What do you do with an idea?
At the Entrepreneurship and Business Academy (EBA), just about anything you want.
The school division’s newest academy opened at Kempsville High School in September and already has a long list of individuals and organizations to thank for their support.
EBA Coordinator Meghan Timlin knows they will need even more support and made a business pitch of her own at the academy’s partner appreciation event March 30.
“Tonight is a celebration of the partnerships that we’ve already established here within the academy but we also want to discuss ways that you can get involved in the future,” Timlin told the audience. “Next year we will double in size, which is really exciting. Each year we will keep growing, which means more and more opportunities.”
Timlin offered an endless list of partnership opportunities: leading afterschool master classes to share expertise; volunteering time to interview students and judge student work; donating material and instructional resources; sponsoring field trips to hear guest speakers or visit job sites; mentoring a student or student group; providing job shadowing or internship experiences; writing curriculum; joining the academy advisory committee; and donating money to build new learning spaces.
Another option is asking the student entrepreneurs to help problem solve with company case studies.
“Our students are challenged to think differently and to use design thinking, so if there is a problem [at your company], let us help you solve it,” said Timlin. “Come in and tell them what’s going on and give them the chance to brainstorm what their ideas are to solve that problem.”
Thinking differently is what EBA student Annika Ashcraft says she does best.
“With business, you can do anything with it. You need to think outside the box. That’s something I’m very good at. I think of everything in totally different ways – in backward manners. But for the classes I’m in, it works really well.”
EBA student Brendan also feels best when he’s thinking outside the box.
“Here, I feel like I can be myself. You’re accepted as yourself and you can branch out and be creative. And that’s what’s expected – branch out and be creative.”
The academy’s new learning spaces, currently in the design phase, will provide space that should encourage even more creative thinking. Guests had the opportunity to review the new designs on student-led tours of the current academy space. Timlin shared that construction is expected to begin and be completed in summer 2018.
In the meantime, academy students and staff are eager for more community involvement because of how impactful it has been on student learning thus far.
“I think the academy provides a lot of insight into the business community around us. I really appreciate the master classes and what they do for us and how we can make connections with the community,” said EBA student Ryle Lancaster.
Allison Daniels agreed that networking and making connections are important. She said they have already met two of the “sharks” on the television show Shark Tank, and she began developing her own business idea through Envision Lead Grow, a summer program offered at the academy by a business partner.
“I created a business called ‘MS Meals and More.’ It’s to help people who have multiple sclerosis by delivering hot meals to them and helping with housework and maintenance. Being in the entrepreneurship and innovative strand [at the academy] will help me further my goal which is to start up MS Meals and More.”
What do you do with an idea?
You make it a reality, as Daniels is well on her way to doing at the EBA.
“All our classes are helping us toward starting a business, so that’s really cool,” she said.
Individuals or organizations interested becoming partners with the Entrepreneurship and Business Academy may contact Meghan Timlin at 757-648-5450.