Though a critical life skill, business acumen is often not taught until secondary education, and only if the student chooses a business-related major. What if your child’s high school curriculum could give them a head start on their dream business or career before they even head to college?
That’s the goal of The LIFE School, a progressive high school in Atlanta that fosters students’ personalized interests with the help of project-based learning. Project goals may include starting a business, learning computer programming, video game design, and more.
“Sometimes when you say to a student — set BIG goals and we’ll help you reach them — they think you’re just trying to be inspirational and don’t totally mean it,” says Mikala Streeter, The LIFE School’s Principal and lead teacher. “But when they see another student say he wants to publish a novel and then they hold that book in their hand, something starts to shift in their thinking.”
Once a student has a project in mind, the school helps them raise the money necessary to pursue the idea and bring it to life. “When another student goes from a casual interest in cooking to an internship with a professional chef, that inspirational speech becomes doctrine and students start working all the more seriously about accomplishing big goals,” says Streeter. “They start that Youtube channel they’ve been thinking about. They finish those blueprints and head to the hardware store to get materials. Dreams become the plans for the day and cool stuff starts to happen.”
Hypepotamus asked three students from The LIFE School to share more about their current projects, how they are working toward their dream career, and the number-one essential thing they’ve learned at the school.
Dream career: My dream career is to be a professional game designer. To be specific, I see a job in Narrative Design. This career is especially appealing to me because it gives me a chance to design a videogame based on my novel and other works, with the right help of course.
Most interesting project: It would have to be a novel I’m working on. Writing has been a hobby since a young age but since working on it at The LIFE School, I’m envisioning a future as a writer. I’ve already created a first copy of my book and am making steady progress on the second part. I am also in the midst of reaching out to professional writers and building my network.
LIFE school lesson: Coordination. At the The LIFE School, we work on many group projects on top of our own individual ones. To finish these projects within weeks, we need to work together, communicate, and coordinate our work in order to finish within a timely fashion as well as have a functioning end product. I feel as though my personal teamwork skills as well as my fellow scholars’ skills have increased.
Dream career: My dream career in business is to be an entrepreneur and own multiple businesses, such as a restaurant, a music production business, and maybe a building/architecture business.
Most interesting project: Designing a concept app for the Verizon app challenge which tasked us with designing a mobile app to address a need in our community. The mobile app that my classmates and I designed was called Drivr and it was an app that rewarded users for driving safely instead of recklessly. We chose driving because it is one of the major problems in the metro Atlanta area.
LIFE school lesson: Prioritizing is probably something that I have improved on the most. It helps me finish my projects on time when I’m not the most focused (sometimes before they’re due). Here at The LIFE School, we use a system called “code switching.” Code switching is where we change our demeanors from silly or goofy to serious.
Dream career: I am interested in Game Design and coding, so my dream career is to own a game development company. I wish to go to Morehouse for my undergrad, then go to Georgia Tech for grad school. I also plan to major in computer science.
Most interesting project: Currently, I am working on founding a clothing company with money I earned from a grant. Right now, we are creating initial product designs for the company and setting up our web store, so check out our website for updates. The revenue I earn from this clothing company will be used to fund a school trip to California, where we will visit companies, museums, and colleges that relate to our interests and goals.
LIFE school lesson: Throughout life, learning is a constant thing. Ms. Mikala has taught me is that dreaming big is different from performing. Anyone can think of owning a billion dollar company, but only few can perform.