Episode 3- Elementary Entrepreneurship Business Concept

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In this episode, Lisa Brent shares her background and pathway to becoming an educational entrepreneur. Lisa has spent 16 years teaching elementary education in various settings to diverse groups of students. In addition, she spent five years successfully teaching 4th grade gifted and high-achieving students in an exciting, project-based, rigorous, entrepreneurial, leadership, and S.T.E.A.M based program.

Lisa earned a Master’s of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Miami and has her Professional Florida Teaching Certificate in Elementary Education and in Exceptional Student Education. Furthermore, she is Gifted and ESOL Endorsed.

The E-Cubed website is https://www.elementaryentrepreneur.com/ and you can reach her at lbrent@elementaryentrepreneur.com

Transcript

Erin Starkey:
Welcome to Re-imagining Schools, a podcast by the Edupreneur Academy. Today, I’m talking with Lisa Brent of south Florida, who’s going to tell us a little bit about her educational entrepreneur idea called E-Cubed.
Erin Starkey:
Hey, Lisa, how are you doing this afternoon?
Lisa Brent:
I’m doing great, Erin, how are you?
Erin Starkey:
Good. I’m great. I appreciate you joining me on the podcast and we’re looking forward to finding a little bit more about you.
Lisa Brent:
Yes, this is like my favorite topic, so I’m very, very excited.
Erin Starkey:
Good. Well, that’s great. Yeah. Well, I’d like to start with just telling us a little bit more about yourself and your background and what led you to education and entrepreneurship.
Lisa Brent:
I would be delighted. Well, what happened was I was a classroom teacher for many, many years, and I always knew that I wanted to do something on my own, but I didn’t know kind of what an education I wanted to do on my own. The timing was never right, and life is like that. So unbeknownst to me with the pandemic coming, it kind of was a catalyst to choose the timing for me. Due to some family issues and health concerns, I had to leave the physical classroom and figure out how to reestablish my education and my impact on students in a different way. So there you go. I had to start thinking like an entrepreneur and reevaluate where I was and come up with new solutions to solve a problem that I had. So I was fortunate that I had been working in a wonderful school where I had plenty of flexibility and I was able to create and implement an elementary entrepreneur curriculum that was completely interdisciplinary.
Lisa Brent:
So I was teaching fourth and fifth graders, how you can do a market pitch activity, so to speak, with all the components involved. So they would be doing the research and reading the non-fictional text, calculating the math, creating commercials, logos and it was just most incredible project based experience I ever had. It took me through the last three years of my teaching career. Then we didn’t get to do the finals, which was right at the time. Would’ve been right after spring break when, when COVID had the classroom closed down. So I had plenty of time to reflect on what it was about teaching that I love so much what got me excited, what got the kids excited. And it was just that. It was that program of teaching kids entrepreneurship, including the core subjects as well as using it for enrichment and as a, if you will, an add-on to what they were already receiving in their basic core subjects.
Lisa Brent:
So it depended on how I needed to use it at that time. Cause I was teaching STEAM. So math, science, engineering, and so forth, and what ended up happening was when I realized that’s what I love to do, I started doing some research and I found an incredible nonprofit organization known as Youth Entrepreneurs. Now rebranded as Empowered and they’ve been in existence for 30 years. And so that your viewers know and listeners, they offer free teacher curriculum and teacher support. Now I believe it’s to teachers in all grades. When I started with them, they were more focused on middle school and high school. So, the way my whole adventure began was I was involved in a lot of the things they were doing. I was on their Facebook page. I was contacting teachers and one day I just took the leap of faith and I said on their Facebook page, it was October.
Lisa Brent:
And I said, I don’t know how, but by November I will have an online entrepreneur micro school for elementary students based on what I know from teaching and my 16 years of experience and you know, I have my masters’ in elementary ed, I’m dual certified in ESC, I have my gifted in ESOL endorsement. So taking all of my tricks of the trade and all their phenomenal training and curriculum, I was going to modify it to work for the education world. I’m sorry, the elementary world in education. And they also had so much available for hybrid learning, for online learning. So when I put that out there, unbeknownst to me a few days later, someone from the company contacted me and they said, we are so excited about your idea. We’d love for you to apply to this grant.
