During Teacher Appreciation Week, we celebrate the dedication and impact of educators like Jacqueline M. Renfro, who teaches with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) within the Dallas Independent School District. With over two decades of teaching experience, Jacqueline embraced the challenge of teaching entrepreneurship, and her journey with NFTE has been one of personal growth and student empowerment.

Q: What inspired you to become an educator with NFTE, and how has your experience been so far?

A: My desire for new challenges and personal development led me to NFTE. Although I have been an educator for over twenty-five years, I was new to entrepreneurship. However, I was very open and receptive to learning this new curriculum. I was appreciative of NFTE’s assistance, especially from my NFTE Regional Director, Trish McKeel.

My teaching experience was enhanced by the resources, community support, and mentorship that NFTE offered. As a teacher, I believe in continuous learning; stagnation equals regression. My NFTE experience serves as a reminder of how crucial it is to continue to be curious and grow — not only for my personal and professional growth and development but also to provide better instruction to my students. It’s been a fulfilling journey of learning, development, and leaving a lasting impression on young people.

Q: How have you seen entrepreneurship education impact your students’ lives and future aspirations?

A: Entrepreneurship education empowers students beyond business. It fosters creativity, resilience, and problem-solving skills crucial in any course. Having an opportunity to witness student growth, from uncertainty to seizing opportunities, inspires confidence. Many of my students discover passions they never knew existed, which assist in transforming their aspirations and how they see themselves and their outlook on life.

Q: Can you share a memorable moment or success story from your time teaching with NFTE?

A: April 26, 2024, marked an unforgettable milestone. For the third consecutive year, I had a student advance to the NFTE National Pitch Competition in New York — a “three-peat.” As a teacher, I celebrate my student and I celebrate this achievement. However, I would be remiss if I truly thought that this success was based on the two of us, solely. Now we worked, and we worked hard, but we were just two pieces in a very complex puzzle. This is not just my success or my students’ success alone.

Over the years, and this year is no exception, support has been provided by the staff, faculty, and leadership, from not only Price Career Institute South but from my students’ home campus, peers, parents/guardians, and industry partners. All of whom, at various times throughout this process, selflessly lent their skills and talents to support one student’s journey in fulfilling their entrepreneurial dream.

Therefore, it is vital that I take a moment to recognize and celebrate everyone’s contribution to this accomplishment. At the end of the day, if one part — piece — was missing, so might the students’ presence be at NFTE Nationals.

Q: What do you hope your students will take away from your classes and their experience with NFTE?

A: My goal is to instill confidence in my students as they pursue their dreams. I hope they inspire others by openly sharing their journey, the challenges, and the successes, encouraging others to explore their own potential. Through constant encouragement, I push my students to unlock their excellence, fostering a mindset of continuous growth and achievement that extends far beyond the confines of the classroom.

Q: What message would you like to share with aspiring entrepreneurs and future business leaders?

A: For aspiring entrepreneurs and future business leaders, I would emphasize the importance of purposeful pursuits. I often tell my students to not wait for opportunities to come to them, but to seek them out relentlessly. Securing mentorship is very crucial and should be used to learn from those who have walked the path before them. In addition, I would say to stay resilient despite the naysayers and don’t let their doubts deter your determination. Lastly, stay focused, stay hungry, and never lose sight of your dreams. Although your journey may be challenging, with perseverance and a commitment to continuous learning, your aspirations can turn into your reality.

Jacqueline Renfro’s dedication to her students and her commitment to personal growth exemplify the impact that educators can have on young lives. Through her work with NFTE, Jacqueline empowers her students to discover their passions, develop essential skills, and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Her story serves as an inspiration to educators and aspiring entrepreneurs alike, reminding us of the power of education and the importance of lifelong learning!