I had the honor of speaking to our new Business and Entrepreneurship class this past week. I brought with me a presentation, two videos, and hula hoops to help me to illustrate my points. We all need tools in order to help inspire students to do great things and contribute positively to a global society as our district mission includes.
This course is not just an elective, but another example of the innovative nature of the programming we are providing our students at Mineola High School. It is the first of what we hope to evolve into a business and advanced manufacturing "strand." A direction, or pathway that students can travel in their quest to be "college and career ready."
Next, I wanted them to know they were were brought together to help create something that has never been done before in the high school. That is... a school business that sells products designed and created by the students themselves. We created a Business Club as well; and opened our Fabrication Lab (FabLab) and staffed it after-school for students to produce. I also wanted students to know that it is in classes like this, where world changers are born... classes where the learning is messy and students have the ability to think outside the box.
This sounds like a great opportunity for creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.... right? Well, of course it is; but as it turns out, these are difficult concepts for adolescents who are very used to traditional schooling. Perfect! This class has already empowered students to own their own learning.
Fast forward to this morning... Today was "pitch day." Six groups of entrepreneurs came to the iHub to pitch their ideas to our FabLab team. The ideas included T-Shirts, Stickers, Pop Sockets, Mugs, Frames, and Signs. The ideas were vast and the student presentations were comprehensive. The FabLab team answered questions that related to materials, production time, and feasibility. They also gave the students some questions to go back to their groups and think about related to design and cost. It was a great meeting that raised the excitement of the reality of this tremendous opportunity.
Having a lot of questions is both frustrating and rewarding at the same time. While it is difficult to begin with the end in mind, I know the journey to entrepreneurship will be a rewarding one... one that prepares students for careers, college, and citizenship.
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Whittney Smith, Ed.D.
Dr. Smith is the Principal of Mineola High School in Garden City Park, NY. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Ruth Ammon School of Education at Adelphi University.