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Meet Renate Matthews: YE educator

Renate Matthews is a 13-year classroom veteran, but the last two completely transformed her mindset. The second-year Youth Entrepreneurs educator shares that renewed vigor and love for education with her students at Cornerstone Health & Technology High School in Detroit. “The Youth Entrepreneurs program brings excitement back into teaching because students are actually learning while they are having fun,” she says.

Renate recently spoke to 400 other educators about her passion in a recent webinar presented by Curriki. We caught up with her to get her take on a few key topics.

On sharing her passion.
“YE presents challenging content in a way that engages and inspires students because the material is relevant and meaningful. Participating in YE activities allows students to actually have a learning experience, which increases their ability to remember, gives them an opportunity to practice the YE Foundational Values and helps to prepare them for future success. And that is definitely something that should be shared.” 

On overcoming challenges.
“Teachers are always being told to engage students, but we are rarely given viable tools that actually work consistently on a day-to-day basis. Well, the Youth Entrepreneurs program is different. Not only does the YE team ensure that teachers have everything that they need to be successful, but the program itself gives teachers a new perspective on how to engage students. Even if you’re skeptical, but willing to try it, you’ll immediately see students wanting more, and that is something that is hard to do with today’s youth; they typically want less. The YE program, however, is so effective that it draws in almost every student in the classroom, if not all, and then it spills over to the rest of the school.”

On personal growth. 
“I love the growth I see in my students and the growth I see in myself. YE encourages students to be better in every aspect of their lives, not just the entrepreneurial piece. My students are able to retain information better and have better conversations with regard to entrepreneurial and economic concepts. They are more prepared for the real world, more cognizant of the opportunities they might pass up and they see how important it is to seize the day.” 

On entrepreneurship. 
“I used to think an entrepreneur was someone who owns a business. Now, it’s anyone who solves problems for profit. Students learn that their ability to solve problems is not just something that they can do in high school, but it is a skill that can carry them a long way in life.” 

On YE’s Foundational Values. 
“The Foundational Values drive everything I do in my classroom. I incorporate them into all of my lessons. If a student asks a question and ties a value into it, they have the chance to earn YE dollars. It’s important because now they understand the concept for themselves.

For example, with Sound Judgment, students initially think it’s just about making good decisions. But if they get money as a gift for their birthday or for Christmas, and they don’t save any of it, then that becomes a teachable moment. We talk about it to help them understand how Sound Judgment ties into all decisions, including finances.”

Final thoughts.
“Be passionate about what you do. My goal is for my students to not just get a job, but to do something they love. I want, like Mark Twain said, their vocation to be their vacation. I want them to be happy, enjoy life and be able to share with others.” 

Watch Renate’s webinar or hear from some local students who’ve experienced a mindset shift thanks to YE’s real-world education.