Here at Real World Scholars, we know that rich classroom experiences are created by rockstar educators willing to hand the reins over to students and get out of the way. In fact, the EdCorps Community is full of educators who do just that! That’s why we’ll be highlighting an educator each month who’s leaning into the entrepreneurial experience in ways that empower their students.
EdCorp Founder: Jeff Noll
School: Plum Senior High School
EdCorp: Simple Rick’s Woodshop
This month, we’re excited to highlight the work of Jeff Noll and the students of Simple Rick’s Woodshop at Plum Senior High School, near Pittsburgh. Simple Rick’s makes custom walking sticks and cutting boards made from maple, oak, and cherry woods, with some of the source lumber coming from Jeff’s own property! Simple Rick’s is a shining example of buying fully into the concept of shipping, and it’s been a blast to watch their EdCorp take shape this semester.
When we met Jeff, he had never used social media before and was feeling drained by the bureaucracy that seemed to have taken over his day. But with Simple Rick’s, Jeff is an inspiring example of what can happen when you jump into a new opportunity with both feet. He’s taken command of the company twitter feed and has Simple Rick’s turning a profit less than three months after launch!
Why did you want to start an EdCorp?
JN: As an older educator, I sense the long march away from the world I was born in and the slow opening of a new world, infused with technology. I felt distant from people who had embraced this new technology and realized it was an idea whose time had arrived. Starting an EdCorp was a way to incorporate the new technology with the old technology and to reach our students with both.
What has first semester of running a business been like?
JN: The experience has been intense. Social media has always been a mystery to me, but using it to support classroom curriculum and a project-based business has been phenomenal. It’s incredible to watch our story gain digital momentum and suddenly live, breathing, thinking humans are following what we’re doing. We’ve received comments and support from our students – both past and present – and it links our classroom to the world.
Anything else you want to share with us?
JN: In many ways, this project has forced me to embrace social media and to promote what we as a school district can accomplish. It is a powerful tool for expanding the classroom into the larger world. It is the future of education today.