Last Monday, Mary B. Austin Elementary was awarded a national designation as one of “America’s Entrepreneurial Schools” by the National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education.

This is the first time a school in Alabama has received the designation. Elementary, middle and high schools that incorporate entrepreneurship education and activities at every grade level during a school year are eligible for the recognition.

“At Mary B. Austin, we strive to expose our students to a wide variety of experiences that cultivate learners who are innovators, problem solvers and collaborators,” Mary B. Austin Elementary Principal Dr. Amanda Jones said. “I am proud of the work my staff and students have accomplished to earn distinction as an ‘America’s Entrepreneurial School.’ Our students are being exposed to life skills that prepare them to become outside-the-box thinkers, ready to take on future careers that in many cases have yet to be invented.”

Part of the Mobile County Public School System and located near Spring Hill College, the elementary school serves roughly 500 students in grades K-5. It has also been recognized in years past as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Todd Greer, dean of the University of Mobile’s School of Business and chief catalyst and CEO of Exchange 202, supported Mary B. Austin in achieving the designation.

“As the speed of business continues to increase exponentially, it is important for our students to understand and cultivate entrepreneurial thinking skills as early as possible,” Greer said. “Their recognition as one of ‘America’s Entrepreneurial Schools’ by the National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education provides further validation that we are cultivating the right opportunities for our students here in Mobile.”

To earn the award for the 2016-2017 school year, Mary B. Austin Elementary students participated in project-based learning programs at each grade level emphasizing entrepreneurial skills.

First-graders studied sound and created mock instruments from around the world to “sell.” They also learned the principles of supply and demand through their study of world continents and were able to visit two local music businesses.

Second-graders held a “Fairy Tale Market Day” as their public product. They also visited The Exchange 202, The Fuse factory and Mobile’s iTeam to learn about innovation, pitching a business and working in teams.

Third-graders learned about advertising and created their own commercials for a national park, which they collaboratively researched in project-based learning groups through an integration of various standards.

Fourth-graders learned about past and present innovations and researched notable inventors from around the world. Students created various communication lab products to build upon this experience.

Fifth-graders researched ways to protect and conserve ecosystems. They worked in project-based learning teams to create products that would benefit the environment. Fifth-graders extended their project over two quarters and hosted a “Shark Tank” style competition to pitch products.

Schools achieving the “America’s Entrepreneurial Schools” designation receive national recognition around their programming, a banner presentation by the National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education and support during the year from regional coordinators to implement programming.

Continental Motors moving to Brookley
Continental Motors Group Ltd. (CMG), an AVIC International Holding Corp. company, recently announced it has signed a letter of intent with Stonemont Financial Group and Clayco Inc. to develop its new headquarters at the Mobile Aeroplex in Mobile.

Atlanta-based Stonemont Financial Group and Chicago-headquartered Clayco Inc. will serve as partners to finance, design and build the $25 million manufacturing and corporate office facility.

“We look forward to partnering with Continental Motors Group on the design and construction of their new manufacturing facility,” Anthony Johnson, Clayco executive vice president, said.

The new building will be designed for lean manufacturing, engineering and office systems. The proposed facility will be approximately 250,000 square feet, with the majority dedicated to engine and parts manufacturing. 

“Continental has joined forces with the state of Alabama, the city and county of Mobile, the Mobile Airport Authority, Stonemont Financial Group and Clayco to build a world-class facility that will continue to support our growth as a leader in the general aviation industry,” CMG President and CEO Rhett Ross said.

Continental Motors and supporting partners will break ground in late 2017 and the majority of the construction work will finish in fall 2018, allowing the company to begin transitioning to its new facility in late 2018.

Virginia College expands welding facilities
Virginia College in Mobile recently announced the opening of a new facility for its welding technician diploma program at its campus, 3725 Airport Blvd., Suite 165. The additional 6,000-square-foot space will include labs, classrooms and 30 new welding booths.

The expansion will accommodate an additional 35 students for acceptance into the high-demand welding technician program, nearly doubling the number of students the campus currently allows each year. The program is set to launch at the new facility on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

“Prior to this facility build-out, our welding technician program was operating out of just one 10,000-square-foot building, greatly limiting the number of students we were able to enroll,” campus president Eric Barrios said. “By utilizing this space, we can increase our program’s capabilities and better serve those students who have been waiting to join the program.”

Students receive hands-on training and learn about the various processes, equipment and materials used in welding from experienced instructors. Six months is spent studying structural welding and the final three months focus on pipe welding. In addition to the courses in welding, students receive instruction in safety, blueprint reading, computer applications, machine shop practices and computer-aided drafting.

Virginia College is a subsidiary of Birmingham-based Education Corporation of America. Other holdings include Golf Academy of America, Ecotech Institute, Brightwood Career Institute, Brightwood College and the fully online New England College of Business, which is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

To date, Education Corporation of America has 70 locations with a collective enrollment of 30,000 students nationwide. More information about Virginia College can be found on its website.