The Rock Haus Foundation, New Braunfels ISD and members of the community celebrated the grand opening of the Gateway Transition Program facility Feb. 8.

The specifics

The new facility will support special needs students from the ages of 18-22 as they transition into living as independently as possible in the community after completing high school. Sam Kneuper, Rock Hause Foundation board member, said the project would not have been possible without support from the McKenna Foundation and the United Way of Comal County.

“As we open this new chapter of Gateway, it's important to remember that life skills empower our students by giving them the essential abilities to communicate, adapt and problem-solve,” said Nina Pugh, executive director of special education for NBISD. “These skills will enhance our daily lives and foster their independence and resilience.”

The Gateway Transition Program addresses:
  • Life-long learning
  • Independent living skills
  • Employment
  • Recreation and leisure
The program also partners with local businesses as well as H-E-B to provide its students with volunteer opportunities and work experience.

“Our mission [with] the Rock Haus is to support individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities and their families to get them the support, the resources, the guidance that they need to have their individual loved ones and their families be successful in life moving forward,” said Bill Barry, administrative coordinator for the Rock Haus Foundation.

Students also have the opportunity to practice life skills by working with the district’s cafeteria and custodial staff. Jarrett Tucker, a student of the Gateway Transition Program, said he is most excited about learning new recipes in the facility's kitchen.

“This Gateway Program is so important to the students it serves and ensures that NBISD is providing sustained assistance and guidance for these students as they navigate into the world and move into their adult lives,” NBISD board President Eric Bergquist said. “NBISD understands that an inclusive educational approach not only benefits individual students but enriches the entire community. By prioritizing the Gateway Transitional Program [and] inclusivity, NBISD is building a more compassionate and equitable future.”

The Rock Haus Foundation has future plans to keep building on the property and expand the facility in order to provide additional resources to the special needs young adults in the community.

The background

NBISD donated the property located at 511 E. North St. to the Rock Haus Foundation in June 2022. The Rock Haus Foundation was established in 2017 to provide opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Comal County.

“The Gateway program is a testament to our commitment to providing a tailored learning environment that recognizes the diverse strengths and challenges of every student every day,” NBISD Superintendent Laurelyn Arterbury said.

Deidra Gutierrez, a teacher for the Gateway Transition Program, said she encourages members of the community to reach out to her at [email protected] if they are interested in partnering with the program.

“We see this campus as being a beacon of hope in a community that learns to embrace its special population,” Barry said.