“The only way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
While at Episcopal, I have had the pleasure of creating a new and unique course that promotes the principles of entrepreneurship and financial literacy. During my years of teaching Economics, issues such as paying for college and how to invest are always hot topics to discuss in class. As a teacher, it would be devastating to not equip our students with the information they need when facing tough decisions like “Where should I attend college?”, “How much would it cost to stay on-campus versus off-campus?”, and “Should I expense everything on a credit card?” Even so, the topic of finances is often times a challenging conversation to have.
Entrepreneurship and financial stewardship promotes values such as problem solving, building and cultivating relationships, taking risks, having confidence, understanding failure (and that failure is okay), and being passionate about what you do. These traits are essential to almost, if not all, entrepreneurs, but also for all individuals in any facet of life. Just ask Episcopal students Caden Dickinson and Evan Fallin who both know they want to major in business in the future. Caden wants to major in business because he loves what opportunities it can provide for him in the future, while Evan wants to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps as a stockbroker. Both of these students were able to see real-world applications of what we discuss in class, which drives them to pursue business as a viable career option.
The question I hope to answer is “How can we educate our students about business and entrepreneurship in a meaningful and productive manner?” One approach is to invite highly successful entrepreneurs and self-starters from right here in our own community to help illustrate what business is like in the real world, while giving our young entrepreneurs a chance to interact with local business owners.
Take Roy Martin III, for example. A few weeks ago, Mr. Martin visited and shared with students about his company, RoyOMartin, a family-owned business that started in 1923 with a promise to provide customers with service and quality in the timber industry. While RoyOMartin is one of many timber companies in Louisiana, the value system at RoyOMartin stands out tremendously. Their business model focuses on building relationships with both customers and employees, even if it means a sacrifice in profit. At RoyOMartin, they focus on their commitment to have respect, integrity, community, honesty, excellence, and stewardship – or RICHES. These values are ones that Mr. Martin keeps dear to him and helps guide his decisions as CEO, and similarly, these are values that we strongly believe in here at Episcopal as well.
While Mr. Martin was the first entrepreneur we have had visit this year, I am hoping for more people in our community to visit and share their knowledge of the business world. I invite members of the Episcopal community to come and speak with our students about their own business and entrepreneurship experiences, so that this course can reach its full potential and grow beyond just the knowledge and content I provide as a teacher. I understand we cannot predict the future, however, we can introduce topics to our students that will help foster conversations and wise future choices.