Jordan Long has created a student-operated, homemade dog treat enterprise within his class at Marion High School. Through this business, students are taking on the role of baker and salesman for teachers and select members of the community.
On a weekly basis, students will put their academic, social, and transitional skills to use to bake dog treats. Students in Long’s class are involved in every step of the process, from grocery shopping to cooking and cleaning. During the process, they are able to practice their communication and math skills.
“Our kids often find confidence in the routine to the point that most of them know what to do and know the recipe,” said Long. “It feels great to see them proud of what they have been doing. They are excited to tell people what they do and to take leadership roles. It has been amazing to see how excited they are about running this enterprise.”
Students have been branching out into the school community through this project. Students in the Family, Community, and Career Leaders of America handmade personalized aprons, while a student in Art Club created a branding logo for packaging.
“The kids in this class do not always get super involved in the school community since the class is more self-contained,” said Long. “They typically have one academic class, and most are not involved in sports or clubs, so it’s amazing to see how students help each other and build that bridge.”
“I have been doing this for a long time, and being able to see their personalities shine makes a difference,” said Marion High School paraprofessional Trisha Lackie. “With this, the teachers and students here have been able to see past our students’ disabilities and see their hearts instead.”
The program has also helped students with collaboration and teamwork, celebrating each student’s skillset and abilities. Long has worked with Lackie to help modify various parts of the cooking process to adapt to the needs of each student such as timers and creating a different way to hold kitchen utensils.
“We want to celebrate their skills. Instead of telling a student they can’t do something, we want to find a different way for that step to be done,” said Long. “Every step of the way, we have found a way to adapt to our students and get them involved. These skills our students are learning (how to sweep, mop, and their responsibilities) are things that students can take on past school. And they want to do these things!”
Each bag comes with 15 treats for $2, made and packaged by students in Long’s class. For more information about the enterprise, contact Long at firstname.lastname@example.org.