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John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
(319) 335-0985
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0012; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: June 10, 2002

Iowa teachers win entrepreneurship awards

Photo: Eileen Mercuris of PCM High School, winner of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship's (NFTE) Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year Award.

Eileen Mercuris, a teacher at PCM High School in Monroe, Iowa has received the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship's (NFTE) Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year Award.

Katy Evenson, a teacher at Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn Schools in Iowa was given honorable mention along with Becky Poen of Corning, Iowa.

Recently, NFTE also awarded the University of Iowa two scholarships for exceptional Iowa entrepreneurship teachers to participate in an Advanced Entrepreneurship Forum in New York City in June. Mercuris and Evenson will participate in the forum and network with other teachers that use the NFTE program.

Through support from The William Zimmerman Foundation of Fairfield, Iowa, the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) and the NFTE have partnered to provide training for teachers in Iowa to incorporate entrepreneurship education into their classrooms. To date, 170 Iowa teachers have participated in entrepreneurship training and more than 2000 Iowa high school students have enrolled in courses where entrepreneurship is being taught.

"NFTE teacher training has helped me see teaching from a unique hands-on perspective. It has certainly energized me as I have been challenged to continually create innovative teaching projects and utilize various resources," Mercuris said.

"It will be fun to get new ideas and activities that I will be able to use with my students. I'm positive that this training will improve my teaching and help me bring entrepreneurship ideas to life for my students," Evenson said. "I hope to get some new ideas for entrepreneurship in rural areas, and want my students to know that there are several entrepreneurship opportunities for them, even though they don't live near a large city."

Mercuris was given a free trip to New York City in March and a banquet was held in her honor along with approximately 25 other teachers recognized worldwide. Dawn Bowlus, director of JPEC's Youth Entrepreneurship Program also attended the NFTE event.

While in New York, Mercuris talked with other NFTE CETs (Certified Entrepreneurship Teachers) from around the nation and world, exchanging practical and innovative ideas to use in their classrooms. In addition, she had the opportunity to see first hand entrepreneurial impact in New York City.

"NYC was built and has flourished on the concept of entrepreneurship. Thriving entrepreneurial businesses were evident on the street corners," Mercuris said. "I was able to talk to entrepreneurs from Bangladesh, Japan, and other countries in order to understand their various perceptions."

Mercuris added that her classes have taken numerous field trips to learn about starting and owning a business. Students have the opportunity to talk to the owners about the positives and negatives of operating one’s own business. Her students have also learned oral/visual presentation skills by sharing their business plans and class activities at statewide conventions.

"Hopefully, students will be motivated to improve their academic and social skills by helping them learn how to earn their own money by using their abilities, skills, and talents," she said.

For more information about NTFE teacher training, contact Dawn Bowlus at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at (319) 335-0985 or email; see also