Meet Felicia Harrington. Joining the Horn team at the University of Delaware in a new position as Program Manager for EntreX Lab, a K-12 dual enrollment initiative. Felicia brings her compassion for understanding K-12 educational challenges, along with years of working with high school youth as a teacher, administrator and innovator.
Question: What are some career milestones that led you to where you are now?
I was born and raised in Iowa, attended Iowa State University for business, and became involved with Teach for America, an AmeriCorps program. They give you the opportunity to select where you'd like to go. I wanted the east coast, and they assigned me to Delaware. I taught eighth grade math and science for three years. Then I went to the Freire Schools Network and was involved in the charter process for Freire’s Wilmington location. Freire focuses on supporting students to succeed in and graduate from not just high school, but also college, utilizing a five-year curriculum. I led the school for four years and left after the first class of seniors graduated, and then worked for CSC to run a department there, all before joining Horn.
Question: How do you define your entrepreneurial self?
I have some noticeable qualities of an entrepreneur. I was motivated to move across the country, a complete 180 to what my family expected. I adapted my business degree to teaching math and science, and joined Teach for America after answering the call of a TV program. I saw it as a way to try different things and serve others. I know now that I have solutions for what students need, and I can serve in many nontraditional teaching roles.
Question: Tell us more about your family farm?
My family cared for nearly 800 head of cattle, as well as 800 acres of corn and soybeans. I often had chores starting before breakfast and discussed business decisions at the dinner table. The farm is an important legacy for me. My grandparents lived along the same gravel road, and my dad is the fourth generation to manage the farm. Now he faces retirement, and my cousin will essentially take over the land. My Great-Great-Grandparents came from Sweden and traveled west until the land looked like home. The area is predominantly of Swedish heritage, where the language still lingers in some church hymns locally.
Question: You’re in a new position at Horn, which will have you again build a new program. This time EntreX Labs. What has that experience been like?
I joined in March 2021, when the handful of schools were wrapping up their second school year of beta-testing. I really came in at the point of scaling up the program, where my immediate goal is to increase the number of schools and students and focus on Delaware schools first. That aligns with the University of Delaware’s mission to work with and help strengthen K-12 education locally.
Question: How is EntreX Lab designed for Delaware students?
Last March was our first Delaware Venture Showcase. Students from our eight schools who were beta-testing the program had the opportunity to pitch their startup projects to a panel of highly qualified community partners in Delaware’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This will continue and become specific to Delaware. A separate event will be added for regional participants at a future date.
Through the course, students experience the process of forming their own ideas to create a new venture. Through the Venture Showcase events, students pitch their ideas and compete against other EntreX schools, with the top teams moving forward to the Diamond Challenge Summit in April.
This year, we started the third school year with a Delaware Connect design sprint sponsored by Delaware Solid Waste Authority. It helped prepare and create excitement for the students enrolled in EntreX this school year.
Question: How do you see EntreX Lab growing?
Many schools in the region are interested in EntreX, so I can split my time talking to new potential school partners, as well as supporting teachers and principals currently implementing the course. I have come full circle since my former school, Freire, is participating. This gives me a special lens to see the inside view of the program, and I can continue to help Freire grow. We have introduced the program across a diverse group of schools, including vocational, private and parochial, as well as traditional public schools. The curriculum has broad relevance no matter what path a student is interested in pursuing post-high school.
The University of Delaware and Horn have name recognition, and the understanding of entrepreneurial thinking in the education world is growing in value. Entrepreneurial thinking includes the foundational skills schools want to teach to prepare students to thrive in the future. As EntreX expands, we are ensuring we can support schools appropriately, and ensure that the program can be taught with fidelity as we scale. We are mindful that students get the best of what we offer.
Question: What did you like to do for your stress-free times?
Certainly, I love to eat and enjoy the local culinary scene. I'm a quilter, which surprises people here on the east coast. It is more common in the Midwest and a craft often passed down through generations of women. I spend my free time quilting and often talk about it with my mom. For myself, I love cooking and try to maintain some exercise and running time, but generally enjoy being outdoors.
It is a challenge now. I have not found a new normal yet, after becoming a new Mom last August. Clara is my new person to love, and she has a priority in my schedule. My husband, Ryan, who I met through Teach for America, and I are figuring it out, but enjoy being parents.
About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement at the University of Delaware. Currently ranked among the best entrepreneurship programs in the US, Horn Entrepreneurship was built and is actively supported by successful entrepreneurs, empowering aspiring innovators as they pursue new ideas for a better world.