21st Century Skills Come to Life
Meet our Educator of the Month: Gina Ulrich
Recently, BizWorld.org’s Chief Operating Officer, Carla Foster, and Education Manager, Janet Lee, had the privilege of training over 60 teachers of the Edison Township Public School District in New Jersey. After piloting BizWorld in three schools last school year, the district has adopted BizWorld as part of their Social Studies curriculum. All third graders in Edison Public Schools will experience the world of business, leadership, and financial management through BizWorld.org's entrepreneurship education programs starting in March 2015.
During the course of the training in January 2015, Janet and Carla met Gina Ulrich, a 3rd grade teacher at Washington Elementary School and one of the pilot teachers instrumental in recommending the district wide roll out. During the training, Gina and the other pilot teachers shared their resources, discussed personalized teaching tips, and gave us valuable feedback about the program. A big thanks to Gina for inspiring all her students in Edison, NJ, and all of us here at BizWorld.org!
Here is her story...
BizWorld is a program that is near and dear to my heart. It is something that ALL children should be exposed to in school. The skills taught to children through the BizWorld.org programs are ones that my husband and I have been teaching our ten year old daughter her whole life. My husband of 20 years is an entrepreneur who now owns four businesses, but he wasn’t always as successful academically. It was wonderful to finally see a program that shows children that there is so much opportunity out there to achieve something great in their lives. BizWorld truly validates everything I have been feeling about education for years.
21st Century Skills Come to Life
BizWorld.org programs embody the entire idea of teaching 21st century skills in classrooms. Watching my students come together to create and produce a product was incredible. Then, to see these children actually put together a marketing campaign and sales pitch for this product astounded me. I mean, these are eight and nine year old kids discussing the importance of expenses and revenue! BizWorld afforded my students the opportunity to be creative and take charge of their learning. It was incredible to watch the students critically discuss the positive and negatives of their businesses and come to their own conclusions without my assistance. This is the first program I have seen in my 19 years of teaching that provided EVERY student of all levels the opportunity to be successful.
BizWorld allows Special Education Students to Shine
Half of my 19 years of teaching has been working with Special Education students. These are the children that always struggle with the day to day learning and lessons. BizWorld is a program that proves to these students that they, too, can be the shining stars in the classroom. BizWorld shows kids that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, all you need is the drive and passion to succeed. One of my third graders last year was reading on a Kindergarten level. This boy applied for the “Sales Position” within the company. The way he pitched to our Venture Capitalist, my husband, is a moment I will always remember for the rest of my life. He was charismatic, on point – AMAZING. When other members of his team stumbled, he was able to pick up the pieces and continue the pitch. This is a boy that could barely read. BizWorld confirmed to him that he too was every bit as intelligent as anyone in the class. He shined that day.
Taking It To The Next Level
I was so impressed with my BizWorld experience last year that I decided to take it to the next level. This year, I introduced BizMovie as an after school club for 4th and 5th graders. Again, the club has been met with much success. The older students love the concept of producing their own movies. They had priceless discussions weighing their options raising more capital for their business. The students were able to use higher level thinking to decide if they wanted to go to the Venture Capitalist for more funding or take out a bank loan. One of my 5th graders from this club used what he learned to start a scarf knitting company. He applied the skills from the program to real life. That’s what teaching should be all about – showing kids they CAN!
BizWorld.org Programs Outside of the Classroom
In addition to the after school club, I introduced BizWorld.org’s marketing model to my Girl Scout Troop when they were working on their Business Owner badge this year. My troop was tasked with creating a product and learning how to market it. We used the concepts from BizWorld to assist the girls in creating a commercial for their product. We showed these commercials to the parents, and they were tremendously impressed with the skills of 4th graders.
BizWorld Celebrates Different Learning Styles
BizWorld is most important to me because it proves to kids that not everyone learns the same. We are all different, and that is a positive thing in today’s world. Kids need to know that even if they struggle with reading or math, they will thrive in life. Being a successful entrepreneur does not mean you have to get 100 percent on every test. You just have to give 100 percent of yourself and believe. Do that and you will make it.