Ignite: Passion, Camaraderie, Competition, Dedication, Enthusiasm and Growth!
The Mentoring Mission supports the Harvard Business School and Gates Foundation's Lasting Impact Study and US Competitiveness Research objectives for authentic partnerships between education and business to better prepare tomorrow's workforce with scalable programs with proven results.
The Mentoring Mission program skillfully incorporates Harvard Business School (HBS) case study materials into high school curricula in the Chicago area. Students study, discuss and apply business principles directly in the cases, motivating students to understand how educational skills can be utilized in day-to-day pragmatic applications.
What is a case?
A case is a description of a management situation. Most cases range in length from 10-20 pages of text and exhibits. A case is not written to illustrate correct or incorrect handling of an administrative situation, nor is there an editorial bias that implies a particular conclusion. (Excerpted from Case Studies for Harvard Business School) The cases build self-confidence, problem-solving, critical thinking and time management skills to better equip students for college. The cases also act as a bridge, connecting business leaders to the future and offering them a chance to affect the lives of young people very directly.
A wonderful collaboration between HBS alumni and high school students happened for six years in a suburbs of Chicago – the Mentoring & Leadership Course – the brainchild of high school outreach director/teacher Carol Valentino-Barry and Charles M. Duncan (HBS 2004), with encouragement from HBS and Chair of the school's MBA program, Dr. Jan Rivkin. From 2013-2018, a total of 105 students participated in the program at Ridgewood High School and received dual credit through Triton College.
For the 2018-2019 school year, the program moved to the Chicago Public School system, where 32 students from Whitney Young Magnet High School participated and received 3 hours of dual credit from Malcolm X College. Students ran independent service projects with the Salvation Army, Sarah's Circle Women's Shelter, and OpenBooks.
2019-2022, Starting with the global pandemic, teachers, students and Business School alums leveraged the virtual learning environment to reach AP Seminar, AP Environmental Science, Biology, Business Ed, AP World History, AP Macro Economics, AP Micro Economics, AP Psychology and Global Citizenship classes.
In 2022, as in-person classes returned, so did Cases in the Classroom, leading cases with excited and engaged students in San Francisco, Chicago, Milwaukee and Jersey City. Our numbers have grown to 270 students in 2020, 340 students in 2021 and just over 400 students in 2022. Protagonists, HBS Alums and Case Authors come together to study and discuss the cases in HBS fashion - complete with cold calls!
2020-2022, our work continues and expands. Partnering with Junior Achievement, Mentoring Mission held mock interviews for over 200 CPS students. Thank you to our mentors from Oracle, Choice Hotels, Conagra Brands, ACH Foods, National Plastic Association and others.
Case Presenters, Trainers* and Judges** (2012 to Present)
Zachary Addy, Harvard University, MBA 2018
Carol Barnett, Harvard University, MBA 1990
Kayin Barclay, Harvard University, MBA 2019
Mohit Bathija, Harvard University, MBA 2009
Henry Bohleke, Argosy University, PhD 2008
Ann Carter, Harvard University, MBA 1989
Jennifer Watkins Christensen, Harvard University, MBA 1989
Charles M. Duncan, Harvard University, MBA 2002 (founding member)
Ralph Johnson, Harvard University, MBA 2015
Rita Koselka, Harvard University, MBA 1989
William Lear, Harvard University, MBA 1968
Michael Marasco, Harvard University, MBA 1991
John Marcoux, Cornell University, JD, 1995
Rena Henderson Mason, Harvard University, MBA 1990
Dr. Alexander MacKay* Faculty and Case Author, Harvard University
Dr. Steven C. Michael, Harvard University, PhD 1993
Marc Pershan, New York University, MBA, 1990
Karyn Pettigrew, Harvard University, MBA 1990
Candice Ricketts, University of Redlands, MBA 2020
Sarah Richard, Stanford University, BA, 2019
Dr. Michael Roberto* Faculty and Case Author, Bryant University
Christine Rohan, Harvard University, MBA 1986
Lauren Richardson Scott, Harvard University, MBA 2016
Dr. Francisco Szekely* Faculty and Case Author, IMD Business School
Jo Thomas, Northwestern University, MBA 2009
Laurel Tyler, Harvard University, MBA 1986
Stephen Wasko**, Harvard University, MBA 1986
Jennifer Wu, Harvard University, MBA 2015
Executive Director, Co-Founder
High school students have a certain unbridled enthusiasm, courage and innate intelligence to pick apart the case studies. These real world stories drill down deep into business dilemmas that are, at first blush, mind-boggling.
