Entrepreneurship Classes Attract Students

June 2, 2003
Entrepreneurship has emerged as a very exciting and promising program in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). By the fall of 2003, all 23 MCPS high schools will be teaching at least one section of Entrepreneurship and Business Management, and several schools will be teaching several sections.

Two schools are planning Entrepreneurship Academies that will offer a sequence of courses focusing on different aspects of entrepreneurship. At Montgomery Blair High School, the academy will provide students with a program emphasizing the many aspects of business and business management, with courses such as advanced accounting, international business, business law and marketing. Thomas S. Wootton High School will be connecting entrepreneurship to its already successful biotechnology and humanities programs, as well as emulating the types of courses that a future college business major would take.

At a week-long training institute held last June, teachers were immersed in the world of entrepreneurship. They worked on developing a curriculum that would excite students, using entrepreneurship themes and connecting them to math and writing as well as to critical and creative thinking skills that students will need to succeed after they finish high school. Local business owners and entrepreneurs talked about how they started their businesses, and shared with teachers the tricks of thinking like an entrepreneur. Every day of the training involved an entrepreneurship theme, such as finance and marketing. Speakers from the community interacted with teachers to share their expertise and answer questions about how business is actually conducted in the local area. Doug Schiffman, entrepreneur and advocate of the program says, “This is the way that all teaching and learning should be real, meaningful, and exciting.”

The entrepreneurship program is administered by Shelley Johnson and Kimberly Jackson from the Division of Career and Technology Education, and has been aided by a grant from the Chicago-based Coleman Foundation. The grant has allowed both teachers and administrators to attend the annual Institute for Entrepreneurship "Youth Entrepreneurship Conference" held each March in Milwaukee. Teachers from around the country share best practices from the classrooms, and students participate in an entrepreneurship convention, standing next to a tabletop exhibit while describing their business. The students also compete for thousands of dollars of start-up capital for their business and for their school.

The Entrepreneurship program has already made headlines for one local student. Montgomery Blair senior Brandon Haynes, 17, of Silver Spring competed against students from five other area public schools last month in the finals of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) Region-wide Business Plan Competition and came home with a third place win and $250. Brandon is a student in Derek Sontz’s Entrepreneurship and Business Management class, one of the courses available to students in Blair's Academy of Entrepreneurship. For the full story on Brandon's achievement, visit the link below.

Shelley Johnson or Kimberly Jackson
Division of Career and Technology Education Tel.: 301-279-3567

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