Barrington High School is celebrating ten years of entrepreneurship
…that’s approximately 840 students learning the skills of an entrepreneur, more than $300,000 awarded from investors, and countless aha moments.
It started as an experiment of sorts
This class isn’t your standard business class; the course was an experiment (an entrepreneur would say). The course experience was inspired by a ‘what if’ conversation among community members and Barrington District 220—innovative educators, board members, and business leaders who believed that students with entrepreneurial skills are unstoppable and can drive their futures. How? They learn to create opportunity, innovate, and reframe failure.
This is authentic entrepreneurship
Students create their own businesses in this class…it’s not a walk through or a simulation, it’s the real deal, and that’s something the students recognize right away…
"The moment I stepped into the classroom I felt more at home. The design of the classroom was energizing and I remember marveling at all the empty whiteboards waiting to be filled...the non-traditional approach encouraged me to recognize my skills. I enjoyed learning from various coaches, the independent time to work, and the flexibility.”
~ Mia Nguyen, INCubatoredu Alum
This class is set up differently. Teachers are the guides on the side, not sages on the stage, and that's where things get interesting...Teachers are embracing entrepreneurship alongside students.
"You must be vulnerable to learning new things, be open when you don't have answers, walk the walk of entrepreneurship, and not just talk the talk."
~ Hagop ‘Hags’ Soulakian, Master Teacher, INCubatoredu, Barrington High School
Students leave this class with the tools and mindset of real entrepreneurs. Volunteer coaches and mentors play a major role which creates a learning experience for students that is work-based and real-life. From the art of networking, to subject-matter expertise in marketing, finance, or a particular category, students are building connections and skills that prepare them for what’s next..not nice-to-have skills, but must-have skills, no matter what career (and careers!) they pursue.
"The connection with the community is unsurpassed - it creates dynamic and mutually-beneficial connections. This is the volunteering you WANT to do."
~ Monty Bauer, INCubatoredu Volunteer
Why this matters - The world of work has changed
More than ever, tech and innovation reshape how we work, live and learn. Research continues to support that soft skills, also known as human skills, real-world skills, or durable skills, are the enduring skills necessary for this generation as they launch and build their careers.
As a hiring manager…although people are historically hired for technical skills, they tend to get fired for lack of durable skills. The need for durable skills is especially true with the rise of the gig economy, as it’s projected that 50% of students today will have at least one side hustle within five years.
~ David Zasada, Vice President of Education and Corporate Responsibility, Intuit. Podcast
Catching up with Barrington INCubatoredu Alumni
Hundreds of Barrington INCubatoredu students have embarked on their post-secondary journeys since that first class in 2014. Some found entrepreneurship to be their life’s passion, while others leverage the skills they learned to bolster careers in a range of areas from business to video production.
Their stories are the ultimate ‘student outcomes.’ What they learned from entrepreneurship gave them that extra edge on their college application, or the confidence to network to get the dream job. It provided the resilience to recover from disappointments, and the agility to welcome unforeseen challenges and even look for the bright side. These are the skills to solve problems, build businesses, and create value. These are entrepreneur skills—durable life skills.
So, did the experiment work? Here's what alumni have to say:
“Words cannot describe how much the INCubatoredu program means to me and how it changed my life. I wrote my college essay on my INCubatoredu story. I got into every business school I applied to because of my story. This class is a life class, not just a business or entrepreneurship class.”
~ Kelly Speichinger - BHS 2020, Junior at Miami University in Oxford, Major: Marketing & Entrepreneurship
“One of the most impactful things the INCubatoredu program taught me is how to sell. I've quickly learned that throughout any professional career, you're consistently selling, whether it’s selling yourself during an interview, selling a new idea, or a new process to internal and external stakeholders. The program has shown me how to clearly organize my thoughts and to be able to effectively communicate them confidently.”
~ Sikandar Kazi, BHS 2016, New Business Verticals Senior Associate, DoorDash
“INCubatoredu allowed me to acquire personal and professional development skills that I have carried into college and my professional endeavors. I’m forever thankful for the jumpstart into the real world it gave me in high school!”
~ Emma Juffernbruch, BHS 2020, Junior at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Bioengineering
“INCubatoredu is the most impactful class I took in my pre-college academic career. Its hands-on nature allows students to build strong skills in and outside of the classroom that will benefit them throughout their careers.”
~ Myles Patel, BHS 2020, Student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Major: Economics , Minor: Business
“INCubatoredu sparked my passion for entrepreneurship and inspired me to major in business. It provided me with valuable experiential learning opportunities that jump-started my college education…and allowed me to excel in college, and gain access to a variety of organizations and job opportunities.”
~ Olivia Lageschulte, BHS 2020, Student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Major: Accounting, Minor: Spanish & Hoeft Technology and Management Program
Addressing skills gaps with real-world learning
Authentic experiences like INCubatoredu develop skills and deeper learning. School districts are increasingly reimagining work-based learning programs and CTE to address future readiness.
Barrington High School offers College and Career Pathway Endorsements in five areas, allowing students to develop an individualized course plan that includes work-based learning, career-focused coursework, team-based challenges, and access to early college credit. As part of the entrepreneurship pathway, INCubatoredu and ACCELeratoredu (second-year) courses provide students with these opportunities and more to support their future readiness and postsecondary plans.
Even more benefits: Teaching entrepreneurship brings joy
As teacher dissatisfaction had been climbing, teaching entrepreneurship can bring joy and true engagement back to the profession. Hags, INCubatoredu teacher at Barrington, and now a ten-year INCubatoredu veteran has this to say…
“This program has helped me grow personally and professionally...my profession has connected me to incredible individuals from my community...it's a one of a kind.”
INCubatoredu was just the start
What was once an experiment, is now a mission-based, not-for-profit company. INCubatoredu is now championed by Uncharted Learning, a not-for-profit organization based out of Barrington, with a mission to kick start students for life. Expanded now to elementary and middle school, these programs offer authentic, rigorous entrepreneurship experiences for students in more than 400 schools across the U.S., Australia and Spain.