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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Johnson Third Grade Sesquicentennial Entrepreneur Project is Huge Success

These are the products students sold.
The 3rd grade teachers at Johnson Elementary school wanted an entrepreneur project for their students and the Sesquicentennial was the perfect vehicle. Their teachers, Aimee Shadwell, Vicki Kaufman, and Anne Snider invited Debbie Buckley, Fort Thomas Renaissance Manager/Economic Development Director, and Chuck Keller, Sesquicentennial Committee member, to visit the combined class to help them brainstorm and answer questions.  Students decided that they would conduct a fundraiser where the proceeds would benefit a specific city project like new stairs in the water tower or the statue of General Thomas. Buckley and Keller answered questions about the festival and helped students learn how to brainstorm.

The teachers along with Heidi Neltner, technology specialist, guided the classes by using their digital interactive notebooks to track designs, processes, and feedback.  Neltner says, “Students created a Google survey to learn about consumer demographics. Students in grades K-5 and their parents responded. The results helped us select a winning design for each of our three products: stuffed bear, tumbler, and ornament.”  Students got a little extra help from a local business that helped them negotiate vendor rates.
Aimee Shadwell displays the tumbler.

Barre3 Ft. Thomas. This is an advertisement. 

Students did all of the work. They calculated prices and profits, wrote and recorded commercials and jingles for the advertising.  But there was a problem. The students did not sell enough products. So they developed a final advertising push and used face-to-face sales and exceeded their goal. Neltner says, “This business adversity turned out to be a great learning experience and forced us to problem-solve.”

Students reflected on their project and learned many valuable life lessons.  This is what they had to say. They learned that:

“Running a business is fun, but hard!”
“…How long it takes to get stuff done.”
“Taking your time and working together is important.”
“…all about profits.”
“A lot of the jobs we did are real jobs we can have someday.” (like design, market research, marketing, and sales)
They observed that their strengths included:
Coming up with designs
Market research
More interesting were their observations about weaknesses.
“We almost went out of business until we went out to advertise more and worked harder at sales.”

These comments are full of insight. If they apply these lesson then nothing will stop these third graders from succeeding. And they will be able to claim, as they point to the statue of General Thomas, like one young entrepreneur claimed, “I can say I built that.” Even though that might be a bit exaggerated, they are  already thinking of a legacy. Now that is building for the future.
Bob Heil, chair of the statue committee, holds the students' check. 


  1. My children are Johnson alum- we know the awesome power of a GREAT elementary school! Congratulations to those students, teachers and friends who worked and supported this learning experience.

  2. So proud of my daughter and her classmates! So thankful for forward-thinking teachers and a community that will get behind these efforts.