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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 5:23 am | Fair 43º


Educators Learn How to Sell Entrepreneurship Skills

Laguna Blanca teachers incorporate business curriculum in classroom

Oscar Gomez, who is working to bring entrepreneurship education to Colombian high schools, talks with Alethea Tyner.
Oscar Gomez, who is working to bring entrepreneurship education to Colombian high schools, talks with Alethea Tyner. (Laguna Blanca School.)

Laguna Blanca’s Hope Ranch campus served as an incubator for entrepreneurship education programs and welcomed 24 educators from around the country for a three-day workshop in June.

The workshop presented a highly developed, adaptable entrepreneurship curriculum designed to help students solve real-world business problems and discover their own ability to create value and contribute to the world.

Created by Hawken School in Cleveland and developed globally by Wildfire Education, the method has become an integral part of the LBS academic landscape over the last two years.

Inclusion of the method came about after Paul Chiment, Laguna Blanca Upper School entrepreneurship teacher, and Blake Dorfman, Laguna Middle School instructor, attended a workshop on it in 2015.

“Since Paul and Blake attended a workshop two years ago, they have developed a rich entrepreneurial studies program that involves the entire community — Laguna Blanca and Santa Barbara together,” said Doris Korda.

Korda built Hawken’s program before founding Wildfire in 2017.

In Chiment’s class, high school student teams act as consultants to local businesses, studying how they operate and offering solutions to issues faced by the company.

Middle school students in Dorfman’s class design and develop solutions for clients on campus, learning the fundamentals of Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad for startups.

While Korda and Wildfire program coordinator Alison Tanker led the workshop with inspirational content and testimonials, Chiment and Dorfman provided their own insights to the diverse group of attendees.

The cohort included teachers trying to build programs in universities, inner-city public schools and independent schools.

There was even a pair of entrepreneurs from Colombia whose government has asked them to develop curriculum for their country's high school teachers.

Key guidance also was provided by Hawken students who have experienced the power of the program.

“Guidance from Paul and Blake about how to start, what works, and what doesn't was hugely important in giving teachers the confidence they need to take on a completely new way of teaching,” Korda said.

“My course has changed through each of the four semesters it’s been given, and it will continue to do so. It’s far from perfect,” said Dorfman.

“Educators need to be able to take Wildfire’s concept and adapt it to their own schools based on variables like class size, time constraints and facilities. The good news is that the concept is malleable and deliverable in many forms,” he said.

The workshop sessions took place in the Isham Library and Nylen Academic Research Center and spread to various Laguna classrooms and its outdoor settings.

By the end of the program, teachers came away with ideas for pilot programs they will roll out in the next year.

Wildfire has started a podcast called Do School Better, which tells the story of various educators as they have developed similar programs in their schools. Laguna’s entrepreneurship instructors are featured on an episode of the podcast.

Visit www.wildfire-education.org and click on the podcast link to learn more. For more information about Laguna Blanca School, visit lagunablanca.org or call 687-2461.

— Tara Broucqsault for Laguna Blanca School.


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