The Edupreneur: An Interview With Dr. Will
This year, Dr. Will Deyamport III turned his work on his podcast, "The Dr. Will Show," into a documentary film featuring Catlin Tucker, Angela Maiers, Dr. Robyn Jackson, Dr. Ai Zhang, Jeff Bradbury, Tom Murray, Abbey Futrell, and Eric Sheninger. The documentary, "The Edupreneur: A Documentary by Dr. Will," is available online, and discusses the intersection of education and entrepreneurship.
I interviewed Dr. Will about his documentary and its larger implications for education—particularly for teachers of color.
What spurred your idea for the documentary? What was the catalyst or moment you knew you wanted to share something in a larger film version?
In the fourth season of my podcast, I made the pivot to focus my podcast on personal development and teachers monetizing their talents. I became more invigorated by my podcast and saw the number of plays on my podcast go from 3,700 the previous year to over 26,000 the year of my pivot.
Those numbers told me that there was an audience who wanted to hear more information on the subject. I knew that I was on to something and I was determined to double down on the subject matter.
Why did you want to focus on "edu-preneurship"?
It was the story I had to tell. There are still so many teachers who give so much of themselves, their time, and their content for free. There is also a group of teachers who are turned off by the idea of teachers making money by "selling" their talents outside of the classroom.
There are so many educators who are in schools, writing books, presenting at conferences, and delivering courses with the mission to positively impact the lives of kids. And I want educators to know that you can both monetize your skill set and still be in alignment witho why you chose to become an educator.
What misperceptions of being an "edupreneur" do you hope your documentary brings up?
The educators in this film make it clear that they got into educational consulting because they wanted to make a greater impact. Not one single participant brought up that they were chasing the money or that money was a priority for them in taking the leap.
There are still educators who feel as though educators who leave the classroom to the become a consultant turned their backs on their calling. When, in fact, the participants have used their experiences in the classroom and in school leadership to expand their classroom to a larger audience. Overall, I hope that this documentary shows the human side to being an edupreneur ... Jeff, Abbey, Ai, and Catlin still work within a school or university system.
Did you learn anything over the documentary? What were moments that were intriguing or growing for you?
Even as someone who has been consulting and writing for the past few years, I learned a lot about what goes into creating systems and defining one's business model. I also learned a lot about the work and the toll the travel has on family.
Though the moments that really intrigued me were the nuggets of insight into branding, niching down, and developing a successful business. The participants know what they're doing and dropped so many gems I hope viewers find valuable.
What do you want your audience to take away from this film? Where do you hope the film goes?
I ... want to help the audience to understand the work that it takes to be a consistently paid consultant. Further, I hope the documentary inspires those who have been thinking about becoming an educational consultant and gives them the information and the push they need to get started.
I hope this documentary sparks a larger conversation on what it means to be an edupreneur. I want teachers to get comfortable with the idea of monetizing their talents. In addition, I want teachers to hear from those in the game, so that they can make an informed decision on whether taking the leap into consulting is the right move for them.
Why is it important for teachers—particularly teachers of color—to value edupreneurship?
Creating multiple streams of income is especially important to educators of color due to the lack of generational wealth in our communities. Also, as much as we may love our district and the students we serve, we can't allow ourselves to be beholden to our school districts to fund our lives or our dreams.
More importantly, I encourage teachers of color to become edupreneurs to educate our profession on our experiences and practices in the classroom. Our voices just aren't being heard at the scale and on the larger stages as they should be.
Our experiences, our expertise, our solutions and best practices matter and should be shared. There are so many teachers of color who are transforming schools and communities and who aren't getting the opportunities to be paid to speak at conferences or headline venues as their white colleagues. In so doing, the field of education is missing a critical voice in how we can go about creating substantial and lasting change within public education and beyond.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D., is a district instructional technologist for the Hattiesburg school district in Mississippi, serving grades K-12. He is also a digital transformation strategist, writer, podcaster, and consultant. Prior to taking on a full-time instructional-technology role, Dr. Will was a social-media strategist for a career-development company. He is best known for his work in assisting educators in going digital and has helped schools leverage the power of technology to reimagine the learning experiences of their students.
Dr. Will is an alumnus of Capella University, where he earned his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership and Management.