a co-ed, independent, inclusion school for grades k-12+

Course Descriptions

Business Fridays

Business Fridays is an opportunity for students to develop skills related to entrepreneurship and leadership. During this time, students run businesses, including the school store and Next Steps Candle Company. Throughout the semester, students develop a business plan, hand-craft candles, and market their products within the community. 

Career Skills

Career Skills guides students as they think about their future and professional goals. They explore their passions and use their skills to help identify jobs of interest. Additionally, students practice writing resumes, completing job applications, and preparing for job interviews. Internships are an integral part of the Next Steps Transition Program, and student experiences in their internships are supported in this class.


In electives, students select whether they would like to participate in Art, Music, or Drama. In Art, students learn about different art forms, tools, and means of expressing themselves. Units include drawing two- and three-dimensional objects, graphic design, digital photography, jewelry and clothing design, and street art. In music and drama, students develop their artistic expression and voice. In Music, students explore how music is both a product and an influencer of culture. While studying Drama, students work as a team to produce a piece of work and explore theatre fundamentals. Students extend their knowledge of music and theatre by engaging in community experiences. Next Steps students participate in IDEAL’s annual ArtBeat, a body of work gallery and performance that allows them to curate and introduce their work to a larger audience.


Finance allows students to apply mathematical and financial concepts to real-world experiences. Students refer to skills they build working in the school store and through their candle-making business, where they monitor sales and profits. In order to build hands-on banking skills, students take local trips to make deposits and withdrawals. Concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are applied to real-world activities to support financial independence.


Health class is designed to promote the wellness of students and how to incorporate healthy practices into their daily routines. Additionally, students learn about navigating personal relationships, dating, sexual health, and hygiene.

Hobby Building

Hobby Building encourages students to explore their passions. In this class, students are exposed to various recreational activities, ranging from video editing to making origami.

Independent Living

Independent Living fosters student growth based on their individualized goals. Students engage in hands-on life skills activities designed to prepare them for life beyond Next Steps. They learn to organize and clean, follow schedules and routines, shop, set goals, and maintain interpersonal relationships. 


In this class, students read about current events and engage in relevant discussions. They expand practical writing skills by crafting letters, emails, and presentations. They learn appropriate ways to communicate, expand their vocabulary, and build their confidence by speaking publicly. Additionally, students read texts as a class and prepare for the school's annual Civil Rights Museum. 

School Store

Students begin their preparation for the school store by identifying items to sell, pricing items to make a profit, keeping track of inventory, using a functional cash register, and supplying customers with their change and a receipt. Students incorporate social skills into their business practices by greeting and selling to the school community. 


Technology allows students at all levels to build their critical thinking skills. Through Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum, students learn to identify and engage in online safety. They use various apps to understand how technology supports everyday functioning.  

Travel Skills

Travel Skills prepares students for travel independence. Students learn to navigate the community and identify significant places (e.g., the police station, post office, bank, etc.). Depending on their individual goals, students prepare to travel on public transportation by reading subway and bus schedules and allocating enough time to get from place to place. Students use mapping technology to identify the best route to a destination Students are assisted by Next Steps staff as they develop their independence.

Yoga and Mindfulness

Yoga and Mindfulness is a foundational class that provides an overview mindfulness and how it can be used in daily life to promote mental health and productivity. In this class, students are introduced to a variety of resources and exercises and are guided in the development of a personal mindfulness and yoga practice at school and home. 

Internships and Partnerships

Internships are integral to Next Steps, providing students with opportunities to gain hands-on experiences in a variety of fields. IDEAL’s inclusion model applies to the workplace as well, and our internship program provides appropriate job coaching and support through the curriculum and on-site. Students will be carefully placed in internships based on their skills and interests and our faculty will work closely with them to set them up for success. 

Students set internship goals and track their progress at various internship sites. Faculty members serve as a job coaches at internship sites, modeling tasks for students and supporting them as they begin to take on work. These job coaches also provide a resource to the internship hosts to learn how to best support student interns. In all internships, our goal is to fade support and increase overall independence and confidence. 

Students have been placed in internal internships that include:

  • Kindergarten Assistant
  • Arts Assistant
  • Digital and Social Media Intern

Our growing roster of external internships includes:

  • GE Law
  • Luv Michael
  • New York Public Library
  • Project Rousseau
  • STooPS Brooklyn

Next Steps is built on community partnerships. Our unique collaboration with The University of Mount Saint Vincent’s inclusive Bridge Program gives our students the opportunity to audit a lifeskills class on their Riverdale campus. This college experience builds travel skills, academics, and social skills, as students will stay on campus to join their peers for lunch in the college dining hall. In the past, students have audited classes including Banking and Budgeting, Adult Living, and Intimacy and Adult Relationships.

Social Skills

Social interaction with students in other transition programs expands a student's community as they meet and join new friends at the IDEAL School building, on excursions in the city, or visits to other schools.