My week as an extern started with an email and led to experiencing what it takes to run a small business within our community. 

In June of 2018, I received a job offer to come back to where it all began at White Bear Lake Area High School as a Business Education teacher. I was hopeful and passionate about giving back to the community that raised me. I was a White Bear Lake graduate and continued my education at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I received a Bachelors’ in Communications and Business Marketing and am currently pursuing a Master of Business Education. 

As an educator I believe in the idea of experiential learning and wanted to find ways to bring it into my classroom. Throughout my first year of teaching I was faced with many challenges. The biggest being how to connect real world business experience within my classroom. How can I involve my students in our community in a meaningful, and educational way? How do I get my students as excited as I am about the intersection of business and education? 

In April, I received an email stating that the White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce received a grant in support of a summer externship for educators within our district. I thought, what better opportunity to be immersed within our community in order to learn how our local businesses are run? 

I was fortunate enough to be one of three teachers at White Bear Lake Area High School to be selected for this opportunity. In this process, Press Publications graciously extended the opportunity for me to learn the world of community news. The family-owned company publishes eight newspapers, including 124-year-old White Bear Press. In asking Gene Johnson, Publisher Emeritus on the first day of my externship what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, he stated, “You must have at least two of three things, experience, capital, and ambition. Without two of those three things you will fail.”  

In a business that has been threatened by the ever-changing use of technology and societal changes, Press Publications has continued to run as a well-oiled machine. They have many departments that work together in order to continue to overcome adversity. Throughout the week I had the opportunity to learn from different departments such as news, sales and marketing, accounting, circulation, graphic designing, legal notices and more. 

Throughout this process I was given ideas to incorporate into my curriculum. I was included in a role play for successful sales, I took part in a discussion to recreate the company’s mission statement and values, I sat with the web designer, I attended a public meeting with an editor on a topic for a front-page story, etc. I had valuable conversation with industry professionals who helped me compile a list of important skills and educational values to bring back to my students which includes and is not limited to, 

·       Accountability 

·       Responsibility

·       Willingness to Learn 

·       Strong Ethics 

·       Strong Character 

·       Exposure to the World 

·       Learning to say yes to opportunities 

·       Asking Questions 

I am confident that throughout this process I built relationships and made connections that will not only benefit me and my future as an educator, but I truly believe will benefit my students.

 

Colleen Cameron is a business education teacher at White Bear Area High School. She culminated her week-long externship with Press publications with this column. 

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