A Transformational Experience

Parents and students comment on their experience at Arch Academy through their words and in videos. Read their words below, see their videos here!

This school saved my life! LITERALLY!! I started attending the Arch Academy when I was 13 years old. I couldn't not function in a regular high school or middle school environment because of the academics and the social dramas. I struggled with substance abuse, cutting, learning disabilities, depression and anxiety. Coming to Arch, I didn't really have an identity. I would always look at others and get myself involved in negative behaviors. I didn't really ever think for myself because I didn't know who I was. I have been attending Arch for three and a half years and with the help from staff and peers I was able to find myself.  

This school focuses on the whole group and not just one person. This helped me to build strong and GENUINE friendships that I will have for the rest of my life. The staff is very honest. And I mean VERY HONEST. They never hold anything back. This is the main thing I think that shows that the people at this school really care. I've never had someone say in my face "You're selfish" before. And to be honest I think that's what it takes. Having someone who is not afraid and cares enough to tell you how it really is. It took me FOREVER to accept that I was doing anything wrong. I would always blame others instead of looking at myself.

This school is filled with success. Everyone is held accountable. The bar is raised appropriately for everyone. We are all PUSHED to be successful. It's very challenging in the moment (writing essays, swimming Alcatraz and the Catalina Channel Relay, completing group consequences to help motivate other students, completing projects, being held accountable, receiving consequences for our negative actions), but when the tasks are complete we learn something new every time. The feeling of achievement is real and lasts forever. The more we achieve, the stronger our determination gets in the future and our strength gets greater. "A MOMENT OF PAIN IS WORTH A LIFETIME OF GLORY"  College was not even an option for me at 15. Now I am 17 years old, witnessing my peers be accepted into amazing colleges and with such variety. This school helped me to see that anything is possible. They gave me the choice of being "sick" or working the hardest I ever have to be healthy and have a voice and to be my own person. The peers and staff are there to help every step of the way. There is no other school like the Arch Academy.

Kaylee K. - Student


Are you feeling lost in all your attempts to help your child thrive?  Have the schools' attempts failed?  Have your child’s behavior or struggles begun to tear you or your family apart? The Arch Academy may have the answers and assistance for you.  This is a place with a clear vision and a set of standards your child can live up to. It certainly has helped save my daughter and our family. You see, there was a time when my daughter took to restricting her food intake as a means of coping. She successfully hid an Eating Disorder from us and was hospitalized. She dropped out of school and began treatment with a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist until she found the courage to talk to us and begin her road to recovery.  The school system tried to meet her needs, but they were ill-equipped. A School Advocate referred us to the Arch Academy. At this point our daughter had not been doing college prep schoolwork for 18 months.

Our first visit to the school was hopeful. A student gave us the tour. She was excited and articulate. When entering the room, the students came over introducing themselves and shaking our hands. The students seemed busy and engaged.  It was clear by the school projects on display, the photos on the walls of International School Trips, the Swim Trophies and plaques on the wall carrying names of the kids accomplishments that this school was different. It was helping the children learn from their life experiences and get their focus back on learning and studying. The principal explained that the school is a wraparound supportive program, meaning that someone is available to help or guide you and your child through any and every life circumstance, 24/7.  Our daughter saw hope and engagement. She felt an immediate acceptance by both the students and the staff. The school teaches the same standards we all have, but at some point, our child's circumstances steered us off-track. Arch teaches the kids to be accountable to themselves, each other, their teachers, their parents, and their school. They learn to like learning again. They learn to mentor the newer students. They learn to mentor each other. The Arch Academy teaches by the Socratic Method with emphasis on the Great Books.  The children stand up every semester and give an hour oral presentation on review of their coursework and personal life goals.  At first, I never thought my daughter was going to be able to do this. But at this school they learn to find their own voice, begin to find their own identities, and regain control of themselves and their paths. Today our daughter has regained a decent GPA, scored high on her SAT's, and is applying to 12 colleges, including some of the top schools in the country.  She is looking forward to her future.  She knows who she is and is setting a direction for herself.

