Tech center academy to develop next-generation business leaders

Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2021 By: Journal Record Staff Source: The Journal Record

An academy planned at Francis Tuttle Technology Center should promote the entrepreneurial spirit and skills of a new generation of business leaders in Oklahoma, officials say.

As efforts are ramped up to encourage entrepreneurship and business growth in the Oklahoma City area, the Entrepreneurship Academy, set to launch in August, will offer an innovative educational experience for high school students, Francis Tuttle Superintendent Michelle Keylon said.

“There is a growing body of research that shows high school students are interested in opening their own businesses,” Keylon said. “We wanted to focus on how we could really enhance the support for entrepreneurship, not only in Edmond but in Greater Oklahoma City and maybe even in all of Oklahoma.”

Academies focusing on biosciences and medicine, computer science, and engineering already are offered to high school students at the career tech. All four of the academies will be located on the center’s new Danforth Campus at 3841 E. Danforth Rd. in Edmond.

In the Entrepreneurship Academy, students will experience the entrepreneurial process firsthand, developing innovative ideas and collaborating with others to find solutions to business challenges. College prep and advanced-placement classes in math and science will be taught in concert with the program; emphasis will be placed on encouraging students to develop ideas to build their own businesses.

We think the Entrepreneurship Academy can be the start of something really incredible and unique,” said Khaaliq Salim, director of the Danforth Campus. “It’s definitely the first of its kind in the state and it is exciting to have a framework in place for this innovative way to educate students and prepare them for the new economy.”

Elliott Adams, a member of the academy’s Advisory Board who helped to develop the curriculum, said it should help students with skills needed to succeed in the modern workforce.

“After months of collaboration with the Francis Tuttle team, it’s incredibly exciting for the Entrepreneurship Academy curriculum to be approved by the Board of Education,” Adams said. “This program will offer the most contemporary and proven innovation methods to create real value for the market. The students themselves will have the chance to learn the skills that can make them successful in the innovation-based 21st-century economy, no matter what their career path.”

Entrepreneurship Academy students will use space and resources available on the Danforth Campus, including a Product Realization Lab and Design Thinking School, to create, refine and present business ideas. The leaders said ideas could then grow into actual small businesses on the campus.

“In the new economy, the critical factor in production will be talent, not capital,” Tech Center Associate Superintendent Jaared Scott said. “We are determined to create generations of gritty, creative problem solvers that understand how to bring value to the market and the resolve to turn great ideas into profitable ventures.”

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