After teaching math and economics at Laguna Blanca for 26 years, Paul Chiment felt as if there was something missing from his students’ educational experience. “Kids were taking econ thinking they’d learn about business,” he reflected while chatting at the independent school’s Hope Ranch campus earlier this week, “but they were learning about supply-and-demand curves.”
In order to teach a class that better prepared students for solving problems in the “real world,” Chiment tapped two sources of inspiration. First, this past summer, he drove up to the Bay Area to meet with Steve Blank, an entrepreneur who teaches a class designed to prepare Stanford business school students to work in start-ups. The second source of inspiration was the Santa Barbara community, including several Laguna Blanca alums who have gone on to start successful businesses or nonprofits. Case in point is Spencer Dusebout who began Hands 4 Others (H4O) when he was a high school senior in order to bring water-filtration systems to some of the 1.1 billion people around the world without access to clean water.
Dusebout serves as a mentor to entrepreneurship students who are integrated into organizing and promoting H4O’s largest annual fundraiser, the Walk 4 Water, which takes place this Saturday at 10 a.m., beginning at Chase Palm Park. Even 7th and 8th graders in a middle school version of the entrepreneurship class are pitching in by filming promotional videos that will be released on H4O’s social media platforms. Eighth grader Beau Glazier, whose team was putting the finishing touches on their video this past Monday, said, “I like that [this class] is fun, but at the same time I’m learning things that I’ll really need.” Said Chiment, “I love teaching this class because there’s no answer in the back of the book.”