St. Stephen – Entrepreneurial savvy by students at St. Stephen Middle School will financially benefit 35 charities in the region.
The four classes of Grade 8 students will present their profits from recent Entrepreneurial Marketplace Program projects to charity representatives June 5 at the school, beginning at 9 a.m.
The cheques will total in the vicinity of $7,000, said teacher Josh Cheney. The program involved having the students create products, develop business plans, and market their items to customers during a recent mini-trade show at the Garcelon Civic Center.
The Entrepreneurial Adventure Program is offered to the schools through the Learning Partnership which Eric Estabrooks, its New Brunswick manager, describes as a “not-for-profit champion of publicly funded education.”
Estabrooks said the Learning Partnership offers a number of programs nationally, including the Take Your Kids To Work which began in the 1990s, Welcome To Kindergarten, Coding Quest, a program for students in Grade 4 which teaches them how to create gaming codes and I Cubed, which encourages students to think of a problem in their everyday lives, invent something to solve it and show their solution at “an invention convention.”
Funding for the Learning Partnership comes from outside sources, said Estabooks. He sad BMO sponsors the entrepreneurial adventure.
“We partner with groups to make things happen.”
School superintendents are consulted for permission to contact schools to offer information on how to implement the various programs.
The entrepreneurial program has been offered in St. Stephen for three years now and Estabrooks is pleased with the enthusiasm it has generated.
He also said the money raised by the SSMS students is astounding, describing it record setting for the province which has seen the program operate in New Brunswick schools for the past 12 years.
“I don t know how it can get any better than this year.”
Estabrooks credits teacher Josh Cheney with the program’s success.
“He’s a superstar,” he stated, adding the student participants are superstars as well, but “somebody needs to lead the charge, and help coordinate them.”
To make the program a success the teachers must surrender the learning to the students. If a teacher is not of that ilk, said Estabrooks (a former middle school principal) then it’s more difficult to accomplish.
But Cheney, Estabrooks said “just eats this stuff up.”
“He has so much energy and believes in learning-based (methods).”
“It all gels when you’ve got the village working together,” Estabrooks said, noting the generous support of local business community leaders David Ganong and Bob Sweeney and
Sweeney’s business associate, Amanda Daigle, as well as other business owners who he believes understand how important it is to be an entrepreneur.
“The whole community got behind the B2C Marketplace,” said Estabrooks.
The entrepreneur program, which promotes self-directed learning, focuses on skill development where students learn to take an idea and “make it their own and brand it.”
Each school approaches the program differently. In St. Stephen, where several teachers are involved, the students break down into various partnerships, and this year had 76 separate businesses.
Other schools, like one in Meductic, near Woodstock, has one class, one teacher, 25 students, and one business venture.
They all work as one company and Estabrooks said it’s a superb learning experience and harder to do than 75 different businesses. “They have to learn how to collaborate, check their egos at the door and make it about the team and not themselves.”
Estabrooks said one thing he appreciates about the entrepreneurial program is that students learn by doing and the result is “kids can talk about entrepreneurship inside out, without notes.”
“The future is bright.”