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Educator Spotlight: Meet Courtney Nelson

Courtney Nelson is a first-year Youth Entrepreneurs educator at Corsicana High School in Corsicana, Texas. “I love teaching my students about Win-Win Focus. When students learn that everyone can win, it brings up the whole community.” Get to know Courtney.   

Her YE connection: A nonprofit in Courtney’s community, Defy, connected her school to YE.  “We met with the YE Dallas team. To be honest, I wasn’t sure at first.  So I went back and did personal research. I had my students research YE, too. We called and got answers to questions we had. I ultimately decided this program could be great for my students — and I jumped right in!” 

What she loves most about YE: “As an educator, I love that I get the Opportunity to transform these simple lessons and become the entrepreneur of my classroom. Many times as a teacher you can’t own it. But I love that I can own it and make it my own.” 

On the power of YE: “I don’t want my students to ever be fearful. Too often, they are fearful of success. We are from an economically disadvantaged area. When students give up, you might find them roaming the streets. They get into trouble because they don't feel like they have any other choice. With YE, they realize they can choose. They learn that they can be a success.”

“The YE curriculum has opened so many doors. Now, I can take the kids outside of the school. We can afford it because YE helps. I can get to the YE competitions, and I don’t have to worry about transportation. Do you know how much that means? And, parents trust me now! They see the difference in their children. They ask, ‘My kid did that? My kid wrote that? My kid sold that?’ YE truly builds community and makes a difference for the entire the community.”

Why the Foundational Values matter: “The Foundational Values are the ideal — like a Disney dream,” she says. “We all want our students to have passion, be focused on win-win, gain knowledge and be principled. And we want them to carry those values into adulthood. With YE, my students are exposed to these values which they may have never learned without someone teaching them.” 

Most memorable mindset shift: For Market Day, Courtney challenges students to sell products related to their passions. One of her students was a hobby greeting card maker. After her encouragement, the student went on to sell more than $1,600 worth of cards during Market Day. “He didn’t think he could do it,” Courtney remembers. “Now, he has a viable business where he can really and truly be successful.  Plus, it’s portable! He can take it to college. Without YE, he would not have had the resources or connections for that mindset shift.”  

How she defines entrepreneurship in her classroom: “I define entrepreneurship as students having confidence within themselves and a strategy for how to achieve it. Once they do, you can’t stop them. The entrepreneurial spirit is ‘I’m going to fall down, but I’m going to get back up and be even better. I know who my competition is, but I’m going to be better than them and going to beat them.’” 

To the educators considering YE: “I’ve been teaching for nine years. As teachers, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut,” Courtney says. “Being a part of YE, you can do so much. Get outside of your teacher comfort zone. Focus on why you got into education in the first place. Then make it happen. Get your joy back.” 

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