Course for Vermont educators energized by solving problems, inspiring creativity, and having fun

Course for Vermont educators energized by solving problems, inspiring creativity, and having fun

3 minute read

The lakeside view from the Lake Morey Resort conference room was spectacular, but the real action was taking place inside the room where VtSBDC Advisor and Student Entrepreneurship Specialist Laurel Butler and VtSBDC Consultant and CVU faculty member Tamie-Jo Dickinson facilitated the kickoff of Creativity and Innovation, a course for Vermont educators that offers three graduate credits from Castleton University. This was the eighth year of the program.

A diverse grouping of teachers and school directors from all over the state gathered on Oct. 17 and 18, 2022 to learn, collaborate, and build tools to take back to their classrooms, preparing to elevate their high school classrooms to the next level of entrepreneur education. Virtual sessions will continue through May 2023, providing educators with abundant resources and curriculum to equip them for the school year and beyond for today’s young entrepreneurs, and tomorrow’s Vermont workforce.

The Creativity and Innovation course incorporates curriculum adapted from VT REAL (Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning), Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) resources, the Entrepreneur Resources community, Design Thinking from the Stanford Model, and other tools and resources.

Jeff A., a culinary arts teacher from St. Johnsbury Academy, paused from a vibrant discussion with his table team to share, “I am here seeking innovative ideas to add value to my course and to blend it into my curriculum.”

Jeremy R., teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy and an electrical engineer who previously owned his own business, was interested in broadening his scope and discovering new business models to share in his classroom.

Co-teachers Jason F. and Andrew S. from Randolph High School were enthusiastically making plans to reinvent their curriculum, incorporating the entrepreneurial mindset with an engineering approach. 

Educator Scott B. of Mt. Abraham High School was excited to learn about transferable skills to job performance. His goal is to keep talented young people in Vermont.

“We are so excited about this year’s Creativity and Innovation class,” said Laurel. “Many of the participants are from science and engineering backgrounds, and we have participants from schools that are new to the program. The varied perspectives bring a whole new outlook to the course, with lots of innovative thinking and new ideas.”

The feedback from the course’s opening days was unanimously positive:

“Thank you for a wonderful start to the class.  I really enjoyed the conversations and activities to jump start things.  There was such great energy!”

 -Andrew S.


“Thank you for this. I must say, I honestly believe I have never laughed so hard or had so much fun in Professional Development before.”

 -Sandra M.

“Our program focuses on helping educators be engaged in highly effective, fun interactive learning experiences and lesson plans that they can immediately integrate into any program of study or academic discipline,” continued Butler. “The entrepreneurial process and mindset crosses all disciplines/fields – and helps individuals either be more successful in creating their own venture and/or being a more focused and knowledgeable employee.”

“We believe in the entrepreneurial spirit,” added Dickinson. “Most of us have an internal desire to explore and achieve—but it has to be awakened.  We’ve developed entrepreneurship and leadership curriculum to complement the core subjects, specific career and tech programs and standards that students are exposed to every day – elevating the impact of traditional schooling.”

VtSBDC State Director, Linda Rossi, concluded “VtSBDC’s role is to collaborate in the creation of a pipeline of future entrepreneurs and/or workforce leaders. This is essential for Vermont’s economy, beginning with our youngest generations, and continuing through all stages of entrepreneurship.”

More about Creativity and Innovation    

The program is sponsored by the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) and Vermont Business Education Corp (VBEC) and co-facilitated by Laurel Butler, VtSBDC Business Advisor/Student Entrepreneur Specialist and Tamie-Jo Dickinson, Champlain Valley UHS Business/Entrepreneurship Faculty/FBLA Advisor and VTC & Castleton Adjunct Faculty.

VtSBDC and VBEC host statewide student and teacher entrepreneurship programs throughout the year including teacher trainings and programs within schools and showcases annual entrepreneurship events such as Entrepreneurship Day taking place virtually on February 9, 2023 for high school/career technical center students, and the annual business model canvas plan and pitch competitions. 

Interested in learning more?  Visit https://www.vtsbdc.org/specialty-services/youth-entrepreneurship/ or contact Laurel Butler, VtSBDC Advisor, at lbutler@vtsbdc.org.

Looking for more? Check out our resources page or request advising from a regional advisor!