Innovative Barrington High business program spreading nationwide
Educators from across the country converged Monday on Barrington High School for a three-day workshop to learn more about its entrepreneurship course that has students create their own startup company.
After its debut at Barrington High in 2013, the Business Incubator course spread to nine more school districts last year. Next year, 32 districts, some as far away as California, Pennsylvania, and Florida, will offer the program.
Margarita Geleske, the director of INCubatoredu, the nonprofit organization that promotes and provides the curriculum, said this week's training sessions are hands-on. Educators taking part had to come up with their own business idea and pursue its viability through a series of sessions.
Jason Brunke, who taught the incubator program last school year at Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, Illinois, shared his experiences Monday afternoon. His school offered a more traditional entrepreneurship class for eight years before switching to the incubator program.
"It was always very traditional," Brunke said. "(Students would) write their hypothetical plan and then they'd graduate and stuff it in a box and we would never know if it was viable."
Brunke said the new curriculum breathed life into the school's business education program.
"It was a game-changer and we could see that right away," he said. "The engagement we saw in the students was awesome."
Rich Campanaro, the student media adviser at Crockett High School in the Austin (Texas) Independent School District, said he will teach the program starting in the 2016-2017 school year. He believes it will provide a better framework for business education than a traditional class.
"I've never been a fan of the 'Here's the textbook, here's what you need to teach and here's how you teach it,'" Campanaro said. "Frankly, a lot of kids are bored in school and that's when they start to make trouble is when their bored, so this is definitely going to get them engaged."
Geleske said that even as the business incubator program spreads across the country, it will always have a home in Barrington Area Unit School District 220, which she called their flagship district.
Last week the District 220 school board approved a deal that provides the 220 Educational Foundation with a percentage of the revenue that INCubatoredu gets when it sells the curriculum to a new district.
"That's in honor of the risk (Barrington 220) took in opening its doors," Geleske said. "It is rare that the educator of a school district this size would say, 'Sure, come join us and let's see what is developed.'"
During its first two years at Barrington High, seven student-made companies received funding from investors to pursue their business plans.
The 150 educators registered for the training session will spend Tuesday morning at Buffalo Grove High School and the afternoon at Second City in Chicago for a session called "A Startup is an Act of Improvisation." The training will wrap up Wednesday at Wheeling High School.