23. “Smart Moves” and the New BHS Business Start-Up Incubator

3 mins read

We’re always working on projects behind-the-scenes here at 365Barrington.com to keep things fresh and new.  And we’ve had something special up our sleeves for the past few months.  We’ve decided to carve out a little space on this website where we feature cool things happening at District 220 schools.  We’re going to put all of these school-related stories in a category called Smart Moves and link to them from our sidebar so they’re easy to find, just by clicking on this graphic.

Smart Moves - Barrington 220 School District

And here’s the part we’re most excited about:  We’re going to be featuring guest writers in this Smart Moves series.  With the help of District 220 Chief Communications Officer, Dr. Jeff Arnett, and others who approach us with school-related stories to share, we’ll include posts written by teachers, students, parents and administrators about the work they are doing in our community.

Our first guest writer is Dr. Jeff Arnett himself.

Post 300 - Business Startup Incubator LogoIt’s a piece about the new Business Start-Up Incubator, a progressive new business curriculum coming this fall to Barrington High School.

The new program is possible, thanks to about $750,000 in donations from community members who believe the Incubator will offer BHS students invaluable, real-world business experience at the high school level.

It’s such a big deal, the district hired a new teacher who is uniquely qualified to oversee the entrepreneurship class.  His name is Hagop Soulaian and he was recently introduced to a group of about 50 influential leaders from Barrington’s business and non-profit communities.

The group, which also includes local investors, will be serving as mentors and coaches to BHS students enrolled in the Incubator program.  They will be working closely with the new teacher as student businesses launch with significant financial backing and strong community support.

BHS Entrepreneurship Teacher, Hagop Soulakian
BHS Entrepreneurship Teacher, Hagop Soulakian

For more details about the new curriculum, I’ll leave that to Jeff Arnett. Here’s how he describes the program in our first Smart Moves feature at 365Barrington.com….

Barrington High School to Launch Business Start-Up Incubator

by Dr. Jeff Arnett, District 220 Chief Communications Officer

Imagine a high school course designed to excite students about starting their own business.  Envision a class where students have the opportunity to create and fully develop their own product or service.

BHS Students in Class - Courtesy of District 220 Chief Communications Officer, Dr. Jeff Arnett
BHS Students in Class – Courtesy of District 220 Chief Communications Officer, Dr. Jeff Arnett

Think about students having access to successful, real-world entrepreneurs and corporate professionals who serve as coaches and mentors, guiding student teams through all parts of the new business process.

BHS Students in Class - Courtesy of District 220 Chief Communications Officer, Dr. Jeff Arnett
BHS Students in Class – Courtesy of District 220 Chief Communications Officer, Dr. Jeff Arnett

Visualize a classroom environment uniquely designed to promote collaborative thought, with tools to help provide a free flow of ideas, conversation and information.

Design Concepts for BHS Business Startup Incubator Classroom
Design Concepts for BHS Business Startup Incubator Classroom

Beginning in the fall of 2013, Barrington High School will offer juniors a rich, two-year curriculum that teaches the significant components of starting a new business.

The Business Start-Up Incubator will not be a typical high school business class.

Certified teachers in collaboration with subject matter experts and industry leaders will guide the class, providing students with unprecedented access and real-world experiences.

This will be a class where ideas become reality and concepts become products. Students will work in teams throughout the year to develop their plans and test their business models.

The course will culminate during a “Pitch Week,” where the student teams will promote their business idea to a non-profit, private-equity group as well as investors and venture capitalists, with at least one idea being selected for funding.

Students will then continue into their senior year, where they will launch the new business with the funding and support of this innovative new program.

Community members approached Barrington 220 and its Educational Foundation in the fall of 2012 with the idea and the resources to re-energize the high school’s business education curriculum.  These community members, Michael Miles and Karl Fruecht, are working with staff to develop the new Business Start-Up Incubator curriculum.

Pictured left to right: BHS Social Studies Department Chair Ty Gorman; Secondary Curriculum Director Kelly Hansen; BHS Principal Steve McWilliams; Barrington 220 Educational Foundation Chair Margarita Geleske; local entrepreneurs Michael Miles and Karl Fruecht; and BHS Applied Arts Department Chair LeeAnn Taylor.

After learning of the new program, Jim Goodwin – retired CEO of United Airlines and a Barrington-area resident – said, “The opportunity BHS is presenting to students is extremely rare. Matter of fact, I don’t know of any other school district in the country that would offer students this opportunity.”

The class is available to juniors and possibly sophomores if space allows. Interested students should speak with their counselor during the registration process. More details on the new program are available at www.bhsstartup.org.


About the Author

Post 300 - Dr. Jeff Arnett

Did you know that District 220 Chief Communications Officer, Dr. Jeff Arnett, started his career in education as an Elementary School teacher in the St. Louis area?

He was honored as “Teacher of the Year” before he moved on to head up community relations for other St. Louis area school districts.

Jeff’s career took an exciting turn when he was asked to serve as the Director of Education and Public Programs for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

That’s where he worked for seven years before joining us as District 220’s Chief Communications Officer in 2008.

Thank you, Jeff, for sharing these first details about the new Business Start-Up Incubator.  We look forward to learning more from you and those involved as the program unfolds.

For updates about the Incubator and the students who participate, stay tuned. We’ll be excited to share the latest here at 365Barrington.com.

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