Business college joins high school to teach entrepreneurial skills

Seth Roy

Theodore Roosevelt High School is looking into starting an entrepreneurship class next fall as a lead-in to its marketing education program.

Program coordinator Brent Pfeiffer said he is looking into cooperating with Kent State’s College of Business and the proposed center for entrepreneurship.

“We’re looking at doing some cross-programming,” he said.

Julie Messing, the university’s coordinator of entrepreneurship, said the programs and interaction between them are in the beginning stages.

“We’re really still exploring the different ways we can work together,” she said.

There are many benefits for both the university and the high school’s students.

“The major benefit for the university is the pipeline from high school to college,” Messing said. “They’re more likely to come to school here. They’ll have a comfort zone here.”

Students in Kent State’s program would act as consultants, giving them a more varied experience. The collaboration would also give Roosevelt students more exposure to entrepreneurship.

“Our vision is to fully immerse the student in entrepreneurship,” Messing said. And now they “can start earlier.”

Roosevelt has had a marketing program for 35 years. Pfeiffer’s father was the coordinator before he took over 10 years ago.

As part of the two-year program, students sell advertising for two school publications and compete in the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) competitions.

“(The program) focuses on the basic foundations and principles of marketing,” coordinator Brent Pfeiffer said about the program. “The program itself, here, is really intensive.”

One requirement to compete nationally in DECA is to develop a 30-page business plan for the specific project a student is working on.

“It prepares them more for what they’re going to see when they get out of college,” Pfeiffer said of DECA and of the possibility of collaborating with Kent State.

Lauren Stone, a 17-year-old Hudson High School senior, got involved with the program last year because it was something different and offered her a new challenge.

“I just thought it was interesting,” she said.

Stone and a partner are working on a business plan for an entrepreneurship promotion project. The project is geared toward promoting entrepreneurship in the community. She will present the business plan at the district and state levels early next year, and she hopes to move to the national level.

“We’re still kind of getting started on it,” Stone said. The district DECA competition is shortly after break, and she is excited to compete. “The competition is so much fun,” she said.

As juniors, students spend one period, or 45 minutes, every day learning the ins-and-outs of marketing. During their senior year, they spend two periods working on their projects and selling ads.

“(It’s) taking what they learned their junior year and applying it,” Pfeiffer said. “They’re going to find out real quick whether they like sales.”

The marketing education program is technically considered a vocational class, he said, but most of the students do go to college. And, as a Kent State graduate, Pfeiffer is excited to get the high school’s program coordinated with the university’s program.

“Obviously I have a lot of ties to the university,” he said. “I’m trying to promote more of my students staying at Kent, going to Kent State. The big thing is just trying to provide kids opportunities.”

Contact College of Business reporter Seth Roy at [email protected].