Can a classroom be transformed into a board room? Marist alum Dan Gorsky ’79 thinks so. This fall he’s bringing his corporate experience to Marist to help prepare today’s high school students for college business courses and real world working experiences through a new course called IDEA (Innovative Design for Entrepreneurial Applications).
It started 18 months ago. Principal Larry Tucker ’79 learned that over a third of Marist graduates were going onto major in business. And while they were prepared academically for college, they suggested that opportunities to explore the business world during high school would really have put them ahead of their peers. At the same time, Dan Gorsky was wrapping up an impressive private sector career, culminating in his role as Senior Vice-President of North America Supply Chain for McDonald’s Corporation.
The timing and topic were perfect. “I've always known in some way that I would enter the education field after my business career concluded,” Gorsky said. “I didn't necessarily know what I would teach but I love books, learning, and teamwork. The culture of education and gifted instructors has always been quite interesting to me. How people learn and how they apply what they learn is a great opportunity for us all. Another motivator for me to enter the teaching profession was to try to bring some of the real world to Marist and vice versa, all in the hope of students learning for long-term understanding and meaning.”
That real world experience will come to fruition in a curriculum that is designed to get students excited about becoming true entrepreneurs. Students will have the opportunity to create and fully develop their own product or service. Student teams will work through the process of ideation, market research, and business plan development. They will learn about marketing, accounting, human resources, as well as the legal aspects of running a business. This is a hands-on course structured to allow students to imagine, design, construct, market, and refine their own business ventures.
The space for this class will be unique, too. A classroom is being redesigned to replicate a modern office, and will include small group work stations, easily accessible technology, and dynamic presentation areas that redefine the 21st century classroom at Marist. Forty-eight students are enrolled this year. Journalism students will also make this revamped room their newsroom.
Taking the course isn’t just for those planning on a career in business though. “I hope that each and every student takes away and can apply many life skills no matter what field they pursue or profession they desire for themselves,” Gorksy stated. Effective communication, understanding and tolerance of divergent viewpoints, teamwork, conflict resolution, and being able to adapt to setbacks are crucial skills for life and any career, he explained.
Student teams will present their product or service to a panel of experts seeking funding for their fledgling businesses. More information on the program, and a grand opening of the classroom is planned in the coming weeks.