The 6th grade class recently had the chance to experience what it feels like to be working and managing modern day business operations. The class visited a site designed by WCNY’s Education Center in Syracuse, NY called Enterprise America. Students prepared for the trip beforehand with classroom instruction that focused on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) as well as financial and civic literacy skills. Lead teacher, Mark Triolo shared, “The curriculum was quite challenging for our students. We were extremely fortunate that Mr. Rhoads, Mr. Felko, Mr. Conner, Ms. Cummings and Mr. Allen were extremely cooperative and allowed us to use some of their valuable class time to support the Enterprise America curriculum. Mrs. Downs played a key role in making sure there was enough time allotted to allow the program to be a success.”
The experience introduced the students to personal and business financial spending and roles such as employees, consumers, producers and business entrepreneurship. All students earned Enterprise America dollars and managed their spending. Some students secured bank loans in order to open a business, other students manufactured goods or provided services. The business to business economy of the city is sustained by the 14 businesses and a City Hall that operate within the 10,000 square foot space. As citizens of the city, students participated in their own government, enacting laws and voting for a judge and major. The students quickly discovered some real world challenges, too, and gained some insight into what careers may demand of them. “I was a little over panicky at first.” Emily Stoughton admitted. Jason Staton added, “I went in to Emily’s sign shop and there was not enough room, she had to look through a couple of piles to find stuff.” Aiden Babcock volunteered, “It was a lot of fun but it was also very stressful, I was an accountant at the automotive center and I think at the end of the day we still owed three hundred something.” Sam O’Shea, an owner of one of the city’s manufacturing businesses, said, “I don’t think we had enough employees to work with us because it was kind of hard to make those things.”
Mark Triolo, 6th grade Social Studies and ELA teacher who took the lead on the curriculum integration said, “I believe the experience for our Groton students was great. It is extremely important for our students to get outside of the village. Unfortunately many of our well established field trips have been eliminated due to budget cuts. As with any program it takes approximately five years of repeating the program to fully adjust the curriculum to meet the needs of your students. I will be using summer curriculum time to adjust the curriculum for our sixth grade students here at Groton.”
All the students seem to have come away with a sense of accomplishment from this experience by being engaged in problem solving, collaboration and industry. As owner of the city’s utility company, Sage Sellers said “I had a good time … a lot of surprises came up… you had to go to the hospital because you got shocked by something. I learned that it was hard and stressful but in the end you just have to be relaxed.“
There was also some relief expressed because they are not required to handle such responsibility on a day to day basis. “(I learned that) when things look easy it’s not as easy as you think. It was kind of confusing at first but when I got the hang of it, it was getting easier and easier.” said Memphis Muzzy, who was a product designer at the sports shop.
The elected Mayor of the city, Emma DeMatteo said “I wouldn’t change my job because I don’t think I would be elected for mayor ever again!”
Michaeline Lauchle commented, “I felt like I was in a dollhouse-everything looked miniature! I thought it would be easier, it was actually pretty hard but I think my group and I did pretty well with it.”