When the nonprofit Archway Academy first opened in 2004, it was the first of its kind in Houston.

Known as a recovery high school, Archway Academy is designed specifically for students recovering from substance use, one of 42 in the nation, according to the Association of Recovery Schools.

In 2008, Archway Academy partnered with Southwest Charter Schools, transitioning the school from an exclusive private model to what it is today: a private-public hybrid.

“It’s the partnership model that allows us to be high-quality in education and recovery,” Archway Academy Executive Director Sasha Coles said.

The school uses a three-part model to keep students sober and in class and offers two programs for students depending on the number of days they have been sober.

Archway leverages five recovery coaches and clinicians to get students the help they need, while Southwest Schools provides seven full-time and two part-time teachers. Meanwhile, Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, across the street from Rice University at 6221 Main St., Houston, provides space for the campus.

The academy serves 100-140 students each year from across Greater Houston facing a broad spectrum of conditions—from sex trafficking to alcoholism and drug addiction. Students attend the class during the day and return home at night.

With a class size of eight to 12 per teacher, the school aims to foster a sense of community.

“We knew when we opened Archway that the intimacy of the size had more of a small-town feel so that kids would be able to find their place,” Coles said.

Students attend classes like any normal high school, though each is either enrolled in the school’s Passageway or Archway programs and progresses through the 12-step recovery model. Passageway students hold fewer than 60 days of sobriety with those in Archway hold greater than 60.

Because of concerns with COVID-19, Archway will offer the first six weeks of classes online beginning Sept. 8 but will accommodate students who would be harmed by being left alone.

“We’re offering families the ability to qualify for in-person learning if a student’s mental health is suffering greatly in isolation,” Coles said.

Archway Academy

6221 Main St., Houston