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SWSC Trustees Eye Entrepreneurial Program for Students

Representatives of Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities told Southwest School Corp. trustees that their program could expand options for students prior to the start of the board’s meeting Wednesday.
“It emphasizes 21st-century learning skills,” Rahul Bajaj — one of the Knox County branch’s students — told SWSC trustees, adding that the program, better known as CEO, has students spend the first part of the school day traveling to local businesses and learning through experience.
“Our generation … we’re not professional. A lot of what this class has provided us is how to be professional.” Bajaj added. “Last year, I could be up here talking. There’s no way. This year, just going through this program, it just helps.”
“I just wish you could have met these kids back in August …” added Kristi Utt, the Knox County branch’s facilitator. “Just to see them go from August to now, it is an incredible difference. And that’s part of the program.”
The program was created roughly 10 years ago through Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship and has expanded to several states. This last school year was the first Knox County schools had an established branch.
Each branch is funded through investments from local businesses.
Students enrolled in the program visit various businesses in their communities, as well as host guest speakers.
In addition, the students are required to set up their businesses, creating business plans, establishing services or products, and hosting a business expo to sell to community members.
The class can count for both high school and college credit.
SWSC Superintendent Chris Stitzle said, prior to the presentation, the corporation could set up its own program in time for the 2019-20 school year.
Pat Hutchison, a board member for the Knox County branch, told SWSC trustees that having students visit local businesses helps them better connect with their communities and want to come back once they complete college.
“It is a good program …” he said. “It is an opportunity for these students to be entrepreneurial. And they get to see so much of what your community has to offer.”

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