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Shark Tank: eagle perch presentation

ABC’s Shark Tank has fanned the flames of Eastern Christian School’s culture of innovation. For years, our leadership team has produced our “Next Big Thing” project from a key annual idea pitch meeting. This process has produced innovative programming that has had a massive impact at our school like Project Acceleration, the STEAM program, and the WINGS Internship Program.

But for years, these ideas have only come from the leadership at the school. We wanted to expand the idea base.

Enter Shark Tank.

ABC’s hit series featuring eager entrepreneurs pitching ideas to celebrity investors has inspired a nation-wide movement around innovation improving the status quo. Eastern Christian School decided to get in on the fun and create our own Shark Tank-inspired platform for EC employees to pitch ideas to school leadership, with a cash prize and program funding as incentive.

Dubbed “Eagle Perch”, EC’s version of Shark Tank afforded the opportunity for all EC faculty and staff members to pitch ideas to a panel of school leaders. This would allow more ideas for programmatic improvements to come to the forefront. The winning idea would be fully funded by the Board of Directors.

Shark Tank: eagle perch contestants and judges

The four “sharks” (Eagles) were:

  • Rudi Gesch, Director of Marketing and Enrollment Management
  • Ruth Kuder, Chief Education Officer
  • Nick Kuiken, EC Board of Directors
  • Tom Dykhouse, Head of School

Nine pitches were proposed, but only 4 made the final cut. These final four finalists pitched to the “Eagles” in front of a live studio audience. The final four presenters were:

  • Science teacher Jamie Van Buiten
  • Physical Education Teacher Max Harvell
  • Publications Teacher Leah Genuario
  • Science teacher Petra van’t Slot.

Prizes were offered to the winning pitch and to the “audience choice.” At the end of the event, Leah Genuario’s pitch won both the Eagle and Audience choice. After a period of fevered debate, the Eagles liked the pitches so much that they actually agreed to fund all four pitches.

While we won’t discuss the topics of the pitches in this space today, stay tuned for future posts as these projects are implemented. Suffice it to say that we would never have come up with these ideas without the amazing creativity of our staff, and that these projects will impact hundreds of students and EC community members. We’re thrilled with the way that this platform encouraged outside-of-the-box thinking for the advancement of our mission and the betterment of our school. 

In addition to taking the four pitches to “next steps,” we are already planning on next year’s Eagle Perch and look forward to another season of innovation at Eastern Christian School!

Shark Tank: the eagles judges panel