About Us

The Titus School was established on the premise that all children and their families are valued members of the community.

Mission

We believe that everyone deserves an education that meets their needs and helps them reach their full potential. At Titus, we see beyond classifications and labels; and we know a diagnosis is a guide to treatment, not an identity. We believe that relationships are the foundation for all learning, and progress comes when treatment is paired with empathy.

Our carefully planned, developmentally appropriate curriculum and individualized treatment plans provide each student the opportunity to feel successful while learning new skills. Our goal is to ensure each student unlocks his or her full potential and develops a positive sense of self with the confidence and knowledge to be an independent decision maker while functioning within a group.

Our mission is to help our students:

Achieve and maintain emotional and physical self-regulation

Build the interpersonal skills that foster lifelong relationships

Feel empowered by developing functional life, academic and/or work-related skills, including learning readiness, reading, executive functioning, and community access skills

Value themselves as non-traditional learners

Create nourishing personal routines, self-advocacy, and the ability to effectively communicate

Employing the Guiding Principles of:

Positive reinforcement/motivation

Individualized expectations, approaches, and goals
Qualitative thinking rather than quantitative thinking, i.e. “How are you smart?” rather than, “How smart are you?”
A commitment to making a positive impact on our students, their families, and our community (local & beyond)
  • Positive reinforcement/motivation
  • Individualized expectations, approaches, and goals
  • Qualitative thinking rather than quantitative thinking, i.e. “How are you smart?” rather than, “How smart are you?”
  • A commitment to making a positive impact on our students, their families, and our community (local & beyond)

Philosophy & Approach

At The Titus School, we take a customized approach to each and every student, using Applied Behavior Analysis, Theory of Multiple Intelligences, and Instructional History. When we understand the unique needs and strengths of each of our students, we can create an education plan that helps them thrive.

Our Story

The Titus School was founded by Natalie Brandefine, Tomiko Lyons, and a team of renowned professionals in the fields of medicine, applied behavior analysis, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech language pathology, education, and mental health services. Together they worked to create a program that focuses on improving the quality of life for their students and families. The Titus School’s goal is to help their students establish the skills needed to unlock their potential and open doors to new possibilities. The common thread that tied the Titus team together was their inability to find that “next step,” for their clients and students; for whom school seemed to be an unattainable goal. Armed with a passion for education and innovation Natalie, Tomiko, and the Titus team set out to fill that gap and put that goal within reach. Titus provides the highest quality services to children and families, with unparalleled dedication and expertise in the support of a school and a community. The Titus School aims to be the first and next step in the treatment and education of some of the most underserved children in the five boroughs of New York City and beyond!

The Titus Team

Natalie Brandefine, M.S. Ed.​

Head of School

Natalie is the Head of School and founding team leader of The Titus School. For the past 5 years she served as the Program Director at one of New York City’s premiere acute care therapeutic alternative education programs. In this role she was fortunate enough to lead and work alongside a multidisciplinary team of dedicated and highly sought-after special educators, mental health providers, and related service providers. She honed her administrative skills while supporting the program’s rapid expansion. Natalie has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Brooklyn College. She began her career in the field of Early Childhood Education and Special Education, while in high school, in Staten Island, NY working at The Village Preschool, a program established by her mother, Lisbeth Brandefine (“Miss Liz”), in 1991. Since that time, she has worked as head teacher, program director, adjunct lecturer, and educational consultant in Albany, NY, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Founding a school that services children with special needs and their families has been a lifelong dream for Natalie and she is grateful for the opportunity to continue to grow and learn at Titus.

Tomiko Lyons, MA, LMSW, BCBA, LBA-NY

Director of Clinical Services

Tomiko Lyons is the Director of Clinical Services and cofounder of The Titus School. Tomi began her career working with her mother, Kim LaGrange, in a day-hab. program for adults with developmental disabilities in Buffalo, NY. Armed with a desire to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities, Tomi received a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. She worked as school social worker, in the Pittsburgh Public School system for two years before moving to New York to attend Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, where she received a Master’s in Special Education with a focus in Autism and Behavior Disorders. It was here in New York City that Tomi fell in love with the classroom and the relationships she was able to establish with her students and their families. She brings with her 19 years of experience and expertise, ensuring The Titus School’s staff will be highly trained and our students will have access to the highest quality clinical services available.