Gateway opened in 1994 at a time when Caldwell County held the dubious honor of leading the state in the number students who were dropouts.
Original plans called for the school to open in Happy Valley utilizing the Patterson School property. When that plan fell through, the school opened in 1994 in an old doctor's office in downtown Granite Falls. Initially serving grades 9-12, a middle school component was added in 1995. When the current Dudley Shoals Elementary School opened January of 1996, the old campus became the permanent home of Gateway School. Four months after moving to the new location, a boiler fire destroyed a large portion of the offices and classrooms. The school remained open and the current offices, computer lab, and math classroom were rebuilt.
The school currently serves grades 6-12 and has a capacity for 24 middle school students and 85 high school students. The program is staffed by 11 certified teachers, a guidance counselor, three teacher assistants, secretary, custodian, school resource officer, and principal.
The purpose of Gateway is twofold. First, the school serves as a primary strategy in the effort to eliminate dropouts. By providing a smaller environment, performance-based curriculum, intense monitoring of student performance, and weekly communication with the home, Gateway has helped to reduce the number of students who drop out of the Caldwell County Schools. Another important purpose of the program is to provide the means for regular (home) schools to remove chronic behavior, attendance, and achievement problems from the regular classroom. These often-disruptive students impede the education process of the home school and strain resources. At Gateway, these students are in a much smaller environment, are closely monitored, and are given individual plans for success. The school program is at the same time very nurturing and one of the toughest anywhere in terms of discipline.