Alma Fuerte was founded with the goal of teaching students the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. With automation and artificial intelligence growing, we wonder what will the jobs of the future look like and how do we prepare students for them? No one knows what the future holds. What we do know is that people who have soft entrepreneurial skills tend to thrive in tough scenarios and can forge their own path. We want to develop agile students that will be able to succeed though adversity.
What are soft skills? Soft entrepreneurial skills include the ability to communicate, problem-solve, be flexible/ adaptable, have a strong work ethic/ discipline and be able to work within a team as well as be able to lead one.
So how do we teach this to our students? This is an idea that develops and grows every year as Alma Fuerte expands. The most amazing part of this process is watching students get excited about their ideas, their creativity and watching how they problem solve and adapt to changes.
Our first year, our students hosted entrepreneur booths with businesses of their choosing. Each student had a stand with a poster they designed to help market their product/ service. Parents and students took turns touring the market and purchasing their favorite products and treats with Alma Fuerte Dollars. The student booths displayed some surprising student interests including one forward thinking young man who sold hand sanitizer.
Something amazing we saw happen was that our Unicorns Slime entrepreneur got tired between the groups of visitors so she decided to hire an employee, paying them with some of the Alma Fuerte Dollars she had earned, so she could take a break!
Our second year, we got into soap making! Students cut, melted, mixed, and poured soap to create little bundles. This activity became VERY popular and students were suddenly were very interested in hand-washing!
We then decided to take the soap to the Altadena farmer's market which is just down the street from us. Students practiced counting and handling money, public speaking, and customer service. Some students had natural sales skills while others simply stuck their hand out and said "Give me MONEY!" The farmer's market was a great place for students to field questions like "How did you make the soap?" "What is it made out of?" and "What is the name of the scents used?"
The students LOVED going to the farmer's market, they felt empowered! Quickly a fever grew about creating their own business ideas. As a class, the 3rd graders decided they wanted to put on a salon during recess. In order to get approval they had to present a plan to our Director explaining the tasks and roles to be performed, services and pricing. The students were incredibly motivated, everyone in the class had a role. There were Builders who used our imagination playground block set to create a floor plan for the salon including a waiting area, service are and checkout area. There were cashiers, nail and hair technicians, as well as greeters and security!
The nails salon was amazing because it was inclusive, it wasn't just "for girls," boys could see themselves in both traditional and non traditional roles. The entire school played in the salon and the 3rd grade classes quickly raked in hundreds of Alma Fuerte Dollars. Recess then became an underground market of products. One Kindergarten student started bringing in cut up perfume samples from her mother's magazines and selling them. Suddenly students were sporting beaded necklaces and smelling amazing!
We then started partnering with local entrepreneurs who wanted to share their journey with our students. Here you can see our students visiting Unincorporated Coffee Roasters watching the roasting process, going behind the bar and learning how a latte gets made.
We were just getting into a groove with how we incorporate entrepreneurship in the classroom before COVID hit. Below you can see our 4th grade students building their floorpans and model homes. As part of math, students had to measure and build their models to scale.
Then, students turned into real estate agents.
And then, there was Sadie. Make sure to watch to see what happens at the 1 minute mark!
Covid has not deterred us. We have pivoted and taken a virtual approach to entrepreneurship with Career Day. We feature one entrepreneur during our school-wide assembly who gets to be interviewed by student leaders. Some of our Virtual Career day guest have included:
-Carlos Puertolas, the Director of Animation for Trolls 2.
-Kirhan Cheng, a Corporate Event Planner who has worked with major household brands.
-Leah Ferrazani, owner of Pasadena's Semolina Pasta, Double winner of 2020 Good Food Awards and recently featured in Food & Wine Magazine.
-Linette Figueroa, an11 year old local Entrepreneur and baker of @linettes_sweets and known for her Churro Cheesecake.
- Healthcare Heroes Esteban Gomez and Diana Limas of Altamed.
As we look to the future we are in the process of launching a Maker-Space our Entrepreneur Lab for our students. The goal of the Entrepreneur Lab is to provide students with the tools and supplies that they need to make their ideas come to life. Many of our families are low-income and would have trouble accessing these items for themselves. In the Lab students would have access to sewing machines, soap and beauty-making tools/ supplies, Cricut, heat press, digital tools and more. We are excited to teach our students new skills and cannot wait to see what they will come up with.
Cooking, cutting, glueing, coloring, mixing, recycling, role playing are all part of how we get there with students leading the way! Alma Fuerte is currently enrolling grades TK-6 for the 2021-2022 school year, have your child join the Alma Fuerte Family!
Thanks for reading!