On September 28-30, over one hundred educators from across the nation gathered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the annual EntreEd Forum presented by The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education. This year’s programming included a wide range of valuable professional development activities for entrepreneurship education and classroom innovation. Teachers of all subject and grade levels were in attendance and participated in an engaging weekend of learning and leading the charge to bring entrepreneurship back to their local school system.
The forum kicked off on Friday September, 28 with a marketplace ran by over seventy Student Entrepreneurs from EdCorps’ Real World Scholars Program. Forum participants perused through the variety of items being sold and purchased a variety of student made wares including everything from T-shirts, candle melts, organic tea, mugs, pens, and games. The student entrepreneurs enjoyed the experience as much as their customers did. Greg Behr of The Grable Foundation and Remake Learning was a popular customer among the students and was the first keynote speaker of the forum, sharing his passion about creating engaging, relevant, equitable learning for all students. Behr said “Today’s students won’t be tasked with building cars, they’ll design the computers that drive them.”
Later in the afternoon, educators participated in two sessions of EntreCamp, a teacher-driven networking and classroom idea sharing opportunity where attendees decide what they want to learn and what they want to share. Sessions topics included soft skills, problem based learning relevance, and entrepreneurship strategies. The 2018 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Awards were then given out to TREP$ for their program, Southeast KY for best Community College partnership, Jackson City School for excellence in their school, and Amanda Jones, of Mary B. Austin Elementary for her work as an educator. The evening ended with a vendor reception happy hour that featured vendors and sponsors passionate about entrepreneurship education.
Saturday’s events began with an encouraging keynote presentation about redefining entrepreneurship and the Ice House EntrepreneurshipProgram from Gary Schoeniger of The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative. Schoneiger said that “In the 21st Century, everyone is going to have to be an entrepreneur-ial.” Educators then had the opportunity to attend a variety of beneficial breakout sessions of their choice. Young entrepreneur, Nick Staples of Zynergy Cycling gave an inspiring keynote at lunch that highlighted his personal entrepreneurship dreams and journey and brought the actuality of being a young entrepreneur into perspective for educators. “I’m an average guy who believed in the impossible. And that’s how impossibilities are made.” -Nick Staples. Forum attendees then had the opportunity to begin developing pitch ideas for the “What’s Your Big Idea?” Pitch Contest, and submit them by 6pm.
On Sunday, Rebecca Corbin of The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship discussed the rapid changes in our world today & how K-14 education can use entrepreneurship to keep up. Joseph Kapp of The National Center for Resource Development, described why entrepreneurship matters and encouraged everyone to “Start simply, but simply start.”. Cheryl Hays of the Rising Tide Initiative discoursed how to fail forward and ways to transform how teachers speak to students.. Next, the top 10 pitches were announced, and teams and individuals were given the opportunity to take the stage and present their unique ideas to our panel of judges. There were many amazing ideas presented, and judges had a difficult time selecting the winners. Our passionate first place winner was Zackary Bolen of Knott County Central High School for BBQ: Begin, Build, Quit – a community BBQ organized by students designed to create support and foster changed mindsets in a drug-impacted community. With the support and generosity of The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, we were able to award two second place winners: Christen Dunn of Entrepreneurship Academy for her Creating Opportunities Youth Conference (a conference created by students for students), and Neil Arnett of Pikeville Elementary for The Collaboratory, a library makerspace (EveryLibrary).Third place was taken by Tori Howard of Jackson City School for her Appalachian STEMS: Blossoming STEM Interest in Appalachian Girls project. The forum concluded on a very high note as excitement and inspiration filled the room.
Next year’s forum will be held in Lexington, Kentucky on September 27-29.