02/26/2013 04:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

NFTE Teacher Training -- The Key to the Replication of Entrepreneurial Education, Part 4: The Teachers

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 5.

The caliber of teachers had gone to a different level since 20 years ago and sitting near me was Sol Menashi, an MBA with a specialty in manufacturing and holds a master's in education. He was working at an after school youth entrepreneurship program called The Possible Project, in Cambridge, MA with a dynamic young teacher, Julia Hubbell, who worked with 85 kids helping them start and run their own business. The program had been founded by the husband and wife team, the Levins, and is a state of the art effort. Sol's role is that of a business operations specialist. He teaches and mentors students and is responsible for managing the in-house businesses. As Jennifer Green, our local NFTE New England Executive Director said: "The Possible Project is a very good program. We are proud they are using some of the concepts of the NFTE curriculum, attend our NFTE U trainings and our program director, Dori Wolfson, is a former employee."

Kene Turner, President of Epilife Consulting Inc., and a NFTE Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher Instructor (CETI) since 2008, is dynamic and has learned the key insights of training; Let the classes' energy run the class. With incredible charisma he is perhaps the finest Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher Instructor in the world.

Under Kene's leadership, the teachers learn the philosophy of NFTE, discusses both the content & context of Entrepreneurship, and gains an understanding of how our curriculum resources work. The emphasis of the class is focused on Opportunity Recognition, Market Research, Marketing and Sales, and basic financial principles. Each teacher within the class creates a written mini business plan about their own business ideas and presents it to the rest of the class.

Some of the ideas were an app on parking regulations that could be used by drivers in major cities, a West Indian restaurant, a cleaning service that specialized in coming in to your home when you were sick, a dog care business for people who were travelling, and a pre-gym training business for those who were too shy to go to the gym. I interviewed each of the teachers and was struck by the power of their insights.

Naomi Caplan, originally from Atlanta, had been working in Boston after attending Brandeis majoring in Latin American and African American studies. In her job, she had spent a lot of time talking to the parents of foster care children where she noted that they all regretted not get more education. This motivated her to become a teacher and she is now at a transfer high school in New York City.

Maxine Roca, a graduate of Northeastern University -- famous for experiential education -- was a teacher with Teach for America and ended up becoming a recruiter at her old high school, Bishop Loghian, before taking over a classroom. She had the insight that many people were nervous about going to a gym and did not know how to use the equipment, so her company would give introductory classes to people getting them used to the gym life.

Georgia Grossett, a top teacher from a New York high school that specialized in entrepreneurship, captured it by saying "this class has been a tremendous learning experience. Kene broke down the business plan into small parts that were manageable."

Jessica Cohen, another top teacher from a New York high school said, "I learned how to make my teaching more authentic, more experiential, and more applicable to my students' lives. NFTE's Teaching Training program allowed me to be an enthusiastic student, which then enabled me to become a better teacher." Jessica is now teaching sixth grade in Kuwait.

Connor Krone, a new NFTE program manager had also been at teach for America and had received an MA in anthropology at American University. He loved dogs and his business idea solved a problem in that area -- transferring dogs to and from the kennel.

As I sat and listened, I realized that entrepreneurship is a way for people to tell their own stories, a reflection of themselves and what they are and have learned.


NFTE's Top Teachers at the 2012 Dare to Dream Gala