Williamson County Schools’ EIC director presents courses that will kick off program in the fall


Williamson County Schools’ EIC director presents courses that will kick off program in the fall

PHOTO: Kari Miller spent a little time at last week’s work session for the Williamson County Schools’ Board of Education to go over the courses that will be offered the next school year at the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center. / Photo by John McBryde

By JOHN McBRYDE

As construction continues on what will be the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center for Williamson County Schools, the new program’s director has released a list of the courses that will be offered in the 2019-20 school year.

Kari Miller, former Mill Creek Middle School principal who was hired in December to take over the EIC, presented members from the WCS Board of Education with the three courses during last week’s work session. The board voted unanimously to approve the courses at Monday night’s school board meeting.

The course titled EI 1 offers an authentic entrepreneurship experience as students launch a real business using a lean startup method, according to the course description. In small teams of three to four, students develop a product, service or nonprofit entity, learning and appreciating the process of launching a business by starting an actual business. Local entrepreneurs and industry experts serve as volunteer coaches and mentors, guiding student teams through the stages of developing hypotheses about a business concept, testing those hypotheses, adapting, and continually learning and improving.

In the second year, EI 2 provides student teams the opportunity to take their EI 1 business from a startup to a sustainable, functioning venture. With the support of expert volunteer mentors and the monetary funding received at the end of the prior year, students apply more advanced entrepreneurial strategies to their continuing businesses from EI 1.

In EI Practicum, students apply entrepreneurship skills and knowledge to a personally owned sole proprietorship business or nonprofit endeavor, according to the course description. For some students, this Practicum course provides the expertise, resources and coaching to grow their already-operational student business. These existing student businesses might include photography, baking, lawn care and fashion design, among others.

For other students, the Practicum experience provides an opportunity to apply their entrepreneurship knowledge and skills, gained from their coursework in EI 1/EI 2, to a new, solely owned business or nonprofit endeavor that the student can continue to manage in their post-secondary years, be it from college or in the workforce.

Visit the agenda from Monday’s school board meeting to see full course descriptions.

“I will say that 95% of our students next year will be in EI 1, and the reason is, even for students who have a business, I think they understand the value of going through a process,” Miller said during her presentation at the work session. “EI 1 is going to be much more hands-on with a teacher, so going through that process, even if they’re working on something as a group, they’ll get a lot out of that process.

“Moving forward, I anticipate some students doing EI 1, EI 2 and Practicum, but I can also see students doing EI 1 and then going right into Practicum.”

The EIC, which is scheduled to open in August for the 2019-20 school year, will be housed in a newly renovated 10,000-square-foot-facility that was formerly part of the Williamson campus for Columbia State Community College, adjacent to Franklin High School. Some 150 students have enrolled in the program.

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