Flex Academies’ newest afterschool activity being offered this spring by Pyle Middle School’s Panther Programs is “How to Become An Entrepreneur.”

Taught by Veena Katikineni, this class exposes students to the process of starting their own business- from brainstorming ideas for a creative business-to developing a concept and executing it. Some of the ideas her students are working on this semester include collapsible electronics, a modified Amazon model that leverages local resources, and a babysitter-matching site that features parents and kids’ reviews. How many of you wish you’d been able to take a class like this in middle school?!

Ms. Katikineni tells her students at Pyle Middle School; “I’m giving you license to request ANYTHING of me over the next 10 weeks that we are together. That means: support for web tools, writing support, resume development, internship research…anything for which you want some advice or encouragement.” Now that’s a dedicated teacher!

Ms. Katikineni notes that the goals for this class are to get students to start thinking about building a framework for identifying problems around them, researching their ideas, and developing strong action plans. She says she leaves class every week “feeling like I’ve learned just as much as the kids!”

About Veena Katikineni

Veena Katikineni is a second year medical student at the University of Maryland who is interested in exploring, refining, and teaching the problem-solving process using creative methods such as music, theater, and service-learning. She is also interested in increasing access to community-centered mental health counseling and strengthening the health system organization for diagnosis and treatment of disease in resource-limited settings. Check out her website that tracks her class at Pyle Middle School and her students’ progress at starting their own business this semester.

In Her Own Words

“My inspiration for this course is my undergraduate research program (Gemstone) as well as my social entrepreneurship/philanthropy coursework at the University of Maryland.”

“The problem-solving skills that I learned along the way have been so helpful in all of my post-college endeavors. I want to help the kids to start developing these skills early on, and to feel both excited and empowered to tackle problems in their community.”

“In class we always diagram on the board as we talk. We never shoot down ideas; we keep it constructive, and that helps to keep the thoughts flowing. I encourage the kids to think about what they enjoy to inform their business ideas and their life bucket lists.”

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