Innovation is something near and dear to my heart, and I truly believe it opens doors, creates solutions and jobs, and provides opportunities to those willing to put themselves out there and risk failure. I would consider myself and my family to be entrepreneurs. My brother and I have both started our own respective companies in Chicago and ingrained ourselves in the innovation ecosystem, working with startup incubator programs and innovation centers. These experiences took a lot of work, but what we took away from each experience was very valuable.

My grandparents started Lawton Academy with the idea of providing differentiated curriculum for gifted and talented students. At the time of its creation, there was nothing like this school in the region. Five years later my mom joined the mix and created and established a strong secondary program that uses principles and learning experiences that are not found in other schools. Lastly, my dad has joined the team, and he is building and developing a sports program, something that was never a part of the original plan of LAAS, but it is helping our kids to learn and grow and develop healthy lifestyles and attitudes towards competition. 

All over the world there are entrepreneurs creating innovative solutions to a variety of problems. Innovation in the medical technology industry saves lives and makes medical procedures safer for patients and doctors. Innovation in the technology industry gives us advancements and progress. There is innovation in every industry that is changing the way we conduct our daily lives. Entrepreneurs represent a broad demographic, and many successful innovative ideas come out of schools and universities. These opportunities of the innovation community are available for younger people as well as mid-level professionals and above. Students are out there changing the world, and your student can as well.

Yesterday, we took twenty secondary students to Alva to hear the challenge for this year’s robotics competition. This competition forces our students to develop strong problem-solving skills, and it encourages the teams to come up with innovative solutions to real world problems. I think this is one of the most valuable experiences that our students have during middle school and high school. It builds teamwork, healthy competition, problem-solving, and hard work under pressure. These are all very valuable skills for students to develop before they enter the workforce. In addition to these skills. I believe this competition trains up our next great crop of innovators. This might not manifest with each of these students starting a company, but I believe that these students have more training and ability to innovate solutions in whatever job in which they end up. 

Push your children to take opportunities such as robotics that develop these innovative skills. Get them in STEM clubs, encourage them to take leadership positions, do activities that develop problem-solving skills. We need innovators to continuously develop and improve our world. That person to cure cancer or develop new technology that improves our society could very well be your child. Even if they don’t create a company, item, or technology, these skills are transferable and will help with their career growth.

-        Bria