SCHOOLS | July 20, 2021
In the 1990s, Ms. Melissa Muro was working in the fashion industry in New York City. She describes her schedule back then as working from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., going out to eat, coming home, and then working late at night with her factories overseas. When she decided to shift to working in a classroom, it was initially as a special education teacher, but her past experiences made her a perfect fit for teaching entrepreneurship classes.
She started at Taft High School around the same time as Ms. Lauren Zucchero, who has also taught entrepreneurship but now mainly supports the school’s career and technical education (CTE) classes as the school’s CTE coordinator. The two of them played a huge role in helping Taft students earn business CTE certifications this past year, which boosted the total number of business certifications earned within CPS to 169.
Here are their thoughts on the benefits of taking business and entrepreneurship courses in high school and why their students were so determined to earn certifications even during a challenging school year.
What skills do you hope that every student takes away from an entrepreneurship course?
Ms. Zucchero: Thinking outside the box is the biggest thing I would want students to work on. I am extremely passionate about helping students believe in themselves and having the self-confidence to know that their ideas are strong.
Ms. Muro: Flexibility and critical thinking are two big ones. I think perseverance was really important as well this past year.
How would you describe the curriculum of an entrepreneurship course? Did you have to adjust the curriculum at all this past school year?
Ms. Muro: We use great programs such as EverFi, which is a digital platform that has modules ranging from personal finance to teaching entrepreneurship through the viewpoint of owning a food truck. Then, I wove in some PowerPoint materials and made sure my students were signed up with Certiport and GMetrix to be prepared for the Entrepreneurship Small Business (ESB) certification. Overall, I felt like it was a very well-rounded setup that led to a good year.
Ms. Zucchero: I was teaching Entrepreneurship II so I focused mostly on QuickBooks training with my students to help them earn that certification.
What are some of your favorite memories from this past school year?
Ms. Zucchero: Even during the gloomiest days of winter, there was still camaraderie in the classroom. There were so many students who were present and engaged, and I will especially remember the small things like the students who logged on early to say “good morning” or stayed on late to say “goodbye.” That really kept me going this year.
Ms. Muro: We had a lot of success this year that I think came from the teamwork and connection that my classes had. Every time one of them passed the ESB test, they would always congratulate each other in the chat even though they’re all behind icons. It’s also been really fun to learn QuickBooks alongside them.
What does the impressive number of certifications earned say about our students?
Ms. Muro: Even though this was a traumatic year in a lot of ways and it could have been so easy to just focus on the negative, these students decided to be resilient and make this year worth their time.
Ms. Zucchero: It’s really rewarding to see how eager our students are to earn these certifications. They want to tell us about this accomplishment and they want to put it on their resume and are so excited to see their peers pass as well. Having something tangible that they get to earn and leave high school with, a sign that they are “adulting,” is something that they love and are ready to work hard for.