Reading the case itself is step one. Next, the Socratic method allows students and our business leaders to become partners in unpacking the details and defining the questions. Cooperative/argumentative dialogue is based simply on asking and answering questions. It stimulates critical thinking, draws out ideas, underlying assumptions and leads to decisions.
The Harvard Cases in the class room, complete with HBS Alums as teachers is powerful pedagogy withserious impact. It builds community and fosters competition, enthusiasm and growth!
Charles M. Duncan
Co-Founder, HBS 2002
Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, WestJet,
I really enjoy the case method format both as a student and instructor,” Duncan says. “We are not aware of any other high school in the country using case studies. My aim in using them is to force the students to think, express an opinion, and make decisions, all with incomplete information. This is what the real world is like, and they better be ready for it."
Protagonist: Joe Maddon
Former Manager, Los Angeles Angels
I honestly did not know what to expect but the students amazed me. For two years in a row, at two different high schools, I found students who were bright, attentive and prepared. They asked probing questions that really made me stop and think!
Protagonist: Vincent Stanley
Director of Philosophy, Patagonia
I was so impressed with the students—by the quality of their preparation, presentation and level of engagement. It’s amazing to see what high school students are capable of when they are challenged (and trusted) to be thoughtful and curious. And it’s a wise idea to start with a reading, enlist people (MBAs and JDs) who know the process, then move on to a discussion with those who know the material. What a way to learn how to think and act in the world. Thanks for including us.
Dr. Steven C. Michael, Harvard PhD '93
Professor of Business Administration, University of Illinois
“Case learning requires students to take responsibility for their own learning. That’s a lesson that can’t be taught soon enough. At a time when much of their curriculum is not of their choosing (or preference), cases give students agency and authority to engage with real and practical problems. Most of all, they make passive listeners into active learners – and we hope young people of action.”
"First, thank you for allowing me to join your faculty this last year, working with your program at Whitney Young was rewarding and inspirational. I admit, I was a little nervous about using HBS cases with high school students. I worried that the concepts wouldn’t translate and that the students would not engage. I couldn’t have been more incorrect. Every single student in the class participated in the discussion of the Starbucks case, including the two amazing students who delivered their comments through their sign language interpreter. More importantly, we didn’t cover the case lightly, we delved into the strategy, the market and financial analysis and the organizational dynamics. What a validation of the case method and an empowering example of what these students can do. Teaching them was truly an honor."
"Teaching the Patagonia case was a wonderful experience. I truly enjoyed interacting with the case method from the other side (as an instructor) and reconnecting with my high school alma mater. I was struck by the students’ ability to think outside the box and to objectively challenge each other’s theories and assumptions. I even found myself learning as much as the students during the exercise. It is especially impressive that although the program was run during a global pandemic, Carol and her team managed to organize a learning program that stayed true to the Socratic method (Google MEET proved to be sufficient learning platform). I look forward to opportunities to work on projects like this in the future."
William S. Lear
HBS '68 and former HBS Alumni Board Member
"Last spring I was invited to teach the HBS case about climbing Mt Everest to a class of Whitney Young high school students. Both the level of student participation and their analytic capability greatly exceeded my expectations. Most relevant was the level of enthusiasm with which the majority tackled this assignment. As such I have become a strong advocate for expanding this program to other high schools confident that it will be broadly well-received as an enhancement to their knowledge skills. It is an easy intellectual bridge also to anticipate that introduction of the HBS teaching methodology at this level will have a positive impact on our school's future admissions. I encourage the adoption of this interesting and exciting initiative."
