By: Bryan Geary
In Katherine McCandless’s Entrepreneurship class, no two meetings look quite alike. There’s no textbook, there’s no set format, and the content is fluid. It’s like this by design. The class is a metaphor for what learning looks like at Tilton: student-driven and interactive with a focus on skill development.
“This class is where essential skills meet personal pursuits,” says McCandless. As the school’s Dean of Teaching and Learning, that intersection feels as natural as it is intentional. “Here, you’re presented with an idea or a problem that needs solving. To find the solution, you play with different possibilities, you ask questions of others, and ultimately you create something.”
Today, the assignment is centered around “the elevator pitch.” A skill that students have previously applied to themselves and their ideas, McCandless today asks them to apply that concept in order to “pitch” the Entrepreneurship class to someone who wants to learn more.
“You get an opportunity to practice presenting and speaking to others; to think on your feet.”
“It teaches skills outside of being an entrepreneur.”
“There’s always some time in your life that you’ll have to convince somebody of something.”
The beauty of the class is that its merits are different depending on who you ask. Some are already burgeoning entrepreneurs, cooking up plans for businesses they could run while still in high school. Some are interested in discovering more about themselves and how they learn, hoping to apply those creative thinking and problem-solving skills in college and beyond.
“What I’ve learned is that I can always approach a problem from this point of view going forward,” says Seth McKenna ’22, who talks of learning more than just how to formulate an idea or execute a design, but also what questions to ask along the way. “One of the most important questions is ‘who do I need to help me solve this problem?’”
To illustrate this point in real life, McCandless and her students have ventured off campus to talk with local businesses, like Outdoor New England (ONE) in neighboring Franklin. ONE is an outdoor outfitter, selling, in their own words, “gear and clothing for a life outside.” The shop is also heavily invested in the revitalization of the town of Franklin, beginning work earlier this fall on a new white water rafting park on a section of the Winnipesaukee River. ONE hosted Tilton students for a visit in late September to discuss the concept of social entrepreneurship and community partnership.
“We want this class to be a model for how Tilton can be connected with the community,” says McCandless.
Additional partners include Highland Mountain Bike Park, iSlides, and the Chesterfield Gallery, teaming our students with alumni and community leaders on both a local and national level.