Our Entrepreneurial Spirit

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

I hope everyone had a tremendous time at Springfest, though I have to admit, I think the temperatures were warmer at Homecoming and at Winterfest! While it was a brisk day, it could not have gone better. Special thanks go to our Springfest Co-chairs Brooke Johnson and Sarah Talley for all their hard work and leadership as they got the day off to a tremendous start with the Fun Run and 5K race. I also want to thank all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to run a smooth event, Director of Parent Relations Tiffany Parry, the tremendous Development Team, Director of Athletics Tom Herman and Sports Information Director Carrol Anderson, for putting together a wonderful day for all of us to enjoy healthy and exciting athletic competitions throughout the day. Can you believe the Kid’s Fun Run and 5K event doubled the size of participants over last year? All the activities for the children appeared to be a huge hit as well. And once again, “Spirit Alley” and the “Husky Hut” were filled all day long! What a wonderful experience to witness!

One of the things I have also come to appreciate and love is the School Store. It is almost like the musical “Brigadoon.” It is about the Scottish village that appears once every 100 years. Our School Store, while online constantly, suddenly showed up in the building on Friday and then out on the fields on Saturday, and it had a jam-packed business! Congratulations to Sharon Giuliani and her student and parent volunteers as well. I was impressed when I saw people wearing Flint Hill gear that had just been purchased. It was terrific!

All of this excitement also caused me to reflect on one of the new courses we are offering this year. Grades JK-6 Language Arts Department Chair Joey Starnes stepped forward this year to take on “Small Business Startup,” one of our most innovative classes. The students in the class have been learning about the mechanics of starting and operating businesses. How do you come up with an idea for a viable business? How do you get funding? How do you “pitch” your story to get additional funding? How do you grow your business? How do you recruit employees? Combining entrepreneurism, creativity, collaboration and communication skills, it couldn’t be a better class for young people. Mrs. Starnes had a number of parents from the business world coming in to speak: Curtis Anderson, Ed Kennedy and Tom Schuler shared their wisdom about business and entrepreneurship. Throughout the entire process, the students were constantly asking questions and reflecting on the advice that was shared.

The students also had a Skype session with a young woman named Megan Grassel, a teenage entrepreneur with a thriving startup. Megan started a company called Yellowberry, which makes undergarments for young ladies. All of these efforts were intended to give our students the chance to think critically about the types of businesses could they start. In fact, as one of the final steps, a group of administrators and faculty were brought in to hear each of the groups present their business plans, which ultimately led to requesting loans from our Business Office. After the students secured funding for their business ventures, they began to build their products, and started to work toward getting their small businesses up and runn ing.

Currently, there are four businesses that are underway:

  1. Tundra Tools. This business is offering school supplies with the goal to provide quick access for students on the go. Pens, tissues, pencils and even an iPhone charger can be purchased!
  2. The Grind. A snack bar operating out of the Igloo in the morning before school, during break times and at various hours when it can be staffed. The Grind is offering healthy snacks, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.
  3. Pucker Up. This affordable, homemade lip balm is made from all natural materials and can be purchased at the Grind.
  4. VideAmigo. Services at this student-run marketing communications agency include video production and graphic design. The final product is not to be missed!

I am very proud of each and every one of these projects and the students behind them. And the concept of teaching active economic skills doesn’t stop with the Upper School.  For example, in the Lower School each year, Third Grade students participate in “Market Day,” for which they have to create their own businesses, make a pitch to secure funding from our Business Office, and then create a product to sell on “Market Day.” These two classes are examples of how we teach valuable life skills, economics, marketing, communication, creativity, collaboration and innovation, and of the entrepreneurial feeling that so often permeates what goes on here at School.

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster

P.S.  If you happened to be on Campus on Monday and saw a number of people dropping in on classes wearing name tags, they were visitors from our Apple Site Visit. More than 30 educators from all across the region of the country came to Flint Hill to  learn about our 1-to-1 technology program, which has become nationally recognized since its implementation in the fall of 2010. In 2011, Flint Hill was named an Apple Virginia Site School and, in 2013, an Apple Distinguished School as “an exemplary learning environment for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence.”

Throughout the day, our visitors were blown away by what they saw our students do with the technology they have at their disposal. Time and time again, we heard comments like, “I can’t believe everybody here is so excited about technology! I can’t get my teachers at school to get excited about the possibility of going one-to-one.”  Others felt that the leadership at their schools will just never take this step. As one teacher said, shortly before they left, “I don’t think you all realize how far ahead you are of most of the other schools in this part of the country!” We probably don’t, but it is one more entrepreneurial step that our children are able to benefit from.