"Teaching the students the Cubs case at Whitney Young was such a fun way to give back to the Chicago community and its next generation of leaders. The students were able learn about the intricacies of the sports industry in a very real way. Plus, they were exposed to topics such as M&A, capital improvements, the importance of talent acquisition, and how to make turnarounds successful. The students were extremely bright and able to clearly see the implications of the decisions made by the different stakeholders in the case. Most impressive was how comfortable they were interacting with (former) Cubs Manager Joe Maddon over Skype! I think my favorite moment of the day was when we all sang Happy Birthday to his wife. I had such a great experience and would love to go back to Whitney Young to teach another case!"
Leading the Threadless case at Whitney Young was twice the win for me. First, I went to Young, so as an alumna, it was great to get back and see what they are up to. Secondly, I went to HBS and I love the case method and didn't experience anything like it until business school. I think it's a fabulous way to teach; practical application of theory on real-world examples. I really think that our educational systems should move toward active real world problem solving in the classroom for higher levels of student engagement and to address the independent, how-am-I-going-to-use-this-in-the-real-world-itis that strikes all high school students. The students were engaged and really demonstrated an understanding of the problems and presented excellent recommendations. Carol Valentino-Barry is a real hero and advocate for these kids, we are all fortunate that she has chosen to take this on. This concept should be expanded.
High School Classroom Teachers and Students
"I had the pleasure of working with Carol Barry and the Harvard Business School (HBS) in 2020. Carol worked hard and found the perfect case study - Patagonia's Sustainability Strategy: Don't Buy Our Products - for our Ethical Consumption Unit. Carol's organizational skills and business acumen ensured that my students had an overwhelmingly positive experience dissecting the Patagonia case study with HBS. Carol inspired my students to think deeper and more creatively as problem solvers. Thanks to Carol's tenacity, my students were able to engage with individuals from Patagonia Corporate and Harvard Business School. My students finished thisexperience with a better understanding of the case study method, an appreciation for sustainability, more creative problem solvers and energized as thinkers."
Anne-Michele Boyle, MBA, MEd, Global Citizenship Teacher
"I loved doing the case study with my students! It was seemingly simple, but when we started to ask more thought provoking questions, the kids really became engaged and more and more intrigued! I really look forward to doing this again with my classes! "
Todd Katz, MA, AP Environmental Science and Honors Biology Teacher
"My AP Seminar students really looked forward to reading and discussing the Harvard business cases in class. And when given the chance to discuss them, they were highly engaged. In AP Seminar, the students explore real-world problems of their own interest, and the Harvard business cases were a natural fit for their curiosity and intelligence."
Neil Tejano, MS, NBCT, AP Seminar Teacher
"I am so grateful for my time in the Mentoring Class. Being exposed to real business challenges through Harvard Case Studies provided me with a solid foundation to succeed in higher education and beyond. Even in my college-level business courses, I still refer back to many fruitful lessons and insights I gained back in this high school class." Caroline, student
"We did the S'well case! It was really interesting to look into the decision-making process of a business. I liked how the case study allowed us to form opinions on real problems that businesses face, especially companies and products that we know!" Ella, student
"These cases covered companies that I knew about and detailed aspects of the business that may not be commonly known, such as the business model or how companies deal with customer service problems. These cases were good at explaining the facts objectively and encouraged readers to look at all pertinent facts before deciding on a course of action. These cases also suggested multiple actions with benefits and disadvantages to any of them, especially business decisions at a time for growth." Dylan, student
High schoolers get engaged in the nuts and bolts of the AMT career. (Shown here with FedEx Crew Chief Brendan Gosline)
Stump the Student: How many bolts are used to secure this engine to the aircraft?
Career Pipelines: Bringing Back School-to-Work
AMPLiFI: Aviation Maintenance Technician Pipe Line Focused Initiative
The latest initiative of Mentoring Mission is to open the door to opportunities for high school students to learn aviation maintenance. The growing need for qualified technicians in this industry presents a perfect opportunity for a partnership between aviation and education.
