Fir Ridge is an alternative high school program site where Camp Fire students are provided with academic support and encouraged to find their “sparks,” or passions, that will guide their growth. While in the “Thrive” class, the high schoolers discover their talents for things like creative writing to working with youth.
The “Thrive” students alternate between direct classroom instruction as a group to one-on-one mentorship with Camp Fire Site Coordinator, Ramiyah Baker-Blunt. She focuses on teaching her students life skills and the “growth mindset,” which she says will be valuable tools as adults. “Many of my students are at first confused by the idea of sparks, and insist they don’t have one,” Ramiyah said. “Often they are only focused on a specific career because they heard it’s a possibility to make good money.”
Instead of focusing on dollar signs, Ramiyah directs the students’ attention towards what “makes them feel great,” she said. “Pretty soon I start to get answers like volunteering, art, and singing,” she said. Since all of her students are low-income, Ramiyah said another crucial aspect of the “Thrive” class is talking about money management.
“These lessons may seem like obvious things to some people – such as learning what a bank account is, what is credit, how to create a budget,” she said. “But when you don’t have money, it’s nearly impossible to learn how to manage it responsibly.”
Quotes from students’ journals indicate a deeper reflection for what they’re learning in “Thrive,” what had meant the most to them, and the impact that Ramiyah has had on them.
“Ramiyah made a huge impact on my life because just her attitude made me happy even when I was pissed for no apparent reason,” wrote Bambi. “She was so flexible and understanding of everyone and was very considerate… She explained things in a way everyone understood, and if you still don’t get it she would be happy to explain it to you one-on-one.”
Other students voiced their appreciation of particular projects they completed in class. Skyler wrote, “[The project that stood out most to me was] probably the final thrive project, mainly because it showed me all the different problems just in my local area, and that even one single person can help make a difference.”
Chris agreed that finding solutions to issues in his community was empowering and made him think differently. “The project that stood out for me was the one where we had to choose a problem in our community and come up with ideas of solving them,” he said. “It helped me realize that my community is important to me because it’s where I live and I want my family to be safe.”