Running a successful EdCorp isn’t easy. It takes time, dedication, and a whole lot of student engagement – and that’s often just one teacher and classroom. Add another class, and it takes the idea of collaboration to a whole new level. In this post, we hear from Craig Wetzel and Dennis Sarchet, who teaches Education Technology at Keystone Oaks High School in Pittsburgh, PA. Their EdCorp, Golden Oaks Designs, provides an excellent model for how to successfully integrate the business across two different classrooms. Their students have also mastered the art of in-person selling events!
By Craig Wetzel and Dennis Sarhet
Incorporating any new program into an existing curriculum can be a challenge. When the opportunity to start an EdCorp arose, it was exciting – it seemed to fit seamlessly into our Ed Tech curriculum – but we knew it would not be without its challenges. Instead of trying to take on the challenge alone, Dennis and I decided to come together and launch a joint business.
Dennis and I both have classes and students that cross between middle school and high school. We felt that EdCorps presented a great opportunity for us to work together, and for our students to work together as well. We also believed combining the content and skill development found in our classes could help foster collaboration, teamwork, and problem-solving in a way that might not be possible separately. Incorporating the business into our classes would help inspire and further engage all our students in their work. Additionally, we saw the chance to work together as a way to reinforce and develop our own teaching and learning while making use of the different resources we each had in our respective classrooms.
Running a business operating in two classrooms takes a lot of communication – not only between teachers but students and administration as well. It can be difficult for teachers to find time in their busy day to dedicate to their EdCorp! We benefit from classrooms closely located to one another, but we also hold after-school meetings, send lots of emails and school announcements, use collaborative programs like Google Classroom, and set aside small amounts of time during each class to hold discussions or work on the business. As this is our second year managing Golden Oaks Designs, we decided to also include business activities in our after-school Ed Tech Club, allowing us to organize a few designated times each month to work on important EdCorp business. It’s been helpful for us to include other teachers and school personnel too. Among others, we’ve called on our school’s IT specialists, communications coordinator, and public relations manager to work with our students to set up and manage social media accounts as well as other media and event space needs.
EdCorps Selling Events
Based on their interests, students from both classes fill various roles within Golden Oaks Designs. These include positions that focus on activities such as sales, product development, manufacturing, running meetings, or handling our photography. By including the business in our Ed Tech club, we have also been able to attract students who didn’t have the ability to enroll in the class but still had the desire to work with Golden Oaks Designs. Our students look forward to getting in front of customers to sell the products they’ve made and to showcase the EdCorps concept.
Through the efforts of our students, we have taken part in a variety of local events such as local STEAM nights and a number of district-sponsored student showcases. We also work in conjunction with other school events in our region. These selling events provide a great opportunity for our students to work on presentation skills, get connected to community leaders, and obtain feedback on the work they are doing. Students demonstrate their pride and sense of accomplishment when they get to talk about how they run business, their partnerships with Real World Scholars (RWS) and Harbor Freight Tools For Schools (HFTFS), and most of all, the process of making the products being sold.
Nearing the end of our second year working with RWS and HFTFS, we will continue to build upon the experiences we have had. Our students will expand their skills and responsibilities within Golden Oaks Designs. We look forward to growing and improving, providing our students with valuable lifelong learning experiences.