Momentum seems to be on the side of youth entrepreneurship in Arkansas right now.
Steve Straessle, principal of Little Rock’s Catholic High School for Boys, recognizes the potential of successfully introducing entrepreneurship to high school students.
Chad Williamson of Noble Impact is doing it right now. Noble Impact’s public-service-through-entrepreneurship cirriculum has been adopted by Little Rock’s eStem High School.
And Catholic High nurtured 17-year-old startup CEO Josh Moody of Overwatch. Steve — er, Mr. Straessle — sat down with INOV8 to talk about Josh and high school entrepreneurship in Arkansas.
But first, some examples of that momentum:
Josh’s story is a good one. Not only is the Overwatch combat gaming app poised to hit it big, but Josh himself is representative of a talented, mature-beyond-their years group of Arkansas kids expressing interest in entrepreneurship. (He’s also representative of the typical CHS student — poised, respectful, disciplined. And don’t get us started on the impressive Noble Impact kids at eStem — more on them later.)
Josh, of course, came by his entrepreneurial streak naturally. But it was the willingness of Catholic High to expand his learning boundaries that helped lead to success at the ARK. Here’s more from Straessle on how a CHS student came to begin his senior year in Fayetteville:
INOV8: Tell us exactly how, and when, Josh’s ARK Challenge journey began.
Straessle: Josh approached me at the end of his junior year. The program and his ideas about it were still very much fluid and we adopted a wait-and-see approach with the understanding that we, the administration, were willing to talk through the options.
INOV8: Ever made accommodations for students before like the ones you made for Josh?
Straessle: CHS has made accommodations in the past for experiences like this where learning is the focal point. Josh received quite an education, a hands-on education, and, because he was uniquely qualified to fulfill the dictates of the Ark Challenge program coupled with the dictates of his schoolwork, it was much easier to work with him.
The details were simple: Josh kept us apprised of his ARK Challenge schedule. He was also solely responsible for keeping up with his school work and information from missed classes. He found creative ways to stay engaged with his teachers and classmates so that the negatives were kept to a minimum.
INOV8: Did his success at the ARK Challenge surprise you, really?
Straessle: I was not surprised by his win at all. Josh played on my son’s soccer team and, traveling to Memphis one year for a tournament, we were impressed by his ability to turn a PlayStation game into a remote control for the TV. He was about 13-years-old at the time.
INOV8: Could the model established by Josh work on a broader scale at Catholic?
Straessle: CHS is always open to ideas about how to help students learn better or learn more. Of course, we insist that the fundamentals be mastered first. Because of Josh’s unique situation and unique ability, we are open to more special accommodations as long as they continue to work in conjunction with his high school experience.
More to come in this space from Josh’s dad, startup mentor David Moody of the Arkansas Venture Center. David shared with us his thoughts on Josh’s success, high school entrepreneurship and plans for an after-school program promoting it.