New Mental Wellness Initiatives


Ben Wade

Azalea Danes ’20 has spearheaded the Mental Wellness initiatives at Bronx Science during the 2019-2020 academic year.

In the midst of college applications and midyears, the constant demands of being a student can be overwhelming and the guidance department along with this year’s first Mental Wellness board has begun their first strides in tackling this problem head on.

The Mental Wellness Board, spearheaded by Mr. Nasser, the AP of the Guidance Department, is a union of students whose main goal is to create awareness about the importance of mental wellness and in doing so, fosters a lasting and effective environment to assist students with any and all mental health concerns.

The preliminary objective of the Board is to disseminate information to the student body about the plethora of in-school resources and to eradicate common misconceptions about the Guidance Department as a whole. Arguably the most prominent resource for students is their guidance counselor who, having known their students all four years, are the most equipped to answer their personal questions and can refer them to other in-school resources. These resources include the Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatry Fellows, the Jewish Board Social Workers, and the S.A.P.I.S Counselors. The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatry Fellows gives students the opportunity to talk to an experienced psychiatrist for three months. The Jewish Board provides field of social workers personalized to the student’s specific concerns. Lastly, the school offers a Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialist Services (S.A.P.I.S.) counselor who aims to reduce the prevalence of substance abuse amongst youth through group and individual counseling, conflict resolution, and classroom lessons.

New this year is Ms. Paley-Seidner who who hired by the DOE and will assist Mr. Cogliano. “I am stationed at Bronx Science this year and I am a resource for the guidance department. In general, referrals are made through Mr. Cogliano, the permanent social worker here. I also assist Ms. Smith with her special education caseload.”

Similarly, Ms. Paley-Seidner was born in Brooklyn and previously worked at Clinton High School as a  school social worker. After receiving her Masters degree from Hunter College School of Social Work, she  briefly worked as a hospital social worker at Columbia Presbyterian hospital, but soon realized that schools were her calling. “This year I hope to help the students and counselors of Bronx Science by imparting the wisdom that I have learned over the years in helping students at other schools. I have already made it my mission to learn more about  the backgrounds of the students that come to Bronx Science, so I can help in the most meaningful way,” said Paley-Seidner.

Although Ms. Paley-Seidner will only be working at Bronx Science for this year, she aims to provide as much counseling as she can during her time. “Any student who wants to meet me and would like to be part of a weekly support group should feel free to visit in room P of the guidance suite.”

In addition to the new social worker, the guidance department also offers monthly yoga classes after school in Room 008. The classes are taught by Ms. DiMaggio, a guidance counselor certified to teach Yoga. During a month-long intensive in August, Ms.DiMaggio completed a 200-hour teacher training program and passed a series of quizzes and written assignments all culminating in her registration with Yoga Alliance, a non-profit that recognizes formally trained yoga teachers. Ms. DiMaggio started practicing yoga regularly six years ago as a way of coping with the stress that came with working on her Master’s degree. “I turned to the campus gym to take a yoga class once a week. For that hour, I was able to separate myself from all the obligations that I felt were weighing on me on a day to day basis. I found that not only did I feel a lot more relaxed after doing yoga, but that when I did it consistently, I felt better overall and much more capable of handling my stress. I was really amazed by what a big difference it made for not a huge time commitment,” said Ms. DiMaggio.

YiLan Zhang
Students are always greeted to the Guidance Department with a bright smile.











“On the yoga mat, students can focus on progress not perfection, incremental gains, positive self-talk and self-acceptance, which are all things you can take with you into your daily life. This all contributes to mental wellness and greater inner peace. There are the physical benefits, too, of giving your body a chance to move and stretch after sitting at a desk all day.”

The importance of mental wellness initiatives in high school is unparalleled.  “It is crucial for us to take time for ourselves when it feels like we have a thousand things to do. Bronx Science students work extremely hard, have a multitude of obligations, and often have a long commute to and from school. Giving your mind a chance to settle down and ‘unplug’  actually makes work feel easier to do and it can help students get things done more efficiently and with fewer errors because they are thinking more clearly. This sense of feeling more capable of handling things with greater ease can help boost confidence,” Ms. DiMaggio said.

“We aim to improve the quality of life for students by utilizing a top down approach; implementing mental health PSAs and presentations, assisting the administration on how to best help us create a healthy balance in our lives, and educating our student body and school community to create a lasting awareness of the true nature of mental health,” said Azalea Danes ’20.