Information Technology and Entrepreneurship teacher, Jeanette Kleppinger was recently named the 2018 Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year by the Nebraska Entrepreneurship Task Force. Any teacher in the state of Nebraska who teaches or focuses on entrepreneurship in their classroom is eligible for this award. Kleppinger especially had a big role in Westside’s partnership with the Nebraska Furniture Mart.
“In our business department we saw the need for students who go through our marketing program or our entrepreneurship program and they want more,” Kleppinger said.
Westside did not have the resources available to give those students advanced challenges and projects; this inspired the partnership with Nebraska Furniture Mart.
“[This partnership] frees up my time because they allowed us to hire another person in our department to work with students to launch their businesses,” Kleppinger said.
Kleppinger as well as other entrepreneurship educators face challenges that come with entrepreneurship education.
“The biggest struggle is by the time students get to high school, they have the creativity beat out of them; they’re really good at multiple choice and working towards standardized testing,” Kleppinger said. “My biggest challenge is teaching kids to think differently and see problems and observe, versus having their noses in their phones and worry about the next pre-calculus test.”
Kleppinger said teaching entrepreneurship brings many moments of success.
“I had the opportunity to meet with a couple kids in college, and seeing the success they’ve had makes me think putting students on that path towards an entrepreneurial career is probably the biggest success for me to see,” Kleppinger said.
With Kleppinger’s job, she receives many opportunities to help students.
“She encouraged me to do my work when I was completely lost; she helped me through my class without giving me the answers,” sophomore Payton Kleidosty said.
Nebraska Department of Education has a conference every year, an entrepreneur summit, which is where Kleppinger received her award on Oct. 30 2018.
“I get to work with a lot of innovative and forward thinking teachers, so it was truly an honor to be considered in that class, but I think ultimately, it puts a light on the importance of entrepreneurship education,” Kleppinger said.