The first business that I am launching will be a solitary endeavor into the current school system. Like many others, I see many problems in our current schools system, and I will try to do my part to help out. One of those problems was displayed very clearly to me last week, when I started calling schools in the Seattle area to set up opportunities to speak.
My business will be centered around public speaking, and I will be concentrating on high schoolers (juniors and seniors) and college students. I am giving talks on getting into college, preparing for college, and study skills for college (specifically centered around improving your memory). I began calling high schools to see if I could speak for free as a guest speaker. I didn't expect it to be easy, as I'm sure public schools have their share of bureaucracy, but I was dismayed at the response I got. In short, I was shot down by all of the schools I called (so far). I even talked to one "career counselor" who told me she didn't know of any teachers who were looking for guest speakers, and didn't know what the process was for hosting such a talk, and furthermore, did not know of anyone who did. I finally managed to get the principal's voice mail, where I left a message, but got no response.
One thing our school system needs desperately is for professionals from industry to partake in the educational system. Teachers who can put up with high schoolers for 30 years tend to be a certain type of person (very patient!) and therefore there is a lack of diversity in our teachers, in both personality and experience. We would benefit greatly from having industry professionals who dipped into the teaching profession for 5 years as part of their career. In the very least, our school system would do well to welcome outside guest speakers to give a new perspective and liven up the classroom.
I decided to try my hand locally, and a friend of mine who teaches 8th grade graciously made room for me in her classroom, where I gave a talk on memory to three classes over the course of last week. I thought the talks went progressively better, and from the feedback forms, and the teachers comments, were very well received. I also managed to visit my friend Aaron Boe, in Indianapolis, who speaks to young people on bullying and leadership, and joined him for a workshop in Terre Haute, Indiana. He gave me earfuls of advice, which I was happy to recieve, and I learned a lot from watching him. Even more so, I gained confidence that I could make this a reality, and a money-making business. I'll be trying to meet with principals this summer in Seattle, and network so I can get into the classroom this fall. I will be looking into creating evening seminars for college students as well as for high school juniors and seniors.
Once I have a handle on how to effectively make it into the classroom, I would love to create a system which brought professionals into high school classrooms to teach a lesson, and pass on their hard-earned knowledge.