Lisa Brent:
And that is how it started. And I’ve been blessed and my students have been blessed and the world of entrepreneurship has been blessed. Because they had what was called from the Vail Education Foundation, a meet the moment grant to help families during COVID to meet the needs of their communities and meet and find what it was that their kids really needed at a very critical time. And there were hundreds of us, in fact, that got different grants. And we were all paired with, I believe it was seven nonprofits and I was paired with Empowered, you know, youth entrepreneurs. And I was blessed to get that grant to be able to start my business. And from there we’ve been growing and I was given the grant to then expand if you will. We started off as a four, five grade type of model. And I was given the second grant to expand to K through five. And also it’s a charitable grant. So I’ve been offered grant money to offer scholarships so that the program is accessible to many, many, many people anywhere, because it’s a virtual and it really gives families and children the opportunity to have access to it when they normally wouldn’t. So I think that encapsulates my adventure. So I’m modeling what I teach my students. I’ve become an entrepreneur who teaches entrepreneurship.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. That’s exactly what I was thinking while you were telling that story is that we’re kind of looking at this twofold and that you have become an entrepreneur yourself, but you’re also teaching that concept and skills to students that you’re working with. That’s really neat. And I know you told us a little bit about your background, but can you go back maybe just a little bit and kind of, did you go through a traditional teacher preparation program? Did you do any entrepreneurship courses or classes or anything? Yeah, just go back a little bit farther.
Lisa Brent:
Oh yeah, definitely. I guess I can just very excited about the top. So definitely we’ll go back for you on any details you’d like. I did go to actually, I live in south Florida, so I went to the University of Miami and I got my masters and my undergraduates degree in education and psychology from there. And my master was as an elementary ed and my bachelors was in child psychology and I was all geared up to be one of the most idealistic, impactful educators. So I had finished that and then I went ahead and got certified in special education as well as getting my ESOL endorsement, to teach learners of other languages and it was later in my career when I found my niche for teaching gifted students, that I went ahead and got my endorsement in gifted.
Lisa Brent:
So I’ve been teaching for over 16 years. And in terms of any business background, I never took anything in terms of formal training. It was always a joke that I was like, whatever product or subscription we were using at the time for different reading programs or things, and we would present for families that the joke was are you selling the product or are you the teacher of the class? So I think because I grew up in a family of business owners and I would go in and help ever since I was very, very little and I thought it was such a great honor to be able to be in my parents’ world if you will. In their business world.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. That’s great that you had an interest in that area and wanted to kind of pursue that. And I think that’s true for a lot of educators and one of the things that I’ve been kind of working on, you know, just having the conversation about, and sort of maybe thinking about education in a different way is that we don’t talk a lot about entrepreneurship in informal education programs. And so it’s really great to just have some exposure to that. It doesn’t mean you necessarily have to go full on like Lisa and start your own business.
Lisa Brent:
Absolutely. No, no, no.
Erin Starkey:
You could work in a school, but you know, thinking about things in a different way kind of outside of the box. And I think it helps us to be innovative and creative and continue to find solutions for the issues that we’re facing in education. So I think that’s great. And you talked a little bit about your kind of, grants that you received, but would you talk a little bit more about maybe some challenges that you faced in the beginning and how you kind of overcame those?
Lisa Brent:
Absolutely. So one of the things I realized when I was starting the program when I was in class is how much of this stuff I wasn’t taught that I needed to research, that I needed to go to other, if you will, experts and get in [inaudible 00:10:18]
Erin Starkey:
What would you say are kind of like the top two or three sources that you found or discovered as you were kind of overcoming these challenges of not having this sort of growth mindset growing up and ability to, so what did you find that helped you get over that hurdle?
Lisa Brent:
Well, absolutely a hundred percent being taken into the youth entrepreneur empowered family and having them as my partners to go to with all of that experience and knowledge that they have. Also being able to collaborate with all the other grantees who are now educating kids in different themes, whether it be gardening, or science, or woodmanship to learn math and measurement. I mean, it has just been incredible. So I guess it would be that networking. The finding the other people that have a similar goal or mission or mindset, just like you, Erin. Like we, we found other, I mean, I was like, I saw your title. I’m like, I have to speak to her because there’s so much that we must have in common. And I think that is a big piece that really, really helped me.
Erin Starkey:
People that you could network with. And I’m assuming most of that you found kind of on the internet and just by researching and looking things up and.
Lisa Brent:
And then reaching out to them and calling them. It was during the pandemic I met… I did a lot of my stuff on Zoom.
Erin Starkey:
Of course.
