PBA’s Youngest Students Try Out Big Business
Ridgeway Avenue’s newest small business began as an elementary mathematics lesson. Working with recipes provides a perfect opportunity to add and multiply fractions, and a pizza is the perfect visual display of how one whole can be divided into smaller fractional parts. Ever since November, PBA’s 3rd and 4th grade students have wrestled with these mathematical concepts while building their own pizza company on PBA’s campus, providing weekly optional pizza lunches for other students, selling whole pizzas for takeout on Tuesdays, and even catering a parent event.
On pizza sale days, the boys make their dough from scratch and then give it time to rise while they let out some steam in PE class. Next, they roll out their dough and add roasted garlic, their own homemade sauce, cheese, and toppings before baking each pizza in a hot oven before lunchtime begins at 11:45. Many PBA students and teachers have become loyal customers, and some parents even stop by for lunch when pizza is on the menu. Recently they debuted their newest product, garlic knots, which were a hit!
What began as a math project meant to last a few weeks may become an ongoing part of our elementary program. In addition to solidifying their math skills, making pizza (and decisions!) as a team has challenged the students in countless ways. They’ve conducted online research into the practices of other pizza businesses, strengthening their reading skills. They’ve created dozens of advertisements and written emails to our community about upcoming sales and events, and they worked as a team to write a business plan. They hold daily team meetings to make sure the group is on task and prepared for its next sale, and beginning in early April each boy was assigned a leadership role within the business. Their teacher, Ms. Edstrom, has been delighted to see their independence and confidence grow throughout the months since the business began. Where she once needed to direct most aspects of the business herself, she is now able to provide supplies, give reminders, and sit back and marvel at the boys’ ability to work as a team, mindful of Maria Montessori’s statement that “a teacher’s greatest goal is to make herself gradually unnecessary.”
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Many members of our community have asked what the student leaders of PBA Pizza plan to do with their earnings. From the outset, they have committed 20% of their earnings to philanthropy, contributing to Black Lives Matter in January and to Care.org’s Ukraine Fund in April. They also set aside 30% of their earnings to reinvest in their business, planning ahead for future product development and equipment needs. Finally, the remaining 50% of their proceeds will return to the students via a profit sharing program! As of now, the 3rd and 4th grade entrepreneurs look forward to carrying their business over into the 2022-23 school year, initiating next year’s new classmates into the joys and challenges of the pizza business.