Becoming a “Boss” |  Running a Successful Business Takes Inspiration, Knowledge, and Opportunity

Today’s students are getting bitten by the entrepreneurship bug early. Two DeKalb County School District (DCSD) schools have devised creative ways to encourage entrepreneurship by teaching students how to run a business and along with economics.

Last month, Evansdale Elementary School’s second-grade students hosted a Market Day, and Southwest DeKalb High School held its first Young Entrepreneur Workshop and Pop-Up Shop. Evansdale second graders created mini-shopping booths in their classrooms to sell their unique products to the student body, faculty, and staff. The students used “school bucks” earned for good behavior to spend at the Market Day.

The second-graders had many items for sale, from cupcakes and other sweet treats to arts and crafts. Second-grade teacher Ms. Fawn Rainey worked with the other second-grade teachers to create Market Day as a creative way to teach economics.

“Most of our kids, those that were pandemic kindergarteners, have no concept of what money is, what it means, and why it’s important. So, instead of teaching the concept of economics on paper, we made them create a store,” said Ms. Rainey. “So, they’re all entrepreneurs today.”

The students also learned about earning a salary, savings, paying booth rent, and what it means to pay fines if they break the Market Day “rules,” similar to how real businesses pay fines for violations.

“For them, the economy has come alive. Now, they understand when their parents say something costs too much,” said Ms. Rainey. “I hope they’ve learned that even as a kid they can do things to earn money, to value the money their parents spend, and understand what save and spend means.”

Evansdale Elementary Principal, April McCarthy, said Market Day is an opportunity for students to have real-world experiences with their Georgia Standards of Excellence, including learning about economic factors such as supply and demand.

“We’re lucky that we have involved teachers here who work so hard with their students, and it creates a community at our school,” said Mrs. McCarthy. “Other classes are coming to purchase from the store, and we’re excited to have this opportunity to share it with other students, too.”

At Southwest DeKalb High School, more than 20 student entrepreneurs participated in the two-day Young Entrepreneur Workshop and Pop-Up Shop program. On the first day of the program, students learned about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship from a local business owner. The next day, the students took what they learned and set up their shops in the hallway to sell merchandise from their businesses.

Southwest DeKalb Front Office Manager Tamara Neal, an entrepreneur herself, developed the program idea after seeing a few students discreetly promote their businesses to their peers.

“I figured this would be the best opportunity for them to sell their products and not feel like they have to hide around the corner to sell to their peers,” said Ms. Neal. “They’re out in the open not only to their peers but to the faculty and staff to share their product with as well.”

The program is an opportunity for 11th-grader Kanaya Franklin to promote her waist beads business called Beaded. She started her business two years after struggling with a lack of self-confidence.

“I was very insecure about my body growing up, so I wanted to start a business that was unique to me,” said Kanaya. “Waist beads promote body positivity, so I thought it was a great way to promote me and what I have gone through and also help other girls going through the same thing.”


students artwork

student with outfit

Before participating in the Young Entrepreneur Workshop and Pop-Up Shop, Kanaya sold her beads through social media and in person at other locations. She said the program is an excellent opportunity to promote her business.

“It’s bringing in sales, and I’m also reaching different people,” said Kanaya. “I wanted to connect with others who are also insecure about their bodies. Through this market, I’m able to spread my purpose with others.”

Southwest DeKalb Principal, Dr. Thomas Glanton, said the program also allows the school to invest in the students and to let them know that there are many other options besides going the traditional route to college.

“Some already have wonderful businesses, making good money and doing great things. We want to inspire all our students to have an entrepreneurial spirit, which is an excellent way to plant that seed,” said Dr. Glanton.

“This was a vision I had for them, and I’m happy to see it come to fruition and am so proud of the results so far,” said Ms. Neal. “This is a great beginning. I hope they learn the proper way of entrepreneurship—not just selling stuff but how to get your Employer Identification Number (EIN), your Limited Liability Company (LLC), and how to establish a legal and legit business you can run on your own. And also, how to leave generational wealth for themselves and eventually their children’s children.”