Each generation has it better than the one before. You had to learn to run your business in the school of hard knocks-or maybe you studied it in college. But in Cincinnati, students have begun attending a first: The Entrepreneur High School, launched this fall to show students how to start and run businesses.
Students have an entrepreneurship class and business coaching sessions, and even traditional subjects are entrepreneurially focused. Students practice grammar on marketing plans, and one can only imagine the algebra story problems they face.
Two of the six teachers are former entrepreneurs, as is principal John Morris. "Once this school succeeds, we'll be the model everybody copies," Morris has vowed to his students, many of whom already studied in the school of hard knocks: This year's recruits come from lower-income neighborhoods.
The school was conceived by James Clingman, a consultant and University of Cincinnati professor. And students seem receptive to the message. Lenise Davis, 15, wants to develop a clothing line and a chain of superstores to sell it in. Howard Mascus and Eric Williams, also 15, cite Bill Gates as a hero.
Fitting. The school is funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gates may visit after the school moves from its temporary location into the Cincinnati Business Incubator, where students will mix it up with real-life entrepreneurs.
Morris has more plans. Students will run a school store, a bank with an ATM is in the works, and the cafeteria may be a franchise. If Morris can swing it, each student will receive a $1,000 scholarship for college or a business. All students get briefcases, business cards and subscriptions to Entrepreneur magazine (hey, we care, too). Students will also earn money marketing products they make in their lab-complete with drill presses and robotic arms.
Morris says the entrepeneurial qualities students acquire will benefit them regardless of career path. On the first day of class, he gave some students dollar bills, saying, "I hope 10 years from now, you'll all come up to me and say 'Thanks for that speech,' and show me your big, fat, multimillion-dollar bank accounts. Then I'll ask for my dollar back."