This weekend I had the honor of mentoring a group of students from the Entrepreneurial Studies program at DSST (Denver School of Science & Technology) Public Schools. A group of passionate students participated in E-Ship Weekend – coming together Friday, Saturday and Sunday to identify and solve real world problems. As the event was starting up and assembling for the initial pitches, one student looked fear-struck as he blurted out “wait, we have to pitch in front of everyone?”. As an entrepreneur, I cheered the student on and joked about the number of times I’ve pitched in front of large crowds over the last few months alone.
The student’s comment made me think about an article I read recently about a framework for teaching oracy in the classroom. Oracy is the ability to express oneself fluently and grammatically in speech – and it takes practice that many students don’t get during their formative years but desperately need throughout their career and life. The kids participating in E-Ship are getting invaluable experience in developing these skills. Per the framework there were a few things that the program is getting right. Firstly, the students are speaking from a place of personal passion. Secondly, they are delivering speeches to authentic, real-world audiences. The practice is helping students to find and hone their voice and become more confident.
After the teams pitched their problem statements, each of the mentors introduced themselves to let the students know how we might be able to assist them. The problems ranged from the creation of a hiking app to assist lost hikers, to efforts to help African nations get clean drinking water, to the development of safe and flexible after school programs for urban youth. We spent time asking questions and providing insights. It was incredibly inspiring to see the students dedicate their entire weekends to exploring their problem statements, performing research, and refining their solutions. Throughout the Entrepreneurial Studies program, students at DSST develop a greater sense of self, purpose, and understanding of the world. With programs like these, it’s no wonder that DSST is considered one of the top schools in Colorado and the nation. In the future, Couragion would be privileged to feature one of these rising entrepreneurs as a role model in our app!