Thank you Arch for all you have done! When our world fell apart and we didn't know what to do, you stepped in, saved our daughter, and placed our family on a new, even better course. We hope and pray those of you suffering and in pain with off-track, off-beat kids for which the regular schools have no place, consider trying this most excellent program.

Blair and Mike L.- Arch Parents


From an Arch student's college application:

2. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

In Elementary School I had a difficult time learning in a public school environment. My ADHD and intelligence often got me in trouble. At times I would feel incredibly uncomfortable with myself, struggling to make friends or fit in. The public school system simply did not have the right means to help me progress. By the time I was in Jr. High I had burnt out teachers, friends, and four elementary schools.

This is when I was immersed in the most significant educational and life opportunity I have ever been given, The Arch Academy.

Caring staff at the school had the intelligence and motivation to challenge me. Academically, I was given a curriculum that forced me to be creative. I completed relevant projects spanning from isolating the carbon in cotton to a homemade crystal radio.

With the Arch Academy I traveled to 18 different countries, including Russia and Vietnam. In those countries I was able to appreciate the living places of literary geniuses such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky after reading and analyzing their works. In Vietnam and Cambodia, I was able to understand the effect that American wars have on impoverished countries. In 11th grade, I took on the task of not only planning but also filming a two-week trip. This trip contained an eye-opening experience at Tich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village in Southwest France. Not only did monks educate me about their international religion, but I also gained a deeper understanding of Hanh’s exile from Vietnam and his important stance against the war.

In addition to the international trips, I have engaged in filming and marathon swimming in multiple international channel swims. Perhaps one of my greatest achievements is leading and filming the school’s swim team in the foreign 54-degree water for 25 miles in the English Channel.

 After studying at Arch Academy for six years, I have become incredibly grateful. I am happy that I am able to show this gratitude by leaving a lasting positive mark on the school. I look forward to continuing this legacy of gratitude and positivity in the University of California school system.

Matt G., Student



Before coming to the Arch Academy I used my diagnosis of autism as an excuse for self-destructively being defiant in the name of “pride”. I was too busy hating myself and blaming everyone around me to help myself. When I came to the Arch Academy, the staff and student body taught me to (among many things) write, swim, talk to other people, live life on life’s terms, and above all, learn how to truly be proud of what I am capable.


Hi my name is Lauren. I struggle with a variety of issues including bipolar disorder and impulsive behaviors. This school has given me the tools I need to achieve what I never thought I could in life academically, emotionally, and physically. Prior to coming to the Arch Academy I had no desire to go to college, and I didn’t even think that I could get into college. Cheryl has helped me immensely by providing opportunities that I am willing to take. Although I do not have a specific future planned, the Arch Academy has taught me how valuable education can be. I now have the desire to go to college and become successful in life.


When I was younger I never really thought that I was going to be a mature person. I thought that I was going to remain in this childish world I had created for myself. Then I came to the Arch Academy. Every single day I have been here, I have not only learned why I should be a mature person, but I also learned how to. Out of the five schools that I have been in, this is the only one that has taught me how to learn.


I came here because I had emotional and family problems. When I came to Arch, I became a greater person and I formed stronger bonds with people who actually will be your friend, even when you mess up. The academics here also keep me on course and not getting in trouble with other people.


My name is Diana, I used to swim on a USA swim team for seven years in the pool, and now I am swimming in the ocean at between fifty-nine and sixty-two degrees. I never imagined that I would be swimming the English Channel, let alone the ocean. I am the team captain of my relay and I am helping my team in succeeding the swim. Being team captain has helped me on my leadership skills and bonding with the team.


