Part 3 – Student Voices: In Their Own Words – How 8th Graders In Virginia Are Changing the World (and Education)

socrates change
Quote Courtesy of Pinterest


When I set out to create this class, I wanted to turn students into entrepreneurs. I wanted to give them new experiences, so that they could develop new mindsets, and create new solutions. While we have been able to accomplish these goals, even greater is the unintended consequences of these experiences.


Their worldview has expanded. Their self-confidence has shot through the roof. They are motivated to take action. They are ready to take on the world and bring others along for the ride no matter where they come from or what they look like.




Don’t take my word for it, hear and see it from these students below:


The video was modified from one shown for a meeting with Henrico County Public Schools Central Office Staff members:

Dr. Beth Teigen (Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction)

Dr. Scott Bray (Director of Curriculum & Instruction)

Kourtney Bostain (Assistant Director of Instructional Technology)

Dr. Ingrid Grant (Director of Middle Schools)

Rachael Toy (STEAM Coordinator)


Every single student from my innovation class took part in this meeting. Students created a modified Chindogu product and presentation following the Stanford D. School’s design thinking cycle with the folks from Central Office (in addition to partners from vcuarts center for the creative economy and The Martin Agency).


A few students stuck around so that they could tell their story first-hand as opposed to the typical meeting format where I (the teacher) would tell the adults for them. The students exuded the same confidence and composure that they show in the video.


Simply put, these students proved what can happen when teachers get out of the way and let students do their thing!!


Don Wettrick runs an amazing company and podcast called StartEdUp. The podcast looks at the intersection of entrepreneurship and education. In Episode 2 (LISTEN HERE), Don interviews Jeff Hoffman. Jeff brings up the concept of anger being potential energy and action being kinetic energy. These 21 students did not want to be defined by the actions of their peers (READ PART 1 TO FIND OUT MORE…).


They wanted to control their own narrative. They wanted to take charge of their own lives and write their own chapters. These innovation students have been making things happen since Day 1.


Don’t forget to mark your calendars for February, tune in to the Friday Focus on StartEdUp (on Soundcloud & iTunes) to catch us chatting with Don about our journey as an innovation class and our plans for the future.


The 4th and FINAL part of this blog series coming soon!

Published by Jason Vest

Middle school educator in Henrico County (just outside of Richmond, VA) - 2018 iNACOL Innovator Award Winner - Host of the AfterEd Podcast, focused on individuals around the world that are challenging the status quo in education - Learning should be fun and experiences should raise the bar and the self-awareness of the individual. Outside of the classroom, my passion and focus is on helping all stakeholders reimagine education take action to bring innovation into and out of our schools in RVA, Henrico, and across the Commonwealth. #ReimagineRVA 

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