Ready, Start, Launch — Albuquerque’s Entrepreneurial High School Starts to Take Shape

Dan-Hoffman-Eagle-Rock
Dan-Hoffman-Eagle-Rock

Editor’s Note: Albuquerque, New Mexico, is quickly becoming an entrepreneurial hub, and today we’re pleased to bring you a write-up by Eagle Rock’s very own Dan Hoffman, a literature arts instructional specialist, who details the work going on behind the scenes to launch one of that state’s first entrepreneurial-focused high schools.

By Dan Hoffman, Language Arts Instructional Specialist

How do you create meaningful curriculum based on real world problems? How do you foster an entrepreneurial spirit in young people and give them the skills they need to create meaningful change in their communities and in their own lives?

Michael Soguero, Eagle Rock Director of Professional Development; Anastacia Galloway, Eagle Rock Professional Development Associate; and I headed back down to Albuquerque, N.M., in early May to find answers to these pressing questions. We collaborated with Tim Kubik of Kubik Perspectives — a Colorado-based curriculum-design, assessment and evaluation consultancy — to continue our work with the New Mexico Center for School Leadership (NMCSL) on launching its newest venture — a new charter school that will focus on entrepreneurship.

The plan to create an entrepreneurship-focused, project-based learning school dedicated to creating new leaders in the field for the city is being advanced in part by tapping the local wisdom of community and industry partners to generate real-world entrepreneurship curriculum for the future school.

Entrepreneur-High-School-Albuquerque

NMCSL invited Eagle Rock to kick off its work with the start-up charter school in February of this year. We engaged a group of local entrepreneurs who had a great sense of social responsibility and wanted to create something of value for local youth. We worked together in a workshop setting to generate the knowledge, skills and attributes that students would need in order to be successful entrepreneurs in their community.

In addition, we brainstormed initial project ideas for the school. And while the initial workshop was a great success, we knew we could push the group further, generating not just school projects, but real-world work that students could accomplish as part of their high school experience.

Last month, we returned and reconvened the community stakeholders to generate a deeper, more authentic level of project-based curriculum. We also adapted a performance-task creation tool that was shared with us from a recent College & Work Readiness Assessment training.

Entrepreneurs ranging from a textile social entrepreneur and a director of a small business accelerator, to a representative from the City of Santa Fe’s economic development department, came together to participate in our work on behalf of the soon to launch school.

Tim Kubik skillfully led the groups through a dynamic activity called the “Marketplace of Ideas” that asked teams to transform and pitch real world tasks to one another as engaging student projects. Ideas ranged from a “Launch Week” project, to negotiating with potential vendors for conference room equipment, to starting micro businesses like a mobile coffee truck the students could run themselves.

Rather than pit the projects against one another, we dug into each to identify the core “winning” qualities. These became the essential elements teachers will reference as they design curriculum for the new school. These qualities ranged from “including opportunities to build social capital,” and “allowing for personalization and local focus,” to “demanding complex presentation skills.”

We closed powerfully as participants discussed how the world would be different if we had an education system that valued these entrepreneurial standards. Folks discussed a world of greater self-awareness, one where individuals sensed a true connection to social responsibility — where citizens see opportunities instead of roadblocks. A world where high school graduates have a level playing field, with a rich network of support and they can control their own destiny.

We might not be there yet, but the new entrepreneurial-focused high school in Albuquerque is opening in a little more than a year. And they will get us there!

Until then, the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center is partnering with Moises Padilla, principal of the new school, and Tony Monfiletto, director of the New Mexico Center for School Leadership, to write the charter for this new venture. Consistent with our recommendations felth elsewhere, the group will use the local wisdom gleaned over the past few months to continue the advancement of its work.

For our part, we are looking forward to hosting the founding team here at our mountainside campus in Estes Park for a writer’s retreat in June.

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About The Author: Dan Hoffman is the language arts instructional specialist at the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo. Dan received his teaching certification in secondary education and social studies from Prescott College after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in urban and environmental policy from Occidental College in Los Angeles.

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