The New FA Entrepreneurship Course Taking Student Problem-Solving Outside the Classroom


This upcoming second semester, Friends Academy will launch its new Entrepreneurship Elective for juniors and seniors. I sat down with Mrs. Leanne Loizides and Mr. Daniel O’Keefe, the two heads of the course, to hear their expectations for the class.


Friends Academy’s Entrepreneurship Elective is a step forward in the art of teaching. Students will have the opportunity to travel to three businesses, hear a certain issue each company faces, work to find a solution for that problem, and then present that solution back to the original companies. While students work in a traditional classroom setting on most days, O’Keefe says that “the curriculum is dictated by the needs of the three businesses we go to.” Loizides emphasized that “the students go to real businesses and the businesses give the students real world problems,” and she “is proud of the fact that Friends Academy is the type of school that will offer this new type of thing for students.” 

O’Keefe and Loizides have had to take on the bulk of the responsibility in setting up this educational experiment, but both are excited to be a part of the process. “I was really lucky,” O’Keefe comments, “Mrs. Loizides and I think we’re both really lucky that the school approached us.” Similarly, Loizides says that she “was thrilled and proud of the fact that Friends Academy is the type of school that will offer this new type of thing to the students.” Preparations for this course began this past June, when the two teachers attended a conference to revise the teaching style needed for this course. O’Keefe described it as “leading from the back of the classroom,” since the material provided for the class depends on the specific needs of the three businesses. Currently, the two course heads are in the process of reaching out to companies in hopes of finding three that are willing to meet the needs of Friends Academy’s curriculum while simultaneously agreeing to a certain degree of transparency in giving our students real problems to try and solve.

When asked about their expectations for the course, Loizides and O’Keefe have big ones for not only the students taking the course, but for the FA community as a whole. Loizedes replied, “I would consider it very successful if the students leave the course feeling that they are now equipped to think in a new way… that enables them to tackle problems and find solutions to those problems.” For the community, she hopes that “the families see that their students can now think in this way… and again just to be really proud to be part of a school that is constantly evaluating the way that we think and the opportunities that we give our students.” O’Keefe’s thoughts were similar. In addition to cultivating business skills, he values that students now have the chance to work “in a team, on a deadline when you’re accountable to a wider audience.” In regards to Friends Academy, he says that the goal “in terms of the strategic plan and just as an institution, is to really connect you guys with not only the needs of the community, but use the resources here on the North Shore… to learn outside of the school.”

In early October, current juniors and seniors submitted applications for this course, which once again begins at the start of the second semester in mid January. As we enter 2020, we are all excited to see how our own Friends students tackle real problems in the business world and work to make a difference.