Local businesspeople and community representatives had the opportunity to hear a unique presentation on a unique idea for the county’s youth last week.
Kelton Davis, the regional superintendent of schools, invited Craig Lindvahl, executive director of the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, to speak about preparing high school students for the business world via a class called CEO.
CEO is a program that enables high school students in rural Illinois to become self-reliant, enterprising individuals who will start successful businesses and contribute to the ongoing economic development of their communities.
The class is funded by community business investors and has a rigorous application process to select students who are cut out for the class.
Davis introduced Lindvahl, saying he does three things that Davis respects:
“This is a program that you’ll see benefits the business owner, the community leader, elected official… It benefits everyone,” Davis said.
Lindvahl has an impressive background as an educator and a filmmaker, and has helped many students have great success with this CEO class.
“Entrepreneurship in our view is not just a collection of business knowledge and skills,” Lindvahl said. “It’s the way you think and view the world.”
Lindvahl talked about how the school system is 350 years old and needs to be revamped.
“Everyone gets fed the same thing at the same time,” he said. “That’s not how it should be.”
In this class, Lindvahl seeks to show students that learning is valuable and can be retained in a more wholesome way than just memorizing something for a test and then forgetting.
“I’m concerned that the world inside school and the world outside of school is growing farther apart every day,” he said. “The students need to move towards using and synthesizing the information they’re learning.”
The class doesn’t meet in a school, but instead meets in various businesses.
The students start their own personal business during the class.
“The businesses are all over the place and range from simple to complex,” he said.
They write two or three business plans during the year and do their research.
The class also needs teachers, who are trained and mentored by the professionals of CEO as a part of the startup.
In an effort to move forward with instating a CEO class in Monroe County, Lindvahl met with interested businesspeople to further the discussion on funding the class and making it happen.