Wayne Community High School's Holly Berndt was honored as the entrepreneurial educator of the year at the Second Annual Vision Awards held April 25 at Indian Hills Community College.
The Vision Awards were created to help honor entrepreneurship in Indian Hills’ 10-county region. The college selects individuals and businesses that are great examples of the entrepreneurial spirit that can be found in southeast Iowa.
Berndt, who teaches business and computer classes at Wayne, says the entrepreneurship section of her Intro to Business class is one of her favorite classes to teach. After the class studies several areas, such as the economics of running a business and types of businesses, Berndt devotes the final four weeks of the Intro to Business course to helping students develop a business plan they could possibly do right now. Students research their target market, locate vendors and figure finances. She hopes to add an evaluation of the business plan from a banker's perspective in future classes.
Berndt also has students working in community businesses in a Career Study program. Her Workplace Readiness class is a prerequisite for Career Study. Students may take Workplace Readiness in their junior or senior years. In addition to classroom studies, Workplace Readiness students tour local businesses and industries, where they hear what expectations and policies that workplace has, including dress codes, absenteeism and timeliness policies and work qualifications.
Only seniors may enroll in the Career Study program. Students choose which career they would like to study and arrangements are made for the student to spend two class periods, or 90 minutes, each school day at the business. Berndt asks the business to treat the student as they would an entry level employee.
"The businesses have been great," Berndt says. "Students get to actually experience the job on a day-to-day basis, and find out if it is something they really want to do. It's amazing what they get to see and do that they wouldn't otherwise."
Students are not paid for the work, but they do receive high school credits. In addition to the hours spent at work, students have written assignments and discussions to reflect on the experience. Business owners provide evaluations of the students which gives feedback on their job performance.
The Career Study program started slowly, with only two students the first term. Word soon got around, and Berndt has more senior students wanting to participate each term. Currently, students are placed at an auto body shop, both veterinary clinics in Corydon, the hospital, the school and at a children's clothing store. The elementary school and hair salons have also been part of the program in the past. Berndt anticipates the program will continue to grow, and plans to spend time this summer researching other ways she can help students explore the world of entrepreneurship.
Other winners of IHCC Vision Awards include Josh Bear of Derby, who won the Indian Hills Alumni Entrepreneur award. Bear, a graduate of the college’s Automotive Technology program, owns Kar Knuts, a full-service automobile repair business in Derby. Bear has gained a reputation for the top quality and honesty that he provides in his business.
Mitch Goudy, a senior at Fairfield High School and owner and operator of MTG DJ Service, was selected as the student entrepreneur of the year.
The Little Bake Shop, owned by Melissa Little, was chosen as the new business of the year. This business began in Little’s home and expanded into a storefront in downtown Ottumwa last year.
Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., of Fairfield won the entrepreneurial business award. With more than 30 years in the financial services industry, Cambridge has recently experienced phenomenal growth bringing hundreds of jobs to their home office in Fairfield. Cambridge has also been named as one of the top places to work in Iowa by the Des Moines Register.
Joe Crookham, president and principal owner of Musco Lighting of Oskaloosa, was honored for his long-time entrepreneurial efforts with the Lifetime Achievement Award.