At Roland Park Country School, encouraging students to recognize and celebrate their strengths and empower each other to lead for the greater good is reinforced at every grade level. This fall, four fifth grade entrepreneurs have put their education into practice by independently starting two small businesses, which are gaining momentum both on and off campus.
F&R Bracelets, run by two fifth graders Reese H. and Finley G., sells trendy bracelets, including custom orders by request. After presenting at a recent pitch meeting with the school’s Admissions department, they secured a deal for a mass order and they will also have a booth at the school’s annual Holiday Fair this year to sell their products to the RPCS and greater community.
The second business, Cute Collages, was recently launched by fifth grade friends Ellery M. and Tennybelle C. They sell customizable collages on canvas, in a variety of sizes and colors. There is also a charitable aspect to their business – for every three collages sold, they donate $10 to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), to help animals in need. Cute Collages will also have a booth at this year’s Holiday Fair. “Being a young entrepreneur is challenging, but we want to take action,” Tennybelle and Ellery said. “We are so excited to make a mark on the world and promote other young female entrepreneurs.”
These students’ entrepreneurial journeys began three years ago, when their second grade teachers piloted a new financial literacy and entrepreneurship unit for the Class of 2029.The innovative curriculum included lessons on classroom economy, personal finance, and economic principles, such as supply and demand and encouraged students think like entrepreneurs to either solve a problem faced by the school community or create something that would be sought after in the marketplace. Their hands-on learning experiences culminated with a pop-up marketplace where students sold their goods and services. The unit was such a success, that it’s now in its fourth year as this first class of students are launching their own side hustles.
“These fifth graders are go-getters. They bring a ton of energy to their pursuits and are positioning themselves for some great success,” said fifth grade teacher Peggy Brooks. “I’m so excited to see them tackle academic challenges with such fervor this year! I have no doubt they will rise to the many occasions. RPCS has rooted a certain drive for excellence within them.”
Gore Leadership Institute
RPCS teacher alumna Sarah Pope, 2006, who created the innovative second grade financial literacy unit, is now the program coordinator of the Gore Leadership Institute, a program integrated within the Upper School curriculum that equips RPCS students with the tools to innovate and create positive change in the world. The Gore Leadership Institute emphasizes experiences that foster creative problem solving, ethical leadership, wellness, and diversity, equity, and inclusion through academic engagement, community outreach, and personal reflection. The program also emphasizes a deeper awareness of one’s strengths and areas for growth, as well as one’s ability to lead change for the greater good.
As part of the Gore Leadership Institute, this past spring Pope partnered with Jhpiego, an international non-profit health organization affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University dedicated to improving the health of women and families, to pilot a new hands-on, service-learning curriculum called Changemakers in the Upper School. Mrs. Pope mentored the young women to become creative activists, and producing projects that questioned existing power structures and called for reform. Read more about Changemakers here.
This year, Mrs. Pope is working with students in grades 9-12 on various finance and entrepreneurship offerings, including the student-run Shark Tank Club for all Upper Schoolers, the year-long Financial Investing Challenge seminar for 10th graders, and Power Lunch, a networking and investing group for juniors and seniors.
“It is so exciting and rewarding to help our students ‘take their seats at the table’ when it comes to leadership, financial literacy, investing and entrepreneurship,” said Mrs. Pope. “I am so thrilled that RPCS has given us the opportunity to turn this vision into a reality for our students.”
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our School Spotlight Series. Each week, we will spotlight one of our partner schools to give you a glimpse into what learning looks like on their campus. To learn more about Roland Park Country School visit their directory listing in our Independent School Directory. Photos were provided by the school. Want to become a school partner? Email us.