Go Back

Our Stories

Family & Foundational Values

Gavin Darr may only be in his first year of teaching, but his familiarity with Youth Entrepreneurs goes all the way back to elementary school. That’s the first time he remembers hearing about the program from his dad, a former YE instructor at Northwest High School in Wichita, Kansas. In fact, the principles and values of YE are so ingrained in Gavin’s family, that when his dad retired last year, Gavin stepped in to fill the role his father was leaving behind. Having been through the class himself in the not-too-distant past, Gavin believes he has a unique advantage when it comes to connecting with students and offering advice and tips on how to make the most of their YE experience.

Meet Gavin. 

His YE connection: 
Prior to joining the faculty at Northwest High School, Gavin attended Kansas State University where he majored in Business Secondary Education and Marketing.  At the time, teaching wasn’t even on his radar, but he eventually started to give it serious consideration as a career. Reflecting back on his own experiences, Gavin appreciates the unique advantage he has in the classroom. “As someone who has now been both a student and a teacher of YE, I can see how the principles and values translate to real world experiences. And the best part is, I can relay that to my students because it’s only been seven years since I was in their place. This allows me to talk about my own Market Day experience, for example, and share what worked for me and what I wish I would have done better. They appreciate that insight.” 

What he loves most about YE: 
As a sports fan, Gavin truly enjoys the competitive nature of YE games and activities, so much of the structure of his class is competition-based. During a recent round of the Invention Game, he was delighted to see the ingenuity that came out among a group of boys in a class made up of predominantly girls. “The inventions are voted on by the class, and so after the boys lost, they quickly realized that in order to improve their chances of winning next time, they needed to both understand and re-evaluate their target market. They came up with the idea to instead create a product geared more toward girls to maybe give them a better competitive advantage the next time around.” 

How the Foundational Values drive him as a YE educator:
For Gavin, the Foundational Values are essential to his teaching methods. In each activity and lesson he plans, he looks at ways to incorporate them into the discussion. The most challenging part? Getting his students to remember them without referring back to the printed poster he keeps in his classroom. He encourages his students to not just memorize the values, but to actually understand and apply them. “I try to work Foundational Values into everything we do and I am always reiterating how essential they are. The more we reiterate them, the more we work them in, the more chances they have to remember them and make them a part of everything they do.”

Challenges in the Classroom:
All educators face certain challenges in the classroom; finding a way to work through them is more than half the battle. For Gavin, one of the biggest challenges he faces is dealing with students who don’t show up to class. He knows that when they are in his classroom, they are engaged and productive, but for any number of reasons, some students miss school. That’s difficult for students, but it can be hard for teachers as well, especially when they see potential. With one student in particular, Gavin is committed to going the extra mile. “What I do in these instances is I let him know that I notice when he is there and when he is doing good work. I make it a point to thank him for showing up. I ask him extra questions about what he is working on and I do whatever I can to engage him a little more so he feels valued and wants to continue coming.” 

On asking for advice: 
Gavin feels fortunate as a first-year teacher that he is not the only YE instructor at Northwest. He appreciates the camaraderie among the teaching staff and especially those in the business department. But there is one voice in particular that he relies on. “I ask my dad for advice every single night, I feel so lucky to be able to do that. It might be something small like ‘how did you start this lesson?’ or maybe it is a question about dealing with a particular student or activity, but having him as a resource is really great and it has already helped me so much.” 

On using the resources of YE Academy: 
“It has been a lifesaver for me. I find everything I need through YE Academy. Everything they come up with is not only relatable but fun and interesting for students too. And the incentive games, they’re great because the students are really motivated by what they can get at auction.” 

With so many lesson plans, videos, activities and ideas, the resources offered through YE Academy are utilized everyday by both new and seasoned instructors.

On the most surprising aspect of teaching so far:
“If I had to pick one thing, it would be how well I am able to relate to my students while still being an authority figure. I was nervous about that. I kind of have a baby face and I’m not that much older than my students, but I can see that they respect me and I wasn't so sure how that would go when I first got started.”