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Educator Spotlight: Meet Renate Matthews

Renate Matthews teaches Youth Entrepreneurs to her students at Cornerstone Health & Technology High School in Detroit. “YE is a phenomenal program — the activities are engaging and the lessons that they take away from this class last a lifetime.” Meet Renate.

Her YE connection: When Renate transitioned into teaching an entrepreneurship class, her administrator suggested YE. She attended summer teacher training and immediately connected with the program. “I went to the training, loved it, threw away my old curriculum and have been using the YE curriculum ever since.”

What she loves most about YE: “I love YE for so many different reasons. I love growth that I see in my students and the growth that I see in myself as well,” she says. “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 regards to entrepreneurial and economic concepts. They are more prepared for the real world.” 

Most memorable mindset shift: Renate sees mindset shifts during several of her YE activities, like Money Bowl. First, students have to decide whether or not to participate. Then, Renate reveals, there was real money involved for participating. “All of the students who opted out of engaging realized that they should have participated in that freedom and opportunity. Now they are more cognizant of the opportunities they pass up and now, they see how important it is to seize the day.” 

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

“For example, with Sound Judgment, initially students 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 and we talk about it so to help them understand how Sound Judgment ties in to all decisions, including finances.

How she defines entrepreneur for her students: “I used to think an entrepreneur was someone who owns a business,” Renate says. “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.” 

YE equips students to overcome obstacles. A great obstacle Renate has overcome: Renate began her career as a bookkeeper, and realized her passion wasn’t for clerical work. So she went back to school and received her teaching degree, and has been teaching for 13 years. “Just like my students, I used to think, ‘I don’t have any talents,’” Renate says. “YE allows me to see things differently. Now I have several ideas of what I can do outside the classroom. I’m currently working on my own business plans which is for a business that will help equip students with business life skills like resume writing and interviewing.” 

If her students remember just one lesson from YE, it’s this: “The most important Foundational Value is to be passionate about what they 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.” 

Hear more from Renate in the YE Detroit video Breaking Through Barriers >>