Welcome to WEEK 52 of The 52 Week Love Project – Acts of Kindness.
THE LAST WEEK OF THE PROJECT!! ❤️
The project designed to recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration.
Introducing Ruth, the founder of Polytech – created to assist school students (grades 11 – 12) to connect them to a career pathway. Through small groups and one-on-one instruction, they support students throughout every step, building soft skills and confidence as well as academic skills.
The Polytech allows students to access career instruction in five pathways: healthcare, business & IT, education, manufacturing, and engineering. Students who know what they want to do after graduation get a head start by beginning certification programs before they have graduated from high school. Students who have no idea what to do next receive guidance and mentorship as they explore options. Many students who are struggling with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), chronic illnesses, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, thrive at The Polytech with the increased adult involvement, accommodations, and small group instruction that we offer.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
I started my first school in 1999. I had just become a Board-Certified Educational Therapist and was halfway through a graduate program to certify me as a high school principal. I was doing a lot of tutoring at the time and saw how hard some students worked, only to get nervous on the test and still end up with a low or even failing grade.
So, I started a school that would match one teacher with one student. We could issue a transcript, even a diploma, allowing students to get credit for learning completed in the one-on-one setting.
As students succeeded, news travelled and soon I opened three campuses in Washington State to make this one-on-one instruction model more accessible. I had a turning point in 2010 when I joined a curriculum publishing company, who further expanded my school model under the name Brightmont Academy. Today, there are 14 Brightmont campuses located in five states (Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington State).
I am proud of my Brightmont legacy of helping thousands of students experience success. After 19 years, high school students had many alternative options including Brightmont, but I observed that college students had few. Some of my former students, including some whose diploma I had signed, struggled with the transition into college and independence. More upsetting, some returned home without a degree, often for non-academic reasons. I began a private consulting business, Huma Education Services, to provide individual support, and soon met other educators addressing this same issue, which eventually led to the founding of The Polytech. We are a fully-independent high school that can also serve recent graduates and young adults already enrolled in college.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
As CEO, I’m responsible for maintaining the school’s mission and ensuring that our practices are consistent with our aspirations. I have two equally passionate business partners: Reza Khastou, who serves as COO and supervises all of our college student programs when the student is actively
attending a partner college; and Marcia Rodes, our Head of School, who oversees programs and builds the culture at our high school campus.
Our teachers are experts at differentiating instruction and customizing programs for students and create engaging lessons for the full spectrum of topics and needs. One thing we all have in common is our aligned philosophy to deliver instruction that is effective and meaningful.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
Plenty of people took chances on me and believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Now I can be that person to someone else. Sometimes I’m a guide, cheerleader, expert, confidant, and sometimes I just happen to be the one in the room willing to speak for the student who hasn’t yet found her voice. No matter what, I recognize the value of not being alone because I, too, have benefitted from all of the people who stood beside me. I remember fondly all the people from my own past each time I shake a graduate’s hand and pass them their hard-earned diploma.
And what these students have done with the opportunity is unforgettable – One girl dropped out of school to care for her mother after a surgery. She completed her diploma a year later by combining her remaining high school credits with a Certified Nursing Assistant program. Another student, now a professional hockey player, simply needed me to adjust his school calendar so that he could graduate three months early. He doubled up on class time and was able to hop on the bus with his team mates when they left town. Another student who had been repeatedly bullied found privacy and safety in our quiet environment. While completing her diploma, staff took her to a local college, showing her how well she would fit into this more diverse and tolerant campus.
HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT?
I mentioned before the amazing feeling of issuing a diploma to a young adult who has overcome tremendous difficulty. To see the awe and pride on their face is something you simply don’t forget! It’s humbling and also addictive to be a part of such an important life milestone, and it has driven me to expand and replicate my programs so that more students will have access to alternative education models.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE/CHANGE IN THE WORLD?
Whatever that idea is inside your head, give it chance to grow by putting it into motion. Even starting small – my first school started with just one student – you can never imagine the impact you can have. Other people need you more than you need the excuse of your own fear. Now that we’ve counted over 5,000 students successfully meeting their goals, all I can think of are the others who still need help. I want to be there for them.
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR EXPRESSION THAT YOU LIVE BY?
If it’s at all possible, say yes!
Take the time to search for the right options, not just the obvious ones. Although the easy and safe answer is no, it never changes anyone’s life or moves anything forward. It takes courage and creativity to find an atypical solution because it might change someone’s life. None of us get what we want all the time but knowing that someone is not putting unnecessary barriers in your path can be empowering enough to power through a difficult situation.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
I enjoy travelling, nature, art, reading, writing, family, and seeing the beauty in all that is around me.
HOW CAN OTHERS HELP/GET INVOLVED?
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The Polytech is self-sustaining through a private tuition model. To help someone attend The Polytech who is unable to afford tuition, please donate to Bright Future Dollars for Scholars, a non- profit who funds tutoring and academic support services for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and are interested in one of the 5 pathways offered at The Polytech. Learn more: here