20 April 2014

Volunteering at the JLA Elementary Entrepreneur Fair

On a recent Friday I had the privilege of volunteering at the JLA Elementary Entrepreneur Fair in Lexington.  We've been part of James Lane Allen Elementary since 2006 when my first son started kindergarten there.  This year, my youngest son will graduate from fifth grade, and our days as elementary school parents will conclude.  Therefore, I'm continuing to take advantage of each opportunity I can volunteering for various events.  The Entrepreneur Fair is a longstanding fifth grade fundraiser and event anchored in the teaching of economics and entrepreneurship for young students.  My oldest son participated in 2012, and my youngest son participated this year.

Preparations for the event begin during the first semester when teachers start laying the groundwork and building background knowledge for students ten and eleven years old who may or may not have any business experiences.  Early in second semester, the school holds a parent information night to explain to parents the required elements of the project and to encourage us to help our children learn the intended objectives related to entrepreneurship.  For some of us who have limited entrepreneurial experience ourselves, it's definitely a family learning event.

Students decide upon a product or service for their business, create a pitch, conduct a market survey, and then advertise for a couple of weeks leading up to the big day.  On the day of the event, students arrive early prepared to set up their booths and sell to the younger students throughout the day.  The evening event brings parents, community members, and former students back to the school to see the
He created this sign & hung it around the school.
Customers purchased tickets with real money, and
used the tickets to make purchases to avoid any issues
since hundreds of people attend the event. 

creativity and ingenuity of the fifth graders.  My son and the rest of the students experienced glimpses of real business ownership.

In the days leading up to the Entrepreneur Fair, I did as most mothers would do and helped my son finalize his product.  Since Isaac decided on a creative product, we spent days painting, hot gluing, glittering, and making his imaginative planes and dragonflies from wooden clothes pins and popsicle sticks.  For Isaac making and creating was an important part of his entrepreneurial experience.  While he acknowledged that the kids who sold nachos and sno cones or candy typically made the most money, Isaac wanted to create something, and I was thrilled with this choice because I enjoy watching him be creative and also enjoy being creative with colors and styles when helping him.

The day of the event required all hands on deck from any adults available because not every child had a parent available to assist with taping down extension cords and loose hanging tablecloths or to help hang signs and display products.  In a couple of instances, we had to improvise to ensure students had all the supplies they needed. Quick trips to the store or home for random items were all part of the fun of the day for me.  Crawling on the floor helping students set up their booths, hang their signs, and display their products made me smile with pride as a mom and an educator.  Most of the 80+ students poured their hearts into their businesses and learned about engaging with customers of many ages.

Watching my youngest son (who is not often around much younger children) interact with the kindergartners was a highlight of my day.  He was gentle, kind, and a superior young business man.  In addition to learning about creating a business, Isaac's favorite part was earning real money he's saving for this summer.  Each student pays a "rental fee" for their spot in the gym, and all money that goes toward the fifth grade field trip to Mammoth Cave.