Innovative Novi program “pays it forward” to create counterpart in Dearborn

Last year, Ryan Heur was a senior at Novi High School taking advantage of an innovative incubator class to design and market a new product from start to finish. The experience allowed him and his classmates to see two of their products for sale at Macy’s.

Novi High School alum Ryan Heur shares his experience with the Incubator class as a senior last year and the excitement of “paying it forward” by helping to create a counterpart program at Fordson High School in Dearborn.

On Wednesday, he was in Dearborn helping to “pay it forward,” using profits from last year’s sales to offer other students a similar experience. In a presentation featuring Dearborn and Novi students and educators, along with school, business, community and union leaders, the Novi incubator program gave $5,000 to jumpstart a counterpart class at Fordson High School.

“The mantra for incubator was, ‘Ideas are equal and opportunities are not,’” said Heur, who is currently a freshman at the University of Michigan. “This was our goal — giving opportunities to people with ideas.  It’s coming to fruition and it’s awesome.

Novi’s incubator class — which MEA featured in a story last year [https://mea.org/incubator-class-nurtures-entrepreneurs/]— is all about students taking opportunities and running with them, according to teacher Jodi Forster, who also attended Wednesday’s presentation.

“This class provides students with a chance to be altruistic, to think bigger than themselves, to collaborate with people that we wouldn’t normally get a chance to work with,” Forster said. “It feels amazing to see students create their own individual projects, and to see it come to fruition over the course of the year is wonderful.”

In a presentation featuring Dearborn and Novi students and educators, along with school, business, community and union leaders, the Novi incubator program gave $5,000 to jumpstart a counterpart class at Fordson High School. Macy’s matched the gift.

The opportunity to help other students from a different school get access to an incubator program was a natural — and powerful — progression of the class, according to Forster.

“To have Ryan come here from U of M today, talk about his experience from last year and see his and his classmates’ hard work come to fruition — it gives me chills.”

Representatives from Macy’s were also on hand to match the Novi class’s contribution, providing Fordson students with a total of $10,000 to kickstart their journey.

MEA Secretary-Treasurer Brett Smith attended the event and applauded the partnership between the two schools and Macy’s as a way to improve equity in education

“There shouldn’t be a difference depending on where you live as to the opportunity you get while in school,” Smith said.  “This is a phenomenal opportunity for these students from Novi paying it forward to the students in Dearborn. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.”

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