PHOTO: Oregon High School senior Kaitlyn Mcloud, 18, said Hazel's Cafe owner Candace Rivera "took our ideas and added her style" for some of the decor in the coffee shop, like this light fixture.
The social entrepreneur class began when Instructor Aaron Sitze attended a workshop at the Illinois Math and Science Academy on innovation and entrepreneurship. He knew the idea would work at Oregon, so Sitze spent 5 weeks exploring similar programs, including the CEO program in Sterling and others in the Chicago suburbs.
"I felt stressing a social aspect, not just business, would be beneficial," Sitze said. "All of the students are creating businesses and projects that have a social benefit."
Seniors enrolled in the class start the process by exploring who they are and what they want to do after graduation. This can be work, college, or the military.
Once students know more about themselves, Sitze said they need to ask, "How does this apply to my future?"
He gives the students the freedom to create any project and by the end of the school year, students will have a small business that "may succeed, fail, or just disappear," and that is OK for Sitze because even a "failure is a success" because of what students learn during the process.
Community support is important for the class to succeed and Sitze said "It is cool to see the support. Everyone wants to see this program succeed."
Read this story at saukvalley.come to learn more about the social entrepreneurship program.
MORE ON THE PROGRAM
The following is from an informational handout from Aaron Sitze,Social Entrepreneurship Program program instructor:
What is the OHS Social Entrepreneurship Program?
In the simplest terms, the OHS Entrepreneurship Program expects that, by the end of the year, senior students will design, build, and implement a micro-business (or non-profit) either individually or in small groups that has a social benefit at its foundation.This, however, is the end of a long journey for students, one that begins with self-discovery and goal-setting, and then examines how to leverage those personal strengths and passions into a value proposition capable of creating income as well as social change.
Students will develop responsibility, professionalism, collaboration, creative thinking, independence, and self-confidence.Although there will be no “tests” over these qualities, students can expect to be consistently “tested” in each one – every time they present themselves to a community member, make a phone call, compose an email, or implement a solution of their own design.
The larger goal is to connect students to the community, to help them realize that their own ideas can have an impact, and that the best niche for their entrepreneurial vision is not in New York City or Silicon Valley, but right here at home – a place they already know, a place they can help grow.
How do students succeed in the program?
To answer this, we have to first accept what success is not.It is not how much money the student makes.It is not whether the student’s business scales up or fails into extinction.It is not even the grade the student gets in any one assessment, or in the course itself.Instead, the program is a well-timed microcosm of life, a chance for senior year students to “enter the real world” – a place often cited by educators but rarely allowed to be visited.
In the program, as in life, students will experience ups and downs, excitement and frustration, anxiety and relief, successes and failures on all scales.Yet, all of these experiences will be taking place within the supportive environment of school – a safety net that does not exist in “the real world.”The success of the program, therefore, comes from the way that it adapts to each student’s experience, how it challenges students to face and cross thresholds, or how it facilitates responses to conflicts, or how it slows down and pauses moments to help students see the inner-workings of relationships and team dynamics.
In a sense, the program operates under the same principles that it teaches: like a business, it has a well-researched vision.Like a business, it must be willing to pivot to adapt to the needs of its customers.And, like a business, it must seek a higher purpose than the simple economy of grades or content coverage.It is our hope that the entrepreneurship program adds to the increasingly diverse and experiential courses at OHS, and that the students look back on it not in terms of what it taught, but in terms of how they were changed by it.
How do I get involved as a community member?
We’re always looking for community involvement!Your unique experience can help bring variety to these students’ education, either as a guest speaker, a second-semester mentor that helps student businesses along, or an investor that helps fund these small projects.Please don’t hesitate to reach out, and we’ll behappy to talk more about how we can connect!Thanks!