There is much to like about the Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship, which opened its doors to students Monday, Aug. 17.
The $12 million school is visually striking. The impression created is that Fresno Unified School District and local taxpayers care deeply about education and want students to learn in a clean, modern environment.
There are no desks at Patiño; instead there are round tables to encourage brainstorming and teamwork. Students also are encouraged to write their ideas on glass walls. School begins at 9 a.m. – a nod to the start of the traditional business day and a smart thing to do anyway because teens need sleep.
But the thing we like best about this school is that from day one, it is striving to be the best entrepreneurship high school.
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Not the best in the Valley.
Not the best in California.
The best on the planet.
That’s a tall order. But school administrators and community partners responsible for putting together the high school’s curriculum are shooting for the stars. Indeed, as The Bee’s Mackenzie Mays reported on the school’s opening day:
“Patiño is the first public high school in the country that aims to graduate all students with well-developed plans to start their own businesses. Nearly 150 10th-graders make up the inaugural class, and over the next few years, will fine-tune their start-up business ideas, work side-by-side with local business leaders and ultimately have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors.
“The nontraditional curriculum aims to promote individual students’ creativity, weaving basic subjects into real-world lessons that develop leadership skills and can help make a student’s business plan a reality.”
Setting high goals isn’t common in Valley communities.
Maybe it’s because of our humble, agrarian roots or the overwhelming challenges created by the Valley’s stifling poverty, but too often we aim for just-good-enough. Because we do, we sell ourselves short.
The opening of this school should be a reminder that anything worth doing is worth doing well. The Valley will not realize its cultural, economic and human potential until we create an environment in which striving to be the best at everything – not just at farming or in athletics – is the norm.
Neither we will realize our potential until we seriously engage in the art of collaboration – and reap the benefits of targeted leveraged investments.
Patiño is an example of what is possible. The school will stimulate a Valley economy underpinned by small businesses, and it will graduate students who can further develop their entrepreneurial acumen at one of Fresno State’s signature colleges, the Craig School of Business.
As we celebrate Patiño’s opening, we also look forward to Fresno Unified’s leadership – Superintendent Michael Hanson and the board of trustees – leading an effort that culminates in the construction and dedication of a career technical education campus that is cutting edge and world class in every way.