Business is booming in Stephanie Mayo’s classroom at Nelson County Middle School as her eighth grade entrepreneur students presented their own businesses after weeks of preparation.

For the first time at the middle school, Mayo taught a business class this year, after getting approval from the school board. Her first and second classes of the day are her eighth grade entrepreneur classes and for the past nine weeks, they have been learning the ins and outs of the business world in order to develop their own businesses.

Last week, they presented their own unique ideas ranging from food-related lines of work to animal-related businesses to lawn care.

“We really mean business. These young people have worked so hard for the last nine weeks and it really shows,” Mayo said as her students set up.

In the first class, five different businesses were presented. The kids took their own passions and paired them with the lessons Mayo taught them to successfully open and run their own businesses. Teachers and parents who floated around the room got to try sandwiches from Jack and Zack’s Snack Shack, were able to have their blood pressure tested by a budding nurse, and one student proved that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

“I wanted to do something about all the trash we have in our oceans,” Laila Barbour said. Laila opened up an earring store where all of her homemade earrings were made from trash and other recycled goods.

“I liked everything,” Laila said about the business class Mayo taught.

Across the room, Jaylin Jones was busy showing clients his homemade clothing.

“I like clothes. I feel like I am able to express myself through clothes so I want others to be able to do the same,” Jaylin said.

Jaylin’s business, Real Drip, portrays different kinds of fabrics he can work with and styles he can create.

“Tell me what you want and I’ll make it happen,” Jaylin said during his pitch.

In the second class, food businesses seemed to dominate. Saniya Allen ran a bakery called London’s and right next door Alex Hernandez opened up a Mexican restaurant called Golden’s.

“I named it after my niece because she’s our whole world,” Saniya said about her bakery.

Other business throughout the day included providing meals to the elderly, a lawn-care business that tries to stay away from harmful chemicals, and a law firm specializing in divorce. One student, Chandler Giles, combined her passion for sports and what she learned in the business class to open up a sports gear shop. Chandler plays sports year round she said and her passion is basketball.

“Right now it’s just headbands and soon I’ll get into other products like exercise outfits and sports equipment,” Chandler said.

Each student presented for anyone who came to their setups and answered questions. Laurie Davis, the art teacher, stopped in and explored each business. Other school administration like School Resource Officer Jeremiah Templeton and Assistant Principal Jessica Shifflett stopped in too, showing their encouragement for the students’ entrepreneurial skills. Mayo said between the two classes, she has around 15 students.

“It’s a blessing because they are able to think outside the box and having an intimate small group they can really focus on what they want their businesses to be,” Mayo said.

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Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

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