SPRINGFIELD TWP.  Education Alternatives (EA) celebrated the opening of its ninth location during an open house for administrators, parents and members of the community on Aug. 22.

The new location is at the former Boyer Kindergarten Center, 2141 Pickle Road. The building for the new location is being leased from Springfield Local Schools. EA is in its 21st year of offering special education and mental health services to local school districts. The new location will service districts in the surrounding Akron area. The open house was an opportunity to learn about the programs EA offers for parents and area educators.

Education Alternatives is a non-profit provider of services to school districts with a mission to educate students and help them to build positive relationships in safe therapeutic environments.

More than 400 children attend EA in grades k-12 throughout the 80 school districts in Ohio that EA services. EA promotes students’ abilities to regulate emotions and build healthy relationships while they are keeping their progress, academically, on track. EA partners with REACH Behavioral Health Services to offer a continuum of care from individualized academic services to on-site psychiatry and group therapy.

REACH, a non-profit, is a behavioral health organization that works to promote health and wellness to children, families and individuals through its continuum of mental health services.

During the open house, Executive Director Gerald Swartz said it was a time they could introduce themselves to parents and administrators in the area.

“We are not a school we are a program," Swartz said. "The only kids that get to us are from the districts. The districts refer students.”

EA is not a charter school. Instead it works with districts to provide a continuum of special education services. If a child is not successful in a school setting, districts are required by law to find a service to better fit the needs of that child.

Education Alternatives offers a therapeutic school environment. It looks like traditional school but the difference is that therapeutic philosophy is present with the school having a director and a team of licensed teachers, therapists and treatment staff. The core subjects are in align with the Ohio Department of Educations curriculum standards.

Director Tyler Eliason said EA are excited to get started and be in the area.

“Our programs are really beneficial for the kids," he said. "Having this option will be a benefit to the community.”

Positive interaction is important to the staff with the students. Each classroom has an intervention specialist, teacher and a facilitator to provide the mental health care through REACH.

Students enrolled or that could benefit from the school are on an individual education plan (IEP) or is in the process of being evaluated for special education. Also, students struggling with academic or behavior challenges which, make it difficult for them to succeed in a traditional classroom or those in need of credit recovery or facing expulsion can benefit from EA.

Information about all EA schools, including enrollment processes and specialized services, is available at easchools.org, by contacting enrollment@easchools.org or call 216-332-9360.