By SCOTT MIMS / Editor-in-chief
Lindsey Irvin’s students at Calera Intermediate School have a whole task to complete: complete and submit a detailed business plan.
Irvin will have many resources to help them do just that, as she was selected to participate in the Shelby County Career Corps, a program made possible by the Shelby County Chamber, 58INC. and CAWACO RC&D.
Career Corps offers educators like Irvin a paid internship in business and industry to expose them to career paths which are then applied in classroom courses. For his July 13-15 internship, Irvin followed the Main Street program directors of Calera, Columbiana and Montevallo and also met with business owners in each city.
“The way it improved my understanding and my ability to teach children, I would say it’s one of the most powerful professional development opportunities I’ve ever had the privilege of being a part of,” Irvin said. , a teacher in the Gifted Resources class at CEI.
This year, Irvin will teach on innovation and entrepreneurship. In April and May 2022, her fifth-grade students will share business models that will include products, names, logos, and other details. This is the same group of children who made a Lego project based on the future potential of the historic Calera business district two years ago. Since then, Calera’s Main Street program has helped breathe new life into the area.
“They started learning this concept two years ago, and now they’re going to be able to see how far we’ve come,” said Jackie Batson, general manager of Calera Main Street. “They will be able to go further and learn how to become an entrepreneur and start a business. Personally, I think it’s phenomenal how leaders and civic organizations can fit our children into the mix. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for our whole community.
In third grade, Irvin’s students visited some of the same places that have now become new Calera businesses. After an economics lesson, students will visit local businesses and start developing their own small business ideas.
After meeting with Calera’s businesses and the Main Street program, Irvin spent a day in Columbiana doing the same. Columbiana Main Street director Brittany Davis said she was grateful for the opportunity and the deep level of community involvement in the Career Corps program.
“She got to meet a lot of business owners, toured the Shelby County Arts Council building in Old Mill Square, and talked about programs her students could use,” Davis said. “I think she left with a lot of great information, a lot of ideas that she can bring to her children.”
Likewise, Courtney Bennett, director of Montevallo Main Street, said the meetings should prove fruitful in helping to train the next generation of entrepreneurs. In turn, she explained, inspiring young students is important to the future of Shelby County communities.
“We were honored to introduce several of our downtown small business owners through the Career Corps program and give them a platform to share their hard-earned expertise and wisdom,” Bennett said. “I hope that the creativity, tenacity and flexibility of our business community will be as much a source of inspiration for Ms. Irvin’s students as it is for me!
Any educator can apply for Shelby County Career Corps, whether public or private, in the K-12 grade range. A total of 20 educators have been selected to participate in the program this year; the number chosen is based on the amount of the grant.
Pari Barzegari, vice president of community and professional development at the Shelby County Chamber, thanked each of the Main Street principals and said they were among the first commitments for educator placement this year.
“I know that the time our Career Corps educator has spent with them has been beneficial, and I am delighted to hear what she will bring back to her class in the fall,” said Barzegari.
In addition, Melody Whitten, Director of Development at 58INC., Thanked CAWACO RC&D, which made funding for the project possible.
“In an effort to continually meet the workforce needs in Shelby County, we are deeply engaged in workforce development initiatives and programs. Therefore, when this grant opportunity became available, we were excited to offer educators a way to interact with business and industry so that they could experience the wide variety of career paths that exist for their students. and the skills needed to be successful in their future careers, ”said Whitten, adding:“ I am extremely grateful to CAWACO for their support and hope we can identify additional ways to continue the program in the years to come. “