About Margot Arnold
Margot Arnold (@margotarnold) is an outstanding choice for the Women of the Year Workplace Excellence Award. She continually develops an exceptionally supportive, innovative, and creative class environment for her students in the Entrepreneurship 30 class (Junior Achievement Program) and actively contributes to the caring and welcoming environment at school for her fellow teachers at the Weyburn Comprehensive School (WCS).
**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.
Sam Demma (00:00):
Do you want access to all the past guests on this show? Do you want a network with like-minded individuals and meet other high performing educators from around the world? If so, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Sign up to join the exclusive network and you’ll get access to live virtual networking events and other spec opportunities that will come out throughout 2021. I promise you I will not fill your inbox. You might get one email a month. If that sounds interesting, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma today’s guest is Margot Arnold. She is a nominee for the credit union workplace excellence award. Margo is an outstanding choice for the Woman of the Year Workplace Excellence Award. She continually develops an exceptionally supportive, innovative and creative class environment for her students in the entrepreneurship 30 class, which you’ll hear about you’ll hear all about in this interview.
Sam Demma (01:04):
It’s linked with the Junior Achievement program. She actively contributes to the caring and welcoming environment at school for fellow teachers at Weyburn Comprehensive School. I had the opportunity to speak to their students a few months ago. And me and Margo connected as a result, she’s had so many different experiences. One of her most proud moments is the teacher project video that was featured in 2017. That highlighted the amazing work that happens in her entrepreneurship class. I don’t wanna get too much into it right now. I’ll give Margo the opportunity to share. And as you’ll hear in this interview with that being said, let’s jump right in Margo. Welcome to the high performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing why you got into the work you’re doing in education today.
Margot Arnold (01:54):
Thank you very much. I’m very pleased to be here. I was humbled when you asked me to come on. So my story I was born and raised in and my grandmother was a teacher in a one room schoolhouse. And so I wanted to kind of follow in her footsteps as she also got married at that time. And during the twenties there, you could not be married and still be a teacher. Hmm. So then she went into business with my grand or for 56 years. So I have the passion for business and I have the passion for teaching and I just wanted to make a difference. So I went to business school after high school, and then I worked in a law firm. Then I worked three years in a private school, came back to work at WCS as an admin assistant and thought, Hey, I wanna be the teacher in the classroom with a degree. The private school didn’t need it. So I went back to school at age 30 and I’ve been teaching now for 20 years.
Sam Demma (02:55):
Ah, that’s awesome. Yeah. And what subjects? I, I mean, I could dive right into the passion for business, but I wanna know where did the journey in education start and what does it look like today?
Margot Arnold (03:07):
So when I was hired on, I took a maternity leave in the business ed area. So teaching accounting, 10, 20 and 30 grade, 10, 11, 12, and information, 10, 11, entrepreneurship, 30 and over the years, I’ve taught online as well. I’ve taught entrepreneurship online and accounting online. So that’s a, a different experience. Although I missed I didn’t do it full time. I did it half so half online, half in the classroom. And that’s a really nice mix cause I, I miss seeing the students faces back when I was doing it. It was a little bit less technology with video and, and whatnot. So that being said over the years, I’ve also taught English and I’ve taught drafting. And that would is interesting because drafting, AutoCAD and learning inventor, which is the 3d mechanical and Revit. And I knew nothing in that area. It was all self taught. So my principal said, well, you teach computers. I said, yeah. And so, so he says, there’s your fit? So that being said, it was pushed personal growth for me. So, but right now I just teach entrepreneurship, accounting and IP, which I’ve renamed as business technology.
Sam Demma (04:36):
I have to imagine that your parents, entrepreneurial spirits inspired you to, you know, take hold of the same sort of ideas and teaching entrepreneurship and running Ja in the school and doing some phenomenal initiatives with the students. Where did that passion internally for you, for entrepreneurship come from? Was it your parents?
Margot Arnold (04:56):
I, I think a little bit growing up in, in a home with a family business like that, I worked at the business, so I understood some of the internal part of it, but my grandmother was a pioneer business woman and I just always strive to be like her. And so she in, they started a gas station and then they added three little rooms at the back, which was kind of cool room and board. They just diversified. And then they got into the car dealership. Hmm. So just seeing all the innovation and the change, I like to be at the forefront of change, which is why I’m on a lot of committees and associations and things like that. So I just love business. It’s always changing.
