Education Alternatives offers alternative learning programs for students who need enhanced behavioral, emotional, and special education services. With over 20 years of experience, EA is the premiere alternative education program serving IEP students in greater northeast Ohio.

Education Alternatives operates eight campuses located throughout the Cleveland and Akron metro areas. Campuses include Akron/Springfield, Bedford, Brook Park, Elyria, Painesville, Ravenna, Cuyahoga Falls, and Willoughby Hills. Our alternative schools pair special education professionals with qualified mental health providers to teach the Ohio Department of Education’s standard curriculum to every child in an accessible way.

Education Alternatives offers

The School Environment

Education Alternatives’ Day Treatment Program looks and feels like a traditional school, however, the difference is in the therapeutic philosophy that is present throughout our program.

Education + Therapy

Every School has a Building Director who leads a team of licensed teachers, therapists and treatment staff.


The low staff to student ratio in each classroom encourages individualized instruction according to each student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).

A Note From Our Founder

Jerry Swartz

I founded Education Alternatives more than twenty years ago, because I saw a need to open a school for students who often struggled and failed in traditional public schools.

When I was a special education teacher, I saw first-hand the difference an experienced and empathic educator can make in a student’s life. Students who were disrupting classrooms, not completing assignments,and often getting suspended would become focused and more successful when they came into my classroom. I knew it was possible for these students to succeed, so I created a place where they could.

When I opened EA, I hired and trained staff members who shared this passion and motivation to educate struggling students. Together, we have created an environment where these children can learn and thrive.

Twenty years later, EA has educated more than 3,000 students in Northeast, Ohio, and we have cheered them on in many of their graduation ceremonies.

I deeply look forward to the next 20 years as our EA team shares in the joys and challenges of educating today’s students.


Gerald Swartz
Executive Director

History of Education Alternatives

Education Alternatives was founded in 1999 to provide academic and therapeutic services to children experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties. The agency’s first school year began with nine employees and thirteen children. Today, Education Alternatives employs over 150 teachers and facilitators and provides multi-faceted educational, therapeutic, vocational, and case management services to hundreds of children each year. Education Alternatives serves more than 400 children each year that are enrolled in our programs by over 80 school districts in Northeast Ohio.

Central Office Staff

Gerald Swartz

Executive Director

Mara Kampe

Business Operations Manager

Jennifer Napier

Director of Educational Programming

Christine Swartz, Ph.D, LPCC

Clinical Psychologist

Randy Brown

Accounting Clerk

Leah Luzier

Director of Business Operations

Brittney Blowe

Director of Human Resources

Ray Bielecki

Maintenance Supervisor

Chris Haney

Financial Controller

Emily Ellis

Director of Nutritional Services

Ashley Dixson

Human Resources Generalist

Kyle Robson

Maintenance Supervisor

Governing Board for Education Alternatives

Dr. Cynthia Leach
Dr. Cynthia Leach

Board Member

Dr. Christine Swartz
Dr. Christine Swartz

Board Member

Steven Van Dette

Board Member

Gerald Swartz

Board Member

Dr. David Ball


John Wagner
John Wagner

Board Member

Ready To Help Your Child Succeed?

Through the use of relationship-based therapy and individualized learning instruction. Education Alternatives transforms the lives of children of all ages.

Therapeutic Philosophy

Education Alternatives’ therapeutic philosophy for working with troubled children is centered in the belief that the healing process needed to give children hope for the future comes from trusting relationships with positive adults in a safe and nurturing environment. The relationships children build with Education Alternatives’ staff members serve as a healing presence and offer the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.


Attunement is the empathetic relationship that staff members form with children under their care. Staff members demonstrate “unconditional positive regard” toward children and attune to their individual needs, which is the first step toward building a healthy, trusting relationship.


Attachment is the result of the reciprocal relationship that is established between the child and the program staff. A secure attachment results in the child’s ability to regulate emotions and engage in mutually supportive relationships with others.


Achievement is the ultimate outcome of Education Alternatives’ programs and is reflected in the child’s ability to learn, manage behavior, and positively relate to others. Once students apply secure attachment behaviors, such as self-care, increased trust in others, and decreased aggression, they are able to increase their ability to learn and succeed.

Attachment Theory

Our agency’s therapeutic model focuses on the underlying causes of a child’s emotional disability. This method addresses emotional needs through the development of a responsive, empathetic relationship with others. The therapeutic model is based on Attachment Theory originally developed by John Bowlby in 1944. Attachment Theory states that everyone has an “attachment style”, which is either secure or insecure and controls one’s ability to regulate emotions and develop healthy relationships. Insecure attachment styles are rooted in a child’s experience of trauma or neglect at an early age, which later results in defiant behaviors and a lack of empathy for others.

Attachment Theory

At Education Alternatives, staff members attune to the child’s emotional needs through trust and unconditional positive regard, which fosters emotional growth and leads to success.

EA is the place that made my daughter fall in love with school and learning … She is 180 degree turned in a positive direction, and I am forever grateful for EA.

– Valeri L., Springfield Parent

My experience at EA has been great; I have no complaints. My son’s behavior has gotten a lot better. EA has a lot more patience with him than other schools, you don’t just send him home or kick him out.

– Ozie G., Elyria Parent

It’s the best decision we made. It was a hard decision to make – at first, you think you want them to stay in regular school. This the school for her, though. It meets all her needs.

– Jackie M., Elyria Parent

EA helped my son tremendously. He used to have outbursts at home, couldn’t stay at daycare, couldn’t be in public school, and was getting in trouble with police. Now he doesn’t even need his medication anymore because he’s able to use coping mechanisms that they’ve taught him.

– Nicole O., Ravenna Parent

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