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Tecumseh Vista Academy Launches New Entrepreneurial Program

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Published on: June 22, 2017 | Last Updated: June 22, 2017 11:28 PM EDT

Tecumseh Vista student Ben Arquette-Jumel has more than just an entrepreneurial spirit — he already is a small business owner.

What he isn’t is experienced, so the Tecumseh school’s new e-STEAM program will provide just the type of structure needed to harness a creative spirit.

“It’s going to be a great addition to the school,” said Jumel-Arquette, who founded the 3D printing firm Printable Canada with a friend from Assumption high school in February.

“It’s going to help students learn from an entrepreneurial aspect and get students out of the traditional classroom and get some hands-on experience.”

The e-STEAM program, which is believed to be the first of its kind in Ontario, focuses on entrepreneurship in the areas of science, technology, engineering the arts and math.

It’ll be open to students from Grade 9 through Grade 12 with attempts being made to involve the lower grades at the school when possible.

The program will include classroom credits, experiential learning opportunities, collaborative projects, an entrepreneurial centre, field trips, partnerships in the community and scholarships. Next year the school will serve as host for a major conference.

Partnering with the Greater Essex County District School Board on the project are the University of Windsor, the EPICentre, Hackforge, WEtech Alliance, Workforce WindsorEssex and the Small Business Centre Windsor Essex.

“It’ll give me more experience and the know-how to properly run my business,” he said. “Obviously I’m learning on the go right now, teaching myself.”

The creators of the program, Vista entrepreneur and business teacher Emily Li Causi and guidance counsellor Matt Biggley, said the program isn’t aimed at just starting a business.

“Some will start businesses, but it’s also for intrapreneurs already working within an existing business,” Li Causi said.

“It’s about exposing students to a number of different opportunities to position them for success at the post-secondary level.”

Li Causi said students would get a certificate of special recognition along with their high school diploma for completing all the different aspects of the program, which include community hours and tackling challenges to solve specific problems presented to them.

“Students focus on grades, the end product,” Li Causi said. “This program won’t do that.

“It’ll be more about the process because that’s what entrepreneurship involves. You can’t be afraid to fail. It’s try, pivot, try again.

“That’s how you nurture an entrepreneurial spirit.”

Biggley said the duos have been working with community partners and the school board for the past 14 months on creating the program.

The idea came from 80 per cent of students at Vista expressing an interest in a career fields to be covered by the program.

“It’s been created to meet the goals and aspirations students at TVA have expressed in student surveys,” Biggley said. “We’re meeting their demands.

“The nice thing is it’s a program that doesn’t require the board to provide new funding. We can achieve things through our partnerships and scholarships.”

Director of education Erin Kelly said program is a timely addition to the public board’s offerings.

“The blend of the entrepreneurial spirit the program has in it along with the science, arts, math and technology combination is really appropriate because students need this kind of skill base for problem solving in the 21st century,” Kelly said. 

“It’s well-designed for the type of careers and businesses they’ll be engaged in in the future.

“The partnerships here are amazing. Businesses really invested in and are interested in, along with the university, what we’re doing here. It’s a great opportunity for students to see real world applications.”

One of the main aims of the program is to get more women interested in non-traditional fields for female students.

“A lot of these programs are still male-dominated, so it’s a good opportunity to make girls aware at a younger age,” said Grade 11 student Natassia Novelletto.

“I’m uncertain of my post-secondary future. There’s a lot of things I want to check out and now I’ll have that option.”