Sam Demma (05:39):
And you translated that passion for business, this to classrooms of students. I, I watched a couple weeks ago after the speech, you sent me a link to the, the teacher project video, what a phenomenal video that was put together by the Saskatchewan association of teachers or Federation of teachers encapsulating some of the work you’ve been doing. Can you share a little bit about what you do with the students in the entrepreneurship class and with Ja and what that looks like?
Margot Arnold (06:07):
Absolutely. So we were lucky enough to be offered, to have the entrepreneurship program offered in 2014 with the Ja in the classroom. So that means instead of just assignments and textbook and that we went to hands on real learning. Hmm. So with that, they start the first month or so is a lot of what is entrepreneurship? What is an entrepreneur? Different things like that. And then we get into the meat of it as just running the business. So they brainstorm ideas. They come up with feasibility studies, they do some market surveys. They gather that analysis and they analyze that surveys information and they think, okay, this is the idea we’re going with. And then they implement it with the management team. So they either vote or sometimes they work it out amongst themselves. They say, I would like to do this, or I would do that. And if they have two going for the same position, then they’ll do a, do an actual vote. So they write their business plan with or co-presidents. And then they have vice presidents in areas of human resources, sales, and marketing, finance, environmental health, and safety production, and information technology. So they learn if they allow themselves, they will learn so much in class. And that’s usually the feedback I get. It’s not like any other class it’s more relevant, more hands on, more real life. And they have the opportunity to make a profit.
Sam Demma (07:49):
One of the students in the video described it as getting a head start on your future. And I think that’s such a great way to encapsulate what happens in that class based on the videos that I’ve seen. And you mentioned that they make a profit and they, you also donate a profit over the years. How much money roughly do you think has been raised through these companies that were founded by the students and in the class?
Margot Arnold (08:14):
So my first goal was $10,000 when, and I thought that was a really lofty goal. However, I like to set the goals high. Nice. And my benchmark is usually high for the students too, so that they will grow. We have raised in just over six years, just under $14,000 to give back to different organizations. They have to donate the minimum 10%. That’s a da requirement, but other than that, they can donate more or they’ll round up or they can have more than one charity or nonprofit. It just depends on what the company group members wanna do.
Sam Demma (08:55):
That’s amazing. And what are some of the projects that you think have been the most unique or fun to work on? They might also include the most challenges. I saw sweet dreams is a really cool one, but what other projects have been a lot of fun to manage and to watch grow?
Margot Arnold (09:10):
Well, I would say the very beginning one was called kick glass and we took wine bottles and we cut them. And then I learned how many different grits of sound paper. I’m not even sure how to describe it, but there are cuz they had about six different stations where they had to get it, of course, for safety to turn these wine glasses in, into drinkable glasses. So we broke a lot of wine bottles. I tell you that much. However, they it, it was neat to see the progression from how to look at a video and go through it, learn how to do it. And then, okay, that’s not working. How do we have to innovate or change to do? And so they ended up about three or four different processes and they just get it right. And then the business comes to an end and they dissolve the business.
Margot Arnold (10:06):
But students can take on the businesses after I know there was one in Regina, it was a tie dye business, and it’s still operating today. That being said there was one palatable project. I, I enjoyed that one as well, because it also depends on the makeup of your class. There was a lot of creative students in that class. So they made Barnwood signs, free hand and stencil, and they made fire pit chairs from PA pallets. They made wine racks from pallets and they made Barnwood hook shells. And so they had a variety of about four different things, 27 students. And they ended up being a national winner for the chamber of commerce company of the year. Nice. And the other one was overtime and they took brown, new skate laces. It was the idea of one of the gold wing hockey players in eayburn.
Margot Arnold (11:04):
We have a AAA girls team and she came up with the idea, the president was a gold wing and they thought let’s take hockey laces and turn them into lanyards. And I still use my lanyard today. So they had single lanyards, they two different color lanyards together, or they braided them with colors and then they also made the bracelets. So there’s a, a lot of labor in some ideas. And then there’s others where like balanced jewelry, theirs was based on a triangle cuz you think of mental health being the three pillars kind of thing. And so that was their version. They wanted everyone to stay balanced and they made different jewelry right in the classroom and very unique little pieces as well. So I’m it, it’s very exciting to see what they come up with. And every year they surprise me and I learn so much from them. And it’s fun.
Sam Demma (11:59):
I was Gonna say, I’m sure there’s lots of labor, but it’s, it sounds like for you, it’s a labor of love, you know, like it’s a, it’s an exciting labor. What makes you so passionate about teaching entrepreneurship? Like why, why do you think it’s so important to give these students these opportunities to start these little companies in their classrooms?
