Working together to create a business: PV Threads

Seniors+Sidney+Mudd+and+Rachel+Wanke+with+sophomore+Christian+Malli+selling+their+shirts+on+Fridays

Paris Fietsam

Seniors Sidney Mudd and Rachel Wanke with sophomore Christian Malli selling their shirts on Fridays

Paris Fietsam, Social Media Manager

For years, the world has been full of misconceptions surrounding those with special needs. Many believe they cannot work or be independent. However, Pleasant Valley strives to highlight all the flaws in this perspective.

The PV special needs department works everyday to give their students the best opportunities and education possible. One huge advancement the department has made this year is teaching their students how to run a business.

The students have started their own small business, PV Spartan Threads. With this business they design, create, hot press, package and sell shirts. The students also were able to decide together where the money will go, working on their teamwork and communication skills. These students have learned so much about the business industry by handling all of the expenses almost completely by themselves.

The students are using their first batch of money to cover their expenses for supplies, the second batch of profit goes towards any classroom supplies they need and the third batch of profit goes towards a fun activity for them, like their teachers taking them out to lunch. This teaches the students how their hard word can lead to reward.

The students have done all of the planning and production independently to completely understand business. Students arrange orders ahead of time, handle the money and give orders to whoever buys their product.

Gina Meadows, one of the head special education teachers, was not sure about this idea when it first started, but was pleasantly surprised. “This was just a trial and error run, but we were shocked with how well it worked out,” she explained. “Every single student helped out and worked together and it was so impressive. I had no idea they would be so interested in doing this all themselves.”

Programs like these are crucial for students to learn and grow. There are not always a lot of work opportunities for people with special needs, so they often lack many of the skills that are learned in a work environment. 

Along with learning about how to work independently and with peers, these students are improving their social skills every day. Handling the money, sales and talking to their customers in every transaction is extremely influential for their social skills and works to make them more outgoing. 

Sunny Clifton, another special education teacher, loved being able to do this process with the students. “They got to work to improve their math skills, communication skills, motor skills, and more. It really improved their skills in every aspect. Seeing the students communicate with their other teachers and peers was one of the best parts,” she stated.

While the students worked on every single part of the shirt production together, from creating the design, hot pressing the shirts, bagging the products and calculating the money side of the business. One of the most important parts of this was not learning business skills, but developing their teamwork and communication skills. Additionally, the students loved being able to tell jokes when their peers came to check out their shop.

The PV special education department is constantly looking for ways to improve and develop their program, and PV Threads is just the start of something brand new.