Press Release Archive

Heidi Cate of Lighthouse Academy Receives Recognition in State Newspaper


"Heidi Cate was in one of those spots — everybody’s had one — where she was It.

The longtime therapist and educator was in a countywide meeting to talk about how to best serve the needs of kids expelled from school. The state says they can’t go back to public school for 180 days.

“Within six months, expelled kids are either incarcerated or they’ve dropped out,” Cate says. “What a loss — that’s 200 kids a year. Everybody says these are the most difficult kids — that they’re beyond hope.

“The more I looked at it, the more the kids became real and their stories became real,” she recalls.

So she took the idea of a special school for expelled kids and made it real.

“I felt I couldn’t step away,” says Cate, 45, who founded Lighthouse Academy in 2005 and was its principal. Now, her title is superintendent, because Lighthouse has a new sister school that opened this month — Hope Academy, on Brown Street SE. It takes the same therapeutic approach to education, but serves any kid — not just ones who have been expelled.

The new school is a tribute to Cate and the school atmosphere she created. So many parents were calling her at Lighthouse, wanting their kid to go there — though they hadn’t been expelled — she had to start another school."

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