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Harvey High School's Nell Rapport Leaves a Legacy of Entrepreneurship
Nell Rapport and the Future Business Leaders of America Club walk the halls of Harvey High School as they take their awards to the trophy case.
Nell Rapport of Harvey High School will retire this spring, leaving behind a legacy of award-winning entrepreneurship education. Nell came to teaching 28 years ago from the business world and settled into Harvey as the entrepreneurship teacher 17 years ago. While there, she also founded the Future Business Leaders of America club at Harvey High School.
Through “cold calls and door knocks,” Nell built a strong network in the Painesville community. When she first began, Nell invited a group of business contacts to Lake Erie College for donuts and to hear her pitch as to why they should work with the students at Harvey High School. Through this outreach, she was able to foster relationships with Avery Denison and Lubrizol, as well as other small business owners who could serve on an advisory panel for her students. Nell also utilized the local chamber of commerce by setting up a pop-up shop for her students at their monthly meetings giving them a chance to pitch and sell their products to local small business owners.
Nell notes that it takes time to build a network like this and she found putting students in front of business leaders was an opportunity to showcase what her classes were working on and compel them to work with the students. She also advises that educators share what their students are doing either through local news or social media. These articles and posts can then be sent to perspective mentors to demonstrate the students’ work.
Harvey High School has had 3 first-place award winners in Future Business Leaders of America state competitions.
As a part of the entrepreneurship class, Nell’s students worked on a class business every fall semester. Together they work to make a product and a business plan that includes not only price points for the product but also overhead costs and wages for “employees.” In recent years, the entrepreneurship class used a commercial kitchen in a nearby church to make chocolate covered pretzels. Not only did they sell them to friends, families, neighbors, and classmates, but they created baskets that they took to local businesses to sell their products wholesale. It was important to Nell that her students create an actual product to have the experience of selling.
Nell credits the district and superintendent for letting her “take the ball and run” with designing her program to fit the needs of her students. With this support she was able to create a successful program that has afforded her students opportunities that they may not have had without her hard work and dedication. While it is bittersweet for her to wrap up her teaching career, she is looking forward to the freedom retirement will provide, and her many planned trips during the months she used to be in the classroom.
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