Pupils' Test: the Marketplace : Special-Ed Students Learn to Make and Sell Holiday Items

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Ellen Nise's students mean business.

Her special education students at Ball Junior High School have learned what it takes to run their own business, from product inception to packaging and selling their handcrafted holiday gift items.

Kids Are Business People, Too was created 12 years ago by Cheryl Escoe, career education specialist for Anaheim Union High School District's special education students.

"There was such a need to teach these children work skills," Escoe said.

"They learn what it is like to have their own business and the skills necessary to produce a product that will sell to the public."

Students in 17 special education classes at the district's junior high and senior high schools are participating in the program.

The students will sell their crafts and woodworking gifts at a boutique Wednesday and Thursday at the district office, 501 Crescent Way. The boutique, held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is open to the public. Gift items, which also include baked goods, will be priced from 25 cents to $10.

Proceeds go back to the students for field trips, classroom materials and other school needs.

Nise's students decided to make holiday ornaments for Christmas and Hanukkah, candleholders and candy cane mice gift toppers. In making ornaments, students cut out the shapes from plastic dough, hand-painted each and decorated them with raffia ribbons. Students organized an assembly line and, in the process, learned teamwork, responsibility and the work ethic, Nise said.

The program also gives students lessons in math and economics, and helps them develop leadership and social skills--and a sense of accomplishment, she said.

"It allows our students to use their different talents and make a contribution," Nise said.

Eighth-grader Rebecca Munoz, 13, said she learned that operating a business is difficult and challenging: "It's hard work. You have to have everything perfect if you want to sell it."

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