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Teacher honored for effort to teach about profit

May 20, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer

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Rose Minnick

Salem Avenue Elementary School teacher Rose Minnick was lying in bed one night last winter when an idea struck. She could teach her fourth-grade students how to run a small business.

"I've heard of other teachers doing for-profit type things. I thought I could do it here," said Minnick, a Hagerstown resident.

With $250 of her own money, Minnick bought supplies. Then, 36 students from her homeroom and a co-worker's class made Christmas ornaments from scratch during social studies periods. They marketed and sold them, and then figured out their profit.

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Last month, Minnick won top grades for her "economic concepts" project. She was named one of the nation's 100 outstanding educators in the Education's Unsung Heroes Awards program sponsored by Northern Life, a firm that provides retirement plans for the nation's teachers.

Minnick, 48, said she submitted her project for an award at the urging of a friend, who also applied. "I won and he didn't," she said. "I'm still in shock. I still can't believe it."

Minnick said more important than the award was a $2,000 grant she got to fund similar projects in the future. "No one's ever given me anything," she said.

"This grant feels wonderful, because somebody thought I had an idea worth pursuing," she said. "I can't describe the feeling I felt when I found out I'd won."

In its third year, the unsung heroes awards program has given a total of $640,000 to 260 teachers across the country.

"Rosetta Minnick exemplifies the innovative spirit that is making a difference in classrooms across the country," Northern Life president and CEO Michael Dubes said.

Minnick has been teaching for 27 years. She said it's common for teachers to spend their own money on class supplies. In this case, since the kids were involved in a business, Minnick said she was able to recoup about $125 of her expenses from their sale of ornaments. The rest of the sale money was "profit" and the kids to spend.

Minnick said her homeroom made a profit of $12.50, while the other class made $14. The kids decided how to spend the money. "One group decided on cake and soda, and the other group wanted Coke and popcorn," she said.

"I think they thought of it as a fun project," Minnick said. "Economics is becoming more and more important. These kids really didn't understand what profit was, or what unit cost was."

Minnick said some of the students grasped those concepts during the project, while others learned more basic lessons. "Some just plain learned to paint and clean up a mess," she said, laughing.

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