Wendy Henderson teaches YE to her middle school students at Vista Grove Preparatory Academy in Mesa, Arizona. “Youth Entrepreneurs helps them believe they can accomplish anything, no matter their circumstances, even at a young age. Entrepreneurism puts them in charge of their lives.” Meet Wendy.
Her YE connection: Wendy warmly refers to her school’s principal, Mr. Batista, as “a businessman at heart.” With Youth Entrepreneurs already in place at nearby high schools, he was eager to bring the program to Vista Grove. “Our kids tend to come to us with low self-esteem because of their home circumstances,” Wendy says. “YE helps students believe they can accomplish anything no matter what their circumstances are.”
YE in middle school: Youth Entrepreneurs typically takes place in high school classrooms. But with curriculum rooted in foundational values and timeless principles, YE can be applied
across many disciplines and in many settings. Wendy sees the big impact YE is having on her middle school class. “Our students are still young enough that they’re not too cool to learn! I hope to make a difference for them and teach them to be advocates for their own education. YE helps to give them that strong foundation.” And her students hold their own at pitch competitions — even in competition with high school Youth Entrepreneurs students, they been very successful, taking second and first place! “It gives them such a belief in themselves!”
Most memorable mindset shift moment: “The most profound change I have noticed is after we did the handshake activity,” Wendy says. “In this day and age, kids have a really tough time with direct eye contact. But now I’ve noticed that every time they come into class, and also speaking to people outside of class, they’re looking people in the eye. That’s huge in everyday life. You can’t network well unless you can look people in the eye, and that’s been a mindset shift for all our students.”
The power of an entrepreneurial mindset: Before becoming an educator, Wendy was a business owner herself. She owned a moving and storage company — but business ownership simply wasn’t her passion. “I try to teach my students that entrepreneurial skills don’t apply only to owning a business,” she says. “We’re all entrepreneurs of our own lives.” She puts a heavy focus on YE’s Foundational Values because she knows those will carry her students far.
"We’re all entrepreneurs of our own lives."
How she defines entrepreneur for her students: “An entrepreneur is someone who is in charge of their own life and solves a problem for profit,” Wendy says. “Even if the problem is finding a job, and you are the product you’re selling, that’s entrepreneurship!”
YE equips students to overcome obstacles. A great obstacle Wendy has overcome: Wendy took classes at community college after dropping out of high school and getting her GED. “I studied accounting, but it wasn’t my passion,” she remembers. Many years later, while she was a single mom of three, she decided to go back to college while working several part-time jobs. “My kids were 15, 12 and 1. I look back on it now and I don’t know how I did it!” She earned her degree in Child and Adolescent Psychology at Tarleton State University, and then earned her Master’s degree in Education at the University of Phoenix.
If her students remember just one lesson from YE, it’s this: “Our students learn that they’re in charge of their own lives. If you know what you want your life to look like, then go out and create that life. The best way to predict the future is to create it!”
Get to know more of our passionate Youth Entrepreneurs educators on our blog.