From Saint Matthew School
One of the greatest gifts anyone can give to a younger generation is taking the time to pass along what they have learned in life. Students in Tyrone’s Saint Matthew School Entrepreneurship Program received such a gift from local business owner Alyse Maslonik who is serving as a mentor to their new company.
After completing a course on the economy and capitalism, the students in grades fourth through sixth developed a business plan which included the creation of a mission statement. Will Stadtmiller, a fifth grader and member of the Board of Directors, expanded on the vision for this new venture. “We are starting out offering a service product since that really reflects one of the main beliefs of our school which is to help those in need as Jesus taught us to do. Also, it doesn’t require a lot of upfront capital like producing a product would.” When the group reached the branding step, they realized they needed some help from another entrepreneur with experience in marketing which led to a development session with Alyse Maslonik.
Maslonik, along with her husband and children, moved to the Tyrone area seven years ago. Over two years ago she founded RedefinED Advisors LLC, a company that is committed to redefining the way private schools navigate their funding and enrollment. Having previously worked for private financial institutions, Maslonik witnessed countless schools that were doing incredible work in the classroom but struggled with the knowledge base and staffing requirements to successfully run the business side of their school in today’s ever-changing market. She also noticed that a majority of the tax credit scholarship money available from the state was being sent to Pennsylvania’s large urban areas who could afford to higher companies to access the funds. “As a previous Educational Improvement Tax Credit scholarship recipient in high school, I understand first-hand the impact that private education can have on a child’s life. When schools are able to afford development and enrollment services, it makes it easier for them to have a larger impact in their communities.” That desire to give back to schools led Maslonik to leave her job and create her own company that would “provide schools outsourced development services to save school staff time, money and reduce all of the tasks they already have on their plate.”
RedefinED’s staff began working with Saint Matthew School this past summer, so agreeing to serve as a business mentor came easily. “One of the really important things for me was realizing that if someone developed the belief in me as a child that I could go on to build a business or given me the tools and education in order to do that, it would have made a better impact in my life at a younger age,” Maslonik commented. “I am a big believer in faith-based Catholic education and being able to show young people that you don’t necessarily need to spend your school years trying to develop into an employee. You can actually develop a passion for something and turn it into a business where you are the one that gets to make a difference. Having this chance to help these young entrepreneurs develop a name, logo and tag-line that reflects their passion is so rewarding.”
Meeting with the fledgling company’s Board of Directors, Alyse and the students worked through several exercises evaluating the names and logos of existing companies examining how words, images, and even color create certain responses by possible customers. “What I found most interesting,” exclaimed fourth grader Grayson Vaughn, “was seeing the hidden messages that were in the logos and names for different companies. It really makes me look at things differently.”
Working through different possibilities, the group found two words that reflected their vision of service to those in need: Rescue Aid. With a company name now decided, a logo idea began to emerge that reflected the family we are as children of God and the ability we have to help others using our own hands. Drawing a tree trunk on the chalkboard gave Quinn Markel the idea to create a canopy of traced handprints which led to the new logo. When discussing a possible tag-line slogan, fourth grader Hannah Narehood shared how they, as a business, were caring for people, which grew into “Caring for you, is what we do.” Stadtmiller then suggested replacing the t in “The” with a cross since Christ was at the center of their mission.
“It was so great of Alyse to come and work with us to help make a name and logo,” shared sixth grader Bianca Cordova-McLaughlin. “I can’t wait until we offer our first service product.”
“Working with the kids was such an incredible experience,” Maslonik concluded. “They are so lively and energetic and seeing them really dive into their creative spaces and collaborate together was something very special. Being so involved in desiring to want to help other people through this business has been really wonderful to see and inspiring for me.”
“Once The Rescue Aid settles in on their first service product, we will tackle marketing and promotion,” added class advisor Steve Stoner, “and call on Alyse and her team for input and advice. We are so fortunate to have such a great mentor and support from the school staff and administration and church family. These young businesspeople are going to accomplish a lot.”
Saint Matthew School is in its 153rd year of offering a faith-based educational opportunity for students in preschool through sixth grade.