Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Celebrate Austin Entrepreneurship Project" - Paragon Prep

Can a middle school be an entrepreneurial venture?

It can if it is founded and run by and entrepreneur who treats the enterprise as a business.

Austin's Paragon Prep is such a school. Founded by former UT Football player Dave McGrath who serves as the school's headmaster, Paragon Prep is a different type of school. Dave played offensive tackle from 1986-1990 (#57). His final year he had the honor of playing on the 1990 SWC Conference Championship Longhorn Team while attending his first year of graduate school studying Educational Psychology.

Many parents and educators agree that middle school can be the pivotal period in a child's academic experience. With the ever increasing peer pressure and challenges outside of the classroom, students may become unfocused or lost altogether during this critical time. Paragon provides an alternative that is distinct among private schools in the area.

As the parent of a middle schooler, I know what a unique time this is for the student and the parents (my daughter is not a student at Paragon, but I wish we lived closer to the school, as I am a big fan of the Paragon program).

Paragon focuses strictly on middle school and has designed a program that fills a need for a limited private school experience for families that are not considering a twelve year financial commitment to private schooling. The curriculum is designed in such a way that Paragon students returning to public schools after the eighth grade will be exceptionally prepared to enter either regular or honors programs.

Paragon's Educational Team has outstanding credentials in academic fields ranging from economics to theater. They also have extensive experience working with middle school students and are committed to making the middle school experience at Paragon Prep one that reflects excellence in every way.

I asked Dave McGrath a few questions about his entrepreneurial venture and here is what he said:

1. What made you start the school and become an entrepreneur? In searching out a school environment in which to work with gifted children, I found that most public schools were bogged down in the bureaucracy of the state legislature and most private schools in the bureaucracy of the churches that sponsored them. To give bright students the proper balance of challenge and nurturing, a new paradigm was needed. Thus the educator/counselor had to become an entrepreneur/school founder.

2. Why is Austin the best place to start a business? It's the people. Austinites are enlightened folks who are receptive to innovative ideas and predisposed to supporting homegrown businesses that deliver what they promise.

3. What makes a school like a business? In the case of Paragon Prep, we are literally a for-profit cooperation whose existence depends on the satisfaction of the families we serve. We are constantly working to attract and compensate great employees, enhance our facilities, keep our curriculum fresh, and market to prospective families all while balancing the budget. So like most businesses, this school must be successful to survive.

4. Your favorite part of being an entrepreneur? My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is the empowerment I experience. Since I'm responsible for the success of my students, teachers, and programs - my focus stays sharp and my energy level stays high. By taking the risk of starting my own venture, I have tapped into great resources within.

Paragon Prep is another great example of Austin's unique entrepreneurial spirit finding it way into all aspects of our society.

Have A Great Day.


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