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April update

Posted By Columbia College _, Friday, May 1, 2009

April has been a very busy month, hence doing my April update on May 1st. On April 17th we had our first Enlightening Lessons from restaurateurs. The evening went better than I could have anticipated. We had over 50 people in the audience from the community not counting students from both Columbia College and the local high schools. We had great feedback and I have been invited to talk to several local business organizations about future events.

May's event will showcase local inventors of internationally-recognized products as the featured speakers at the next Columbia College Entrepreneur Program presentation. Julia Rhodes, president of KleenSlate Concepts and Charlene Wrighton, president and CEO of Zoo-phonics will provide tips on creating new products and marketing them, based on their own professional business experiences.

            The presentation is part of a free public lecture series for aspiring entrepreneurs and will be held in the Columbia College Dogwood Forum Theater on Friday, May 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. The series is titled, “Inside the Entrepreneur: Enlightening Lessons” and each lecture presentation will highlight two entrepreneurs in a related business field.

Former schoolteacher Julia Rhodes invented, patented, manufactured, marketed and distributed her first product, the KleenSlate Attachable Eraser for Dry-Erase Markers. Then, she single-handedly landed contracts with Office Depot and Staples to mass market them. Over the past seven years, Rhodes has built a thriving business with a growing line of dry-erase products and services.

Her KleenSlate Dry-Erase Paddles were awarded “Best New Products for the Classroom” by Scholastic magazine, and earned the “Teachers’ Choice Award 2008” from Learning Magazine. She has been featured on radio and television, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Entrepreneur Hour Radio Show. She is also working on her first book, The Right Sisters: Modern Day Women Inventors, which she hopes will inspire, educate and inform inventors to pursue their passions and believe in their ideas.

Charlene Wrighton’s 37 year career in education has really been three careers in one. She taught special needs students locally for over 20 years. Then in 1984, Wrighton and her sister Gigi co-created the Zoo-phonics Language Arts Program, founded on kinesthetic techniques and phonics to teach reading, spelling, math, art and social studies to students. 

In 1993, she retired from teaching to develop and promote Zoo-phonics, which has expanded across the country and is now marketed worldwide. With the opening of Sonora’s Safari Learning Preschool & Kindergarten Academy in 2007, Wrighton’s dream of establishing a preschool/toddler learning center with Zoo-phonics as the core curriculum was fulfilled.

Wrighton holds five teaching credentials and three degrees, including a master’s degree, administrative credential, child development program director’s certificate and is presently in the writing stage of her doctorate. She was a California Mentor Teacher for two years for the Tuolumne County Special Education Department; awarded Woman of the Year for her work with the disabled, elderly and homeless; and Teacher of the Year for the Tuolumne County Special Education Department.      



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