Fifth-graders at Ramsay Elementary in the Mount Pleasant Area SD (Westmoreland Co.) are honing their business development, sales and marketing skills while running their own company. Small Town Studios is run by about 75 students who create and sell custom mugs and water bottles using sublimation. They are involved in every step of the process. Students are divided into departments of 10-15 students each. The departments are sales, marketing and research, production, design, and shipping and packaging, and students can choose the area they want to be in. Work is completed during homeroom, recess and at the beginning and end of each school day. Although all activity is supervised by teacher Michelle David, the students are encouraged to solve problems on their own.
Mrs. David began the program in fall 2018 after learning about Real World Scholars, a program that empowers classrooms to explore entrepreneurship and operate a business. After partnering with Real World Scholars, Mrs. David introduced the program to her fifth-graders and they collectively decided to start making mugs. This past holiday season, the class had more than 100 mug orders from the community. Part of the proceeds from the mug sales have gone to the Foster Love Project, a nonprofit that provides foster kids and families with essentials. The remaining funds go toward funding future school projects such as field trips and playground equipment. Read more about the program here.