Becoming a Teacherpreneur
By Kara Falcone (Ms. Falcone to our students!). Kara received her Master’s of Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University in 2016 and has been teaching High School Special Education in Boston since. Her passions include teaching, reading, working with people, putting honey mustard on everything, and a newfound love for entrepreneurship and social innovation.
“You just teacherpreneured it,” Emily Weiner told me during the first week of the 2017 summer program created by Babson’s Lewis Institute, Verizon Innovative Learning, Sociedad Latina, and Boston Public Schools. Becoming a “teacherpreneur” is not something I had ever considered in my training or early career as a Special Ed English teacher, but it is now one of my proudest attributes. Prior to my participation in this program, the only things I knew about entrepreneurship and business came from casual conversations with friends who work in these fields. But during the training for the program, I realized that learning new material and then teaching it to my students would, in fact, be an experience in entrepreneurship; or as one of my Lewis Institute mentors put it, “building the plane as we fly it”.
I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with Babson and Verizon this summer. The benefits of working in this program go far beyond the obvious perks – air conditioned space, free coffee, Fridays off – that us public school teachers only dream about. The intellectual, personal, and professional benefits have been more than I could have ever imagined.
One of my favorite parts about this summer was working with the five Babson undergraduate students who served as our high school students’ mentors. Without them, my job would have been extremely difficult (if not impossible). These five college students are redefining what it means to be social innovators. Jack, Mathi, Becca, Lex, and Marisol jumped at the chance to lead instruction and spread their passion and knowledge of entrepreneurial concepts to our students. Seeing them flourish and develop amazing relationships with the students legitimately brought tears to my eyes on multiple occasions, and I am extremely grateful to these aspiring entrepreneurs for all that they did.
Although my colleagues from Boston Public Schools, Babson, Verizon, and Sociedad Latina were all wonderful, it is really the students who got me out of bed each morning and blew me away every day this summer. I have never worked with such an incredible, inspiring, and hard working group of students in my life. Seeing these budding entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a room full of “experts”, entrepreneurs, adults, and unfamiliar faces was one of the proudest moments I have ever had as a teacher. I could gush about these students all day, and am moved by the innovation and scope of the student venture groups that emerged from the program. Here they are, in their own words:
NuChildren: Katherine Maldonado, Nestor Fajardo, Karolyn Jimenez, Vanessa Alvarado, Iris Aguilar, Babson Mentor: Alexis Hamlett
Our business is a non-profit after school program for children aged 8-14, centered around exercise and nutrition. We teach children about how to build healthy balanced recipes through cooking classes and nutrition education. We also offer fitness classes and teach students exercises that they can do anywhere. In addition to education, we also ensure that our students receive a healthy meal for dinner each day. We aim to inspire youth and provide them with the proper tools and information in order to create a healthy balanced lifestyle that sticks with them through adulthood and even to future generations.
Tu Cultura: Victor Rivera, Franchesca Moreta Lara, Chrisly Arias, Nayelie Acevedo, Darianny Tejeda, Babson Mentor: Marisol Guzman
Tu Cultura is a restaurant and smart store located by State Street Station in Boston. We use technology to better enhance one’s shopping experience. We carry items and dishes from all over the world to help people have access to their culture’s food and help others try new dishes.
Innovating Business: Rima Begum, Lwamba Loochi, Mohamed Dia, Derianny Tejada, Donovan Archelus, Babson Mentor: Mathi Harikrishnan
Innovating Business is dedicated to helping the people who work with food. We partner with restaurants in the Boston area so unemployed chefs can register to find jobs on our website. We are also focused on promoting small restaurants and enable people interested in starting a restaurant to look at the different demographics of the Boston area so they can find the right opportunity.
El Sazón Restaurant: Reynaldo Alvarado, Perla Perez, Ruth Gomez, Muricio Cabral, Linda Valette, Babson Mentor: Rebecca Hadfield
El Sazón is a Latin restaurant that makes authentic food from a variety of Latin countries including the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. The restaurant is a non-profit that will donate the leftover food to local homeless shelters in Boston and also donate their profits to help end hunger in Latin countries, like the Dominican Republic.
Minute Market: Deondre Rodriguez, Desir Lawins, Katerin Ramirez, Luis Fajardo, John Remo Gene, Babson Mentor: Jack Flynn
Minute Market provides an innovative grocery shopping experience for the Greater Boston Area by offering a user-friendly app platform that seamlessly integrates grocery shopping and product delivery. Perfect for busy single parents as well as disabled individuals who have a hard time navigating confusingly large stores.
As a proud “teacherpreneur”, I now see that entrepreneurship is not about what you know or what business you can invent, it is about having a positive, creative, and flexible mindset. Teamwork is the magic ingredient when it comes to making a program like this meaningful, fulfilling, and fun, and I could not love this team any more.