Bay Village Schools' keychain company celebrates 20th year

Fourth-grade teacher Barb Woodburn supervises a First-Fourth Keychain Company sales pitch. Photo by Karen Derby

Students at Normandy and Westerly Elementary Schools in Bay Village get a first-hand experience in how to succeed in business each year with the First-Fourth Keychain Company. The program pairs first-graders (in Diane Poretsky's class) with fourth-graders (in Barb Woodburn's class) in an enterprise that includes manufacturing and marketing keychains made of brightly-colored beads.

Started with a grant from the Bay Village Education Foundation in 1997 (written by Barb Woodburn and retired teacher Nancy Glinka), the program won the Economics America and Harvard Business School Club of NE Ohio Samuel H. Ellott award for Leadership in Economic Education in 2004.

Students acquire skills that include problem-solving, negotiation, compromise, persuasion and active listening. They account for the cost of raw materials as well as transportation for a field trip and travel between schools. They then determine if pricing will cover costs and a profit. The company has "payroll" that is paid in small school supplies.

Students schedule and staff production lines, and they plan advertising and marketing presentations. Every student has a job title with specific responsibilities. The profits go to buy supplies for the next year's program and to buy something (such as a tree or flag) for the two schools as "rent," a cost of doing business.

"This is a real manufacturing company teaching economics and skills," said Superintendent Clint Keener. "We enjoy having the sales team visit our board office each year. The keychains are really unique and colorful."

School subjects that are naturally integrated into this activity include language arts, math, science and the arts. And students acquire a body of knowledge required in social studies curriculum.

Karen Derby

Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District

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Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 9:38 AM, 03.06.2018