Innovation and entrepreneurship are not new to Eden Prairie High School (EPHS).
The school’s business and marketing curriculum aims to prepare students for a smooth transition into business schools. They expect students to leave EPHS equipped with a solid foundation of business and marketing skills with the ability to sharpen them as they climb up the learning ladder.
Successful programs such as DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) have been running for several years at EPHS, engaging sophomore to senior-level students in activity-based skill development.
Now a new curriculum is cooking on the front burner at EPHS. The head chef is Principal Robb Virgin. He is joined by Karen Brettingen, Shelly Streich, Margot Cowing, and Rachel Hari, all part of the school’s business faculty. They are all collaborating to bring the curriculum to perfection.
The entrepreneurial program has evolved at EPHS. A re-imagined curriculum has been developed and is under deployment during the current fall session. Its mission is to position students to successfully tackle the emerging challenges in the business landscape.
Virgin explained what prompted the school to expand the entrepreneurship course from a single term to a full two terms. “It was done in response to student feedback from last year,” he said.
According to Virgin, there are two components of the new course.
During the course, “kids kind of veer off into profit (driven) entrepreneurship or social entrepreneurship,” he said. The intent is to expose students to real-life situations and experiences encountered in non-profit and for-profit organizations.
Virgin plans to invite several practitioners from both for-profit and non-profit organizations to come as guest speakers/instructors for a day to accomplish that. He expects such an approach to work to the benefit of both students and guest speakers alike.
Students will get an understanding of how businesses operate, he said. The knowledge and insights students gain by interacting with speakers from various businesses would help them chart out their own future career road maps.
On the other hand, guest speakers will find value in experiencing the temperaments and work ethics of the nation’s future workforce in the making, Virgin added. That knowledge could compel them to alter their market and business strategies as well as operational plans. He added it would be rather difficult to acquire similar knowledge by other means.
Based on what the guest speakers see, they may also choose to continue their engagement with the program, he said. Virgin believes the speakers could decide on “developing more projects with the teacher.”
In addition to the entrepreneurial course, Virgin also described another program at EPHS that offers opportunities for business owners to work with the school’s Senior Intern Program.
He referred to the program’s impressive footprint in the corporate arena.
Virgin stated there are about 200 students registered in a year-long program. He cited the Minnesota Twins and 3M being among businesses accepting EPHS students to intern with them.
Editor’s note: Vijay Dixit is chairman of the Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit advocating distraction-free driving. He is also a board member of Eden Prairie Local News, as well as a contributor.