By Diane Rosenthal, Executive Director, NFTE Fairchester
Fall brings renewed energy and excitement to the NFTE Fairchester community with all of the hope and promise that a new school year brings. And on September 28, 50 eager students and 10 enthusiastic volunteers woke up early on a Saturday morning to participate in World Series of Innovation Day sponsored by Pitney Bowes and presented by Microsoft. You could feel the dynamism in the room at UCONN Stamford where this year’s event took place, as experienced NFTE teacher Larry Keller, led the students through a series of innovative activities designed to spark their creative juices and prepare them to tackle the World Series challenges ahead.
The diverse group of students spanned the geographic scope of NFTE Fairchester with students coming from The Bronx, NY, to Bridgeport, CT, with a few as young as 11 years old working side by side high school seniors. Students represented ten schools in the Fairchester network as well as a group from REACH Prep – a non-profit organization in Stamford that prepares economically disadvantaged elementary school students for admission to local independent schools complete with full scholarships. Collaboration and cooperation were the key words for the day.
Students benefited from the expertise and care of outstanding guest coaches from local corporations including GE and Pitney Bowes. Brian Romansky, Pitney Bowes Director of New Business Opportunities, spoke to the group about the importance of integrating innovation into the work place; "When I do my work within my company, I'm looking for those internal entrepreneurs - people who can not only envision a difference but can come up with good ideas, follow through and implement them." Students applauded. They got the message. And then it was time to get to work.
Sa'ad Sarraj and Geovanni Borrayes, seniors at Port Chester High School, are enrolled in NFTE's Entrepreneurship course at the school and thrilled to participate in this special day. As aspiring entrepreneurs, the team submitted two entries to the competition: a sparkling beverage marketing plan to answer Coca Cola's challenge and a sports technology concept for the SAP challenge.
The day proved to be a great opportunity for students to work together, explore their creativity and to discover that they too have can have a role in creating products and services that answer real issues and make the world a better place. World Series of Innovation Day truly ignites the imagination of young people everywhere.
Photos by Margaret Fox