Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Number of full-time faculty: 70
School founded: 1850
Dunne Family Innovation Commons opened: 2018
Students who have completed Foundations of Entrepreneurship (Ice House): 400
Christian Brothers College High School (CBC) is an all-male Catholic high school in suburban St. Louis. It offers a college preparatory setting where students’ educational programs are fully customized based on their individual abilities, strengths, challenges, and interests. For example, incoming students can choose to focus on an academic track that interests them. Still, the school curriculum immerses all students in leadership, STEM, and entrepreneurship programming through the Dunne Family Innovation Commons.
In the very competitive private school environment in St. Louis, CBC has worked hard to place itself on the leading edge of education innovation. In short, they want to instill 21st-century skills in all of their students. Therefore, to inspire 21st-century learning and experimentation in its students, the school opened the Dunne Family Innovation Commons in 2018. The 8,000 square-foot facility is home to CBC’s STEM Academy and the Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Consequently, the school wanted to invest in an entrepreneurship curriculum that matched its goals. The program would need to fit within a project-based learning structure, and offer its students opportunity and autonomy.
The concept of entrepreneurship is familiar to most Christian Brothers College High School students. That is to say, many of them grew up around small business owners or aspired to start their own companies. As such, when Principal Tim Seymour and Business Department Chair attended the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative’s Ice House training, they knew its practical, hands-on approach would resonate with their student body. What’s more, the ease of implementation into Chalkboard, the school’s learning management system, pleased Pittroff and Seymour, as well as the technical support they received from ELI.
Pittroff said CBC’s initial plan of limiting the initial entrepreneurship course to sophomores and above only lasted for a year because many freshmen requested to enroll in it. As a result, for the past three years, CBC has offered it school-wide as an elective.
The very first time CBC offered Foundations of Entrepreneurship as an elective, 80 students signed up. Certainly, they engaged with the videos and lectures in the Student Success version of the Ice House curriculum from the start. That’s still true today, four years later. Students internalize the entrepreneurial mindset and thought processes from the Ice House model. They then carry them forward into subsequent courses like Entrepreneurship for Tomorrow and the Capstone Course, where students run an in-house retail store selling CBC apparel.
Pittroff invites community members to speak to his classes, and one of the assignments requires students to interview a small business owner or founder. “The Ice House materials, resources, and entrepreneur interviews combine to really get the kids to think and to ask big questions,” Pittroff said. “In addition, the Ice House lessons can be integrated widely into other subjects like social studies, science, and math.”
He estimates that 400 students have taken an entrepreneurship course since 2018—and that number will multiply quickly now that a second business teacher is trained in the Ice House model, allowing CBC to offer multiple sections for the 2021-22 school year. “I see entrepreneurship as being a fundamental skill at the high school and college levels,” Pittroff said. “Kids who embrace adaptability and resilience in adversity will be the ones who are successful in leading and growing companies.”