About Us


Situated in Northern California, Sierra Ridge Academy has a history of helping youth that spans nearly a century.

Sierra Ridge Academy, formerly Fricot City, was named after its founder Jules Fricot. Fricot purchased and developed the land in the 1850s, not only for the gold in the foothills, but also for the spectacular views, wildlife and spacious living.

When Fricot’s son, Desire, moved to Fricot City during the 1890s,  provided employment and housing for local residents. As a philanthropist, humanitarian conservationist and friend to youth in the area, Desire promoted the Boy Scouts organization and when he died, his request that Fricot City become a place to educate less than fortunate children was honored.

After Desire Fricot, the site was leased to the state-run California Youth Authority in the 1940s, and then to a series of private owners. Finally, in 1999, Rite of Passage acquired the property and founded Sierra Ridge Academy.

Today, Sierra Ridge Academy is an Academic Model™ program utilizing evidence-based curricula to actualize Desire Fricot’s original vision to provide education and opportunity to disadvantaged youth.

Rite of Passage

Sierra Ridge Academy is operated by Rite of Passage, a leading national provider of evidence-based therapeutic and educational programs for youth. Rite of Passage provides a diverse continuum of care with evidence-based programs in education, youth shelter programs, family and community aftercare and intensive treatment for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

For over 30 years, Rite of Passage has been improving the lives of youth. Through its work at Sierra Ridge Academy and other academy programs, Rite of Passage has developed the Academic Model™ framework to articulate its program philosophy, methodology, and specific evidence-based practices.


The Academic Model™ is the framework for Sierra Ridge Academy’s programming and services. Beginning with a foundation of safety, accomplished through caring relationships, qualified and trained staff, fosters a culture where students can learn.

Staff model pro-social skills, utilize the appropriate amount of empathy and provide youth with problem resolution skills. Assessments identify individual student needs and strengths and develop their intrinsic motivation for change.

Evidence-based cognitive behavioral interventions help students develop skills to overcome aggression, disruptive behavior, and heal from traumatic events in their lives. Since many of the students will return home, family involvement and treatment are provided at an appropriate intensity.

The normalized environment enables each student to develop and practice skills in the therapeutic, academic, vocational, health/wellness, family and community activities. Through these experiences, the student gains competencies and skills to attain Treatment Plan goals; then, new goals are established and the process of positive change is moved forward, creating a new vision and hope for the youth.

Meet Our Qualified Team

As Program Director, Galey Betzler oversees operations, group living, education and clinical services at Sierra Ridge Academy. Galey, who has been a Rite of Passage employee since 2003 holds a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Psychology with a Mental Health Administration Certificate. She brings her expertise in Case Management, Behavioral Health, Program Development and Management to SRA.

Galey Betzler
Program Director

Kenny Hays serves as Sierra Ridge Academy's Director of Group Living. A 24-year veteran of Rite of Passage, Hays oversees day-to-day logistics, operations and group living personnel. He holds a B.A. in Psychology.

Kenny Hays
 Director of Group Living

Mr. DeWalt has fifteen years of experience in the educational field working as a special education teacher, history teacher, and instructional coach. He has been with Sierra Ridge Academy for nearly ten years, and as Principal oversees the SRA school and helps every student reach their full potential, become lifelong learners, and become productive citizens.

Russell DeWalt

Ms. Woodard, who has been with Rite of Passage for over five years, serves as Sierra Ridge Academy's Case Management Coordinator. She holds a Master's in Psychology and a BA in Human Services. She has over eight years of experience working with at-risk youth populations.

Paige Woodard
Case Management Coordinator

Anthony Jackson grew up in the California bay area where he began working with youth and young adults as a mentor and counselor. Today, Anthony has more than ten years of social services experience, and has earned Bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Music Arts. He is committed to the Rite of Passage mission to improve the lives of youth.

Anthony Jackson
Site Trainer & Compliance Manager