Connecting Round Rock: Moms Who Mean Business – Walton-Durban

Connecting Round Rock explores what makes Round Rock great!

As we continue to connect with our community’s incredible people and organizations, we’re eager to learn more about what makes Round Rock such a vibrant place. That’s why we’re reviving our ‘5 Questions With…‘ series as segments with a fresh twist.

Each time, we’ll feature something or someone who contributes to making our community great—businesses, organizations, and people we think you would like to know!

Since we are kicking off in May, starting with the Moms Who Mean Business series segment is a natural choice. And what better way to start than on Mother’s Day, a day that celebrates the strength and resilience of mothers? Join us and be inspired by the stories of these driven women who build, lead, activate, and support Round Rock (and beyond)!

Meet Nicholle Walton-Durban

Tell us about your family.
My husband, Justin R. Durban (a talented film composer and graphic designer), and I are parents to three wonderful Boys: Tristin, 20, works in Oil and gas; Myndin, 16, is a student at E.S.T.E.A.M Academy and a self-taught musician; and Lyrik, 12, is an athlete and a student at E.S.T.E.A.M Academy. We are a family of creatives, dreamers, hard workers, and industry disrupters.

What would be your ideal way to spend Mother’s Day?
At home, relaxing and connecting with my boys. A wonderful dinner shared together as a family is always a happy place!

Durban Boys

Tell us about your business(es)
I am an Educational Empowerment Entrepreneur. The organizations I have launched empower learners, families, and communities by removing institutional barriers and returning agency to the individual. My company, ESTEAM Edu, LLC, currently operates a suite of educational organizations, including ESTEAM Academy, a micro-school in Round Rock, Texas, and Apollo Academy, a micro-school in Tampa, Florida, both affiliated with Acton Academy Socratic-based pedagogy. The Academies empower learners ages 4-18 to embark on a self-paced Hero’s Journey while cultivating a supportive learning community. Heroes (our name for Students) help one another strive as learners and mentors in mixed-age academic Studios facilitated by adult Guides and centered on Socratic discussions. Students take ownership of their learning, progressing through project-based Quests in the arts, humanities, STEM, and entrepreneurship within and beyond their Studios to accomplish self-identified goals and earn badges for academic and character-based mastery. Regional demand for the ESTEAM model led to the creation of ESTEAM Learning Labs, our STEAM-focused enrichment company, allowing us to partner with hundreds of Central Texas public and private schools and community organizations to provide after-school and summer enrichment. ESTEAM Learning Labs implements our unique framework in summer camp and after-school enrichment formats. Both the Academy and the Learning Labs incorporate the digital infrastructure of e-learning, in-person Studio study, and projects and apprenticeships based in the surrounding communities.

As a result of our experiences and the continued increase in demand for innovative and inspired learning programs and opportunities, in 2020, we launched our Educational Nonprofit, The Foundation for Innovative and Restorative Education, aka The FIRE Foundation. Established to support and expand upon these initiatives, The FIRE Foundation empowers learners and their communities through accessible education and enrichment. We partner with local Central Texas organizations to create Educational Ecosystems addressing each community’s needs. Our programs, events, and opportunities center learners and actualize our core values of community, connection, inclusion, accountability, life-long learning, freedom, and empowerment.

Our goal is to build a first-of-its-kind Educational Empowerment Center right here in Round Rock. The EEC will take ESTEAM’s vision further by casting all residents of Round Rock, TX, as Heroes, embarking on their journeys in a community campus integrating high-quality, affordable education, opportunities accessible to all learners, and beneficial economic development. We will build and pilot the flagship EEC in Round Rock, designed to be replicated in underserved communities in Central Texas and beyond. EECs will equip young people with real-world skills and training, catalyze growth for local businesses and providers, and be hubs for cultivating community and opportunity across differences. Collectively, our organizations and programs will empower lifelong learners ages 4-99.

Education Empowerment Center

What’s your favorite part about your business?
Empowering others! When we empower our children, we empower the community. When we empower our Parents, we empower the community. When we empower our local businesses, we empower the community. When we empower the community, we empower the world. When we empower others, we make the world a better place for everyone.

What is one challenge with your business?
In order to get different results, you have to step outside of the box you are in and do things differently. That is a hard ask of people, as we live in a world where struggle, discomfort and failure are categorized as bad. When, in fact, they are necessary components to both success and happiness. We know that we can do education better, but it requires stepping away from what we are told it is supposed to look like, looking with fresh eyes, and investing in change, not the same ole, same ole! There are many of us already here, and loads of data support that the outcomes can and will be better.

How does your business give back to the community?
We provide children with opportunities they typically do not have access to. We also support other organizations by helping them provide services to more communities with funds that help cover the cost of business, from staff to equipment, which is rarely provided.

Award winners from Children's Business Fair 2021

How can Round Rock (and the surrounding areas) support your business?
The simplest way to support is to become a donor. If you select a charitable organization to support your philanthropic endeavors, we would love for you to consider The FIRE Foundation. Another way to support is to help spread the word. Let others know that these options and opportunities exist. And if you want to be an active part of the change you want to see in the world, then join our Board or Committees and be proactive in building empowering educational opportunities for our children, families, and communities.

Connecting Round Rock
Know an organization, business, or person we could include in our series?
Email us at [email protected].

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