Inspiring the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow: A Teacher’s Journey

Inspiring the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow: A Teacher's Journey

Lorena Izzo’s Dedication to Teaching Entrepreneurship Empowers Students to Build Their Own Businesses

Lorena Izzo, a business teacher at the Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Long Island City, Queens, has been igniting the entrepreneurial spirit in her students for nearly 17 years. What began as a chance opportunity to teach entrepreneurship has evolved into a passion for Izzo, who guides her students in creating business plans, participating in national competitions, and even securing seed money for their innovative ideas. Through her dedication to teaching, Izzo inspires her students to think creatively, problem-solve, and embrace the real-world skills necessary for success in the modern workforce.

A Calling Discovered

After working as an accountant, Izzo realized her true calling was to become a teacher. She pursued a master’s in math education and joined the Academy of Finance and Enterprise, where she has been teaching entrepreneurship, financial services, and accounting for almost two decades. Izzo’s commitment to her students is evident in the way she encourages them to create business plans from scratch, guiding them through the research phase and helping them develop viable ideas for national competitions.

Empowering Students Through Entrepreneurship

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a nonprofit organization, played a pivotal role in shaping Izzo’s teaching approach. Through NFTE, Izzo gained access to a comprehensive curriculum, professional development opportunities, mentors, and coaches for her students. These resources have enabled her students to participate in job-shadowing trips, career readiness workshops, and the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. By empowering her students to build their own businesses, Izzo fosters their creativity, resilience, and problem-solving skills.

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From Challenges to Solutions

Izzo’s students have demonstrated remarkable ingenuity in identifying problems and developing innovative solutions. For instance, two students created a subscription company for culturally diverse treats after struggling to find authentic Vietnamese and Algerian desserts. Another student, who longed for more help with styling her curly hair, developed an app that recommends styling products and tips. Izzo finds it inspiring to witness her students transform their perceived problems into opportunities for growth and success.

The Power of Applied Learning

Izzo’s entrepreneurship class goes beyond memorizing facts and dates; it emphasizes the practical application of skills. Whether her students pursue entrepreneurship or other careers, Izzo believes the problem-solving mindset they develop in her class will open doors for them. By engaging her students in hands-on activities, such as the LEGO activity that combines entrepreneurship and accounting, Izzo ensures they learn while having fun. These experiences help students apply their skills to real-world situations and instill in them a sense of confidence and adaptability.

Adapting to a Diverse Classroom

As the demographics of Izzo’s classroom change, she adapts her curriculum to accommodate students with diverse language backgrounds. With an increase in English-language learners, Izzo relies on tools like Google Translate to overcome language barriers. However, she emphasizes that the universal lessons of entrepreneurship transcend language, allowing all students to learn and thrive in her classroom. Izzo shares the story of a student who created a bilingual tutoring company to cater to both English and Spanish speakers, showcasing the power of entrepreneurship to bridge language gaps.

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Navigating Changing Skill Requirements

Over the past decade, Izzo has witnessed changes in the skills her students need to succeed. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges to extracurricular activities, such as job-shadowing trips, which provided valuable insights into various industries. However, Izzo recognizes the importance of exposing her students to different workplaces and professionals. These experiences broaden their horizons, inspire them to strive for their desired careers, and provide a practical understanding of the workplace environment.

Conclusion:

Lorena Izzo’s dedication to teaching entrepreneurship has had a profound impact on her students. By fostering their creativity, problem-solving abilities, and real-world skills, Izzo prepares them for success in an ever-changing workforce. Through her guidance, students not only develop business plans but also gain the confidence and adaptability needed to navigate challenges and seize opportunities. As Izzo continues to inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, her teaching philosophy serves as a reminder to always have a plan B and embrace the unexpected in the pursuit of educational excellence.