The first crop of students from Melbourne’s Global Village School graduated from the school’s Young Entrepreneurs Pilot Program at the end of last year, at an event attended by students, family members, funders and supporters.
Founder and Director Eric Woodward (Cohort 2014) said the Global Village School model is designed for all students.
“It is an approach that ensures barriers faced by some students are overcome, providing an avenue for students to flourish in a well-grounded, supported and respectful community of learners,” Eric said.
The Young Entrepreneurs Pilot Program combined enterprise learning and trauma-informed pedagogy for students from a range of schools across Melbourne, who attended the program for a day a week over 10 weeks in Term Four.
“Our hypothesis was that if we get 16 kids from a bunch of different schools and we present to them real-world challenges that social enterprises are facing and they get to choose to tackle one of these challenges, then they’ll rise to the occasion and they’ll find enthusiasm and passion for a particular cause,” Eric said.
Social enterprises the RSPCA, HoMie, Minus18 and AIME were involved in the pilot. The organisations pitched to the students at the start of the program, with students working in groups to create content in support of an organisational aim. Outcomes included two groups of students creating product lines for HoMie, which is a streetwear label supporting young people affected by homelessness and hardship, while AIME is going to utilise the student-created content in a wider campaign exploring the Imagination Declaration.
At the graduation event students presented their projects and talked about the work that went into the creation of their concepts before assembling for a formal graduation ceremony where students Rubee and Emily acknowledged Country and Siem and Sam spoke about the program’s impact on them.
“I came out of every day having done something that was worthwhile,” Siem said.
Program support staff, participating schools and funding partners were recognised before students received their certificates of participation and repeated a pledge they made earlier in the program.
“A few weeks into the program I challenged the students to come up with a reason for why they were attending the program. I explained to them what it means to be an entrepreneur through the metaphor of a succulent,” Eric said at graduation.
“A succulent is hardy, it survives in harsh conditions, and it will literally absorb everything it can from its environment. I asked the students to decide in that moment what they were going to suck out of this experience. What were they going to make the program mean to them? How were they going to make this program the best they had ever done?”
Eric said that the key to unlocking the potential of the young people in the pilot was to support their ambition and ability.
“I so firmly believe that if you put young people in the right environment, where the expectations are high and you match that with the right support – the roots, so to speak – then they will all thrive. I have seen these brilliant, talented young people thrive in this program and I am extremely proud of what they have achieved. But I’m even more proud of the people they are: how they treat one another, their self-awareness, their passion for the issues they believe in and their ability to show empathy and service into how they respond to these issues,” he said.
If you’d like to hear more about the program from a student’s perspective check out the Teachers Education Review podcast and if you want to connect with GVS, who are currently looking for some new committee members, contact them at www.globalvillageschool.org.au