Margot Arnold (12:17):
Well, I think with this program, the skill sets that they can come out of, it will certainly prepare them for life. Hmm. There’s a lot of communication. There’s a lot of negotiation there’s analyzing there’s parole and solving decision, making all those kind of things and mostly teamwork if they can work well as a team, because of course getting out there in the real world, they have to do that. So that’s interesting at a teenager level and teenagers managing teenagers. So there’s always the strong personalities versus the other personalities. And I just say, you gotta find a way to make it work. And we’ve had some drama I have to admit, but I say work it out and they do.
Sam Demma (13:05):
Oh, that’s awesome. And I know aside from, oh, sorry, continue.
Margot Arnold (13:07):
I was just gonna say lots of great friendships come outta that too, because they work in groups that they may not have ever worked in any other classes.
Sam Demma (13:15):
That’s a phenomenal point. I even think about the little initiatives that we’ve started in Pickering and some of the things that we used to do in high school, it it’s almost like extracurricular activities are an equalizer or like a friendship maker, you know, because you might talk to certain people in class, but then, you know, there’s a, another kid in the corner of the room who has the same interest as you, that you’ve never to, before I went out of your way to talk to, and you’ll meet them at this, at this business idea or at an extracurricular activity. So I think it’s a phenomenal way. Not only to build new skills, but to meet new people. I wish I had your class when I was in, when I was in high school. I think it would’ve been a blast to get involved in that.
Margot Arnold (13:55):
I was just gonna say when I was in high school too, they did it as an after school program. So these students are very lucky that they can take it as a credit program and get an entrepreneurship through 30 credit out of it.
Sam Demma (14:05):
Now, is this something that other school boards or other teachers listening can approach JA and try and do the same thing? Or like how did it start for you?
Margot Arnold (14:12):
It, it started for me in 2014 when the ministry of education came down and, and we had a one-on-one meeting and asked if I would, they wanted to pursue students learning entrepreneurship. So they thought this hands on program is a great way of doing it. I used to have students write fictitious business plans as a final project. So they got to write a business plan and all that’s entailed, but when you can actually implement it and see how it comes to fruition, that makes all the difference in the world. So we do have more schools in the south have taken on JA in their classrooms. I know that in Saskatoon, more in the north, they usually present it as an afterschool program. So it hasn’t flourished there in their entrepreneurship, 30 classes, as much as it has in the Southern part of the, of, but the students that do participate in the Ja are eligible to apply for Ja Canada scholarships.
Margot Arnold (15:20):
Hmm. And only if you’ve taken the class, Ja Saskatchewan then would come out, came out to, after I agreed to take it on Ja Saskatchewan came out to my classroom and they did that. Sorry, can I stop for one moment? Yeah, no worries. Did that ding come through on your end? Okay. That’s okay. I’m thinking I should have maybe closed my email when they, so they came out, Katherine G for vagina was the president at that time and she came out and she explained the whole thing and I thought, okay, this sounds kind of cool. And of course, naturally you’re a little bit leery cuz what you were doing, you thought was working and now let’s try something new. Yep. Which is always scary. So I just see even myself from day one to, this is my 21st company coming up. And that being said, it’s not just one company per class.
Margot Arnold (16:16):
One time I had the, I think the video was focused on my three during that class because you, if they’re willing to take on that leadership position, they could have a group of eight. There was a girl in Yorkton, a group of one and she had her own company and, and she Ja likes you to produce a product or provide a service. And it’s harder to provide a service in a one hour class, but with COVID we are in two and a half hour blocks right now in morning and afternoon. So I have entrepreneurship all morning or all afternoon, like it goes morning, alternates new in the next class. And so that becomes a little bit of a challenge too, because it’s a five day AB block. Mm. So you may not see those students for a good week to 10 days. Yes. So a lot of communication has to be done outside and be on top of that.
Sam Demma (17:13):
I’m sure they create slack groups and, and, and they all have a, a unique way of communicating. I, I would assume that they would work on this stuff even outside the classroom, if they’re super passionate about it, is that what ends up happening?
Margot Arnold (17:26):
Does actually. And depending on the item, as I said, and the amount of time it takes for production pre COVID, we were able to have production nights. And those were a lot of fun because it was after hours or weekends and I would come and, and we usually would have food because food’s a good thing to motivate teenagers. And, and so I would bring in food or we might order pizza in or something like that. And it was fun because they could they were working, but they were socializing. And right now that’s obviously missing right now. But I really was pleased when I was reading my final evaluation questions from first semester and the one student he said you know, most of our classes are pretty silent, pretty quiet for the two and a half hours, but I am so grateful that this class had that socialization and it made you forget you were in a pandemic. And so that one kind of warn my heart when I heard that, because of course anything we can do to build that community relationship right now. So students aren’t feeling as isolated.
