Anchorage teacher wins national award for inspiring young entrepreneurs

Published: Jun. 16, 2019 at 4:36 PM AKDT
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An Anchorage School District teacher is heading to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to accept an award for her creative teaching style.

Linda Hulen teaches at Bowman Elementary School. She's one of eight teachers selected for the 2019 Leavey Awards for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education. It’s a program awarding hundreds of teachers over the last 40 years for innovative teaching of free market enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Hulen is being recognized for two of her programs: 907 Bobcats, a student-run business, and “Student Entrepreneurship: on the Path to Free Enterprise in Alaska,” which teaches budding Alaskan entrepreneurs how to creatively expand the state’s economy.

Hulen says she allows the 5th and 6th graders who run the 907 Bobcats business to make their own decisions – and like any business, make their fair share of mistakes and figure out how to fix them.

“That’s the thing about this – it just rolls,” Hulen said. “Something starts, and the kids take it over.”

The students develop their own unique products, like wishing stones and greeting cards. They market their products at sales booths, via an online website, and through social media. Hulen says the program sparks creative communication between students.

“They go, ‘Oh yeah! We can do that!” Hulen said. “Then they organize themselves, and it really teaches teamwork.”

Jeremiah and Katie Bell’s daughter Addie spent two years as a 907 Bobcat. The Bells say Hulen is so influential that at the same time she's teaching their daughter, she’s indirectly teaching them how to improve as parents.

“We just keep learning about another project that Linda spearheaded, or some other way she’s engaged in the community of Anchorage,” Katie said. “Giving back, and inspiring other people to pursue ways to give back.”

Hulen is one of those people who has a tough time sitting still -- as demonstrated by her unwillingness to stop watering plants at the school garden during an interview with Channel 2 Saturday – She was very humble when it came to talking about the award.

"I'm very honored,” she said. “Because the whole idea of doing what you do because you love to do -- it is where you start."

The Leavey Award is sponsored by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavy Foundation and the Freedoms Foundation. The ceremony is July 18 at the Freedoms Foundation Campus in Valley Forge, PA. Hulen will take home a $7,500 award.

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