Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Entrepreneurial High School Course

On Friday I took part in a class of the first entrepreneurship course taught in our county high schools. The idea for the course was the brainchild of Joe Fatheree, the 2007 Illinois Teacher of the Year who is a local high school teacher. As part of his award he was given some time and money to help design innovative courses. This is his capstone course which is being offered to 22 high school students from five county schools, some of whom have already started their own business, several of which are on the internet.

Joe funded the course through donations from about 50 local businesses, each of which committed $1,000/year for the next three years. It’s a great case of local entrepreneurs investing back into their communities to help grow the next generation of entrepreneurs. We hope to take the program regionally out to surrounding counties. Cheryl Peters of Generation E, who I’ve written about a number of times, has helped provide curriculum and training for the effort.

On Friday, I was one of nine business people who were assisting on a team building exercise at the course. We broke into groups of three and four and our assignment was to take 25 gumdrops and 25 toothpicks and collectively construct a structure with them while only using one arm each. The photo is the winning team of Allison Donsbach, Joe Balda, Courtney Koester and myself. It is the only time that I’ve ever been on a winning design team, so I’ll let you make your own inference of where the talent for our winning design came from.

This weekend I received an email from a parent of one of the students in the course. Here is part of that email.

At the dinner table this week, I was asking my son how his entrepreneurial class was going; he commented "I love it!” (Keep in mind that he tends to hold back on his emotions - so this is off the charts for him).

“It doesn't even feel like school. Time goes by so fast that when class is over, I get depressed ‘cause I know I have to go back to the 'real school'."

I thought this spoke volumes as to the great job you all are doing!!!!!!!!

Keep it up - the impact you are making on these young people is priceless!

The course is being taught by Craig Lindvahl, a wonderfully innovative teacher who is also an entrepreneur in his own right. He is a film maker who has won numerous Emmy’s for his documentaries. We already have dozens of young people who are working in the film industry because of his passion and ability to inspire. I’m convinced that we’ll also be turning out more local entrepreneurs in addition to the next Steven Spielberg.

If you aren’t working on entrepreneurial programs for your town, you are missing an excellent opportunity to reach out to what is going to be the most entrepreneurial generation in the history of the USA, the Millennial Generation of young people!

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