Wall Street meets Bentworth Middle School

Wall Steet investor critiques Bentworth students’ business projects

February 21, 2013
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
New York author and finance expert Monica Mehta uses Skype Thursday to critique business plans created by seventh-graders at Bentworth Middle School. Order a Print
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Scott Beveridge/Observer-Reporter
Alexander Tsipras, a math teacher in Bentworth School District, monitors a teleprompter Thursday while his sister-in-law, Monica Mehta, a New York investor and finance expert, communicates via Skype with his students about their projects. Order a Print

BENTLEYVILLE – Students at a small, rural Washington County middle school were treated Thursday to a high-tech live video chat with a New York investor and finance expert who critiqued their pretend small business plans.

Monica Mehta, a Wall Street investor and frequent guest on television news programs, offered sound business advice through Skype to seventh-graders studying entrepreneurship at Bentworth Middle School.

“Most kids who know entrepreneurs, spend time with them, have twice the likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur when they grow up,” Mehta said.

“That’s all the satisfaction I need,” said the author of “Entrepreneurial Instinct,” who is also a columnist for Bloomberg BusinessWeek and INC magazine and a guest on Fox News, Fox Business, BloombergTV, MSNBC and ABC News.

It didn’t take a lot of effort to get Mehta to agree to the virtual visit because her brother-in-law, Alexander Tsipras, teaches seventh-grade math at the school, in the second-poorest district in Washington County behind Washington, school officials said.

“We are trying to promote exciting things,” school Principal David Schreiber said. “A small-town district gets a Wall Street influence. It’s hard to believe she’s in Manhattan and here we are in little Bentworth.”

Tsipras said students in each of the seventh grades classes broke into small groups and were assigned to invent a small business and draft its marketing plan. The students then picked the best plan from each of the classrooms to present to Mehta.

Tsipras operated a Teleprompter that rolled out the oral presentations for each group that approached Mehta, who appeared before them on a giant television screen.

“The low price is terrific. I would like to know more about who that customer is,” she said to one group selling shoes.

Student Wyatt Dessify served as spokesman for ENERGY, a make-believe company selling a line of clothing, whose T-shirts they pretended have been worn by Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.

“I think it’s great you picked a product you like and are getting celebrities involved,” Mehta said.

She said, though, that such businesses typically do better if they pick one item of clothing, do it well and then “grow into a bigger business.”

Wyatt said he enjoyed the experience of creating his own job.

“I thought it was pretty cool, just for a change,” he said. “She is good.”

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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