Another school year is ending, and with it comes an abundance of local news reports of students from local high schools presenting business plans to a group of judges. Students, judges, and audiences all participating in a mock version of Shark Tank, the highly popular television show. From the perspective of both educators, parents, and community businesses, this is a win-win for all concerned. Business plan competitions captures an optimism about the community thriving in a hub of local startups.
Career-focused pathways are emerging around the country for high school students who want to direct their focus of studies, and one of the common pathways is business and entrepreneurship. One school that is following suit with success is Leroy Greene Academy in Sacramento.
Leroy Greene is a dependent charter school open for 6th to 12th grades. The school consists of two innovative programs – Visual Arts & Technology and Business & Entrepreneurship.
Beginning in the 2016 school year, Leroy Greene introduced two new entrepreneurship courses: Entrepreneur Journey and INCubatoredu. These courses are additions to the school’s Entrepreneur Pathway, which prepares students for college and a career.
At Leroy Greene, Entrepreneur Journey gives 11th grade students with an understanding of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. It builds knowledge and practical skills for students by applying the tools of the entrepreneur. The curricula also provides students with the methods to evaluate ideas for potential for success in the market.
Entrepreneur Journey prepares the student for the 12th grade INCubatoredu course where students launch a business. Both of these courses emphasize “Learn by Doing” and involve community and business leaders.
With its Business & Entrepreneur program (as well as Visual Arts & Technology), Leroy Greene uses “pathways” to lead students to their college and career goals. The pathway system is becoming more popular in schools across the nation, including the esteemed Academies of Nashville.
In the Academies of Nashville, the students choose what and how they want to learn in a field that interests them, ranging from engineering to healthcare. The goal is to prepare students for college and ultimately their dream jobs. The pathway system comes into play as they are on the path to their dream jobs, whether they’re in the Broadcasting pathway, Culinary Arts pathway, or Business Leadership pathway.
Leroy Greene principal Leslie Sargent got the opportunity to visit the Academies of Nashville to learn about how education was shaped in the different programs.
“It was great to visit the schools while they were in session and see what was going on,” Sargent said, “We visited three different schools to learn about the academy and see the nuances and how they were functioning.”
Through this experience, Sargent learned how to refine Leroy Greene’s business pathway and make it more viable through different courses and areas of studies. Most importantly, the opportunity helped her and other education leaders study the structure of the schools to help make their own schools the best places possible for kids.
“Our main goal is to make sure our kids graduate and are college and career ready,” Sargent said, “We want to make sure we’re setting students up for success for their future.”