Parkview Barkery provides hands-on learning for special education students and their student mentors
Sarah Free loves baking them. Heather Whitney loves decorating them. Omar Maciel loves counting them.
Every Functional Skill student at Parkview High School loves filling orders for the Parkview Barkery, a student-led business that bakes, decorates and sells homemade dog treats. Working for the business is a favorite activity at school, according to Kim Duncan, Functional Skills teacher.
“Our kids love working at the Parkview Barkery,” said Duncan. “It’s fun because they get to create the treats from start to finish. Students research the dog treat designs on their Chromebooks, they measure, mix and roll out the dough. Then they bake, decorate and package the treats. Students sharpen a variety of real life math skills by taking inventory, measuring products and calculating profit or loss. We want our students to have full ownership and take pride in their work, because it is their business.”
The business was built upon a grant supplied by the Foundation for SPS. Since its launch last fall, Parkview’s special education students have sold more than 100 homemade dog treats. Treats are iced or non-iced and come in blueberry or peanut butter flavors, and profits go to support the business and pay for community outings for the students.
Duncan had the idea for a school-based business last year. But launching any business requires help, planning and advice, so she turned to Parkview’s business and marketing teacher, Dede Moore. The request was big -- would her students be able to advise the Functional Skills classes on how to launch, market and operate a thriving business?
Parkview’s marketing students accepted the challenge.
“This has been my senior year,” said Gage Skidmore, Parkview senior. “It has been amazing to teach someone something that has been my whole life for the last two years. This is an opportunity for me to teach and mentor someone to help me master this content, which I’m going to major in next year in college.”
Gage and junior Amy Trinh mentored the Parkview Barkery staff, assisting with anything from product development to pricing and promotions. The Parkview Barkery also served as a client for DECA digital design students, who transformed Functional Skills senior Justin Michel’s drawing into a digital logo for the business.
“I love watching the Parkview Barkery improve and see the students grow,” said Amy. “I’m definitely going to be involved next year as a senior because I want to see their knowledge of marketing grow, while they get to be successful business owners.”
In addition to working with DECA and digital design, the business benefited from the support of the entire Parkview staff and cross-curricular collaboration. The Family and Consumer Science department even shared their expertise to help customize aprons for the Parkview Barkery.
“As with every successful business endeavor, it takes a cohesive team,” said Duncan.
As a school-based enterprise, the Parkview Barkery equips Parkview’s special education students to gain skills that will prepare them for life after high school. “No matter their ability level, every student can participate”, said Kim Sartin, Duncan’s fellow Functional Skills teacher.
“Everyone has a job in the Parkview Barkery,” she said. “And while they’re making treats, our students get to learn skills that will prepare them for jobs out in the community. These skills can open so many doors for them.”