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D230 Entrepreneurial students design plan for local business

Authentic learning isn’t just the latest buzzword in education. It is rooted in research and can be the key to deep and long-lasting learning. 

Authentic learning, or real life learning, teaches real world issues and problems requiring students to engage in creative and critical thinking. Authentic learning is the opposite of passive learning, where students memorize and then regurgitate what they hear or see.

At Consolidated High School District 230’s Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, the Entrepreneurial class, taught by Peter Hostrawser, specializes in authentic learning. In a first of its kind project, students are working with Peppo’s Subs sandwich shop owner Robert Peplowski, aka Peppo Jr., to analyze whether the 47-year-old business should build a new marquee flagship store or create franchise shops, or both.

Students were divided into groups to examine all of the elements factoring into Peppo’s business future: location, taxes, target customers, marketing, building availability and more. Students are to put themselves in the owner’s shoes, take an entrepreneurial mindset, and for the next several weeks, wrestle with the best business proposal options for Peppo’s.

Junior Jana Ehmod said, “What appeals to me about this project is the opportunity to gain firsthand insight into the decisions restaurant owners must make to expand. I appreciate the chance to learn how to tackle business challenges and gain experience without taking any actual risks, as well as the chance to work with business models.”

Hostrawser says, “The entrepreneurial mindset is a messy process, but once they get in the sandbox, then things start to build. Entrepreneurship is about failing forward - quickly - and then pivoting to keep going.”

Owner Robert Peppo is driven to give back having participated in District 230 Shark Tank presentations, mock interviews, and other business related events. “I wish I had the opportunity to participate in this kind of class. Instead, I had to learn by trial and error the hard way.”

Senior Victoria Kieta said, “I like that this project is unique and it lets us step outside our comfort zone. We are able to not only present in front of students, but we present in front of real business owners. We get to voice our opinions in a fun and creative way and this is the one class where we are heard and our opinions matter. I see this opportunity as a way to prepare for real future business projects. If I could tell everyone in the school to take at least one elective, I'd tell them to take Entrepreneurship.”

“This is a real life teaching opportunity with real life application. Students are engaging in real decisions within the reality of a real situation,” Hostrawser added.