TESTIMONIALS - Industry
“It was a pleasure meeting with Mr. McFarlin's mechanic class and Mr. Peterson’s aerospace club and the opportunity to share my passion for aviation with all of them. In the first 100 years we went from the Wright Brother’s first flight to being able to fit the length of the first flight inside a Boeing 747. I’m excited to see where the creativity and drive of the next generation of aviators, such as Mr. McFarlin’s and Mr. Peterson’s students, takes us in the next 100 years of aviation!” Dr. Joshua Cummins, Senior Manager – Safety Management System, The Boeing Company
"Aircraft Maintenance allows you the opportunity to learn everyday, troubleshoot aircraft systems and solve the puzzle. It is a very fulfilling career. The high schoolers are lucky to have Carol creating this pipeline - and so is our industry!"
Jack O'Callaghan, Technical Crew Chief, Aircraft Maintenance, American Airlines
"The aviation industry is in high demand for motivated, hard-working and positive people. From aircraft mechanics, to pilots, engineers, and so much more. It is a fast-paced, rewarding field with great pay and benefits. It was a true pleasure to speak with the class and to see so many interested in taking the paths less tread by students leaving high school. The future is bright for those that chase their passion!" Brandon Gosline, Manager, Aircraft Maintenance, FedEx Chicago
"As a manager within the aviation maintenance community, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find talent to fill the current talent shortages in the pipeline; that demand will continue for years to come. Choose Aerospace and representatives from all aspects of the industry are developing a creative approach to provide our young people with a leg up into this amazing career via the organization's program Westmoor High School of Daly City, CA has embraced this year. I had the pleasure of meeting those involved and visiting with the cohort of students lucky enough to participate. I was particularly impressed with the maturity displayed by the questions posed. It was obvious these students are seriously engaged in pursuing a career in the industry. It is clear the work Carol Valentino-Barry has done to stand-up this program with all the right ingredients will provide the necessary blueprint for replication for other schools around the country to follow." K. Pritchard, Technical Training Manager, Zipline
TESTIMONIALS - Teachers and Students
"Our district is committed to preparing students with 21st Century Skills, they are essential for success in today's world. Choose Aerospace curriculum includes critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation in the learning modules. We are excited to bring in industry partners, such as Alaska Airlines and Zipline, to ensure students can thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops."
CTE Coordinator Jefferson Union High School District
"It was so great to meet someone like Dr. Cummins who has worked in the field for so long. His insights on college were very interesting and it opened my eyes to some of the different paths available in my future," Charlie, student, Aerospace Club, Chicago Public Schools
“I learned a lot of cool things about the F-16’s and how hard it can be to work on some of these jets….When talking about the job of being an aviation mechanic though I appreciated the realness of the job and how it’s genuinely hard. I really like how they explained that for them they gained satisfaction from repairing a jet and watching it go back into the air. That to me really showed how real it was to the mechanics and that the job being hard is what gives them that satisfaction… I really appreciate being given the opportunity to see these types of jets and see the life behind being an aviation mechanic.” student, Westmoor High School
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High School to College Training Pipeline
Industry is in need of a labor force and students are in need of a hands-on career path. Chicago area high schools, Technology and Manufacturing Association, local manufacturers and local community colleges create unique partnerships which services needs from both sides - Education and Industry - for the benefit of all.
Through a school-to-work initiative, students take coursework leading to CNC Mill and Lathe NIMS certification. This pipeline includes student internships and dual college credit.
Proviso Township High School (District 209) – Triton College
Maine Township High Schools (District 207) – Harper College
Expert Partners for Education, Mentorship, and Training
School and Business partners are the secret sauce in preparing the future labor force. Starting in high school, students are engaged and encouraged by experts in their chosen career fields. Helping students set and attain career goals allows them to grow.
A recent study by University of North Carolina/ University of Leeds found that progress monitoring had larger effects on goal attainment when the outcomes were reported and when the information was physically recorded. Monitoring goals (as in the case of mentoring) is an effective strategy, and supports student progress.
Partnerships and Mentoring impact a student's future life achievement, creates opportunity, and influences a new generation of leaders.
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Images and videos from Socratic Seminars, Aviation Mechanic Course/Field Trips and Service Projects