When it comes to exploring new ways of learning, Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation is not afraid to test unexplored territory.
TVSC and the Warsaw-Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce recently joined forces to introduce a new program, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, a program that began in Rochester, N.Y., that equips local chambers of commerce to train youth as business leaders.
Renea Salyer of the Warsaw-Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce has taken the program a step farther, introducing it at Tippecanoe Valley High school as a pilot program that will eventually spread to other schools in Kosciusko County. Salyer lives in the TVSC district.
This will not be an extracurricular activity, nor will it be a club. It will be an actual class that combines economics, English and government to teach students all about the world of entrepreneurship, or starting up a new business.
Taking things yet another step farther, students in the class will actually launch their own, real-life businesses.
“At the end of this, the students have a registered business with the state of Indiana,” TVSC Superintendent Brett Boggs said. “It’s not just a make-believe business. It’s a real business.”
After completing the class, the students may do what they want with their businesses — grow them, close them, form or dissolve partnerships or anything else they, as business owners, would like to do.
For now, the class will be limited to 12 businesses, which means some students may need to team up to launch their businesses. The students with the top businesses will have the chance to display them in a trade show in Rochester, N.Y. From there, the top student businesses nationally will travel to a trade show in Washington, D.C.
And there is more. Grace College in Winona Lake is offering three transferable college credit to any students who take the course.
Doehrmann was initially skeptical, but after speaking with Shriver, he decided it may be a good idea. “In our area of the county, we want to develop what we have here and get our kids to come back here in the future,” he said. The Y.E.A., he believes, can do just that. “I like the realism of what’s happening,” Shriver said. “At the end, they’re going to have a real business.”
The program will also involve local business people. Students will take field trips to different sizes and types of business to get an idea of how each works. They will visit large businesses, small ones and even some franchises. Businesspeople from the area will visit to discuss their perspectives and answer questions. In addition to the teachers, mentors will work with students to make sure they are moving in the right direction, though they will not run the students’ businesses for them.
“This is what businesspeople want to see in our schools, to prepare the kids for the future,” Boggs said.
For more information about YEA, visit yeausa.org.