Never in my life have I felt as connected and safe with a group of staff as I do at the Arch Academy. This is more than a group of people just doing their jobs I consider them family. There is a level of compassion and dedication here that has helped me personally overcome struggles that I couldn’t have ever on my own. Knowing that the head of the school is a phone call away at all times has saved my life.


The Arch Academy is a place where you are able to speak your mind, which allows me to fully express my sense of humor. The school has helped me overcome my learning disabilities and improve my relationship with my family. The school has given me many opportunities, such as the global trips, where we went to Peru and Costa Rica where I learned a lot about appreciating history and other cultures.


This school has gotten me to be mindful of my own responsibilities such as college and taking responsibility for my actions. Through the Zombie Patrol program, yoga, and meditation, I learn how important my role is not only to support myself, but also to help those around me. Each of these activities helps me focus on finding balance by having me devote time to concentrate on team building exercises. 


Hi Cheryl!  Just thinking of you... Hope you are well!  My son has adjusted nicely at his new school.  Getting decent grades and feels welcome there, though he misses ARCH often still.  Frequently, he and I send thanks your way knowing what an impact you have had on his life.  There are struggles and there always will be, but you have given him a language, understanding of himself and others that he will always keep with him!  Miss you!!!! 

R.M., Carlsbad


I would like to share a story with you regarding my son and a very special, unique school. Ever since kindergarten, my son managed to disrupt every class he was ever in because has Attention Deficit Disorder. Yet, somehow every year he was bumped up to the next grade level, and is now a high schooler. He hated school and was ditching. His reading level and math scores were way below average. He tried other programs, but his scores were still below average. Santana High School, with so many students, is not equipped to meet the needs of a child like my son, although they tried. They recommended to us home study, but I am a working mom, which means he would have no adult supervision, which was not a good decision. There were other offers, but I began to do research, and thank god Cheryl approached us. My son knows Cheryl from her recovery program, ARCH [formerly RESCU]. Knowing that my son has substance abuse issues, our relationship with ARCH began. Oftentimes, children with learning disabilities turn to drugs as an escape, creating a bigger distance between success and failure. ARCH made a decision to open their doors to teach these young people and to allow them the opportunity to earn their diploma. For the first time in months, somebody was actually giving my son a chance and not viewing him as a "lost cause". I am proud to have this program available. ARCH is a drug-free environment and provides an excellent learning facility. My son is now reading at a 7th grade level, and his math is improving everyday. He actually likes school, he can comprehend the material, and he looks forward to attending college. But ARCH needs financial help to keep their doors open, and to extend their services to my son and many other students. Now my son has a chance for a future.

Elizabeth S., San Diego


Hello Cheryl,

It has been about 16 years since we first met in your office in Santee when my three children and I were referred to you.  I knew upon our first meeting you understood the situation beneath the surface.

Long story short, I always knew you were the one and only person who had the capacity to help my family and other families dealing with struggles, and have long wanted to be in touch with you.

I am currently the English Department Chair at Coleman Tech Charter High School.

Recently, Arch Academy became the focus of a conversation with a former parent.  I was so impressed with this parent's appraisal, acknowledgement that Arch Academy was the only place his son could have survived, and the many accolades surrounding the founders and staff, I came home immediately and Googled the school.  When I realized it was YOU at Arch Academy's helm, I understood the success the program in an instant.

A few days ago, I was engaged in a third-party conversation about a parent who was at wit's end with her daughter's behavior, academic development, and self esteem.  I thought of you and your school, my interactions with you so many years ago, and my recent conversation with this student, and knew you and your school could be the answer.  In the very same moment I texted Arch Academy's information into his phone for transmission to his friend, Lori, a bright and hopeful text from her in connection with a school she researched - Arch Academy - lit up his screen.

There are truly no coincidences.

Thank you for the work you do to assure a brighter future for students who might otherwise be lost to self and society - never realizing their full potential - or worse, never understanding they are honored, valued, and loved.

Much love and light to you always,

C. Sofia Lowenstein, MBA


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