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Frequently Asked Questions


Does my child have to be enrolled in the Lifeway program in order to attend Cates Academy? or… Is Cates Academy merely the “Lifeway school”? 

No. Cates Academy requires that students and their parents participate in an alternative peer group, but does not specify which one. Members of other APGs are welcome at Cates Academy. While, at this time, a substantial majority of our students are part of the Lifeway program, students from other APGs are very much a part of the life and work of Cates Academy. All of the benefits of Cates Academy – small classes, on-site counseling, a recovery-oriented atmosphere, and constant contact with students’ broader support networks – extend to all of our students, regardless of their alternative peer group. Although a great deal of time is spent with one’s APG peers, in a practical sense, much more time is spent each week at school. Regardless of the amount of time students spend together outside of school, they still develop close relationships at school with their classmates; this would be the case whether they attended a traditional public school or a sober high school.

Also, as strong as the relationships within the various APGs are, there are relatively few opportunities for teens to bond with their peers in other APGs. If your child is a member of Cornerstone, Teen and Family, PDAP, or Hope for Tomorrow, enrolling them in Cates Academy would allow them to meet, befriend, and grow in sobriety with even more teenagers with whom they can relate. Again, teenagers are going to bond with their classmates anyway; at Cates Academy, you can rest assured that these relationships would strengthen your child’s recovery, not weaken it.

The perception that Cates Academy is the “Lifeway school” is borne from historically special relationship between Cates Academy and Lifeway. Both organizations were founded by John Cates, and both organizations operate under models that have been refined and strengthened through decades of experience in the field of teenage recovery. In a practical, day-to-day sense, however, these organizational details are unnoticeable by our students.


What if my child is yet not in an alternative peer group, but would like to enroll in Cates Academy?

Because students have to be enrolled in an alternative peer group in order to join Cates Academy, an intake (“strategy”) appointment with the APG of your choice will need to be arranged prior to school enrollment. If possible, our site director will attend that meeting to answer your questions about the school all at one time. If the clinical director of the APG and our site director agree that Cates Academy would serve your child well, you will at that time be welcome to submit your enrollment paperwork to Cates Academy.

If you would like assistance during this process, feel free to contact our site director to discuss your specific needs; we will be happy to serve as a liaison between you and the alternative peer group of your choosing throughout the intake process.


What is the difference between Cates Academy other recovery or private schools?

If a child is encountering significant consequences in their traditional high school, it would seem intuitive that placing them in any other environment would be to their benefit. And while other private schools and the handful of other “recovery schools” across the nation offer some benefits over traditional high schools, Cates Academy is unique in the continuity of care it provides with its students’ alternative peer groups and family support systems.

The weekly reports provided by Cates Academy represent a baseline level of communication; our site director and facilitators share observations and concerns with parents and alternative peer group counselors on a daily basis, and any information that would be of benefit to our students’ support networks is disseminated immediately. Our site director works closely with the alternative peer groups’ clinical staff when adjustments in levels of care are in order.


Does the student need a certain amount of sobriety before they can enroll at Cates Academy?

No. Our only requirement for enrollment is student and parent participation in an alternative peer group; if the clinical staff of the alternative peer group believes that a student is would be well served by a sober school environment (as opposed to more intensive residential care), that student is welcome to apply for enrollment. We do not have a separate program for students in early recovery. From the moment they arrive at Cates Academy our new students are able to build relationships with teens in all stages of recovery; this arrangement benefits all of our students, as our students with established sobriety are able to serve as mentors for our newcomers.


What is the tuition/costs of attending Cates Academy?

Tuition at Cates Academy is $1000 a month; we also charge a $50 per semester fee to cover the cost of random drug tests.


What are the ages and grade levels of your students?

Our students range from 14-19 years old and are in grades 9-12.


Is transportation provided by the school? 

Because our students live throughout the greater Houston area, from Clear Lake to the Woodlands, we are not able to provide transportation to and from school. Students whose parents are unable to transport them to school make arrangements to carpool with other students and compensate the students (or their parents) directly for gas and tolls. Cates Academy does not formally sanction this system (for liability purposes), but our staff can help facilitate the process of connecting students who live in the same area, to make the arrangements between themselves, when needed. There is also a Metro bus stop within walking distance of the school.


Can a student transfer to Cates Academy during the semester? Do credits transfer from traditional public schools?

Yes. Because of our selection of online courses, we are able to accommodate a large variety of student needs. Students who transfer in the middle of a semester are able to continue where they left off in their old school, whether the course is instructor-led or online-based. Students who are behind in their credits are able to catch up with their peers at an accelerated pace.


What support does Cates Academy offer to seniors applying to college?

Seniors who are applying to college are given the opportunity to prepare for the SAT and complete their college applications on campus, during regular school hours; this ensures that these essential endeavors do not interfere with the students’ twelve-step meetings or other recovery-related activities outside of school. Our faculty and support staff offer one-on-one tutoring on the SAT for our juniors and seniors as well.

Several Cates Academy alumni are participating in collegiate recovery programs at Texas Tech and the University of Texas. Such programs provide a continuity of recovery-focused fellowship beyond high school, and do much to assuage students’ fears of leaving the relative safety of their home-based recovery community.


What if I have a question that’s not on this list?

Please contact us via the link at the top of our web site. If you would like a call back from our site director, please leave your phone number in the message box.