Gaitway High School

Since 2006, Gaitway High School is a place where students learn to succeed. They come from school districts across Northeast Ohio where they may have struggled in a traditional high school setting. The small class sizes and individualized lesson plans help students thrive. Gaitway is a partnership between Fieldstone Farm and Educational Service Center of the Western Reserve (ESCWR).

Gaining valuable social and emotional skills, students engage with each other and Gaitway faculty as they follow a highly customized course of study that aligns with the Ohio Learning Standards. Gaitway, which opened in 2006, was the first high school in the country situated at a therapeutic riding center. Students benefit from the connection with horses and vocational opportunities at the farm.

Being a part of the Gaitway family is transformative. One hundred percent of students who have graduated and have gone on to college, employment, additional training or joined the military.

Gaitway faculty

Gaitway has its own full-time principal, specially-trained and certified teachers, job coaches and a licensed social worker. A low student-to-teacher ratio helps students find success and receive the personalized education that they need.

Who is appropriate for Gaitway?

Students who are successful at Gaitway have a history of:

  • Depression or other mood disorders
  • Difficulty forming or sustaining positive relationships
  • Anxiety due to the size of their home school
  • Learning disabilities

What we offer our students

  • Low student-to-teacher ratio
  • Experiential learning
  • Social skills training
  • Vocational job training
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • A meaningful connection with horses that supports personal and educational growth

Enrollment

Gaitway’s enrollment is capped at 24 students.  Placement is determined by each student’s IEP team. A referral by the student’s home school district and approval by the Educational Service Center of the Western Reserve’s Program Administrator is required to enroll. For admission information, please contact Anthony Forfia, Gaitway High School principal, at aforfia@escwr.org.

Gaitway has been so successful at the high school level that we now accept eighth grade students.

As part of a Gaitway student’s experience at the farm, many are given the opportunity to volunteer to help with classes for people with special needs which teaches them about responsibility and giving back to others.

Student achievements

For many students, enrolling in Gaitway is a life-changing event.

Alex had attendance issues and suffered from serious depression, anxiety and school phobia.  She joined Gaitway as a junior and in a short time consistently made it to school, found a part-time job and graduated on time. Alex is now about to graduate from Cleveland State University and is engaged to be married.

Troubled by physical and emotional challenges, Danny ended 8th grade early. He was scared of what the future would hold for him, as young adult life seemed overwhelming and uncertain.  The accepting and nurturing environment at Gaitway gave him the confidence and educational skills he needed to graduate high school in four years. Danny is now employed at the Cleveland Clinic.

Tiffany spent two and a half years at Gaitway learning to come to school on time, working through her anger issues and gaining the skills to help her focus on her studies.  By her senior year, Tiffany ran her own IEP meeting and graduated successfully. Since graduation, she is employed full time and rents her own home.

Click on the student photos below for more stories about Gaitway’s very special students.