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NORTH MIAMI (CBS4) – Summertime in South Florida usually means summer camp for many kids.

A select few, though, they have traded in the field trips for classrooms and homework. The kids call it an experience of a lifetime.

CBS4’s David Sutta saw the camp first hand at the Cushman school in North Miami Tuesday.  The fifth graders were screaming for ice cream during lunch.

“So I’m the one who gets the money right?” one student says to the other.  A girl quickly responds. “Yes!”  The students are putting on this lunch time sale as an experiment in Sep Niakan’s entrepreneur class.

“What I remember about school is, frankly, it was boring. What these guys do here is really make school interesting,” said Niakan.

Niakan, a real estate broker by trade, is volunteering his time with a program called Breakthrough Miami. Niakan explains why it’s not a summer camp and definitely not summer school.

“You can go out of the box and forget FCATS and all that exam nonsense and focus on teaching the kids something they can use for the rest of their life.”

The six week program, celebrating it’s 20th year, has core classes and electives.  The staff likens it to boot camp?

“Academic Boot camp,” said Jamael Stewart, a coordinator with Miami Breakthrough. “My first question when I go out for recruitment is I ask the kid is ‘how many of you guys want to go to school for the summer and do two hours of homework every night?’”

Over 350 students applied, even interviewed.  Maya Reaves was one of the 125 made it in.

“I think we are learning how to create a business and how to sell and how to bank with money.  And how to talk to people and see what they want because the customer is always right,” Reaves said.

The program taught mainly by high school and college students brings mentoring into the classroom.  All of it paid for by grants. Joan Lutton of the Cushman School in North Miami invited the program to use their facilities.

“It’s not  just  helping these kids it helps the community because these kids are going to go out into the community and they are going to be good students, they are going to be good citizens and they are going to do the right thing,” Lutton said.

Many of these 10-year-olds had never even heard of the word “entrepreneur” four weeks ago.  “Hey you can’t be eating on the job!” Reaves told one of her co-workers.

The classmate replies “I’m on my lunch break while I’m working.”

Today they are pros, except for the finance man.

“The finance man was eating pizza so he couldn’t do his job and I had to do both jobs.” Reaves said.


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