Teachers use student-made taco bar to ‘feed’ business lessons

MIDDLETOWN — Sometimes end of the school year lessons come wrapped in a tasty, crunching shell with sprinkles of freshly budding capitalism.

Students at Middletown’s Highview 6th Grade Center recently put together a mini taco business and meal presentation for local business leaders and the adults came away sated and impressed.

After learning about the fields of business, marketing and management, students in Marnie Kash’s class applied their knowledge to running their own business, which in this case, is “Highview Top of the Tacos.” Local businesses help and also served as taco judges.

“My (students) found this program incredibly enjoyable,” said Kash.

The novel approach to teaching fundamental business principals including “allowing them to make all of the decisions empowered them to use higher level thinking skills.”

“With very little guidance from myself … we saw first-hand how this program helped each student grow in different ways and in different areas,” said Kash.

Middletown school officials said the pop-up business not only provided a hands-on learning experience “but also instilled valuable life skills such as teamwork, creativity, and problem-solving.”

Students learned about the fundamentals of business operations, financial literacy, and how to work together. The elementary grade students also assumed the roles of hosts, servers, chefs and other positions found in a restaurant setting.

The program, which included free tacos for student, school staffers and participating community members, was made possible through funding and support by Junior Achievement of Middletown Area and Emery Federal Credit Union.

Jen Hayes, K-12 programs coordinator for the city schools, said the program is part of the district’s Passport To Tomorrow learning track, which includes a wide variety of real-world learning for youngsters.

“The students in Ms. Kash’s class chose the business, management and marketing field for fourth quarter (and) utilized the Junior Achievement curriculum to facilitate a student designed, led and run pop up business,” said Hayes.

“Each day there were mini lessons on how to run a business then time was allowed for the students to plan and make decisions. Ms. Kash’s students unanimously voted to run a taco restaurant and quickly divided themselves into categories based on their strengths and interests.”

“Each student was a board member and every time an idea was suggested, to the group, the board took a vote on whether or not to move forward with that idea.”

Hayes said “the students’ eyes lit up throughout this project. They felt empowered to make decisions and were able to make mini failures in a supportive environment.”

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