Sam Demma (18:40):
That’s the goal that’s so important, especially during a time like COVID 19. And I know that you have also served as the SRC advisor for or multiple years. You’ve organized provincial conferences. You’ve probably seen dozens of speakers. Why, what makes you passionate about student leadership? Also?
Margot Arnold (19:01):
I think I am just really passionate about helping students be the best they can be. Hmm. And I always say kind of an it’s funny analogy, but it’s like a tomato when you are green and when a tomato’s green, it has to ripen, but if a tomato’s red and it sits there and sits there and sits there, it will rot. Mm. So I always say, push yourself outta that comfort zone. It’s not gonna feel good, but you will grow. And I use another analog, yo wipey, you only get out what you put in.
Margot Arnold (19:39):
And that’s what their companies are all about. And, and that’s true for all relationships really, and your schoolwork and everything in life. So just I love business. I love technology. Those are constant changing all the time. So I think that is exciting cuz every day’s different.
Sam Demma (19:57):
Yeah, no, I, I totally agree. And I love the acronyms and the use of the tomato. I have a story that I share with middle school students about my Italian grandfather and trying to get him to quit smoking by burning all of his cigarettes. And then the story I talk about how he comes. So the back of the cottage and his face is as red as a tomato. And I show a picture of him with a tomato head and all these kids just start laughing so much. But analogies are so powerful. Student leadership is, is so powerful. Giving students examples of people who have, who have done things that maybe they’re striving to do is so powerful. What is your advice to an educator who might want to start a JA chapter at their school or, you know, perhaps pitch to their principal to start allowing them to teach entrepreneurship? Like what would be the best way for them to go about it?
Margot Arnold (20:47):
I, I think obviously talk to your principal, get them on board, get your division on board, but contact your JA chapter in the province. And they would be more than willing to come in. And right now Catherine would come in, she’d FaceTime in, she’d Skype in, but she said she’s brought me in to kind of mentor other teachers. We used to get together first and second semester and what works, what doesn’t work in Regina. And so that I could help new teachers get going. So I have done some video calls with other teachers to help, help them get going. And so our province right now is looking at an entrepreneurship 20 and 30. And we’re just trying to decide cuz whether we need that or whether we, we don’t have prerequisites. So the ministry doesn’t, so would you take 20 and 30 or would you just jump into to 30?
Margot Arnold (21:51):
So just some things to consider that we’re working through, but Jas Canada has been phenomenal. Jay Saskatchewan’s been phenomenal and I wouldn’t go back to teaching any other way. Students prefer this business leaders think it’s great. I have business people come in because they do a formal board meeting. They chair it. So they learn about how that works with motions and things like that. And they present their business plan and those business people give them feedback, they share their expertise. And have you thought about this or did you think about that or they’ll come in and help them if they’re having trouble figuring out their startup costs or how to set that sweet spot of price, making sure everything’s covered in the unexpected. So the chamber commerce gets involved in way and a local businessman is on board and he comes to our meetings and then community development community, future sunrise. She comes to the meetings too. So she’s been there from the start. So I have such support from the wave community and they want to help students learn business and they are all, I always think, I wonder if this is gonna be the company that struggles and they always finish strong so far.
Sam Demma (23:17):
That’s awesome. I was knock on wood. Yeah. When you were when you were thinking of, when you were stating that you have so much support, I was thinking of the quote, if you want to go fast, go alone. And if you wanna go far go together and I think it it’s so true that it takes a village of people to bring an idea to life, to support a young person. So kudos to you and everyone involved in the project. I think it’s phenomenal. If someone’s listening to this and they wanna take you up on the offer to maybe just reach out and set up a call with you, what would be the best way for another educator to reach out?
Margot Arnold (23:54):
So I of course, or email, yeah, we could email me. We could, I if we put it on how we do that, but firstname.lastname@example.org. It stands for Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division. I’m also on LinkedIn.
Sam Demma (24:26):
No, that sounds great, please. That, that, that works just fine. Margot, thank you so much for doing this. I appreciate you taking the time to have this conversation. It was awesome. Please keep me updated on what’s going on with the students and the projects I look forward to seeing the impact that it makes in the community.
Margot Arnold (24:42):
Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.
Sam Demma (24:46):
And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating in review. So other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you want to meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.
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