Students in Rockwood Summit High's
Entrepreneur Accelerator class got the chance to meet with a panel of area business owners Jan. 22 at the Grand Glaize Branch of the St. Louis County Library in Manchester.
This is the first semester Rockwood Summit, Lafayette
have offered the course, and the Rockwood Summit students were the first ones to take part in a question-and-answer session with a panel of entrepreneurs.
"I was happy that all the entrepreneurs were open to them, and the students asked good questions," said teacher Laurie Philipp. "As we do more things like this, the students are going to be more comfortable with asking questions and knowing that these people are there to help them. The more I can get students in front of entrepreneurs and other people who can help them, the better. That's my goal this semester: expose them to as much as I can."
The 14 students took turns asking the entrepreneurs – Mike Lewis of Lewis Realty Group, Emily McCartney of McCartney Wealth Management, Dr. Max Orris of Agape Family Chiropractic and Rachel Walter of Toasted Coffee House – questions about their business. Then, the panel and the students engaged in a more free-flowing discussion about the joys – and challenges – of running a business.
"It really gave you the type of information you wouldn't learn in a classroom," said senior Jeff Buck. "It gave us real-world experiences."
Aside from the general ins and outs of being an entrepreneur, students were able to take away lessons about specific fields in which they may want to work.
Senior Grace Greenwalt plans to study finance in college, so she found McCartney's perspective especially enlightening. Senior Alex Riney enjoyed Lewis – a Rockwood Summit grad – discussing the many different avenues a real estate career can travel, and junior Ellie Bayes found resonance with Orris explaining his unique specialty: pre- and postnatal chiropractic.
"It taught us all not only what you need to start a business but the qualities you have to have as a person," Bayes said. "Communication skills and being able to interact with customers are really important. There are so many fields you can go into in terms of medical, so many different aspects to each group of people you provide services to."
Philipp and a few other district teachers wrote the curriculum for the course, which prizes ingenuity and teaching students not to be afraid to take risks.
"It's another step toward learning how to start a business and what factors go into it," said senior Erika Poeling. "There is no list, but we're able to come up with things and get a head start right now."