Lisa Brent:
Which makes me familiar with you can have an emotional connection and impact even through teaching online and with a Zoom live stream. And I mean, I have to tell you, it’s like one of those things, and I don’t remember, who’s famous for saying, I wish I could remember because he is a famous entrepreneur and I don’t want to get it wrong. But the biggest mistake you can make is either A, not try to make mistakes, to learn from them and B, not ask for help because if you never ask, you will never get it.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. That’s great advice.
Lisa Brent:
I really learned if I don’t know something and I have a way of finding someone who’s willing to help me or teach me or collaborate, I’m a team player. So I love learning and I love teaching. So let’s make it happen for our youth and for our future.
Erin Starkey:
Sure. Yeah. And you’ve kind of dropped a couple of hints already to answer this question, but what other advice would you give to edupreneuers that are thinking about getting started?
Lisa Brent:
I think anybody, any edupreneur should just figure out what it is that they love teaching or doing. Cause it may be a hands on type of thing, and then finding that and figuring out how can I use that in my entrepreneurial journey? So do I love training and working with other teachers, do I love doing vocational types of skills with kids or other teachers to show them, do I love the aspect of teaching business and finance or math in an unusual way? Whatever it is that makes your face light up and you resonate going for it and saying you know what, if I have a passion for this and I have the grit and determination for it, I’m going to make it happen. And my students, whether they be adult teachers, people in the district, they’re going to feel it and they’re going to get in engaged in that energy.
Lisa Brent:
And that’s how you make an impact and it’s not going to happen overnight. I would love to have this type of curriculum incorporated in all of our school districts, all throughout the country. I’m a big dreamer, but you have to start somewhere. Then like what you are doing. And then we need to have a voice, we need to then share our experiences as you’ve given me the opportunity today and I’m sure many others to come and have already. And then other people listen and say, wow, well, I have a passion for gardening. Maybe somehow I can even not in a school setting, but in my community start small and start getting some of the kids together and their families and create an organic garden and talk about plants and food and health and I mean, you can take a mind map almost and make it grow with all kinds of branches and add-ons and fly with it.
Lisa Brent:
And then when you do it’s contagious. It is difficult though. I will say that, I that’s the one surprise that I told everyone. It’s a misnomer, I think from one of the movies, Kevin Costner, “Build it and they will come.”, But I think it’s quoted incorrectly. But the whole point is that doesn’t happen. You have to, really… for me, it was meet moment. Literally the moment was there and this is, I was building my airplane as I was flying it because of the way the world was ideally. Or maybe not so ideally, because nothing’s ideal looking hindsight, I probably would tell entrepreneurs, educators in entrepreneurship to try to maybe gain information ahead of time about funding. Gain information about creating a beta group to test it out. To get user feedback. Then to do some iterations.
Lisa Brent:
I love the whole like design thinking process, but I didn’t know the real intricacies of it. So, maybe studying up on things that weren’t in your core education, adding on. I had to learn how to do marketing and I’m still learning and I’m still asking for help. So I don’t want it to be like it’s poof, it’s magic. It’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of dedication, and it’s a lot of putting up that sign on your wall, no matter what, this is my passion, this is my mission, this is my why, I’m not quitting. I’m just not. I’ll find a way under it, around it. I will be an entrepreneur and I really do believe our culture and our kids need this. I’m hoping to be one of the catalysts in the educational world to help bring that to fruition just like you do.
Erin Starkey:
That’s fantastic. Yeah. And I think that’s so important as an entrepreneur, you find something that you care about and that you’re passionate about, and then you realize there’s going to be hurdles and challenges, but you’re willing to keep working to overcome those and not give up. And that’s what it takes for sure. Yeah. And also just to your point about the challenges that you face, and kind of figuring out the opposite of your background. So if you came, what you did from an educational background, you had to really seek out places to find help on how to start a business, how to set up a nonprofit, how to advertise, how to market, all of those things. And if you came from the other side of things where you were from the business world, of course, then you’d need to fill in the opposite of that, which would be the educational pedagogy and understanding that piece if you didn’t come from an education background.
Lisa Brent:
Absolutely.
Erin Starkey:
And so that’s really the goal of Eduprenuer Academy and the course that we have is to help people navigate that and give them the information on both sides of that. So hopefully that people that are interested don’t have to fight quite as hard as you did. [crosstalk 00:18:07] the information that they need to make that a little bit easier. So that’s the goal here.
Lisa Brent:
Awesome.
Erin Starkey:
But you started talking a little bit about what you’re thinking for the future and expanding, but can you tell me some more about what you’re thinking? Are you going just K through five? Are you thinking bigger than that? What’s your plans for the future?
