Teaching dollars and sense Entrepreneurs take over local school for a day

By: D. Ray Tuttle     The Journal Record       

November 17, 2011Students at the Roy Clark Elementary School in Tulsa are well-equipped with their hard hats while working with a guest teacher from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Oklahoma. (Rip Stell) 

TULSA – Clay Slaton faced a class of 20 third-graders at Roy Clark Elementary School and asked the children what an entrepreneur was. 

“The boss!” they shouted. 

It was a scene played out throughout the Tulsa elementary school, where 18 business men and women from Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Oklahoma spent the day teaching students about business, finance and economics. It was part of the “EO Oklahoma Gives Back” event Thursday. 

Slaton, CEO and owner of EngATech in Tulsa, and Piyush Patel, CEO and owner of PL Studios in Oklahoma City, taught Courtney Kime’s class. 

“This event is great for the kids,” Kime said. “They get to learn about real-world things.” 

The daylong session gives the children an opportunity to learn life skills, Kime said. 

“They learn about the city and what people throughout the community do,” Kime said. 

As part of Junior Achievement’s Elementary School program, the “EO Oklahoma Gives Back” event coincided with the annual “EO24” event, during which 120 EO chapters in 42 countries take part in entrepreneurial education events. 

The objective is to expose the children to business, Slaton said. 

“To let them learn more about entrepreneurialism, more about businesses,” Slaton said. “We break business down to a level they understand by relating things to what they deal with every day.”

Both business owners expressed surprise at how quickly the children grasped the concept of being in business.

“They have been engaged,” said Patel, a former teacher. “They already know so much about business at such a young age. Even in third grade, their minds are programmed at being entrepreneurial and they are able to stitch together the concepts of running a business – that they have to have this and this and this.”

Slaton and Patel helped the class build a model city with various things like restaurants and movie theaters.

Slaton taught the class about blueprints.

“We explained it is like a toy at Christmas,” he said. “The toy comes with instructions and their parents need them to put the toy together. It is the same with blueprints – you need them to put a restaurant together.”

Slaton asked the children what they would do if they ran a restaurant.

“We get them to think about the things they enjoy doing and asked them how they think it came into being,” Slaton said. “Kids do not think about what goes on behind the scenes – what it takes to make a restaurant work, for example.”

The next time they are at a restaurant, they will look at the different workers – the waiters, the cashier, the cook – and have a better understanding about what it takes to operate the business, Slaton said.

Members of the Oklahoma EO chapter employ more than 565 people and represent more than $135 million in revenues. The chapter provided a cumulative 108 hours of instruction to 650 students at Roy Clark Elementary, teaching all classes as well as eating lunch with the students.

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