LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Shawn Kelly

Position: Career Technical Education Teacher
School: Gulf Coast High School
School District: Collier County School District
City, State: Naples, FL

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Shawn Kelly was nominated by his colleague and spouse, Maryann Kelly.

"It has been my absolute honor to work alongside this brilliant, innovative man who, with sheer joy, shares his knowledge and expertise regarding entrepreneurship and the free enterprise system so willingly with those who surround him, both inside and outside of the classroom," said Mrs. Kelly.

Mr. Kelly has shared his passion and implemented inventive teaching techniques with high school students since the inception of the INCubatoredu program eight years ago for Collier County Public Schools at Gulf Coast High School in Naples, Florida. Through this program, he has led students to a myriad of opportunities that facilitate experimentation in the creation and development of an authentic entrepreneurial idea. Within his classroom, he has consistently provided students with access to local entrepreneurs and business experts who mentor student teams in the Lean Startup process while integrating the foundational business concepts of marketing and finance, as well.

Within the Collier County Entrepreneurship Program, Mr. Kelly has developed and applied concepts for students enrolled in his “think tank” to cultivate college and career readiness skills maximizing their experience base in ideation of minimum viable products. Students are provided a unique classroom environment for enhanced student experiences focused on the American private enterprise system. Mr. Kelly leads his student learners through teaching modules with goals and objectives central to participating in an actual business plan and business ownership competition complete with angel investors to support the winning pitch.

Upon exit of Mr. Kelly’s entrepreneurship program, students actively experience concepts first hand that integrate strategic decision making processes, high analytical skills, project management responsibilities, and financial modeling in a startup business application. Activities developed around these teaching points lead up to the concept of a “growth engine” that ultimately prepares student teams for a competitive pitch (much like a “Shark Tank” presentation and negotiation) that serves as a final culminating event to his course. Former students often contact Mr. Kelly with gratitude for his tutelage and instruction, providing a genuine testament of his success within this profession.

"Shawn has a proven record of success helping students actualize the American Dream by providing them an opportunity to have an authentic entrepreneurship experience in creating and developing their own business idea. He is a LifeChanger," said Mrs. Kelly. "Teachers like Shawn are who make students truly career-focused and future-ready. That is what makes our students absolute leaders in this eternally evolving global economy.  He is the true definition of a LifeChanger."