Lisa Brent:
Well, my big is K through five because I do believe that we have not a… there’s never enough, but we have a good amount of classwork and like I’ve seen what Youth Entrepreneurs Empowered has done with high schools and with middle school students. But I’ve really seen only a trickle of things happening, at least in this country, in the elementary space and in other countries they’re mandating it from a very young age that these children learn the entrepreneurial process, which will include collaborative thinking, critical thinking, learning from mistakes, creativity, and I can go on and on and on. My vision, or my mission is to try to teach families the importance of that so that they can access some type of either, whether it be my course or something else or however, even tips you can Google on how do I raise an entrepreneur, and instill in the children that they are empowered that even children who have so called labels, some of them have enormous, enormous gifts that aren’t being tapped into because our traditional education system doesn’t celebrate those things at an elementary age.
Lisa Brent:
So my hope is that it will blossom and who knows, maybe I will grow further and be able to have a further reach or maybe now with hopefully things with the pandemic, allowing more of us to be in person, maybe I’ll eventually be able to have an in person space. Like an afterschool program or something aligned with somebody. I mean, it’s very difficult, but it would be amazing if we could somehow, you and I maybe join forces and a bunch of other people and share our voice about getting it into the actual elementary curriculum and finding a way to train teachers who are not as comfortable with project based learning, and rubrics, and how do you grade it? And, oh my God, he didn’t know how to do this or he’s in third grade and he can’t multiply, the world’s coming to an end.
Lisa Brent:
It’s not. And, and he’ll figure it out through whatever he loves to do or she loves to do. So I guess what my hope or my vision would be to expand to a point where I can impact other children and parents’ viewpoint and education and education leaders and teachers to the point where they will start to see how much value they can give. And how much they can give to students who may not be getting those stellar grades. How many times do you hear that these entrepreneurs, they left school or they failed school or they didn’t fit into the traditional mold, but they were capable of amazing things? I think everyone’s capable of something amazing, but you need to give them the loving, confident environment to let that happen. And I feel bad. I feel badly because knowing what it was like as a teacher in a classroom prior to this experience, I was one of those teachers that would’ve needed someone to teach me how to do this If I hadn’t gone out on my own and taught myself.
Lisa Brent:
Like you have this, program, this Edupreneur Academy that facilitate that. Because teachers need that. They have so much they have to do and their days are so long as it is. And they are so responsible for so many children. If we can professionally, through development, or through coursework, online training, or buddying people up, I don’t know. But I’m sure that with all the innovative minds that are pivoting and doing great things now especially after the pandemic, it’s the right timing for us to think big.
Erin Starkey:
It is.
Lisa Brent:
And think how we can spread it to, like you said, the education piece to entrepreneurs or business people and vice versa, and maybe even bring those people together to collaborate and take the best of everybody. And figure out what meets the needs of different communities, areas, age groups. I love the design thinking process. And if you can get young children to start thinking that way, they don’t know how to think any other way. And it’s beautiful. So that’s just a philosophy of mine.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. So I know your program is available currently for elementary age, are you K through five, already or just four through five.
Lisa Brent:
Yes, we are K through five.
Erin Starkey:
So how can our listeners get ahold of you or get in contact with you to find out more about, cause you can enroll, if you’re in a full-time public school, you can be a homeschooled student and enroll in your program. Is that correct?
Lisa Brent:
Yes. We offer a course for homeschoolers. We offer camps, we offer after school enrichment. So I try to-
Erin Starkey:
And it’s all online at this point.
Lisa Brent:
Yes. We offer it for children in special education. I mean, there it is completely inclusive. So that’s something that I’m very proud of and yes, you can find me by going onto my website, which is elementaryentrepreneur.com. And as my email, you just put my first initial L and my last name, Brent B-R-E-N-T in front of it @elementaryentrepreneur.com and you’ll be able to email me. but all my contact information, everything is on my website. My whole story is on a video of how I came to be through another organization. I’m more than happy to get on a Zoom call or a phone call and help parents figure it out or customize it because that’s what we’re about.
Erin Starkey:
Great. Yeah. And we’ll be sure and put your information in the notes for the podcast as well.
Lisa Brent:
I appreciate that this has been so much fun.
Erin Starkey:
I appreciate it, thank you so much for your time.
Lisa Brent:
Thank you for giving me a chance to let families and other kids know that we need to have young people be innovative, critical thinkers, collaborators, and shoot for the stars.
Erin Starkey:
Absolutely. Take care.
Lisa Brent:
Take care now.

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