Resiliency in Youth: The Power of the Entrepreneur Mindset

Posted by Clifton L. Taulbert, member CEP’s Education Advisory Council

When I was 13, I was hired by “Uncle Cleve,” a local entrepreneur who lived in my Mississippi Delta hometown of Glen Allan, to work with him at his Ice House. I had to wait on customers, cut the ice into multiple sizes, make change and be quick about it. I had to learn to speak up and to be polite even when I didn’t feel it was required. Even though I was only 13, I was involved in man’s work.

I found myself surrounded by a mindset of “I can and I will” …the thesis of my recent book, “Who Owns the Ice House?” The environment was so powerful that it gave me a new way of thinking. I didn’t have to do what everyone else was doing.

I learned that my response to others mattered. I had to be at work on time. Uncle Cleve was not one to give multiple chances. He had rules and I had to learn them. Eventually, being at work on time became important to me. Looking back, I realize that was what he wanted. He wanted being timely to be my choice as well. He helped me to understand that my disposition and my work represented him and the company. It was not all about me.

I graduated from high school! Trust me that was big—just as important then as it is today. My personal behavior reflected what I was learning from this man.

I found it relatively easy to choose the right friends. In that “entrepreneurial environment” personal resiliency was being nurtured—my ability to make good choices and to embrace a positive self-esteem which is still critical for our youth today.

Many of our youth today are facing a myriad of challenges oftentimes without the wherewithal to make the right choice. Their mental models are not providing them the conversation they need to walk away from a potentially negative set of circumstances. Shifting this paradigm of thinking and behavior continues to be a top priority within our schools—developing programs to promote resiliency in our youth. It’s about giving them a new set of lens through which to view their world. Changing one’s perspective leads to thinking and acting differently. The entrepreneur mindset becomes a powerful tool to employ in this process.

My “Ice House” entrepreneur experience provided me-the opportunity to see myself differently, to see a future and to recognize the unique gifts Uncle Cleve was bringing into my life as we worked together day-in and day-out. This type of vision is what we want for all our youth, no matter the circumstances surrounding their lives.

In September, I will formally introduce “Uncle Cleve” and his entrepreneur mindset to several Baltimore High Schools who are part of Johns Hopkins University’s Talent Development High Schools and who will be participants in the Kauffman Foundation sponsored on-line “Ice House Entrepreneur Program.” These youth will become involved in a semester-long program to not only spark innovation and new business ideas, but to foster resiliency and quality decision-making skills. We want them to recognize that they have choices as they connect with the possibilities they may have thought to be beyond their reach.

Just as I embraced the timeless entrepreneurial lessons from the Ice House generations earlier, they too will experience a shift in perspective, a shift in thinking and a shift in behavior as well as a greater sense of self-determination which can lead to positive growth in their social and academic life.

Clifton Taulbert will be leading a hot topic discussion on resiliency at the 18th National Forum on Character Education along with Principal Cathy Areman and Guidance Counselor Kimberly Fitzpatrick of Catena Middle School, a 2011 National School of Character.

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Start the School Year Off Right

Students set personal goals at the start of the year.

 A focus on the whole child and each child’s moral and social development pervades the program at Beauvoir the National Cathedral Elementary School, a 2011 National School of Character. The school invests a great deal of time and resources into the “social curriculum,” which is seen as being just as important as, and even part of, the academic curriculum.

All classes spend the first 6 weeks of the school year developing class norms according to the Responsive Classroom methodology. Part of this is the development of class constitutions, contracts, or promises.

Students also set specific personal goals called “hopes and dreams.” Both are posted and referred to regularly in each classroom. During daily morning meetings in each classroom, students greet each other, play a game together, share something of importance to one or more students, and read the morning message.

Even the youngest Beauvoir students start the year with learning the social curriculum in age-appropriate ways. When entering Pre-K, all students are given stuffed bears that they name, make clothes for, and then use for role playing throughout their first two years at Beauvoir. The bears are a tool to teach empathy teachers adapted from the book Bears, Bears, Everywhere by Luella Connelly.

Beauvoir is one of five cathedral schools located in the U.S. and one of three on the beautifully maintained grounds of the National Cathedral located in Washington, DC. Beauvoir is a private primary school, serving preschool aged children through third graders.

Beauvoir will be presenting at the 18th National Forum on Character Education in San Francisco, Oct. 19-22.

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The Power of Revisions, Part II

by Mark Schumacker, Beavercreek Schools teacher

As most teachers do, I always look at what I am doing and analyze the success of my work.  I want to make sure I am doing the best I can and if I am not, I want to figure out what can I do to improve my product.  The work ethic, drive, passion, effort, and academic achievement of my students are the means to my analysis.  The revision policy, as well as our goal system, has allowed many of my students to achieve success more aligned with their actual ability (and beyond in some cases).  This has been a true joy to personally witness.

 An area I have struggled with since my first year teaching, is motivating the kids that seem to not care.  Every year I have a group of kids who refuse to work for me, accept failure, and seem rather apathetic towards turning this vicious cycle around.  And every year I bust my tail trying to motivate these kids.  I contact their parents, I offer help, I give second and third chances, but by the second semester I am ready to give up.  Have you been here before?  Can you relate?  We don’t want to give up, but we feel as if we have given so much and received little effort in return.  It is frustrating.  We begin to worry about the other 110 kids in the classroom who ARE willing to work.  Have we now neglected them?

 I have tried everything!  Have you ever said that?  Did yo Continue reading

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Attending the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools annual conference

Federal education conference emphasizes the importance of school climate

by Lara Maupin, Director SSOC/NSOC

Kristen Pelster, Principal at Ridgewood Middle School in Missouri

Joe Mazzola and I attended the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools annual conference this week. We were quite pleased to see the Department’s emphasis on how school climate can enhance the conditions for learning reflected in the selection of keynote speakers and workshops. Researchers and practitioners shared how improving school climate can improve academic achievement and reduce bullying.

We were especially thrilled that the Department asked dynamic principal Kristen Pelster of Ridgewood Middle School in Missouri to be the kickoff keynote speaker. Kristen told her school’s powerful story of transformation from the worst school in the district to National School of Character. How did they do it? Character education! By holding kids to high expectations and giving them the support they needed to meet those expectations, Ridgewood culture began to change. Over time, Kristen was able to empower her teachers and students. Without changing anything about how they taught academics, Ridgewood students improved academically. Of course, this is a story we know well at CEP. We see it repeated time and time again in our Continue reading

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