BootKamp™, New American Dream Continued – The Spark! Program

In the first week of Business BootKamp™ I wrote about the evolution of the American Dream. I proposed that for many, the current American Dream is owning a business, citing the increase in entrepreneur programs offered in high schools throughout the country. This past week, I met up with Dustin Loeffler, Jd., a professor at Maryville University who is also involved in the Spark! program in the Parkway School District High Schools, to get a closer look at one of these high school entrepreneur programs.

Loeffler is the director of graduate studies in business at Maryville University. He first got involved in the Spark! program when the director of the program was looking for a university to partner with. Recognizing that these programs “really fill a void in the high school and college curriculum”, according to Loefler, he was eager to partner with them, and in his words, “They are providing students with the practical experience that cannot be found in the classroom.” Loeffler is most intricately involved in the newest threads of the program: Cyber Security and Engineering. In fact, Maryville University is currently constructing a Cyber Security and Engineering lab for these Spark! students to come and work in a real life environment. Students in these programs will perform PIN testing and other various Cyber Security and Engineering services at low to no cost for Not for Profit institutions and Small Businesses. (For more information about receiving these services, please contact Dustin Loeffler:


Spark Program

The Spark! program is offered to juniors and seniors attending high schools in Parkway School District in St. Louis County, Missouri. Loeffler reports that parents and students alike have received this program well, and have caused it to really take off and grow. This program is one of many throughout the country that gives high school students the opportunity to explore business and small business ownership in a relatively safe space, with lots of mentors and guidance. Loeffler believes that this hands on experience is something that is missing in high schools and business schools alike, throughout the country. One of the main objectives for students in Spark! is to help them to develop characteristics as high school students such as a strong work ethic, confidence and business skills, to insure that they are successful no matter what they choose to do when they graduate the program. To find out more details about the Spark! program, click the following link:

I asked Loeffler to comment on what some of the students are doing now.  He replied that it is actually quite easy to follow most of the Spark! student’s stories because one of the projects that they complete is to develop and maintain a LinkedIn profile.  He continued to say that it is really neat to see these high school students graduating with fully developed LinkedIn profiles and real life experience on their resumes.  Many of these students have continued on to business school or to pursue a college degree in the field that they studied in Spark!. Some, have even chosen to continue running their business, while attending college. Whatever the future holds for these bright, young entrepreneurs and this amazing program, one thing is for certain: the American Dream is alive and well.

Thank you to Dustin Loeffler, Jd. for sitting down and sharing your thoughts insights into one of these incredible programs with me.

~Chelsea Auton

The Volpe Consulting & Accounting Team

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