Leadership is a big focus of the high school curriculum at Fredericksburg Christian High School. One important component, entrepreneurialism, offers a vital way for young leaders to develop the confidence to think creatively and create solutions for practical problems. It’s more than just curriculum, though, because success stories like Little Fish Swimming, a growing regional business, are found throughout the lives of FCS Alumni. Little Fish founders didn’t even wait to graduate; they launched during the founder’s junior year in high school.
Swimming Skills Pay Off
Being comfortable and safe in the water is something that came along with Keri Rayford’s experience as a swimming champion. During her junior year in high school, with the support of her parents and sister, she did something that very few high school students have the courage to do—she started her own business. With flyers and the delivery skills of her future husband along with a supportive article in the Free Lance-Star, Little Fish Swimming was born in the backyard of a local neighbor’ s home.
Keri and her sister, Rochelle, spent the first year as the primary instructors, but by year number two, they stepped out of the pool to begin the process of building their business. The entire operation was built upon a fresh curriculum that they wrote, coming out of Keri and Rochelle’s personal experience about what really works when learning to swim. The opportunity to have a location for year-round instructional swimming became possible through an agreement to use the pool, now located at St. Michael the Archangel High School.
A Growing Business
Two big additions to the business came in the form of Keri’s husband, Aaron, who joined with his training and passion for marketing plus a cutting-edge certification in the Infant Survival Rescue training program that teaches children as young as six months old to save themselves from accidental drowning. They’ve also enjoyed viral sharing about their business with a feature on Good Morning America . Now five years later, Little Fish Swimming is growing and expanding throughout the region with a focus on quality instructional experience and intentional customer service.
Little Fish is clearly a great local business story, but when you dig deeper, it’s something more—it’s another example of Fredericksburg Christian School’s commitment to develop leaders that is built right into the high school curriculum. This commitment to develop leaders is focused on the growth of personal confidence and the ability to think creatively and critically. This is exactly what Keri and Aaron exemplify in their work with Little Fish.
High School Curriculum that Prepares Students for Life
The skill in which the Rayfords have embraced their business roles mirrors their college experience, and they give credit to Fredericksburg Christian for preparing them for academics and life. Keri shares about her college experience, “When everyone around me was struggling, I was well prepared.” Aaron reflects on great relationships that started at FCS that have continued throughout the years, and remembers weekly chapels, about which he says, “they were fresh and interesting all the time.”
Another family member in the business, Becca, who is also an FCS alumni, looks back on the fact that she “kept her friends from school,” friendships that she still continues to treasure to this day. The Rayfords aren’t just alumni; their children attend FCS too. They are experiencing this now from the other side as parents, and it’s obvious to them the positive impact that FCS is making in the lives of their children.
As a part of the high school curriculum, Fredericksburg Christian offers an entrepreneurial class that deeply impacted the Rayfords. Taught by Jerry Gideon, who is still teaching computers, graphics and entrepreneurism after twenty years, alumni including the Rayfords, love to connect with him at every opportunity. Jerry loves fostering an attitude of creative exploration to aid students in finding a direction for their future that lines up with their personal interests and passions. Like other teachers at FCS, Jerry shares, “I love what I do, and wake up every morning excited to see how I can invest in the lives of students.”
Swimming is About More than Water
Graduates from FCS, like their teachers, demonstrate the capacity to tackle both education and life with skill and focus. They don’t see education or business as separate parts of life, but part of an integrated life mission to reach and serve people in the same way that Christ did. If you want to ask about the educational experience at Fredericksburg Christian—or about Little Fish Swimming—sign up for a lesson and ask for the Rayfords. They love to share about their school—FCS.