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Pilot Middle School in L.A. to Promote Entrepreneurism

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Guest Post by Michele Molnar

Los Angeles-based parents of budding 6th- and 7th-grade entrepreneurs now have a chance, through school choice, to send their children to The Incubator School, a pilot opening Tuesday, Aug. 13.

"Inc.," as it is known for short, is on a mission to "foster, network, and launch the entrepreneurial teams of tomorrow." The education model will emphasize inquiry and problem-solving, and involve students in project-based learning.

"Parents are really jazzed about a new model for education," said Sujata Bhatt, the founder and lead teacher for the school. "I'm getting calls from parents who say, 'My child will be at your school in 2015-2016. What can I do to help now?'"

In fact, Inc. is opening with just two middle grades, but plans are in place to eventually promote entrepreneurship in a school spanning 6th through 12th grades. Eighth-graders will create an operating business within the school, and high school will culminate in students teaming up to launch a real-world startup company.

Bhatt used social networks to build a following, posting messages three times a day on the school's Facebook page, for instance. To promote the Los Angeles Unified school district public school, and to find more students, Bhatt is tapping the "mom's network" on the west side of Los Angeles, and the Spanish-speaking community of parents from the Title I school where she used to teach.

Parents were involved in the push to find a location for the school—which became problematic earlier this year—and at least one parent has sat in on every interview for hiring teachers, Bhatt said today.

"We're doing everything we can to tap existing parent leaders, to grow new parent leaders, to develop and welcome parent capacity," said Bhatt.

Students, it seems, are strongly entrepreneurial. A survey earlier this year indicated that 43 percent would like to open their own businesses.

Learn more about The Incubator School on our Marketplace K-12 blog posting.

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