Children are not likely to remember who won the Pulitzer Prize or Nobel Peace Prize this year, but they will always remember a good teacher.
Beth Nyers, a fourth-grade teacher at Martin Luther Elementary School in Youngstown, is one such teacher. Her enthusiasm and dedication will be remembered by her students for years to come.
They will particularly remember one day in February...
Martin Luther Elementary has placed a great importance on improving the Proficiency Test scores of their fourth-graders.
Teaching fourth grade for the first time this year, Beth had been studying old proficiency exams to assist her in preparing her curriculum.
"I noticed that there were lots of questions on the test about capitalism, entrepreneurialism and owning a business," Beth explains.
She was determined to teach her students these concepts.
She decided her students would start their own business.
On the wall outside her classroom door, Beth hung a sign. "Room 204 has 20 entrepreneurs," it read. Being a teacher, under the word "entrepreneurs" she wrote, "Look it up."
Inside the classroom, the business was taking shape.
What to do? "What kind of business should we begin?" Mrs. Nyers asked her class.
The suggestions poured in. It was decided that it was too cold for an ice cream company, a cupcake company was too hard and pizza was too messy.
"We tried to discuss it democratically," Beth says.
The class decided to start a cookie company.
"What should we call our cookie company?" Mrs. Nyers asked her entrepreneurs.
"Ooey, Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Company" was a favorite of many. But, after a vote, the "Cookie Monster Company" was born.
The next matter these business boys and girls had to discuss was capital.
"What will we need to make our cookies?" Mrs. Nyers prompted her students.
Ingredients, pans, cooking utensils and ovens were put on a list of capital needs.
Mrs. Nyers then snuck in a math lesson. "We will add up all the money we spend initially and subtract that from our earnings to determine our profit."
After a few examples, the class understood.
To ensure a profit, they determined they would sell their cookies for 30 cents each.
"I thought we would sell about 200 cookies," Beth laughs.
When the order forms were returned, the count was over 700.
The students were ecstatic. Their teacher was overwhelmed.
Production: The next phase of business was production. It took an entire day to make the cookies.
Some of the students stayed in the room, mixing batter and filling up cookie sheets.
Others went to the kitchen with Mrs. Nyers, placing cookies in plastic bags and stapling order forms for delivery.
Beth could not have been more proud of her students.
"These were very trustworthy students who were motivated to do this and wanted to make our company a success," she said.
Still focused on proficiency success, Mrs. Nyers had her entrepreneurs write a report of what they learned.
Responses: Some wrote that they learned how to make cookies. Others learned the concept of profit and loss. Still others learned the great capitalistic concept that if you sell something people want, you can make money.
"We all learned that everybody likes cookies!" Beth exclaimed.
The fiscal year for the "Cookie Monster Company" has come to a close.
After subtracting their costs from their earnings the 20 entrepreneurs of Room 204 showed a profit of $163.
A pizza party and field trip will deplete most of those funds, but the children of Mrs. Nyers fourth-grade class will be profiting from this venture for years to come.