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They’re open and they mean business


Business teacher Mrs. Conte creates a program for students to run their own business  

In a hands-on business proposal to reopen the student store, PRHS business teacher of eighteen years Denise Conte moved beyond textbook teaching to give her business students an opportunity to build their skills through managing their own business.

The new active project, introduced to 85 business students as in-class assignments and discussions, allowed PRHS students to participate in Intro to Business and Business Communications on a personal level. From proposing and writing business plans in class to managing the cash register and card reader in the store, students are able to learn and exercise job skills a simple textbook could never offer.

Conte was influenced by New Tech High business teacher Jennifer Stillittano to incorporate a project-based curriculum into her yearly program for students to learn through implementation.

“I wanted to establish something. We haven’t had a real business program here at the school for a long time,” Conte said, writing the program alongside working thirty hours per week towards her doctorate degree. “We’ve taught business classes here and there. I’m a business teacher. I came for business. So, I wanted to leave something for the students and the program to have, to be proud of, and to work through like a lab.”

After the proposal to re-open the Student Store was introduced Sept. 2017, the Business Club was founded a month later in October. Student volunteers staffed six football games selling sportswear from Sensations Apparel for a 10% profit, and raised $600 to invest in the project. Junior Ryan Phillips and sophomore Katherine Gildea pro

ceeded to dedicate their nutritions and lunches typing away on their Chromebooks, writing a fifteen page business proposal summarizing the class vision to principal Mr. Martinez.

The proposal was initially rejected by Martinez and sent back with revisions.

“He gave us things to revise, which was great, because it’s a very real world experience that you’re not going to get things right the first time around. So, a business plan would go to someone who you want to lease space from so you can know that you’ve thought through all of the aspect of a business. It was a good exercise to get it kicked back to us, even though it was frustrating,” Conte said.

After their second submission, they were given the key to room 401.

Since its opening on May 15, 2018, the store has generated $4,300, a 12-20% profit margin. During the ten months of preparation, Conte advised, proofread, and commented on her students’ work.

“It was so important to me to have a place where students could come and interact, a place where students could learn how to work. My students know how to not just run a cash register, but to count out the cash before and after and be accountable, and what to do when people are crowding. They’ve learned a lot of stock skills they can take to the marketplace,” Conte said, who believes that accountability alongside trial and error sustains the program.

“Mrs. Conte herself is not a teacher to me; she’s a figure I look up to, and a lot of students I’ve encountered believe that as well. To be a student in her class is like discovering  something for the very first time,” Gildea, Business Club treasurer, said.

“It feels great, the thought that just me and a few other kids were able to do something like this. Coming everyday here at lunch and working and helping other people,” Phillips, Business Club president, said. “There’s a book for the class. I’ve yet to see it. Imagining the class being like any other class, constantly looking at books and reading. Imagining what it would’ve been like doesn’t sound like fun,” Phillips said.

During this 2018-2019 school year, the club is planning to redesign the student store and dedicate a wall for Student Spotlight, a feature to highlight PRHS student entrepreneurs and their products.


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