Friday, January 29, 2016

Student Feature Friday - DECA Students in Action

"Authentic teaching and learning requires a live encounter with the unexpected." - Parker Palmer

Senior DECA students
Pete Schiloski and Shane Dougherty
Some of the most powerful and impactful educational moments emerge unexpectedly when the lessons of the classroom get applied in an authentic way to the real world. In this week's feature, I'm privileged to be able to share an example of this type of "live encounter with the unexpected" by sharing the impressive work of seniors Peter Schiloski and Shane Dougherty. 

As dedicated contributors of Nipmuc's DECA program, Peter and Shane have sought ways to make an impact through their study of business and marketing. Last January the duo dedicated their DECA project to raising awareness and funds to fight ovarian cancer through the "Chill Out Challenge for Cancer." This year they've taken on a new challenge as they brought the power and optimism of their study of entrepreneurship to a group of 8-12 year old students in Worcester. Connected to the students through St. Gabriel's Parish, Peter and Shane used their project as a way to inspire students about the excitement and potential of pursuing entrepreneurship. 

Through the project they worked with students in after school sessions, providing "Shark Tank-like" workshops and challenges as a way to teach and inspire. A key part of their message was about branding. More specifically, about building a personal brand that makes investors believe in a product. Through the lessons, they emphasized the importance of character and integrity as the foundation of success and happiness. 

I was impressed to hear about what the students learned from Pete and Shane. Even more impressive, though, was what our seniors learned from the students they mentored. As they told me about their experience, I recognized the impact this service had on them. By applying their learning in an authentic way, they had a "live encounter with the unexpected" that will have a lasting impact on their ability, ambition, and altruism. 

Included below are some questions and answers from our interview.

Shane Dougherty
Q.  What was the most memorable part of this experience?
A.  The most memorable part of this experience was seeing the children's eyes light up at the end of our second day when we told them that they too can be successful entrepreneurs one day. Throughout our experience I was under the impression they might have believed their circumstances would stop them from being entrepreneurs.  After giving them two days’ worth of lessons and several examples of entrepreneurs, they soon realized they too could be entrepreneurs.

Q.  How has this experience help you grow as a student and a person?
A.   As a student this experience made me very grateful for how good we have it at Nipmuc. We are very fortunate to be surrounded with great learning tools and an environment that we can learn in. As a person, I have realized that I want to do more things to help children in need. They are the people that need our help. They did not do anything wrong; they were born into unfortunate circumstances.  I am very grateful for this experience.

Peter Schiloski
Q. How did we get the idea for our project?
A.  We were initially trying to host a charity concert that would benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Unfortunately, due to time and cost constraints we were not able to pursue this idea. We decided to help underprivileged youth because we felt this was an area we could make the largest impact.

Q.  What impact did you hope to make in this project?
A.   When we began this project we had one key goal. We wanted to teach our students about basic entrepreneurship concepts which would then show them that they are capable of one day creating and owning a business.




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